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Mother-Daughter Relationships Bell-Scott, Patricia (ed.

), Double Stitch: Black Women Write about Mothers and Daughters, Boston: Beacon, 1991 Davidson, Cathy, and E.M.Broner (eds.), The Lost Tradition: Mothers and Daughters in Literature, New York: Ungar, 1980 Hirsch, Marianne, The Mother/Daughter Plot: Narrative, Psychoanalysis, Feminism, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989 Lowinsky, Naomi Ruth, Stories from the Motherline: Reclaiming the Mother-Daughter Bond, Finding Our Feminine Souls, Los Angeles: Tarcher, 1992 vanMens-Verhulst, Janneke, KarleinSchreurs, and LiesbethWoertman (eds.), Daughtering and Mothering: Female Subjectivity Reanalysed, New York: Routledge, 1993 Walters, Suzanna Danuta, Lives Together, Worlds Apart: Mothers and Daughters in Popular Culture, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992 The mother-daughter relationship has often been ignored or relegated to the footnotes of male-defined history and scholarship. Over the past 20 years, though, the lamented lack in mother-daughter literature has been obviated by the publication of a wealth of studies in different disciplines, which sanction its centrality in feminist scholarship. The collection of essays edited by DAVIDSON and BRONER has become a standard among the writings that deal with textual analysis of literary representations of mothers and daughters. Although often criticized for the sketchy quality of some of its essays, its breadth and scope, as well as its extensive historical framework make of this book a necessary introduction to the field. The essays range from an analysis of the story of Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi in the Bible to Shakespeare s condemnation of his heroines, and from the description of British and American nineteenth-century tradition, with its erasure of the mother from the text and with its motherless daughters, to the dramatization of the conflict between mothers and daughters in the twentieth-century tradition. The last section of the collection, dedicated to minority literatures, stresses a greater empathy between mothers and daughters, in a celebration of their common Matrilineage. HIRSH s work is a standard text in the literary criticism of the mother -daughter relationship from a feminist psychoanalytic approach, and it takes as its point of departure the intersection of familial structures and structures of plotting, attempting to place at the center of inquiry mothers and daughters. The text focuses on the analysis of novels by nineteenth- and twentieth-century female writers from North America and western Europe (including Jane Austen, the Bronts, Kate Chopin, Virginia Woolf, Margaret Atwood, and Toni Morrison), to trace the emergence and transformation of female family romance patterns, while at the same time revealing that the maternal story (and voice) remains the unspeakable plot of western culture, displaced in favor of the daughter s. Hirsh identifies three stages in the development of these familial and plot structures. In nineteenth-century realist novels by women the maternal is repressed or devalued and substituted with compensatory fantasies of brother-sister bonding. In modernist novels the mother becomes a central figure, celebrated from the point of view of an ambivalent artist -daughter in the daughter s text and family romance. In the fictional and theoretical writing that stemmed from the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s, there is still a failure to redress the balance between the voices of the mother and of the daughter that are within each woman. Hirsh finds a possible alternative to this feminist erasure of maternity, however, in the contemporary postmodern fiction of Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, which introduces a feminist discourse of identity that begins to speak a maternal discourse together with the daughter s. The collection of essays edited by VAN MENS-VERHULST offers a perspective on the mother-daughter relationship that had so far been neglected. Its main premise is that both daughters and mothers participate actively in the shaping of the relationship. The three sections of the book provide a wide array of

multidisciplinary essays on daughtering and mothering, introduced by insightful analyses of current theoretical debates and the role these new approaches play. The first section focuses on the side of the daughter in the relationship, and object relations theories are the primary frame of reference. The main question addressed in this first part relates to the sexual dimension of female subjectivity and the role of the mother therein. The contributors emphasize the importance of the contextualization of the mother-daughter relationship, and provide possible alternatives to object relations theory for approaching the relationship. The second section s main focus is the mother, and the essays critique the notion of universal motherhood. The contributors in this section consider maternal practices (in their biological and social implications) in historic and cultural contexts, and refuse the identification of mothering with a biological or social neces sity. They stress the importance of representing the mother as an autonomous and at the same time relational subject, as subjectin-development. The third part of the collection rethinks mothering and daughtering from a framework that is alternative to object relations theory. It introduces the concepts of relational paradigm and multiple subjectivity paradigm, which reveal alternative norms for a healthy development of women, and affirm that the idea of good-enough mothering is an idealized version of the mother-daughter relationship, supporting relations of dominance between classes, races, and cultures. This book presents an interesting challenge to the established psychoanalytic view, from perspectives as diverse as clinical, social, and cultural p sychology, and cultural anthropology. WALTERS examines the changes in the representation of the mother-daughter relationship in popular media, from a perspective that distances itself from the traditional psychological interpretation of this relationship. It is the author s working thesis that the mother-daughter relationship is formed, at least in part, by the cultural images that give it meaning, and it has largely been portrayed in terms of conflict and separation. Historically, the analysis covers the period from after World War II to 1990, and the author stresses the importance of a historical, contextual, and intertextual approach to identify the specific ways of seeing the relationship that are characteristic of certain periods. This contextualization helps the reader understand how this relationship is socially (re)constructed in accordance with current ideologies and political practices. This book provides an interesting analysis from a cultural studies perspective. LOWINSKI s analysis of the mother-daughter bond distances itself from the other texts mentioned here, insofar as it weaves in her personal encounters with the experiences of patients and other women she has interviewed in an effort to describe every woman s journey to find her female roots. The central concept of the text, the motherline, is identified as a woman s female lineage reaching backward from her mother and her mother s mother, and forward to her daughters and granddaughters. Each of the book s ten chapters delineates an aspect of the feminine self and how it can be reclaimed, from the conceptualization of the motherline as the source of women s stories, to the analysis of the problem of differentiation between mother and daughter, which forces both women to sort between self and other. The purpose of the text is to suggest that, to be fulfilled, a woman needs to acknowledge the profound influence exerted on her by other women, and to recognize both the mother and the daughter in herself. BELL-SCOTT and the other editors of this important volume have compiled a collection of essays, personal narratives, poetry, and fiction that concerns itself with the experience of African-American mothers and daughters. The diversity of the pieces challenges the notion of a uniform model of black motherhood and daughter-hood: deep differences emerge based on class, sexual preference, and age. This collection fulfills an important need in the field, too often dominated by the white, middle-class perspective that is central to so many other texts. Each of the six parts of the collection deals with different moments in the relationship, including the formation of the mother-daughter bond, the acknowledgment of the extended female community in the practice of mothering, and the portrayal of unconventional images of black mothers, women who challenge the stereotype of the devoted, self-sacrificing, all-powerful, per-fect matriarch. This book is a valuable resource for all those interested in the analysis of the mother-daughter relationship from an AfricanAmerican point of view. DAVIDA GAVIOLI