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    The myths of motherhood : how culture reinvents the good mother
    Thurer, Shari.  
    Houghton Mifflin,
    Pub date:
    Physical desc:
    xxvii, 381 p. ;
    Copy info:
    1 copy available in Shelved by call number, A-L 4th Floor, N-Z 3rd Floor.
    1 copy total in all locations.
    • 0395584159
    • Holdings
      Call number Copies Material Location
      HQ759 .T48 1994 1 Book Shelved by call number, A-L 4th Floor, N-Z 3rd Floor


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0395584159 (recycled paper) :
9780395584156 (recycled paper)
Personal Author:
Thurer, Shari.
The myths of motherhood : how culture reinvents the good mother / Shari L. Thurer.
Publication info:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1994.
Physical descrip:
xxvii, 381 p. ; 24 cm.
Bibliography note:
Includes bibliographical references (p. [328]-358) and index.
Mothering, the old-fashioned way -- History begins, herstory ends -- The sublime and the ridiculous: classical mom -- Sacred and profane callings: medieval mom -- Father knows best: early modern mom -- The exaltation of mother: eighteenth- and nineteenth-century mom -- Fall from grace: twentieth-century mom.
Given a voice, what would the Great Goddess, the Virgin Mary, Snow White's evil stepmother, or Portnoy's mom have said about child care, contraception, bonding, or breast-feeding? Would their feelings have mattered? After all, maternity has been constructed by men over the millennia. Aristotle thought mother's womb merely cooked father's seed. The Church preferred virgins to mothers, and Freud was father-fixated. Even a brief survey of history reveals a diversity of maternal practices and ideals that are at odds with each other as well as with the views of contemporary child-care experts and psychologists. "I cannot recall ever treating a mother who did not harbor shameful secrets about how her behavior or feelings damaged her children," writes Thurer. Today our sentimentalized conception of the good mother casts a long, guilt-inducing shadow over real mothers' lives. Never has there been so much advice and so little agreement. Never have the ideals of motherhood been as ambiguous, psychologically demanding, and unforgiving. One conclusion is certain: the "good mother" is a cultural invention. In this brilliant synthesis of history, psychology, the arts, and religion, Thurer shows how our current concept of the ideal mother, like all ideology, is culture-bound, historically specific, and hopelessly tied to fashion. Thurer exposes our current myths of motherhood as a backlash against recent gains in women's rights and control over their bodies. "For thousands of years, because of her awesome ability to spew forth a child, mother has been feared and revered. She has been the subject of taboos, witch hunts, mandatory pregnancy, and confinement in a separate sphere. She has endured appalling insults and perpetual marginalization. She has also been the subject of glorious painting, chivalry, and idealization. Through it all she has rarely been consulted." The Myths of Motherhood, finally, is her story.
Subject term:
Subject term:
Motherhood in popular culture--History.

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