|Title:||Traversing the boundaries of the New Momism: Challenging the “good” mother myth in The Handmaid’s Tale (2017 –) and Big Little Lies (2017 –)|
Department of Gender and Cultural Studies
|Abstract:||This thesis explores the conflicting and polarising nature of contemporary motherhood, whereby tactics of surveillance and monitoring generate internalised anxieties surrounding the achievement of “good” motherhood. Through a textual analysis framework, this thesis examines the capacity for televisual texts to intervene in and provide a commentary on, the cultural conversations surrounding the regulation of mothering practices and the kinds of subjectivities women can inhabit in 21st century America. The heightened politicisation of women’s bodies in the United States and its intersecting relationship with motherhood is examined through Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale (2017 –) and HBO’s Big Little Lies (2017 –). Although the texts are generically very different, with one being a dystopian drama and the other a realistic suburban “whodunnit”, I argue that both texts represent a complex engagement with the central female characters who come to understand their selves within, and outside of, their role as mothers. I also examine the characters’ everyday feminine entanglements with violence and trauma that invoke a collective act of consciousness raising between the female characters as well as from the audience. In my analysis of both texts, I draw extensively on Adrienne Rich’s (1976) definition of motherhood as a patriarchal institution, its potentially empowering qualities and the dichotomy of motherhood as a site of both love and anger, as well as Susan J. Douglas and Meredith W. Michaels’ (2005) theory of “The New Momism” and the postfeminist trope of “having it all”. I argue that the changing landscape of production, access and distribution, allows for television to re-orient the male gaze, challenge dominant, limiting narratives about motherhood as well as providing a platform for female characters to “speak back to” traditional representations of women, and their role as mothers on screen.|
|Department/Unit/Centre:||Department of Gender and Cultural Studies|
|Type of Work:||Thesis, Honours|
|Appears in Collections:||Honours Theses|
|WALLWORTH_G_THESIS_2018.pdf||468.05 kB||Adobe PDF|
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