Representations of Motherhood

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Edited by Donna Bassin, Margaret Honey, and Meryle Mahrer Kaplan

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For many years mothers have been viewed in terms of their impact on children rather than as people with needs, feelings, and interests—subjects in their own right. This book explores the maternal experience from the mother's point of view. It questions a society that has devalued and sentimentalized motherhood, presents images of generative and creative women who are also mothers, discusses the complex psychological experience of having and being a mother, and examines how representations of mothers in art, film, literature, the social and behavioral sciences, and historical writing have affected women.

Introduction Donna Bassin, Margaret Honey, and Meryle Mahrer Kaplan
Part I: The Acknowledgment and Appropriation of Maternal Work
Thinking Mothers/Conceiving Birth Sara Ruddick
Fictions of Home Jane Lazarre
Shifting the Center: Race, Class, and Feminist Theorizing about Motherhood Patricia Hill Collins
The Mothers of the Disappeared: Passion and Protest in Maternal Action Jean Bethke Elshtain
Maternity and Rememory in Toni Morrison’s Beloved Marianne Hirsch

Part II: The Paradoxical Nature of the Maternal Position
Being a Mother and Being a Psychoanalyst: Two Impossible Professions Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel
The Omnipotent Mother: A Psychoanalytic Study of Fantasy and Reality Jessica Benjamin
Mothering, Hate, and Winnicott Elsa First
Maternal Subjectivity in the Culture of Nostalgia: Mourning and Memory Donna Bassin
Rosalind: A Family Romance Myra Goldberg

Part III: The Cultural Construction and Reconstruction of the Maternal Image
Images of the Maternal: An Interview with Barbara Kruger Therese Lichtenstein
The Power of "Positive" Diagnosis: Medical and Maternal Discourses on Amniocentesis Rayna Rapp
The Maternal Voice in the Technological Universe Margaret Honey
Taking the Nature Out of Mother Adria Schwartz
Sex, Work, and Motherhood: Maternal Subjectivity in Recent Visual Culture E. Ann Kaplan
Playing and Motherhood; or, How to Get the Most Out of the Avant-Garde Susan Rubin Suleiman

Donna Bassin is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice. Margaret Honey is associate director of the Center for Children and Technology, a New York-based affiliate of the Education Development Center. Meryle Mahrer Kaplan is a psychologist and founding coordinator of the Women's Center at William Patterson College.

"This exceptional book addresses the mother as a multifaceted subject, rather than as an object seen only from an infant's-eye view. . . . Superbly edited, scholarly, and thoughtful, the book draws upon the latest in feminist thought from a variety of disciplines. . . . This nurturing, yet complex and challenging book is highly recommended."—Sheila Bienenfeld, Readings

"The significant contribution of this collection of essays is its repeated re-presentation of the mother as a fully bodied, real, complex person, a subject in her own right, both liberated and oppressed by the demands of birthing and rearing children."—Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore, Cross Currents

"Contributions from diverse disciplines offer an exceptionally broad dynamic and social perspective on the experience of mothers."—Jon G. Allen, Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic

"A fascinating exploration of Mother; one of the few works that have focused specifically on the topic. The book presents original and compelling arguments for the importance of motherhood in the development of women, as motherwork facilitates their generative roles in the larger social order."—Louise J. Kaplan, author of Female Perversions

"The outstanding writers who contribute to this thought-provoking collection of essays 'reveal the sophistication of the process of mothering as a complex experience grounded in social, psychological, and political realities.' This book helps us reexamine the changing images of motherhood in our own personal and cultural spaces."—Jill Carlen Kirby, The Journal of Religion and Health

"A collection of compelling new work by prominent, primarily feminist writers from a variety of disciplines. It is an exciting book, unique in its subject matter and particularly in its inclusion of material from an unusually wide range of fields. . . . This volume offers a stimulating contribution provoking us to consider what we might mistake in our clinical work and theories because of our own illusions of motherhood."—Sally Moskowitz, The Psychoanalytic Review

"An ambitious and serious book. . . . The reader is offered a host of issues and ideas as a means to heighten his or her awareness of the prevalence and pervasiveness of distortions and frozen images of motherhood in society. . . . The reader is left wishing to sit down with the authors and actively continue the discourse."—Marybeth Fox, Imagination, Cognition, and Personality

"This is a fascinating and stimulating collection of articles which illuminates why it is necessary to place maternal subjectivity at the center of analysis of motherhood. The diverse range of perspectives combine to make compelling arguments about the capacity of motherhood to be generative for women's personal psychological development and the wider social and political order."—Ann Lyons, Women's Studies Review
ISBN: 9780300068634
Publication Date: September 25, 1996
294 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/2