Contemplating Maternity in an Era of Choice: Explorations into Discourses of Reproduction

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9780739138908: Contemplating Maternity in an Era of Choice: Explorations into Discourses of Reproduction

Women who came of age in the late twentieth century were raised in the era of choice; they grew up believing that reproductive decision-making is a political right, a responsibility of women living the successes of second wave feminism, and under their control. Contemplating Maternity in an Era of Choice: Explorations into Discourses of Reproduction explores contemporary maternity both within and in light of these late-twentieth century understandings. Employing a variety of feminist communication approaches, the volume's contributors discuss how discourses of choice shape and are shaped by women's identities and experiences as (non)mothers and how those same discourses affect and reflect private practices and public policies related to reproduction and motherhood. Through this process, the contributors illustrate a variety of ways of conducting feminist thinking, research, and practices within the communication discipline. Major sub-disciplines within communication studies are represented here including feminist organizational, interpersonal, rhetorical, critical/cultural, and social movement studies. Whereas many of the previous scholarly investigations into maternity highlight only one aspect or phase of motherhood, Contemplating Maternity in an Era of Choice is unique because it investigates discourses of choice across the arc of maternity and as enacted through various (non)maternal subject positions.

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About the Author:

Sara Hayden is professor of communication studies at the University of Montana.

D. Lynn O'Brien Hallstein is assistant professor of rhetoric at Boston University.

Review:

Hayden and O'Brien Hallstein offer an engaging and rigorously-researched collection of essays exploring the complexities of contemporary maternity in the era of choice. The book overviews the history of reproductive rights, the larger discourses that enable and constrain parenting decisions, and stories of how parenting 'choices' not only impact mothers and fathers, but also family members, coworkers, purposively child-free individuals, and society at large. This edited edition brings together familiar dilemmas of work-life balance, infertility and the politics of choice, while accessing voices that are more often silenced in such discussions. In doing so, Contemplating Maternity in an Era of Choice provides a compendium of insight that is valuable for those interested in work-life, feminism, reproduction, family communication, popular culture and social movements. (Sarah J. Tracy, Ph.D., Director of The Project for Wellness and Work-Life, The Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Arizona State University)

Contemplating Maternity in an Era of Choice offers a rich and wide-ranging discussion, both topically and methodologically, of 'choice' within discourses of reproductivity. The contributors range across historical, legal, workplace, personal, and familial contexts, problematizing the conditions and character of discourses of choice regarding birth control, pregnancy, abortion, and child-rearing. Hayden and O’Brien Hallstein have assembled an expansive collection of essays that effectively confront the reader with the dense complexity of the construct 'choice' and how it impacts one’s reproductive life. This book should inspire more discussion, more research, and more contemplation of a powerful but elusive concept. (Nathan Stormer, The University of Maine)

Hayden and O'Brien Hallstein have done a superb job of drawing together a diverse set of essays that analyze the discursive and material constraints embodied in the concept of choice as it applies to women's identities as mothers. At a time when there is a very real possibility that a woman's right to an abortion may be denied in the US, this volume stands as a reminder of the importance of choice, while also revealing the complex, paradoxical nature of choice as a discursive strategy, which simultaneously enlarges and constrains women's lived choices with respect to bearing and raising children. (Marlene G. Fine, Simmons College)

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