Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Darsey, James Francis

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Communication


Motherhood in popular culture--India; Motherhood--Mythology


This thesis is dedicated to the exploration of mother-as-subject, from a variety of lenses and through the experiences of a couple of women. This work is also based on the notion that, in my reaction to the assumptions of this particular concept, representations of motherhood reverberate with the complexities of my own maternal bonds. The blending of the personal with the sociopolitical realities that constitute motherhood was a powerful analysis that demonstrated the ways in which social myths permeated and complicated the lived experience of mothering. I have devoted this study to analyzing the ideology of the entirely nurturant mother, and speak to the intractability of the myths surrounding motherhood. The way I see it, in the collision of reality with mythology, it is mythology that tends to prevail, as the language and the conventions of the story shape not only what is thought but also what can be said, heard and understood. Traditional portraits of the mother have tended to freeze the process of theorizing maternal subjectivity by erasing the tensions between subject and object, mother and child, fantasy and reality. Images of the maternal shape are in turn reshaped by cultural practices. My attempt has also been to emphasize the interconnection between the power of cultural practices and the development of the maternal subject who can both appropriate and contest these images. I have tried to explore the relation between intrusion and control, multiple and shifting meaning that maternal representations occupy in different arenas of social institutions. I have also focused attention on the paradox of attempting to articulate the meaning of motherhood in cultural arenas that find it difficult to comprehend the lived nature of women's experiences. The development of this study has enabled me to confront personal and the political issues related to maternal subjectivity, to question a society that has devalued and sentimentalized motherhood, and to develop images of generative and creative women who are also mothers. I have focused on motherhood as an inherently political experience, and I have chosen to reckon with my own image of motherhood and to confront representations of the mother.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [121]-131)


131 pages




Northern Illinois University

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