Horrible Mothers


Horrible Mothers

Representations across Francophone North America

Edited by Loïc Bourdeau

228 pages


December 2019


$45.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

December 2019


$45.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

December 2019


$45.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

For too long the main narratives of motherhood have been oppressive and exclusionary, frequently ignoring issues of female identity—especially regarding those not conforming to traditional female stereotypes. Horrible Mothers offers a variety of perspectives for analyzing representations of the mother in francophone literature and film at the turn of the twenty-first century in North America, including Québec, Ontario, New England, and California.

Contributors reexamine the “horrible mother” paradigm within a broad range of sociocultural contexts from different locations to broaden the understanding of mothering beyond traditional ideology. The selections draw from long-established scholarship in women’s studies as well as from new developments in queer studies to make sense of and articulate strategies of representation; to show how contemporary family models are constantly evolving, reshaping, and moving away from heteronormative expectations; and to reposition mothers as subjects occupying the center of their own narrative, rather than as objects. The contributors engage narratives of mothering from myriad perspectives, referencing the works of writers or filmmakers such as Marguerite Andersen, Nelly Arcan, Grégoire Chabot, Xavier Dolan, Nancy Huston, and Lucie Joubert.

Author Bio

Loïc Bourdeau is an assistant professor of French and francophone studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He holds the College of Liberal Arts/Louisiana Board of Regents Professorship in Francophone Studies. He is the associate editor of Études Francophones.


"This timely volume invigorates scholarly attention to the role of the mother in culture and advocates for a reading of motherhood and maternity imbued with empowering potential for all women whose value is measured according to social expectations of mothers."—Jocelyn A. Frelier, French Studies

"This collection will be of interest to those studying mothers and motherhood in literature of any language as well as scholars of Francophone North America."—D. L. Boudreau, Choice

“This multidisciplinary collection of essays from a francophone North American context constitutes an important challenge to normalizing and oppressive discourses of motherhood that fail to take account of the much messier and often ambivalent nature of lived maternal experiences. . . . We are reminded in this collection of the dangers of the cultural idealization of mothers and the ongoing need to deconstruct normative motherhood from a feminist perspective.”—Julie Rodgers, lecturer in French studies and member of the Motherhood Project, Maynooth University (Ireland)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Failing Successfully
Loïc Bourdeau
1. The Whore and Her Mother: Exploring Matrophobia in Nelly Arcan’s Putain
Pauline Henry-Tierney
2. Horrible Mothers in Mémère’s Kitchen: Queer Identity in New England Franco-America
Susan Pinette
3. “I’m Not the Virgin Mary”: Rebellious Motherhood in Grégoire Chabot’s “A Life Lost”
Chelsea Ray
4. Permissive Parenting: The Awful American Mother in Nancy Huston’s Lignes de faille
Alison Rice
5. Lucie Joubert’s Ironic Rejection of Motherhood in L’envers du landau
Natalie Edwards
6. Voicing Shame: From Fiction to Confession in the Work of Marguerite Andersen
Lucie Hotte and Ariane Brun del Re
7. The Transgressive Mother in Nancy Huston’s Bad Girl: Classes de littérature
Susan Ireland and Patrice J. Proulx
8. Forgiving the Horrible Mother: Children’s Needs and Women’s Desires in Twenty-First-Century Québécois Film
Amy J. Ransom
9. Politics and Motherhood in Xavier Dolan’s J’ai tué ma mère and Mommy
Loïc Bourdeau

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