I Say to You: World & Sometimes the Writer is also the Mother: Writing Maternal Subjectivity

Heal, Olivia (2022) I Say to You: World & Sometimes the Writer is also the Mother: Writing Maternal Subjectivity. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This creative-critical thesis is concerned with the contemporary writing of maternal subjectivity.
In an effort to avoid the restrictive conventions of traditions of maternal representation, in so far
as these tend to other or reify the maternal subject, I conceive of maternal subjectivity as something constitutionally ambivalent, fleeting, even contradictory. My intention has been for the two parts of the work – creative and critical – to be mutually informing, according to a process by which ideas are attempted through the possibilities afforded by different registers of writing.

The creative component, I Say to You: World, explores the defamiliarising experiences of pregnancy, birth and early motherhood. In it I seek to make and inhabit a form appropriate to these experiences and, consistently preoccupied with the question of how to write them, the work shifts between memoir, essay and fiction. Close attention to the physicality of the body and to the minutiae of the maternal day-to-day through often fragmented and apparently incohesive texts endeavours to create an immersive replication of motherhood.

The critical component, Sometimes the Writer Is Also the Mother: Writing Maternal Subjectivity, offers a reading of contemporary maternal literature. I construe maternity as generative, and through a study of three elements of lived maternal experience – interruption, effacement and objects – endeavour to exploit this site of potential. The project considers a wide corpus of writing of and about motherhood, within which two texts form the waymarks: Mutability: Scripts for Infancy by Andrea Brady and Lisa Baraitser’s Maternal Encounters: The Ethics of Interruption. Through attending to the relation between maternal writing and maternal experience, I attempt to sketch a poetics of motherhood.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing
Depositing User: Nicola Veasy
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2023 14:20
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2023 14:20
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/92528

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