Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Maternités et identités: Representations of motherhood and national identity in literary texts of Quebec
by Linz, Rebecca, Ph.D., City University of New York, 2013, 228; 3553567
Abstract (Summary)

In this dissertation, I analyze the depiction of the mother figure in a selection of Québécois texts spanning from 1916 ( Maria Chapdelaine by Louis Hémon) to 2008 (Le Ciel de Bay City by Catherine Mavrikakis). During the course of the 20 th through the start of the 21st centuries, Québécois authors have consistently given importance to mothers in their works, although the mothers often appear to play a minor role. Througout the nearly century-long span of the literature in this study, I observe how the mother evolves from a martyred "guardian of the hearth" who upholds religious and domestic duties to various depictions of maternal (and frequently anti-maternal) women. These myriad "maternités et identités" reflect what is happening within Quebecc either at the time each text was written or when the story takes place. I argue that the literary mother represents not only the domestic sphere in which she plays a central role but also social and political changes within Quebecc. For example, cruel mothers are used as a subversive tool to critique both traditional gender roles and governmental and religious oppression during the grande noirceur period. Québécois authors such as Marie-Célie Agnant, Lori Saint-Martin, Ying Chen and Mavrikakis present texts from multicultural perspectives that reveal discrimination and injustices on a global scale. In every text studied here, the authors privilege mother-child relationships significantly more than those between the mother and her spouse. These mother-child relationships reveal the important influence mothers have upon their offspring and the desire children have to cultivate close relationships with their mothers, regardless of their mothers' degree of affection. The authors included here rarely present the mother's point of view (the protagonists being most frequently the children), and oftentimes she plays what appears to be a minor role in a given text. This lack of centrality, however, belies her compelling significance.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Spear, Thomas C.
Commitee: Blanchard, Maxime, Blum, Antoinette
School: City University of New York
Department: French
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 74/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: French Canadian literature, French Canadian Culture
Keywords: Family, Gender, Literature, Motherhood, Quebec, Quebec history
Publication Number: 3553567
ISBN: 9781267930545
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