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Maternal Künstlerroman

  • By: Gillian M. E. Alban
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

The term maternal Künstlerroman alludes to the tradition of the Künstlerroman (artist novel), which depicts an artist's growth to maturity. Traditionally, the artist portrayed is a man. However, since the mid-20th century, women have created fiction featuring mothers who are also artists. This genre is the subject of Portrait of the Mother-Artist: Class and Creativity in Contemporary Fiction by Nancy Gerber. She notes that all her examples features heroines who are outsiders to white, middle-class culture and are thus less affected by the motherhood/creative work dichotomy that has traditionally been imposed, in fiction as in reality, for women of that background.

The expectation on women to bear children in domesticity has historically dimmed their chances of artistic creation, thus their failure to create becomes a feature ...

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