CFP: [Gender Studies] Defining, Appreciating, and Critiquing âMommy Litâ

full name / name of organization: 
Nicole L. Willey
contact email: 

39th Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
April 10-13, 2008
Buffalo, New York

“Mommy Lit” is a term that seems to be here to stay. Despite the fact that
women have been writing about mothering since they began writing their own
stories, “Mommy Lit” is a label that seems to signify a “new” literature,
literature that is created as authors and heroines of “chic lit” grow up
and become mothers. Writers like Jennifer Weiner and Sophie Kinsella, to
name only two, have allowed their novels to grow with their life
experiences, allowing their characters to expand their concerns to the very
real demands of childrearing and domestic life, sometimes while still
trying to maintain the career, style-sense, and ethos of freedom their
twenty-something counterparts embraced. Often, these novels appear beside
their little sisters in chic lit, with the same type of marketing that we
know so wellâ€"pinks and reds, loopy handwriting scripts, pictures of parts
of women, usually without the benefits of heads or faces. Is this, though,
the only genre that should be discussed within the realm of Mommy Lit?
Might other forms, such as non-fiction, parenting advice books (and even
sometimes medical advice books), personal essays, autotheory, and other
“literary” novels about motherhood, benefit from further study through the
lens of our current cultural moment in regards to mothers and the act of
mothering? How should we define Mommy Lit, or should we resist this label
altogether? How can we appreciate this genre, or these forms of the genre,
as readers? As teachers? As mothers? As critics? What critical tools
should we use to decipher and critique this body of literature? How can
our critical attention aid important works within the Mommy Lit realm and
lend them credence? How does this term make individual authors and works
less visible, or conversely, how does it introduce readers to authors they
might never have come across otherwise? Are any of these texts feminist?
 How do we account for feminism within the context of these materials?
Where do fathers fit in to this narrative? What is the cultural and
consumer impact of the explosion of this material?

This roundtable will explore the many forms and genres of Mommy Lit and its
significance, as we struggle to define, appreciate, and critique this body
of work. For our purposes, choose texts according to your own definition
of Mommy Lit; readings in a wide variety of genres and forms are
encouraged. We welcome proposals that consider these works in the realm
of: cultural and consumer impact; marginalization or visibility of women’s
voices; feminist mothering; role of fathers; academic critique as
credibility, desirability of title “Mommy Lit”; etc.

E-mail a 250 word abstract and short bio to Nicole Willey
or mail to:

Nicole Willey
English Department
Kent State University Tuscarawas
330 University Drive NE
New Philadelphia, OH 44663
Deadline: October 1, 2007

For the complete Call for Papers for the 2007 Convention, please visit:
Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA panel;
however panelists can only present one paper. Convention participants may
present at a paper session panel and also present at a creative session or
participate in a roundtable.

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Received on Mon Aug 27 2007 - 16:04:51 EDT