Motherhood and Representation

Overview

What is the significance of the discourse of motherhood in the United States? How is this white, middle-class mythology constructed? Motherhood and Representation explores the portrayal and ideological coding of "motherhood" in U.S. culture from 1830 to the present, examining the mother within three distinct, but ultimately related spheres: the historical, which charts the changes in the role of the socially constructed, institutional mother from Rousseau, through high-modernism, to the post-modernist present; ...
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Overview

What is the significance of the discourse of motherhood in the United States? How is this white, middle-class mythology constructed? Motherhood and Representation explores the portrayal and ideological coding of "motherhood" in U.S. culture from 1830 to the present, examining the mother within three distinct, but ultimately related spheres: the historical, which charts the changes in the role of the socially constructed, institutional mother from Rousseau, through high-modernism, to the post-modernist present; the psychoanalytic, which focuses on various theories of the mother in the unconscious, from Freud, to Lacan and the French feminists, to more recent theoretical revisions and challenges; and, finally, the mother as she is depicted in cultural representations, particularly literary and film.

Kaplan focuses on the two dominant Western paradigms of mother as "Angel" and "Witch" in nineteenth century women's writing, and then uses these analyses as the context for an exploration of twentieth century Hollywood cinema, including the films Imitation of Life, Stella Dallas, Christopher Strong, Now Voyager, Marnie, Three Men and a Baby, The Good Mother, and The Handmaid's Tale. The final section interprets the contesting and often contradictory contemporary discourses of the mother, arguing that modern reproductive technologies have created dramatic changes in the representation of motherhood. Motherhood and Representation will be essential reading for all those involved in gender studies, cultural studies, film, and critical theory.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415011266
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/5/1992
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Table of Contents

List of illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgements
Pt. I History and theory discourses
1 Introduction 3
2 The Historical Sphere: Motherhood as institution and social discourse 17
3 The Psychoanalytic Sphere and Motherhood Discourse 27
Pt. II Motherhood and fictional representation
4 Women's Writing, Melodrama and Film 59
5 The Maternal Melodrama: The Sacrifice Paradigm: Ellen Wood's East Lynne and its play and film versions 76
6 The Maternal Melodrama: The "Phallic" Mother Paradigm: Now Voyager (1942) and Marnie (1964) 107
7 The "Resisting" Text Within The Patriarchal "Feminine": Nineteenth-century women's writing and the "maternal woman's film" in the silent era: Uncle Tom's Cabin; Herland; The Blot; The Crowd; Applause 124
8 The "Resisting" Maternal Woman's Film 1930-60: Arzner's Christopher Strong and Craig's Wife; Imitation of Life (1934 and 1959); Stella Dallas (1937); select Sirk films 149
9 Sex, Work and Mother/Fatherhood: Consumerism, science and reproductive technologies in the postmodern era 180
Notes 220
Bibliography 227
Names index 239
Subject index 245
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