Motherhood and Representation: The Mother in Popular Culture and Melodrama

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From novels of the nineteenth century to films of the 1990s, American culture, abounds with images of white, middle-class mothers. In Motherhood and Representation, E. Ann Kaplan considers how the mother appears in three related spheres: the historical, in which she charts changing representations of the mother from 1830 to the postmodernist present; the psychoanalytic, which discusses theories of the mother from Freud to Lacan and the French Feminists; and the mother as she is figured in cultural representations: in literary and film texts such as East Lynne, Marnie and the The Handmaid's Tale, as well as in journalism and popular manuals on motherhood. Kaplan's analysis identifies two dominant paradigms of the mother as 'Angel' and 'Witch', and charts the contesting and often contradictory discourses of the mother in present-day America.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415011273
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 6/5/1992
  • Pages: 268
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Table of Contents

List of illustrations
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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