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Bressler, N., & Lengel, L. (2016). Mothering and/in dystopia: Lone parenting in a post-apocalyptic world.

In
M. Motapanyane (ed.), Motherhood and single/lone parenting: A 21st century perspective (pp. 19-52). Toronto,
Ontario, Canada: Demeter Press. (Anonymously/blind refereed). Lead Essay.

Abstract

Building on our feminist mothering scholarship (Bressler, in press; Lengel, Birzescu & Minda,

2008) and on feminist film and media scholarship (see, for instance, Kaplan, 2005; Kaplan, 2006), this

study representations of mothering in popular cultural 21st century post-apocalyptic televisual texts.

While there has been a small amount of research on mothering in the post-apocalyptic literary genre

(Schrynemakers, 2007; Martucci, 2007; Ostman, 2007; Haupt, 2007), to date there is none

interrogating complexities of parenting or, specifically, lone mothering in dystopia.

With particular focus on the parent/child relationships in Revolution and The Walking Dead, we ask

with what contemporary contexts and themes do post-apocalyptic narratives resonate? We examine

the state of family in flux, the difficult decisions mother face, and the cultural and psychological

implications of those choices. Motherhood, by its cultural conceptualization, necessitates mothers

care, make difficult decisions for, and provide secure environments for children. What community

and social responsibilities do these mothers promote? Situating lone motherhood within the

multifarious conflicts of contemporary society, we argue in many socio-economic, cultural and

political contexts, single parenting is an on-going survival test. Single mothers, thus, may actually
excel in post-apocalyptic existence situations, given the trauma they may have experienced in the

pre-apocalyptic condition.

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