Edited Collection CFP: Teen Childbearing and Young Parenthood
Edited Collection CFP: Teen Childbearing and Young Parenthood: Rearing, Rhetoric, and Representation
Rochelle Gregory, Ph.D.
North Central Texas College, Corinth, Texas
Ann-Marie Lopez, Ph.D.
McMurry University, Abilene, Texas
Ben Sword, Ph.D.
Tarleton State University, Stephenville, Texas
Marc Azard, Ph.D.
Collin College, McKinney, Texas
Teen childbearing and parenthood is often considered through the lens of public policy. Young parents are often linked to social issues that include “persistent poverty, school failure, child abuse and neglect, health and mental health issues” (“Teenage Births: Outcomes for Young Parents and their Children” 3). Representations of teen childbearing and young parenthood are common throughout popular and public media, including films such as Juno, Riding in Cars with Boys, For Keeps, Carrie, 17 Again, Parenthood, Precious, Saved!, Philomena, and Love, Rosie. Audiences also see young parenthood reflected in television programs such as Gilmore Girls, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Reba, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Teen Mom, Unexpected, and in the public sphere (e.g., The Lost Children of Tuam; #TrustBlackWomen; #MeToo; Not Now campaign; Bristol Palin; Jamie Lynn Spears; child marriage).
Still, “teen pregnancy rates are at the lowest level in 20 years and teen birth rates are at the lowest level ever recorded in the United States” (“Teenage Births: Outcomes for Young Parents and Their Children” 3). In 2016, the teen birth rate was down 9% from 2015 and has declined by 50% since 2007 (Martin et al 4).
Despite this decline, the dominant narrative about the stereotypical pregnant teen persists: she’s a minority, and she’s selfish, immature, poor, urban, uneducated (Luttrell 4). Additionally, the 21st-century concept of “intensive mothering,” which is “grounded in middle-class values” creates “demands on mothers to care for a wide-ranging [inventory of] children’s needs: cognitive, social, emotional, physical and psychological” (Neill-Weston & Morgan par. 5). Pregnant teens are often viewed as incapable of providing such care for a variety of factors, age being the primary one, which adds to the existing stigma. The young parent has come to represent the embodiment of our collective loss of childhood and innocence--a figure who should be marginalized as a risk and threat to herself, her peers, and the public.
This perception and narrative surrounding teen pregnancy are, to be sure, “largely underpinned by changing social and political imperatives regarding the role and responsibilities of women in Western society” (Wilson & Huntington 59). Historically, teen mothers would often be married, so issues of young motherhood were less stigmatized and more widely accepted as a societal norm. The negative rhetoric surrounding teen childbearing (and young parenthood in general) is a 21st-century construction as it emphasizes middle-class values. Problematically, “the term teenage motherhood is generally understood to encompass all teenage mothers, regardless of age and marital and economic status [...] and the implication is that there are identical outcomes” (Wilson & Huntington 60). Interestingly, research has shown that "[d]espite the visibility of teenage childbearing as a social issue, most nonmarital births are to adult women, and births to adult mothers are driving the increase in non-marital childbearing” (Mollborn par. 1).
We are seeking, then, contributors for a collection of essays which analyze the rhetoric of teen childbearing and young parenthood. The edited collection, tentatively titled Teen Childbearing and Young Parenthood: Rearing, Rhetoric, and Representation, would invite contributors to explore the rhetoric and representation of teen childbearing and young parenthood. The collection's purpose is to explore how society perceives not only teen mothers but also young parents so that education, social science, and policy/administrative communicators understand how much of the conversations regarding teen pregnancy are steeped in stigmatizing political and ideological suggestion that, ultimately, steer how public services, education, and financial resources are allocated to young parents.
The guest editors invite articles that explore teen pregnancy and young parenthood at the intersections of rhetoric and embodiment/performance, feminism, gender studies, critical race theory, disability studies, maternity/motherhood, sociology, public policy, media, immigration/migration, law, abortion, consent/rape/sexual assault, morality, redemption, scapegoating/stigma/shame, employment/labor/workforce, and education. Other areas beyond the ones listed here are welcome.
Prospective authors are invited to consider the topic from a variety of historical, social, and political perspectives that include both domestic and international contexts. In citing sources in proposals, follow MLA 8th ed. citation style.
Proposals of approximately 300 words must be submitted no later than February 1, 2019, but acceptance into the collection will be based on completed essays of approximately 20 double-spaced pages submitted no later than December 1, 2019.
Include contact information and academic affiliation, if any. Please title the email subject line of the proposal “Young Parenthood” when emailing the proposal.
CFP Released: November 1, 2018
Deadline for Proposals: February 1, 2019
Notification will be no later than March 1, 2019
First Complete Draft due: July 1, 2019
Various Draft Revisions: August 1 - October 1, 2019
Final Draft due: December 1, 2019
Include contact information and academic affiliation, if any. Please title the email subject line of the proposal “Young Parenthood” when emailing the proposal. Please send prospective contributions and questions to Youngparenthoodcollection@gmail.com