Mothers and Daughters in American Short Fiction: An Annotated Bibliography of Twentieth-Century Women's Literature

Mothers and Daughters in American Short Fiction: An Annotated Bibliography of Twentieth-Century Women's Literature

Mothers and Daughters in American Short Fiction: An Annotated Bibliography of Twentieth-Century Women's Literature

Mothers and Daughters in American Short Fiction: An Annotated Bibliography of Twentieth-Century Women's Literature

Synopsis

In 1976, Adrienne Rich wrote that the mother-daughter bond is the "great unwritten story," awaiting analysis and definition. Since then, many voices have come to fill the gap, including those of American fiction writers. This bibliography provides information on short stories that explore the mother-daughter relationship. The general introduction and the annotations analyze approximately 250 stories written by American women in the 20th century. Most of the stories were written during the past two decades and reflect a reevaluation of the mother-daughter bond and its impact on women's lives. The bibliography is arranged thematically with chapters on abuse and neglect, aging, alienation, death, expectations, nurturance, and portraits. Each chapter begins with an introductory overview and collective analysis of the stories in the chapter. The volume includes author, title, and subject indexes.

Excerpt

In 1976 Adrienne Rich brought to awareness the silence that for many years had surrounded "the most formative relationship in the life of every woman, the relationship between daughter and mother" (Hirsch 200). In her classic feminist work, Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution, Rich described the mother-daughter bond as the "great unwritten story" that awaited analysis and definition. She wrote:

This cathexis between mother and daughter -- essential, distorted, misused -- is the great unwritten story. Probably there is nothing in human nature more resonant with charges than the flow of energy between two biologically alike bodies, one of which has lain in amniotic bliss inside the other, one of which has labored to give birth to the other. The materials are here for the deepest mutuality and the most painful estrangement. (225-226)

Mother-daughter relationships have been historically ignored, even by mothers and daughters themselves, because of the ways women consciously and unconsciously think of themselves and others, Signe Hammer explains in her Introduction to Daughters and Mothers: Mothers and Daughters (xiii). In Western cultural tradition, she writes, "we have viewed relationships from a masculine perspective; women have been considered important only in terms of their roles as the wives and mothers of men" (xiii). Because women have been identified by society as primarily wives and mothers, and daughters as potential wives and mothers, Hammer points out, it has been difficult for mothers and daughters to see themselves or each other as separate individuals (xiii). Only recently through the combined influences of feminism and contemporary psychology has the concept of "self" emerged as an idea that is "common to all people, both male and female" (xiii).

Since the silence surrounding the mother-daughter relationship was first revealed by Rich, "many voices have come to fill this gap, to create speech and meaning where there has been silence and absence," Marianne Hirsch writes in her review essay Mothers and Daughters (201). During the past two decades, the voices of sociologists, psychologists, feminist scholars, historians, artists, poets, novelists, and short story writers have blended together in common exploration of the "great unwritten story," their interpretations of the mother-daughter bond shaped and reshaped by current feminist thought. For there can be no comprehensive study of . . .

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