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Maternal Fictions: The Representation of Motherhood in Indian Women’s Writing

Karmakar, Indrani (2018) Maternal Fictions: The Representation of Motherhood in Indian Women’s Writing. PhD thesis, University of York.

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This project seeks to examine and analyse motherhood as presented by selected Indian women writers, paying particular attention to selected works by Ashapurna Debi, Mahasweta Devi, Shashi Deshpande, Anita Desai, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and Nandita Bagchi. My research engages with their literary representation of motherhood for a number of reasons. First, their works are illustrative of the discursive norms of the particular society and culture ‒ or intersection of cultures – in which they were produced. Second, and perhaps more importantly, their creative portrayals provide a “space of contention” that contributes to re-conceiving prevalent ideas of motherhood and thus offers alternative visions. Drawing upon feminist scholarship on motherhood and postcolonial feminism, this thesis, in the course of its four chapters, focuses on four thematic areas, namely maternal subjectivity and agency, the mother-daughter relationship, motherhood and diaspora and non-biological motherhood. It attempts to understand the literary ramifications of these concerns in order to identify the ways in which the representations reconceptualise the notion of motherhood from and against multiple perspectives. Another concern is whether these Indian women writers’ visions furnish readers with any different understandings of motherhood (a term which is in turn intimately linked to our understanding of womanhood) as compared to dominant Western feminist discourses. Exploring connections between the fictions’ content and form, the thesis interrogates which literary modes the writers mobilise and how they variously articulate their visions. In conclusion, I argue that this project furthers feminist literary criticism in the specific area of Indian women’s writing and the overarching area of motherhood and literature by suggesting a complex constellation of ideas concerning motherhood – one which is ambivalent, diverse, contingent, grounded in a specific location, and yet well placed to converse with discourses emanating from other times and places.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Motherhood, Feminism, Fiction, Women's Writing, India
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Depositing User: Indrani Karmakar
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2018 09:26
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2018 09:26
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/20279

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