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Seminar paper from the year 2004 in the subject American Studies - Literature, grade: 1,3 (A), http://www.uni-jena.de/ (Institute for Anglistics/American Studies), course: HpS: Landmarks of 20th Century African American Novel Writing, language: English, abstract: In the course of the twentieth century, the perception of motherhood, both as a cultural concept and a literary theme, has been subjected to considerable changes. Due particularly to psychoanalytical discoveries emphasising the formative influence of early childhood upon the mental growth and health of the individual, the…mehr

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Seminar paper from the year 2004 in the subject American Studies - Literature, grade: 1,3 (A), http://www.uni-jena.de/ (Institute for Anglistics/American Studies), course: HpS: Landmarks of 20th Century African American Novel Writing, language: English, abstract: In the course of the twentieth century, the perception of motherhood, both as a cultural concept and a literary theme, has been subjected to considerable changes. Due particularly to psychoanalytical discoveries emphasising the formative influence of early childhood upon the mental growth and health of the individual, the nineteenth-century notion of motherhood as solely based on devotion, self-sacrifice and restriction to the domestic sphere was further strengthened during the first half of the twentieth century (Würzbach 370-374). What was for a long time assumed the natural and consequently most satisfying task for a woman, has increasingly been called into question under the influence of the feminist movement after 1968. Influential and frequently quoted studies like Adrienne Rich's Of Woman Born (1977) or Marianne Hirsch's The Mother/Daughter Plot (1989) reveal how the perception of motherhood, commonly interpreted as a mere cultural reality construct, has been shaped and altered in accordance with the changing needs of a patriarchal society, and its questionable ideas of economic progress and sociological as well as cultural advancement (Krimphove 11-68). Although these theories have proven substantial and inspiring for not only female authors, the universal validity of the assumptions made by these predominantly white, Anglo-Saxon feminists has been challenged by women belonging to ethnic minorities. Accompanied by the questioning of the premises and possibilities of the literary canon, doubts also arouse whether the specific experiences and the unarguably incomparable historical backgrounds of previously marginalized groups of women are compatible to eurocentric "white" feminist theories, especially those that deal with psychoanalytical concerns (Krimphove 11-68).

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