Meanings and Models of Motherhood in European History and Literature

WS 267: A Schedule

As we all know, motherhood is a lot of work. But it's rewarding, too. We hope that you will find our assignments to be the same. Here's what we are asking you all to do.

As we noted on the first day, each student will be asked to create a multimedia project, a web page on a motherhood-related theme and/or maternal figure, which will serve in lieu of a final exam. Over the course of the semester, you will write several essays that help you to develop the content (text and images) for this web page. Then, in October, you will begin to learn the IT skills needed to make a page out of the material you have developed.

We have given you a list of possible topics for your project below. If you have a different idea (a person or theme that interests you particularly), discuss it with us (preferably in an email addressed to both profs) and draft a proposal, after doing some preliminary research. Your topic MUST be limited to a literary or historic maternal figure (or a topic related to maternity) from the history and literature of North America or Europe only. Throughout September and October, you will be doing research on your topic, finding both historic and literary or artistic material that is related to the topic/figure.

The Web page, along with any outstanding written work, must be turned in no later than Dec. 20th.

Honors Option: this course can count for an Honors Option course if your web page project is good enough, in our opinion, to be posted on the class site. Only projects that get a grade of B+ or higher will be posted.

Suggested themes for web page topics

  1. Motherhood in a specific historic period (e.g., the Greco-Roman period, medieval Europe, during the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, Nazi Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union, the USSR after 1945, ancient Rome or Greece, etc.).
  2. The child's nurse, in both historic and literary terms (this might include wet nurses).
  3. The destructive or neglectful mother.
  4. Any famous maternal person who meets with our approval.t
  5. Men as mothers.
  6. A particular historic figure as the mother of her nation (e.g., Maria Theresa of Austria, Elizabeth of England).
  7. A famous mother-child pair.
  8. Medical attitudes towards conception, pregnancy and childbirth; the transition from midwives to obstetricians. This might focus on classical, medieval or Renaissance periods, in particular.
  9. Midwifery during a specified period.
  10. Breastfeeding vs. formula, now and in the past (yes, it was a hot topic even in the 18th century). In the lit. paper for this project, you would focus on the nurse as a literary figure.

The Web page assignment should include at least the following


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