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Dr Sonya Andermahr Senior Lecturer in English University of Northampton Sonya.email@example.com Research Project 2008-10: The representation of children in contemporary women’s writing The research will examine the representation of children in contemporary women’s writing. I am interested in the question of what happens when the generation of young women who grew up with feminism have children of their own: what kind of narratives of maternity and childhood do they write? My starting point is the perceived shift from the images of children prevalent in much feminist fiction of the second wave in which children tend to function either as an obstacle to female freedom or are frequently largely absent from the narrative, to recent depictions in which children take a much more central role. In particular, I want to analyse the preoccupation in much contemporary fiction with the figure of the child, especially the girl child, as a special object of anxiety and concern. I expect to draw on contemporary discourses about child behaviour and sexuality, psychoanalytic theories of adult fantasy about children, and cultural trends in parenting and mothering. I envisage looking at a range of genres including so-called ‘mum’s lit’; domestic thrillers; and the contemporary family saga, linking these generic choices to particular attitudes towards children: ironical in the case of mum’s lit, tragic and melancholic in the crime thriller for example. I may well include sections on narratives of ‘The Missing Child’ ‘The Child under Threat’, ‘The Anti-Social Child’. Primary texts include: Rachel Cusk, Arlington Park and A Life’s Work; Kate Atkinson, Behind the Scenes at the Museum; Julie Myerson, Something Might Happen; Ali Smith, The Accidental; Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones; A.M. Homes, The End of Alice.
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