Centuries of Solace: Expressions of Maternal Grief in Popular Literature

Centuries of Solace: Expressions of Maternal Grief in Popular Literature

by Wendy Simonds, Barbara Katz Rothman
     
 

Since the late 1970s, the grief of women who experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of an infant has been an increasingly visible topic in mainstream American publications. Wendy Simonds and Barbara Katz Rothman look to nineteenth-century women's magazines and later to confession magazines to explore the antecedents of modern writings on maternal grief and… See more details below

Overview

Since the late 1970s, the grief of women who experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of an infant has been an increasingly visible topic in mainstream American publications. Wendy Simonds and Barbara Katz Rothman look to nineteenth-century women's magazines and later to confession magazines to explore the antecedents of modern writings on maternal grief and the information they convey about women from each period. This is the first book that analyzes popular consolation literature as it changed over two centuries. The authors include a large selection of the writings they view as social records that recognize and legitimize women's experience. Women's magazines of the last century, such as Godey's Lady's Book and Petersen's, ran numerous poems, stories, and essays in which women writers shared their grief through symbolic language and Christian evangelism. Such expressions brought together middle-class women's views about motherhood and religion, the two most crucial institutions shaping their lives during this time--and the only two within which they could participate without censure. Expressions of maternal grief vanished from mainstream publications as they became increasingly secularized but reappeared in the early twentieth century in True Story, the first "pulp" confessional. Marketed to working-class women, confessional magazines featured "life-is-stranger-than-fiction" stories that usually advised readers that self-blame could best be mitigated by self-sacrificing service. Simonds and Katz Rothman suggest that the numerous letters from readers printed in each issue attest to a community of women trying to help each other through difficult life experiences and may be viewed as a forerunner to later self-help groups. As women gain power in the "public" world, their concerns are more salient in public discussions. Maternal grief is again a valid subject for mass market magazines for women. Modern publications, such as Glamour magazine, urge conte

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780877229315
Publisher:
Temple University Press
Publication date:
06/28/1992
Series:
Health, Society, and Policy Series
Pages:
390
Product dimensions:
5.94(w) x 8.55(h) x 1.12(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1Introduction1
2The Mother's Lament: Nineteenth-Century Consolation Literature33
Excerpts from Nineteenth-Century Consolation Literature
To a Gentleman and Lady on the Death of the Lady's Brother and Sister, and a Child of the Name Avis, Aged One Year76
The Mother's Lament77
The Bird and Child79
Stanzas on the Death of Miss Rebecca Ann Marshall80
The Angel of Death81
An Infidel Mother83
At Rest85
My Child (Lamoreux)87
My Child (North)88
This is a Mother's Grief95
A Mother's Prayer for Her Sick Child96
Starving98
The Little Ones99
A Silent House101
To an Infant101
The Baby's Drawer102
The Wail of the Cornish Mother104
3Confessions of Loss: Maternal Grief in True Story105
Excerpts from True Story
The Children Nobody Wanted131
The Empty Crib138
God Sent Me a Miracle150
4The Demand for Solace: Contemporary Maternal Consolation Literature157
Excerpts from Contemporary Consolation Literature
Life and Death195
I Learned to Live Through a Mother's Greatest Loss205
The Death of a New Baby209
When a Baby Dies214
Making Loving Memories235
Comfort Us Lord--Our Baby Died236
My Precious Baby239
To Forrest241
Letter from K.S.242
Infant Death242
Miscarriage244
The Lost Children245
Stillbirth246
Intensive Care Nursery248
Giving Away the Layette249
5On Maternal Grief and Public Policy251
Notes261
Bibliography265
Index277
Permissions287

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