Title

The Other Mother in Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping

Presenter Information

Erynn ChurchFollow

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

English Literature

Minor

Rhetoric

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Dr. Carrie Jerrell; Dr. Ray Horton

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

In Housekeeping, the concept of motherhood is constantly challenged and subverted by the variety of mother figures that care for Ruth, the novel's main character. While many scholars have addressed the subversion of womanhood, the family structure and the home in this novel, few have offered in-depth analysis of the failures of motherhood and the feminist ethical concerns the novel raises. In this presentation, I will examine Sylvie - the mother figure with whom most of the novel is concerned - and the way in which she mothers Ruth by invoking and developing Ruth's own abstract concepts of ideal motherhood. I believe this to be derived from Sylvie's feelings of inadequacy in the role of mother, a larger theme of the novel that I will explore in the context of feminist care ethics.

Spring Scholars Week 2019 Event

Senior Seminar in Literature: Research Presentations

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The Other Mother in Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping

In Housekeeping, the concept of motherhood is constantly challenged and subverted by the variety of mother figures that care for Ruth, the novel's main character. While many scholars have addressed the subversion of womanhood, the family structure and the home in this novel, few have offered in-depth analysis of the failures of motherhood and the feminist ethical concerns the novel raises. In this presentation, I will examine Sylvie - the mother figure with whom most of the novel is concerned - and the way in which she mothers Ruth by invoking and developing Ruth's own abstract concepts of ideal motherhood. I believe this to be derived from Sylvie's feelings of inadequacy in the role of mother, a larger theme of the novel that I will explore in the context of feminist care ethics.