Maternity in the Post-Apocalypse: Novelistic Revisions of Dystopian Motherhood deconstructs the ways in which women novelists have reconceived the post-apocalyptic genre in recent decades through narratives centered on heroic maternal characters. These writers have placed midwives, pregnant women, and mothers at the forefront of their novels, transforming them from the hapless victims of male oppressors to protagonists who are instrumental in transforming the post-apocalyptic social landscape from one that attempts to reconstruct a patriarchal past to one that safeguards, validates, and even lauds maternity as a form of empowerment. In a novelistic future devastated landscape in which human civilizations are shattered and waver at the brink of extinction, women who embody facets of maternity are taking the reins of rebuilding human societies by overturning patriarchal assumptions of femininity, reclaiming intersectional autonomy, and (re)visioning the possibilities for a declining anthropocene.
Renae Mitchell is an instructor at the University of New Mexico at Los Alamos.
Introduction: Maternity in the Post-Apocalyptic Landscape
Chapter One: GESTATION: The Crisis of Native Pregnancy in The Future Home of the Living God (2017)
Chapter Two: BIRTH: Deliverance through Plague in The Unnamed Midwife (2016)
Chapter Three: NEW MOTHER: To Resist and Dis-Obeah in the Wasted Landscape of Brown Girl in the Ring (1999)
Chapter Four: MATERNAL FUTURES: Maternity and the Holy Book in Parable of the Talents (1999) and Who Fears Death (2014)
Conclusion: Material Memory: Maternity in the Future Present
A timely and incisive re-assessment of a paradigm: the maternal body as crucible of the body politic. Mitchell’s sensitive study reveals the latest iteration of the primal matrix as embodied locus of post-catastrophe creation. This is a critical study at a critical moment at the intersection of apocalyptic degeneration and post-apocalyptic regeneration. It is a salutary reminder that at anxious times of dystopian de-creation, transformative re-creation emerges as reflexive recourse. The perennial site of that regeneration is maternity and the maternal body as dramatized in the literary works Mitchell brilliantly examines in her insightful analysis.