Virgin mothers and palatable women: can we transform the script of institutional motherhood?

Davies, Laura (2023). Virgin mothers and palatable women: can we transform the script of institutional motherhood? University of Birmingham. M.A.

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This thesis engages with the intersection between motherhood studies and theological studies. It analyses the possibility of writing a script of empowered mothering that both rejects, and transforms, the script of normative motherhood. As Motherhood Studies is a relatively new field, there are areas that require further research. Popular culture and social policy continue to limit women’s autonomy in relation to mothering; developing resistance scripts to normative motherhood is therefore essential. This thesis is grounded in both maternal theory and feminist theory, and how these can inform Theological study.

The first chapter engages with hermeneutical analysis of key Biblical texts and figures; 1 Timothy 2:15, Eve, and Mary. The second chapter draws on social constructivism to explore the ways in which normative motherhood limits women’s bodies and identities. The third chapter galvanises the methodology used throughout to draw out resistance scripts to normative motherhood. This thesis finds that normative motherhood does indeed place limitations on women’s bodies and identities, but these limitations are not restricted to pregnant women and mothers, but instead affect women at every stage of their life. It argues that societal expectations of motherhood become internalised, leading to self-regulatory and damaging behaviours. Crucially, this thesis argues it is possible to denounce the script of normative motherhood and re-write a new one that is reflective of empowered mothering. There is room for an interdisciplinary approach between Motherhood Studies and Theological study, and this thesis demonstrates that religious texts can be an important contributor in writing resistance scripts. As such, there is space for women of faith to critically engage with their religion to create scripts grounded in faith.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.A.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.A.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: Theology and Religion
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BS The Bible
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman


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