1st Edition

Refiguring Motherhood Beyond Biology

Edited By Valerie Renegar, Kirsti Cole Copyright 2023
    260 Pages
    by Routledge

    260 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book unpacks and interrogates dominant constructions of mothering, making use of interdisciplinary, ideological and theoretical perspectives to investigate how new rhetorics of mothering can expand the realm of maternal care-givers beyond the biological definitions of motherhood.

    This diverse collection is at the cutting-edge of rhetoric, feminism, and motherhood studies, and the chapters challenge the confines of biological parenting as heteronormative within the neo-liberal nuclear family. The contributors examine, how despite the diversity of parental relationships, many are excluded by the understanding of mothers biologically tied to their children. The volume seeks to expose the underpinnings of biological primacy and argues that 21st-century families and familial circumstances are ill-served by biological ideology. Topics include Re-Imagining Queer Black Motherhood, Chicana Feminist approaches to reproductive justice, the commercialization and medicalization of infertility, and ableism and motherhood.

    This is a unique and fascinating book suitable for students and scholars in gender studies, sexuality studies, communication studies, sociology, and cultural studies.

    Introduction: Resisting Rhetorics of Mothering, Intensive Mothering, and Biological Determinism

    Valerie Renegar and Kirsti Cole

    Part 1: Intersections of Motherhood Figures Beyond Biology

    1 Muslim Mothering & Divesting from Whiteness

    Lamiyah Bahrainwala

    2 SBF Seeking Motherhood: An Autoethnographic Journey Toward Pregnancy

    Natasha R. Howard

    3 Re-Imaging Queer Black Motherhood

    Elizabeth Y. Whittington

    4 Rhetorically Constructing Motherhood in Pregnancy Loss

    Sarah Steimel

    5 Comadrisma, Mamás, and Tías: An Intersectional Chicana Feminist Approach to Comunidad and Reproductive Justice

    Sarah De Los Santos Upton and Leandra H. Hernandez

    Part 2: Refiguring Media Representations of Motherhood Beyond Biology

    6: Rae Lynn Schwartz-DuPre and Stacey Sowards

    Donor Eggs and Sperm: Rhetorical Explanations of Parenthood in Children’s Literature

    7: Catherine Bourland Ross and Bailey Barlow

    Las No-Madres: The Commercialization and Medicalization of Infertility in Quién quiere ser madre

    8: Mollie K. Murphy

    The Limitations of (Privileged) Maternal Appeals: Sandra Steingraber’s Constructions of Mothering in a Toxic Environment

    9 Ableism and Motherhood: Invisible Illness and Moral Implications of ‘Good’ Mothering

    Elizabeth L. Spradley

    10 Our Bodies, Our Minds, Ourselves: Women’s Mental Health and Postpartum Depression

    Jennifer Rome Kruse

    11 Spiritual Mothers: Evangelical Practices of Mothering in the 21st Century

    Sarah Kornfield

    Part 3: Refiguring the Rhetoric of Motherhood Beyond Biology

    12 Are you my mother? Reconceptualizing Pregnancy and Motherhood through Narratives of Trans Men

    Erika Thomas

    13 When Caring About leads to Caring For: Dissociation, Biology, and the Domestic Sphere in Pro-Caregiving Advocacy

    Rachel D. Davidson

    14 #MotherofExiles: Gender and Race in Motherhood Appeals Evoking the Statue of Liberty to Protest Family Separation Policies

    Heidi Hamilton

    15 ‘Good’ Mothering and the Question of Migrant Mothers at the Border

    Katherine J. Hampsten

    16 Challenges to Neoliberal Parenting and The Rise of the Ideal Stepmother

    Valerie Renegar and Kirsti Cole



    Sara Hayden and Jennifer Borda


    Valerie Renegar is a Professor of Communication Studies at Southwestern University, and the holder of the Herman Brown Chair. Her research focuses on feminist rhetoric as well as the role of rhetoric in social change. Her work appears in several outlets including Hypatia, Women’s Studies in Communication, Communication Studies, Howard Journal of Communications, and the Western Journal of Communication as well as chapters in a number of edited collections.

    Kirsti Cole is a Professor of Rhetoric, Composition, and Literature at Minnesota State University. She is the faculty chair of the Teaching Writing Graduate Certificate and Master’s of Communication and Composition programs. She has published articles in Women’s Studies in Communication, TCQ, Feminist Media Studies, College English, harlot, and thirdspace, as well as a number of chapters in edited collections. Her collection Feminist Challenges or Feminist Rhetorics was published in 2014. She has also edited the following collections with Holly Hassel: Surviving Sexism in the Academy: Feminist Strategies for Leadership (2017), Academic Labor beyond the College Classroom: Working for Our Values (2020), and Transformations: Change Work Across Writing Programs, Pedagogies, and Practices (2021).