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Rethinking constructs of maternity in the novels of Elena Ferrante and Alice Sebold.

Wehling-Giorgi, Katrin (2019) 'Rethinking constructs of maternity in the novels of Elena Ferrante and Alice Sebold.', Women : a cultural review., 30 (1). 66-83 .


This article explores how Alice Sebold and Elena Ferrante place the feminine—and indeed often the maternal—body at the very centre of their narratives. The body—as a locus that filters the broader tensions and conflicts experienced by their female protagonists—in fact emerges as a key site of ‘contestation’ in their works. Through a close analysis of a selection of ekphrastic images, and photographic metatexts in particular, the author draws attention to how the two authors employ textual negotiations of the feminine body to question and problematize normative conceptions of femininity and motherhood. Ultimately, the author suggests that they not only challenge but also shift the perspective of, or indeed refocalize the dominant visual narrative of, the maternal/feminine body and the long history of objectification of the latter. In so doing, the author situates the two writers at the forefront of rethinking contemporary constructs of maternity and femininity.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Women: A Cultural Review on 06 Jul 2018, available online:
Date accepted:19 August 2017
Date deposited:02 October 2017
Date of first online publication:06 July 2018
Date first made open access:06 July 2019

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