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Sonya Andermahr


									Dr Sonya Andermahr
Senior Lecturer in English
University of Northampton

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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