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Motherhood and Representation


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Kaplan undertakes an enormous task of studying mother-representations in film and literature, using historical and psychoanalytic discourses. Fueled in part by her experience as a single mother and the social constraints that prohibited her from happily combining sex, work, and motherhood, she attempts to open up the mother role as only one part of a woman's total experience. She links dominant discourses to economic changes resulting from the Industrial Revolution (early modernism), World War I (high modernism), and the aftermath of World War II (postmodernism), speculating on the demise of the modern motherhood concept in the 21st century. Her careful analysis of mother themes in such films as East Lynne and Now Voyager is intriguing, but her briefer discussion of reproductive technologies, male control of women's bodies, and the displacement of the mother as subject to the fetus as person is even more compelling. Though it is not easy reading, this is scholarship at its pinnacle. For academic collections.-- Paula N. Arnold, Norwich Univ. Lib., Northfield, Vt.

"This is scholarship at its pinnacle."
-"Library Journal

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