Dissertation on Motherhood

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  1. "From here to maternity: Motherhood, culture, and identity" by Marsha Venuti Marotta
  2. New women, new mothers: The conflict of feminism and motherhood in late-Victorian fiction

This dissertation explores the competing demands of feminism and maternity and the ways in which the reality of motherhood both tests the resolve and commitment of feminists and underscores the great obstacles standing in the way of women's advancement.

"From here to maternity: Motherhood, culture, and identity" by Marsha Venuti Marotta

It discusses New Woman novelists who believed that motherhood serves to hinder feminist goals, as well as those New Woman and anti-New Woman writers who saw motherhood as an important, perhaps the most important, duty of women, thereby shifting the focus from the mother, her sexuality and identity, to the child and to the obligations of a future mother to her future child.

The dissertation further explores the ways in which literature contributes to and participates in the troubling science of eugenics. Eugenic writers understood motherhood to be a great responsibility upon which the future genetic health of the nation depended, rather than a form of bondage that would force a woman to compromise her beliefs.


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Though finally unable to provide an answer to the woman question, particularly as it concerned the complex issues of maternity, New Woman novelists were able to stimulate debate that ultimately led to the wide-ranging social, legal, economic, and educational reform for women and mothers that we enjoy today. Thompson, Aselda Josefa, "New women, new mothers: The conflict of feminism and motherhood in late-Victorian fiction" Dissertations available from ProQuest.

To investigate the intrinsic relationship between literature and the motherhood ideal, Weusten chose four novels to examine more closely.


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Two of these revolve around infertility: The other two deal with infanticide: A heart of stone harks back to Greek tragedy, where the concept of fate plays a central role and man does not have full control over his life. In this way, the ideal of motherhood is undermined.

Undermining the motherhood ideal

This contradicts the ideal, which assumes that mother and child are one and thus what is good for the mother is automatically good for the child. Of course, these are interpretations based on the questions I posed and the methodology I used. But by making these choices transparent, you can ensure the scientific validity of this type of research.

New women, new mothers: The conflict of feminism and motherhood in late-Victorian fiction

And what of the fathers? But as long as mothers continue to make themselves responsible for the majority of the parenting duties, from a marketing point of view this absence is completely understandable.

Josje Weusten studied Arts and Sciences at Maastricht University, graduating in with her thesis on the construction of motherhood through the personal stories of mothers of autistic children. In she became a researcher and tutor at the Centre for Gender and Diversity, where she began working on her PhD in Weusten successfully defended her dissertation in late You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Webmagazine Maastricht University Professors Other staff Young talents. Undermining the motherhood ideal In Culture.