Motherhood and Representation: The Mother in Popular Culture and Melodrama 

The definition of mother has changed a lot over time, especially since the birth of the nation-state, and America is no exception. Throughout history, literature and film have provided us with representations of motherhood and maternal ideals that reflect the social realities of the time and place.

The book “Motherhood and Representation: Feminism, Psychoanalysis and the Material American Melodrama” takes a look at some of the ways in which literature and film have presented society’s changing notions of motherhood and maternal ideals.

E. Ann Kaplan considers in this book how the mother appears in three related spheres:

  • the historical, in which she charts changing representations of the mother from 1830 to the postmodernist present;
  • the psychoanalytic, which discusses theories of the mother from Freud to Lacan and the French Feminists;
  • and the mother as she is figured in cultural representations.
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