Coronavirus (Covid-19): Latest updates and information
Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Seminar 11

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:
  1. In what ways have class, ethnicity and locality have shaped women’s experiences of motherhood?
  2. How have feminist theories of motherhood have added to our understanding?
  3. How has women’s caring role in the family been changing?
Seminar Reading: S. Aiston, ‘A Maternal Identity? The Family Lives of British Women Graduates Pre- and Post-1945’ History of Education 34 (2005) 407-26. A. Davin, ‘Imperialism and Motherhood’ History Workshop 5 (1978) 9-66. L. McCray Beier, ‘Expertise and Control: Childbearing in Three Working-class Lancashire Communities’ Bulletin of the History of Medicine 78 (2004) 379-409. E. Ross, ‘New Thoughts on the Oldest Vocation: Mothers and Motherhood in Recent Feminist Scholarship’ Signs 20 (1995) 397-413. S. Rowbotham, ‘To Be or Not to Be: The Dilemmas of Mothering’ Feminist Review 31 (1989) 82-93. D.S. Wilson, ‘A New Look at the Affluent Worker: The Good Working Mother in Post-War Britain’ Twentieth Century British History 17 (2006) 206-229.Additional Reading: E. Badinter, The Myth of Motherhood (1980). J. Bailey, Can Any Mother Help Me? (2007). J. Bowlby, Child Care and the Growth of Love (1953). N. Chodorow, The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender (1978). A. Dally, Inventing Motherhood (1982). V. Devlin, Motherhood: From 1920 to the Present Day (1995). B. Friedan, The Feminine Mystique (1965). J. Garcia, R. Kilpatrick and M. Richards (eds.), The Politics of Maternity Care (1990). H. Gavron, The Captive Wife: Conflicts of Housebound Mothers (1968). S. Grayzel, Women’s Identities at War: Gender, Motherhood and Politics in Britain and France During the First World War (1999). M. Hirsch, The Mother/Daughter Plot: Narrative, Psychoanalysis, Feminism (1989). J. Lewis, The Politics of Motherhood (1980). J. Lewis (ed.) Labour and Love. Women’s Experience of Home and Family 1850-1940 (1986). M. Llewellyn Davies (ed.), Maternity: Letters from Working-Women (1978). A. Oakley, Housewife (1974). A. Oakley, The Sociology of Housework (1974). A. Oakley, Becoming a Mother (1979). A. Oakley, Taking it like a Woman (1985). A. Phoenix, Young Mothers? (1991). T. Reynolds, Caribbean Mothering: Identity and Childrearing in the UK (2005). A. Rich, Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution (1986). D. Riley, War in the Nursery: Theories of Child and Mother (1983). E. Roberts, A Woman’s Place: An Oral History of Working Class Women 1890-1940 (1984). E. Roberts, Women and Families: An Oral History 1940-1970 (1995). E. Ross, Love and Toil: Motherhood in Outcast London, 1870-1918 (1993). C. Smart (ed.), Regulating Womanhood - Historical Essays on Marriage, Motherhood and Sexuality (1992). C. Urwin, ‘Constructing Motherhood: A Persuasion of Normal Development’, in C. Steedman, C. Urwin and V. Walkerdine, Language, Gender and Childhood (1985), 164-202. W. Webster, Imagining Home: Gender, ‘Race’ and National Identity (1998). D.W. Winnicott, The Child and the Family: First Relationships (1957).