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Textual Mothers/Maternal Texts

Motherhood in Contemporary Women’s Literatures

Edited by Andrea O’Reilly & Elizabeth Podnieks
Subjects Social Science, Women’s Studies, Literary Criticism
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Paperback : 9781554581801, 402 pages, January 2010
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554587650, 402 pages, April 2011

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Textual Mothers/Maternal Texts: Motherhood in Contemporary Women’s Literatures edited by Elizabeth Podnieks and Andrea O’Reilly
Introduction: Maternal Literatures in Text and Tradition: Daughter-Centric, Matrilineal, and Matrifocal Perspectives | Elizabeth Podnieks and Andrea O’Reilly
Part 1: Maternal Absence
1. Aberrant, Absent, Alienated: Reading the Maternal in Jane Urquhart’s First Two Novels, The Whirlpool and Changing Heaven | Myrl Coulter
2. Motherless Daughters: The Absent Mothers in Margaret Atwood | Nancy Peled
3. Writing about Abusive Mothers: Ethics and Auto/biography | Kate Douglas
4. “Red Mother”: The Missing Mother Plot as Double Mystery in Louise Erdrich’s Fiction | Sheila Hassell Hughes
5. “This was her punishment”: Jew, Whore, Mother in the Fiction of Adele Wiseman and Lilian Nattel | Ruth Panofsky
Part 2: Maternal Ambivalence
6. Eden Robinson’s “Dogs in Winter”: Parodic Extremes of Mothering | Nathalie Foy
7. Subverting the Saintly Mother: The Novels of Gabrielle Poulin | Kathleen Kellett-Betsos
8. “Opaque with confusion and shame”: Maternal Ambivalence in Rita Dove’s Poetry | Elizabeth Beaulieu
9. Maternal Blitz: Harriet Lovatt as Postpartum Sufferer in Doris Lessing’s The Fifth Child | Denys Landry
10. We Need to Talk about Gender: Mothering and Masculinity in Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk about Kevin | Emily Jeremiah
Part 3: Maternal Agency
11. Narrating Maternal Subjectivity: Memoirs from Motherhood | Joanne S. Frye
12. The Motherhood Memoir and the “New Momism”: Biting the Hand That Feeds You | Andrea O’Reilly
13. “I had to make a future, willful, voluble, lascivious”: Minnie Bruce Pratt’s Disruptive Lesbian Maternal Narratives | Susan Driver
14. Lesbian Mothering in Contemporary French Literature | Gill Rye
15. But She’s a Mom! Sex, Motherhood, and the Poetry of Sharon Olds | Rita Jones
16. (Grand)mothering “Children of the Apocalypse”: A Post-postmodern Ecopoetic Reading of Margaret Laurence’s The Diviners | Di Brandt
Part 4: Maternal Communication
17. Colonialism’s Impact on Mothering: Jamaica Kincaid’s Rendering of the Mother--Daughter Split in Annie John | Nicole Willey
18. Mother to Daughter: Muted Maternal Feminism in the Fiction of Sandra Cisneros | Rita Bode
19. Cracking (Mother) India | Tanja Stampfl
20. Asian American Mothering in the Absence of Talk Story: Obasan and Chorus of Mushrooms | Anne-Marie Lee-Loy
21. Baby, Boo-Boo, and Bobs: The Matrilineal Auto/biographies of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, Frances Scott Fitzgerald, and Eleanor Lanahan | Elizabeth Podnieks
22. Revelations and Representations: Birth Stories and Motherhood on the Internet | Kim Hensley Owens
Coda: “Stories to Live By”: Maternal Literatures and Motherhood Studies | Andrea O’Reilly
Notes on the Contributors
About the Contributors
Elizabeth Beaulieu (PhD) is dean of the Core Division at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, where she oversees the design and implementation of a new interdisciplinary curriculum. She is the author or editor of Black Women Writers and the American Neo-Slave Narrative: Femininity Unfettered (1999), The Toni Morrison Encyclopedia (2003), and Writing African American Women: An Encyclopedia of Literature by and about Women of Color (2006).
Rita Bode is associate professor of English literature at Trent University in Oshawa, where she is currently serving as associate dean. Her main area of research is nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century American and British literature. She has published on the maternal presence/absence in Melville’s Moby-Dick and in the writings of L. M. Montgomery.
Di Brandt holds a Canada Research Chair in Canadian Literature and Creative Writing at Brandon University, Manitoba. She is the author of numerous award-winning books of poetry, essays, an opera, and a novel. Her books on mothers and mothering include: questions I asked my mother (1987), mother, not mother (1992), Wild Mother Dancing: Maternal Narrative in Canadian Literature (1993), and So This Is the World & Here I Am in It (1997). Her website address is
Myrl Coulter (BA, MA, PhD University of Alberta) specializes in Canadian literature and writing practices. Her writing and research interests are feminism, maternal theory, literary nonfiction, and popular culture. Her work explores writing as a highly complex process influenced by social, cultural, political, and environmental forces.
Kate Douglas is a senior lecturer in the Department of English, Creative Writing and Australian Studies at Flinders University (South Australia). She is the author of Trauma Texts (with Professor Gillian Whitlock) and Contesting Childhood: Autobiography, Trauma and Memory.
Susan Driver is an assistant professor in communication studies at York University. She has written Queer Girls and Popular Culture and edited the collection Queer Youth Cultures.
Nathalie Foy teaches Canadian literature at the University of Toronto. Her most recent project is an examination of motherhood in contemporary Canadian fiction.
Joanne S. Frye is professor emerita of English and women’s studies at the College of Wooster in Ohio. Author of Living Stories, Telling Lives and Tillie Olsen: A Study of the Short Fiction, she has recently completed a memoir about her experiences as a single mother, titled Biting the Moon.
Sheila Hassell Hughes is associate professor and Chair of English at the University of Dayton, Ohio. Born and raised in British Columbia, she earned her MA (English) from the University of Toronto and PhD (women’s studies) from Emory University. Her research focuses on gender and religion in Louise Erdrich’s work.
Emily Jeremiah is a lecturer in German at Royal Holloway, University of London. She is the author of Troubling Maternity: Mothering, Agency, and Ethics in Women’s Writing in German of the 1970s and 1980s. Her research interests include mothering, migration, gender, and sexuality.
Rita M. Jones (PhD, Washington State University) is the director of the women’s centre and affiliate faculty in women’s studies at Lehigh University. She was formerly the director of women’s studies at the University of Northern Colorado. Her research interests include motherhood in America and connections between feminist movement and literature.
Kathleen Kellet-Betsos is associate professor in the Department of French and Spanish Languages and Literatures at Ryerson University, specializing in Franco-Canadian literature. She has published articles on authors such as Louise Maheux-Forcier, Anne Hébert, and Daniel Poliquin in various journals including Québec Studies and Studies in Canadian Literature.
Denys Landry is a PhD candidate at the University of Montreal, where he also teaches English composition. His dissertation focuses on prostitution in the work of Tennessee Williams. His fields of interest include drama, American literature, gender studies, and popular culture (with special emphasis on Madonna).
Anne-Marie Lee-Loy is assistant professor in the English Department at Ryerson University. Currently she is exploring how Asian Caribbean and Asian American experiences intersect. Her articles and essays have appeared in Asian Studies Review, Anthurium, The Arts Journal, and the collection The Chinese in the Caribbean. Her book Searching for Mr. Chin: Constructions of Nation and the Chinese in West Indian Literature is forthcoming with Temple University Press.
Andrea O’Reilly is associate professor in the School of Women’s Studies at York University. She is editor of more than 12 books, including Feminist Mothering. O’Reilly is author of Toni Morrison and Motherhood: A Politics of the Heart and Rocking the Cradle: Thoughts on Motherhood, Feminism, and the Possibility of Empowered Mothering. O’Reilly is director of the Association for Research on Mothering, the Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering, and Demeter Press. She is editor of the first ever encyclopedia on motherhood, forthcoming 2010.
Kim Hensley Owens is assistant professor of writing and rhetoric at the University of Rhode Island. She recently developed and taught a graduate seminar entitled Rhetorics of/and Reproduction. Her writing appears in such journals as Written Communication and Pedagogy. Kim is currently at work on a book project focusing on the rhetorics of childbirth.
Ruth Panofsky is professor of English at Ryerson University, where she specializes in Canadian literature and culture. She is the author of The Force of Vocation: The Literary Career of Adele Wiseman and At Odds in the World: Essays on Jewish Canadian Women Writers. Her volume of poetry, Laike and Nahum: A Poem in Two Voices, received the 2008 Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Award for Poetry.
Nancy Peled PhD, teaches literature at Haifa University and coordinates the academic English program at Oranim Academic College in northern Israel. Her research interests include modern female authors and stereotypic paradigms of expression in contemporary narratives. A former Canadian, she lives on a kibbutz where she raised her four children.
Elizabeth Podnieks is an associate professor in the Department of English at Ryerson University. Her teaching and research interests include mothering, life writing, modernism, and popular/celebrity culture. She is the author of Daily Modernism: The Literary Diaries of Virginia Woolf, Antonia White, Elizabeth Smart, and Anaï Nin and the co-editor of Hayford Hall: Hangovers, Erotics, and Modernist Aesthetics.
Gill Rye (Phd, University College, London) is Reader at the Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, University of London, and director of the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Women’s Writing. Publications include Reading for Change, Women’s Writing in Contemporary France (co-edited), and Narratives of Mothering: Women’s Writing in Contemporary France.
Tanja Stampfl, a native of Italy, is assistant professor in the English Department at the University of the Incarnate Word. Her research and teaching centre on the convergence of race, gender, and identity in twentieth-century postcolonial and world literature.
Nicole Willey is an associate professor of English at Kent State University Tuscarawas, where she teaches African American and other literatures. Her research interests include mothering, memoir, nineteenth-century American literature, and slave narratives. She wrote Creating a New Ideal of Masculinity for American Men: The Achievement of Sentimental Women Writers in the Mid-Nineteenth Century and is currently working on a collection about motherhood memoirs.


Textual Mothers/Maternal Texts focuses on mothers as subjects and as writers who produce auto/biography, fiction, and poetry about maternity. International contributors examine the mother without child, with child, and in her multiple identities as grandmother, mother, and daughter.
The collection examines how authors use textual spaces to accept, negotiate, resist, or challenge traditional conceptions of mothering and maternal roles, and how these texts offer alternative practices and visions for mothers. Further, it illuminates how textual representations both reflect and help to define or (re)shape the realities of women and families by examining how mothering and being a mother are political, personal, and creative narratives unfolding within both the pages of a book and the spaces of a life. The range of chapters maps a shift from the daughter-centric stories that have dominated the maternal tradition to the matrilineal and matrifocal perspectives that have emerged over the last few decades as the mother’s voice moved from silence to speech.
Contributors make aesthetic, cultural, and political claims and critiques about mothering and motherhood, illuminating in new and diverse ways how authors and the protagonists of the texts “read” their own maternal identities as well as the maternal scripts of their families, cultures, and nations in their quest for self-knowledge, agency, and artistic expression.