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367 “Stories to Live By”: Maternal Literatures and Motherhood Studies | by andrea o’reilly We opened the introduction to this collection with Ruddick’s oft-cited quotation referencing the absence of language in which to articulate the “ordinary and extraordinary pleasures and pains of maternal work.” “Maternal voices,” as Ruddick explains further, “have been drowned by professional theory, ideologies of motherhood, sexist arrogance, and childhood fantasy. Voices that have been distorted and censored can only be developing voices. Alternatively silenced and edging toward speech, mothers’ voices are not voices of mothers as they are, but as they are becoming” (40; emphasis in original). Our aim in developing this collection was to create a space for the articulation of maternal voices, “to edge toward speech” the discursive and literary narratives of textual mothers and maternal texts as represented in contemporary women’s literature and literary criticism. In this, the collection engages in and extends the excavational work of maternal scholarship, to unearth women’s meanings and experiences of motherhood. The aim of this conclusion to Textual Mothers / Maternal Texts is to locate the volume in the larger context of motherhood studies and its task of what O’Reilly has termed an archaeology of maternity (2004). Di Brandt opens the prologue to her 1993 book Wild Mother Dancing by recalling how the birth of her first child in 1976 called into question all that she had learned—or thought she had learned—in her master’s English literature program completed the same year. She writes: “It was like falling Coda 368 andrea o’reilly into a vacuum, narratively speaking. I realized suddenly with shock, that none of the texts that I had so carefully read, none of the literary skills I had acquired so diligently as a student of literature had anything remotely to do with the experience of becoming a mother” (3). Similarly, Sharon Abbey and Andrea O’Reilly open their 1998 book, Redefining Motherhood: Changing Identities and Patterns, by citing Adrienne Rich’s 1976 oft-cited quote, “We knowmoreabouttheairwebreathe,theseaswetravel,thanaboutthenature and meaning of motherhood” (11). Significantly, in the 20 years between the publication of Rich’s landmark Of Woman Born and Redefining Motherhood , we witnessed a proliferation of scholarly texts on motherhood. The years 1988–92 in particular saw the publication of numerous, now-classic motherhood texts, including Kathryn Allen Rabuzzi’s Motherself: A Mythic Analysis of Motherhood, Sara Ruddick’s Maternal Thinking, Paula Caplan’s Don’t Blame Mother, Marianne Hirsch’s Mother/Daughter Plot, Barbara Katz Rothman’s Recreating Motherhood, Miriam Johnson’s Strong Mothers, Weak Wives, Patricia Hill Collins’s Black Feminist Thought, and Patricia Bell-Scott et al.’s Double Stitch: Black Women Write about Mothers and Daughters. Indeed, by 1998, most academic disciplines, from anthropology to women’s studies, were engaged in some form of motherhood research. And while scholarship on motherhood in some disciplines still struggled for legitimacy and centrality, there was the recognition that motherhood studies was emerging as a distinct field within the larger disciplines of feminist scholarship and women’s studies. However, despite the exponential growth of scholarship on motherhood in the 1990s, there did not exist a scholarly association, journal, or press to acknowledge the profundity of this topic and uphold its continued inquiry. Scholars from a multitude of fields named motherhood as their central research area, yet these many scholars did not have a scholarly association or journal they could “call their own,” one that specifically focused on their research interests. In response to this need, the Association for Research on Mothering (ARM) was established in 1998, its journal in 1999, and its press in 2006 to promote, showcase, and make visible maternal scholarship, to accord legitimacy to this academic field, and to provide a community for like-minded scholars who research and work in the area of motherhood.1 Overthelastdecadethetopicofmotherhood,asaresultinpartoftheresearchactivitiesofARM ,hasemergedasadistinctfieldofscholarlyinquiry. Indeed, today it would be unthinkable to cite Rich’s quote on the dearth of maternal scholarship, as Redefining Motherhood did a mere ten years ago. A cursory review of motherhood research reveals that hundreds of scholarly articles have been published on almost every motherhood theme imagin- 369 stories to live by able. The Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering (JARM) alone has examined motherhood topics as diverse as sexuality, peace, religion, public policy, literature, work, popular culture, healthcare work, young mothers, motherhoodandfeminism,feministmothering,mothersandsons,mothers and daughters, lesbian mothering, adoption, the motherhood movement, and mothering, race, and ethnicity to name a few...


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