Representations of Motherhood

Aus Iaawiki

Summer Semester 2020

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Course Information
Nr. Kursbezeichnung Typ Zeit Raum DozentIn
154641 Representations of Motherhood 2 PS Blockseminar June 20 R. tba Serhat-Sawitzki
Course Description

“Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world, a mother’s love is not.” – James Joyce
“Because I feel that, in the Heavens above / The angels, whispering to one another, / Can find, among their burning terms of love / None so devotional as that of ‘Mother’” – Edgar Allan Poe
Humankind shares one feature: we were all born by a woman, our (biological) mother. There can be no humankind without motherhood. In our society, mothers have not only been understood as essential to the existence of humankind, but also as innately loving and caring individuals, universal and irreplaceable in their role towards their child(ren). However, the understanding of “mother” in Western societies is not merely defined by its biological features; our perceptions of “mother” and “motherhood" are oftentimes cultural constructs.
Questions we will try to answer in this class are: How has motherhood as a concept been culturally constructed? Is there a universal, “natural” way of being a mother? What does “motherhood” as a cultural construct entail? Have conventional attributions to mothers been limiting, maybe even oppressive? How does society treat women who choose not to become mothers?
In this class, we will look at the concept of motherhood from different angles: traditional views and understandings of motherhood on the one hand and critical perspectives by, for example, Simone de Beauvoir, on the other. Furthermore, we will read fictional and non-fictional texts about, for example, the compatibility of motherhood and professional success. The question of the concept of “motherhood” (and consequently, “fatherhood”, too) in an age of reproductive technology and gay parenting will be discussed in our class as well. Contemporary representations of motherhood in popular culture, such as “mommy blogs” and “Instagram mommy bloggers”, will also be included in our classroom discussions. A reader will be available for purchase at the beginning of the semester.

Particularly recommended for students of the Angewandte Studiengänge.

2009 602 503 503
2016 503 503
Angewandte Sprachwissenschaften/Angewandte Literatur-/Kulturwissenschaften:
PO vor WS 16/17:
  • Kern: 1c, 2abc, 3a
  • Komp: 1b, 2c
Komp: 2a
PO ab WS 16/17:
  • Kern: 1c, 2abc, 3a
  • Komp: 1b, 2c
Komp: 2a