Keeping mum: representations of motherhood in contemporary Australian literature - a fictocritical exploration

Jeannette Weeda-Zuidersma

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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[Truncated abstract] This thesis argues that the non-representation and under-representation of mothering in contemporary Australian literature reflects a much wider cultural practice of silencing the mother-as-subject position and female experiences as a whole. The thesis encourages women writers to pay more attention to the subjective experiences of mothering, so that women’s writing, in particular writing on those aspects of women’s lives that are silenced, of which motherhood is one, can begin to refigure motherhood discourses. This thesis examines mother-as-subject from three perspectives: mothering as a corporeal experience, mothering as a psychological experience, and the articulations and silences of mothering-as-subject. It engages with feminist, postmodern and fictocritical theories in its discussion of motherhood as a discourse through these perspectives. In particular, the thesis employs the theoretical works of postmodern feminists Hélène Cixous, Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva in this discussion . . . A fictional narrative also runs through the critical discussion on motherhood. This narrative, Catherine’s Story, gives a personal and immediate voice to the mother-as-subject perspective. In keeping with the nature of fictocriticism, strict textual boundaries between criticism and fiction are blurred. The two modes of writing interact and in the process inform and critique each other.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2007


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