Date of Award:

5-2009

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

English

Advisor/Chair:

Evelyn I Funda

Abstract

This thesis consists of five chapters including a traditional introduction and four chapters, which investigate cultural interpretations of motherhood within the genre of memoir and personal essay. In the introduction, I discuss my research as it relates to the larger collection and detail how this work is different from other works within the "mother memoir" genre. Chapters II thru V, then, are all essays which begin to explore the major themes of cultural motherhood: ambivalence, loss, legitimacy, morality, and sin. These chapters, especially chapter II, identify and detail the traits of true motherhood as patience, compassion, sacrifice, and strength.

Chapter V, as the culminating chapter, places me, as writer, in a different position--as a reader--and I begin to understand my history as a parent and as a writer through these texts. Using literature as an area of personal research and recovery, I reconstruct my past as a child and a parent and begin to understand what it means to be a mother--or at least, to better understand the expectations of those who surround me.

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