UPDATE: [General] Mothers Creating/Writing Lives: Motherhood Memoirs

full name / name of organization: 
Justine Dymond
contact email: 


Mothers Creating/Writing Lives: Motherhood Memoirs

As memoir continues to expand in popularity, motherhood memoir has become
an increasingly prominent and lucrative subgenre for contemporary
authors. As Michelle Herman points out in The Middle of Everything:
Memoirs of Motherhood, if forced to choose between her daughter and her
writing, she would choose her daughter, but this would be a gut-wrenching
decision. Instead, her writing life is woven into her mothering life,
and she finds that she can write in conditions she would have previously
thought impossible. It is clear that writers who are also mothers must
write their stories. How do they do it, why are so many readers
interested in what they have to say, and what can we learn from them?
Women have been writing about motherhood as long as they have been
writing, but the contemporary shift to tell-all memoirs has changed the
rules of writing about mothering, and perhaps, of mothering itself.

We are seeking proposals for a collection that will interrogate and
critique the motherhood memoir. In addition to a new collection entitled
Mama Ph.D.: Women Write about Motherhood and Academic Life, there are
several very recent motherhood memoirs that demand critical attention,
works such as: Adrienne Martini's, Hillbilly Gothic: A Memoir of Madness
and Motherhood; Susan Johnson's, A Better Woman; Ayun Halliday's, The Big
Rumpus; and Anne Roiphe's, Living Contradictions: A Memoir of Modern
Motherhood. What are these and other writing mothers saying about the
experience of mothering today? What, if any, universals are present in
motherhood memoirs? What societal critiques and suggestions provide the
bedrock for potential revolutionary parenting practices? This collection
will strive to bridge the distance between writing mothers who are
critics and writing mothers who are authors by privileging academic work
that seeks to discuss and contextualize motherhood memoirs beside
authors’ own experiences of mothering, academic life, and writing.
Autotheoretical works are encouraged, as are works that seek to
meaningfully compare contemporary motherhood memoirs with those written
in other eras, or works which thematically explore a grouping of memoirs.
For example, one might discuss the role of fathers, special needs
children, mothering and mental illness, etc. in several volumes,
particularly if these topics inform the author’s own experiences. Other
possible topics include the range of issues related to choice (the choice
of whether/when/how to mother, etc.), mothering and socioeconomic class,
mothering and race, mothering at different ages, mothering and
prose/poetic form, mothering and sexuality, and other topical themes.

Please send one to two page proposals and a curriculum vitae to Justine
Dymond, jdymond_at_spfldcol.edu , and Nicole Willey, nwilley_at_kent.edu, by
April 15, 2009.

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Received on Fri Jan 23 2009 - 11:25:13 EST