Universität Wien
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123423 SE Literary & Cultural Studies Seminar / BA Paper / MA British/Irish/New English (2020W)

'Momoires': Remembering the Mother between Life-Writing and Fiction

11.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 12 - Anglistik
Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 18 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

  • Tuesday 06.10. 16:15 - 17:45 Digital
  • Tuesday 13.10. 16:15 - 17:45 Digital
  • Tuesday 20.10. 16:15 - 17:45 Digital
  • Tuesday 27.10. 16:15 - 17:45 Digital
  • Tuesday 03.11. 16:15 - 17:45 Digital
  • Tuesday 10.11. 16:15 - 17:45 Digital
  • Tuesday 17.11. 16:15 - 17:45 Digital
  • Tuesday 24.11. 16:15 - 17:45 Digital
  • Tuesday 01.12. 16:15 - 17:45 Digital
  • Tuesday 15.12. 16:15 - 17:45 Digital
  • Tuesday 12.01. 16:15 - 17:45 Digital
  • Tuesday 19.01. 16:15 - 17:45 Digital
  • Tuesday 26.01. 16:15 - 17:45 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

In this webinar we will discuss a number of 'mom-oires' (not momoirs), that is texts (both fictional and autobiographical) that have as their primary concern the representation and memorialization of the mother figure.

The aim is to guide students in a critical engagement with the phenomenon of motherhood (intended as institution, experience as well as discursive formation). In our Western, mostly secular but still Christian world, the figure of the mother has been the object of multiple investments (discursive, symbolical, mythological, religious, economic, political), idealizations (mater dolorosa, Madonna, the 'angel in the house' ), abstractions, stereotypes (the cruel stepmother, Medusa etc...) and displacements (of the sacred). Most of these religious, ideological investments have very little to do with the real life experiences of women both across time and space but also across class and race. In a time of racial, feminist and religious backlashes, we find particularly urgent to re-examine representations of mothers in a number of older and more recent texts drawn from Anglo-American but also postcolonial contexts. Particular emphasis will be put on questions of representation, aesthetics and subjectivity. We will also read and discuss some key-theoretical texts on motherhood (Winnicott, Recalcati, Rose, Chodorow, Rich).

Assessment and permitted materials

- paper proposal (20%) 1 page
- active contribution in class (20%)
- critical theoretical review (20%) 5 pages
- final seminar paper (40%) 20-25 pages included bibliography

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Regular attendance. Only two absences will be tolerated. This webinar will take place regularly every week. In case of a third absence you'll have to send a medical certificate.

Each of the four items above needs to be fulfilled. Overall pass rate is 60%.
Grading scale:
100%-90% Sehr Gut
91%-80% Gut
81%-70% Befriedigend
71%-60% Genügend
59%-0% Nicht Genügend

Examination topics

The primary literature listed below plus the theoretical material discussed in class and made available on the moodle platform. Students are expected to do independent research.

Reading list

Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar;
Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse;
Simone de Beauvoir's A Very Easy Death & Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter;
Jeanette Winterson's Oranges Are not the only Fruit & Why Be Happy if you Could Be Normal?
Mavis Gallant's short stories; Jamaica Kincaid's The Autobiography of My Mother: A Novel.

* Please note that all the theoretical texts and some of the primary texts will be made available on the moodle platform. Other texts will be available at Facultas on campus.

Association in the course directory

Studium: UF 344, BA 612, MA 844; MA 844(2)
Code/Modul: UF 4.2.4-322, BA09.2, 10.2, MA4, MA6, MA7; MA 4.1, 4.2
Lehrinhalt: 12-0388

Last modified: Fr 12.05.2023 00:16