Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Call for Papers: Performing Motherhood

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Demeter Press is seeking submissions for an edited collection, Performing Motherhood.

Co-editors: Amber Kinser, Kryn Freehling-Burton and Terri Hawkes

Submission Deadline For Abstracts: June 15, 2012

Scholarly and lay observers alike have long recognized the relationship between everyday life and performance. Some hold to a sharp split between that which is authentic, true, or real, on one hand, and that which is contrivance, façade, or "mere" performance on the other. Others indicate that any lines separating "performance" from "life" are indistinguishable or not useful, that all of life is performance, that human interaction of any sort is a text to be read in a variety of ways, that social meaning and identity are in fact performatively constituted.

Judith Butler and others have directed attention to performativity and the way it can contest and disrupt accepted meanings, truths, and values. In the performing arts, artists have questioned, theorized, embodied, represented, and troubled social meanings and subjectivities, and have deployed performance in the service of resistance and change. Performance ethnographers and biographical/autobiographical researcher-performers have explored performance dimensions of identity, culture, ritual, and ceremony, as well as the ways in which research findings can be represented through performance, taking research beyond traditional scholarly venues to reach lay audiences and shed prismatic light for academic audiences.

Performing Motherhood places these ideas center stage in maternal studies.

In exploring the relationship between performance and the maternal, contributions to this anthology will pay particular attention to how mothers effectively exercise agency in personal and/or familial identity, and/or to how particular performances can affirm or activate maternal choices, grounded as they are in given social locations.

We seek the following in particular: 1) essays that are empirically and theoretically grounded that explore/complicate everyday life performances of the maternal; 2) creative performance texts that explore maternal agency; and 3) theoretical or research-based examinations of broad scale maternal performance, from community or global activism to the 'performing arts'.

Questions to consider include but are not limited to:

How do women and families enact/perform mothering in ways inconsistent with widely accepted norms (whether general social norms or assumed "feminist" or "progressive" norms) and how do they make that work for them, personally and socially?

How is maternal identity performatively constituted for the multiplicity of ways that people mother beyond biological ties?

What are some of the micropractices/performances that mothers engage in, or orchestrate in their families, that allow them to live self-determined lives? How does mundane practice/performance complicate and shape individual, familial, and social meaning.

In what ways do particular ritual or theatrical or activist performances suggest or embody affirmations of motherwork, maternal agency, or marginalized maternal voices, and what might these performances teach broader audiences?

How do performing arts practitioners who are also mothers negotiate multiple identities?

Submission Guidelines

Abstracts should be about 300 words, and should identify the theoretical grounding for the essay or piece. Please also include a brief biography (50 words) and identify citizenship.

Complete manuscripts not exceeding 15 pages (3750 words) will be due March 1st, 2013 and should be formatted according to MLA guidelines.

Editor responses will go out early summer of 2013 with final revisions due early fall.

The book is to have 50 percent Canadian content, so Canadian contributors are especially encouraged to submit.

Send abstracts to: kinsera@etsu.edu

Acceptance is contingent and will depend upon strength and fit of the final essay or piece.


Jessica DeVoe Riley, MS, is a special educator in rural California. Her writing has won the South West Writers competition and is published in Thema and Marginalia. She currently writes for the Council for Exceptional Children’s Reality 101 blog for new teachers. You can reach her through her personal blog, All Rileyed Up, or follow her on Twitter.


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