Chapter needed for volume on dead mothers in the cultural imagination

Berit Åström's picture
Call for Publications
September 15, 2015
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Early Modern History and Period Studies, European History / Studies, Literature, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Call for a chapter to fill a gap in an edited collection entitled Missing, Presumed Dead: the Absent Mother in the Cultural Imagination.

The dead or absent mother is a recurring feature in Western cultural productions, from Greek myths through folktales, Shakespeare and Dickens to contemporary literature such as Miriam Toew's A Complicated Kindness (2004), television, and films such as Finding Nemo (2003) and The Road (2009). The mother might be dead at the outset, or die during the narrative. Her death might be a disaster, propelling the child into danger; a blessing, saving the child from an abusive or inapprooriate parent and making way for a more suitable guardian; or of no consequence.

This volume aims to explore the many functions and meanings of the trope of the absent mother, both as products of the time and culture that produced the narratives, and as part of an ongoing cultural conversation that spans the centuries. Are the narratives a response to high numbers of maternal death in the Middle Ages, to changes to the early modern family structure, to increased divorce rates after World War II? What concerns are articulated in the narratives and what messages are communicated? What lessons, if any, are they supposed to teach?

I already have strong chapters ranging from the eighteenth century to the present day, analysing folk tales, novels, children's literature, photography, film and television. To complement those, I am looking for chapters disussing literature from before 1700.

Palgrave Macmillan have shown an interest, which I would like to capitalize on. Deadline for submission of abstracts is thus 15 September 2015.

Chapters should be ca 7 000 words, including notes and references. Deadline for submission of entire chapter 1 Feburary 2016.

Please send an abstract of 300 words and a 50 word bio to

Contact Info: 

Dr Berit Åström

Department of Language Studies

Umeå University

901 87 Umeå


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