Maternal Impressions: Pregnancy and Childbirth in Literature and Theory
In an unusual combination of reflection, autobiography, theory, and criticism, Cristina Mazzoni looks at childbirth and early maternity from the perspective of an academic mother with three young children. Mazzoni draws upon examples ranging from contemporary advice manuals and novels to the work of turn-of-the-century Italian scientists and women writers, as well as fairy tales, religious texts, psychoanalytic accounts, and feminist theory. Throughout her investigations of the various forces that shape cultural views of pregnancy and childbirth, Mazzoni strives to imagine and deploy maternity as a concept and a reality capable of challenging conventional representations of subjectivity. The questions she addresses dwell on relationship and interdependence, the inseparability of the personal and the political, and the connections and interactions between bodies and power. Maternal Impressions is far more than a book of literary criticism and theory. It reveals the multiple bonds and continuities between the contradictory ways in which pregnancy and childbirth were represented a century ago and the manner in which they still haunt feminist experience today. In her conclusion, Mazzoni points toward a possible ethics of maternity.
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