Exam Type: No Exam
This seminar explores the shifting and contested meanings of motherhood, both as an individual experience and as an institution at different historical moments (including the present) in the United States. The materials—Supreme Court cases, important state cases, and supplementary historical and statutory materials—and reproductive technologies. We will also look at categories of mothers (birth mothers, grandmothers, immigrant mothers, unwed mothers, poor mothers, slave mothers, and trans mothers, to name a few). Recurring issues include custody and care, reproduction, maternal employment, and state support.
Materials will be drawn from historical sources, legal texts, and selected fictional works. The assignment for the first class (to be read before the first class) is Ann Orthwood’s Bastard: Sex and Law in Early Virginia by John R. Pagan. A research paper is required and the nature of the assignment will be explained in the first class.