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Contemporary Feminism and Women's Short Stories$
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Emma Young

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474427739

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474427739.001.0001

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(p.46) Chapter 2 Motherhood
Contemporary Feminism and Women's Short Stories

Emma Young

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter commences by contextualising the politics of motherhood in light of the feminist writings of Shulamith Firestone, Adrienne Rich and Julia Kristeva. The literary analysis focuses on the control of women’s bodies and societal expectations in the work of Roberts and how the critique of motherhood apparent in these narratives reflects a tendency of much second-wave feminist thought. The second section considers the writings of Simpson and how she invokes the narrative brevity of the short story to heighten the sense of spatial constraint the female protagonist’s, who are mothers, experience; but also the temporal constraints felt by those without a child, who are aware of their ageing bodies. ‘Maternal Loss’ explores the ambivalence at the heart of motherhood and feminism while questioning how understandings of the maternal contain broader meanings and significance across cultures and in the context of migration narratives. The concluding commentary engages with the topic of feminist generations and reflects on the ways in which motherhood has been explored and re-worked as a central feminist motif across various cultural moments since the 1980s.

Keywords:   Maternal, Second-wave feminism, Brevity, Migration

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