Other Mothers

Beyond the Maternal Ideal

Edited by Ellen Bayuk Rosenman and Claudia C. Klaver


Oct 2008
Literature and Criticism/British and Irish
348 pp. 6x9

$39.95 paper 978-0-8142-5681-7
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“[T]he volume provides rich historical and critical analysis of little-known works, lives, and days.” —Studies in English Literature 1500–1900

“Other Mothers not only introduces readers to a number of little known historical cases that enlarge our sense of the maternal experience, but it offers fresh perspectives on canonical literary works as well—perspectives that suggest that the Victorians themselves may have been rather more skeptical, if rarely loudly critical, of ‘the maternal ideal’ than we have hitherto supposed.” —Eileen Gillooly, Columbia University

“Other Mothers is consistently interesting and fresh and the scholars involved make significant contributions to the study of Victorian literature and culture, to cultural studies more generally, and to studies of the family, gender, race, and class. This collection stands out from other scholarship on the Victorian mother in its breadth of approaches and of materials studied. I look forward to owning a copy myself.” —Beverly Taylor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Other Mothers, edited by Ellen Bayuk Rosenman and Claudia C. Klaver, offers a range of essays that open a conversation about Victorian motherhood as a wide-ranging, distinctive experience and idea. In spite of its importance, however, it is one of the least-studied aspects of the Victorian era, subsumed under discussions of femininity and domesticity.

This collection addresses that void and reveals the extraordinary diversity of Victorian motherhood. Exploring diaries, novels, and court cases, with contexts ranging from London to Egypt to Australia, these varied accounts take the collection “beyond the maternal ideal” to consider the multiple, unpredictable ways in which motherhood was experienced and imagined in this formative historical period.

Other Mothers joins revisionist approaches to femininity that now characterize Victorian studies. Its contents trace intersections among gender, race, and class; question the power of separate spheres ideology; and insist on the context-specific nature of social roles. The sixteen previously unpublished essays in this volume contribute to the fields of literary criticism, history, cultural studies, and history.

Ellen Bayuk Rosenman is professor of English, and affiliate in Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Kentucky. Claudia C. Klaver is associate professor of English at Syracuse University.