Seminar 11: Motherhood During the Victorian era the ideal of motherhood reached its pinnacle. Mothers were viewed as providing personal care and emotional rather than economic support; child-rearing came to be understood as a task that was best done primarily by the individual mother without reliance on servants, older children, or other women; and it was expected that all women whether biological mothers or not would have a maternal instinct. In this seminar we will analyse this idea, examine to what extent it was ever a reality and look into the ways in which the ideal and experience of motherhood has been changing over the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Seminar/Essay Questions:
- In what ways have class, ethnicity and locality have shaped women’s experiences of motherhood?
- How have feminist theories of motherhood have added to our understanding?
- How has women’s caring role in the family been changing?