Syndemic Motherhood: Exploring American Epidemics through Engaged and Applied Arts

deadline for submissions: 
August 1, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Ali Duffy/Texas Tech University
contact email: 

Syndemic Motherhood: Exploring American Epidemics through Engaged and Applied Arts, a case study anthology, explores how various artistic practices and processes have been instrumental in processing, sharing, and learning about the intersectional epidemics unique to US-Americans and their experiences in motherhood. Issues related to social inequity such as gun violence, healthcare access, the COVID-19 pandemic, poverty, and childcare converge to create challenging circumstances for women and mothers in the United States. The arts provide a malleable yet rigorous framework to unpack these issues publicly. Central to this topic is a growing body of literature about how applied performance affects change, activates transformation and healing, and engages communities in shared lived experience and learning. We seek to highlight artistic processes and experiences of developing, creating, devising, or contributing to artwork that centralizes topics of social inequity with pregnancy, motherhood, and womanhood. As well, we aim to feature innovative artistic and educational practices from contributing authors that illustrate complex, diverse experiences of contemporary and coexisting states of art making and mothering. By situating scholarly voices and descriptions of lived experiences into conversation with each other, this book reveals the realities pregnant people and mothers face(d) during this uniquely perilous historical era and brings to light the ways applied arts can impact artists and communities. This book underscores best practices to positively impact mothers and their families, employers, policymakers, and communities.

By exploring lived experiences, emergent political and social issues, and artistic and pedagogical interventions, adaptations, and innovations, this book initiates expanded discussion about mothers and caregiving and promotes ideas to positively impact parents and their families, co-workers, employers, organizations, and communities.

We invite chapter proposals addressing topics, issues, challenges or concerns that may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Experiences of developing works of applied theatre, devised theatre, theatre-dance, dance, visual arts, and writing within topics of contemporary issues of motherhood in the United States, which could focus on any of the following:
  • Childcare access
  • Healthcare access, maternal mortality, or public health
  • COVID-19 pandemic experiences
  • Gun or domestic violence
  • Intersectional motherhood
  • Poverty
  • Racism
  • Ableism
  • Transphobia
  • Sexism or misogyny
  • Single motherhood
  • Adoption
  • Miscarriage
  • Interdisciplinary approaches to representing experiences of pregnancy and motherhood in the United States
  • Qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods research studies about pregnancy and/or motherhood and/or parenthood in the United States
  • Arts as a healing, coping, sharing, activating mechanism
  • Arts as a community- or socially-engaged pursuit
  • Experiences of creating art works with mothers and/or pregnant people
  • How artists are connecting populations in the creation of new art during this particular time in US history
  • How the arts evoke new meaning related to motherhood
  • The pregnant and/or parenting performer, aesthetics, culture(s) and performance
  • Exploration of the arts, pregnancy, and parenting outcomes relating to, for example, the arts and social diversity, expanding participation, and/or health and well-being
  • Consideration of pregnancy and/or parenting in arts training and performance
  • Analysis of the impact of artistic, pedagogical, or policy changes related to pregnancy and parental status
  • Exploration of inequities and inequalities affecting pregnant women and mothers and the impacts on physical and mental health, well-being, participation, opportunity, inclusion, community, and social engagement
  • Analysis of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on dancing parents

To submit a proposal, please email the following to Ali Duffy ( by Tuesday, August 1st, 2023:

  • Your name and contact information
  • Proposed title
  • An abstract of between 250-500 words*
  • A brief resume or CV highlighting record of publication and research experience

*Chapters need not already be written at the time of submitting a proposal. The editorial team will select the chapters to include based on submitted abstracts and will then work with authors to develop and edit their chapters over a period of time.

Please direct any questions to the co-editors:

Ali Duffy ( Sarah Johnson ( Tamar Neumann (