Here is a non-comprehensive list of scholarship about motherhood in Rhetoric and Composition and other fields. If you have published something or enjoyed a piece that you don’t see listed here, please contact us and we’ll be happy to add it to the list.


Behar, Ruth. The Vulnerable Observer. Beacon P, 1997.

Eloquently interweaving ethnography and memoir, award-winning anthropologist Ruth Behar offers a new theory and practice for humanistic anthropology. She proposes an anthropology that is lived and written in a personal voice. She does so in the hope that it will lead us toward greater depth of understanding and feeling, not only in contemporary anthropology, but in all acts of witnessing (from publisher’s website).

Buchanan, Lindal. Rhetorics of Motherhood. Southern Illinois UP, 2013.

Becoming a mother profoundly alters one’s perception of the world, as Lindal Buchanan learned firsthand when she gave birth. Suddenly attentive to representations of mothers and mothering in advertisements, fiction, film, art, education, and politics, she became intrigued by the persuasive force of the concept of motherhood, an interest that unleashed a host of questions: How is the construct defined? How are maternal appeals crafted, presented, and performed? What do they communicate about gender and power? How do they affect women? Her quest for answers has produced Rhetorics of Motherhood, the first book-length consideration of the topic through a feminist rhetorical lens (from publisher’s website).

Cole, Kirsti and Holly Hassel. Surviving Sexism in Academia: Strategies for Feminist Leadership. Routledge, 2018.

This edited collection contends that if women are to enter into leadership positions at equal levels with their male colleagues, then sexism in all its forms must be acknowledged, attended to, and actively addressed. This interdisciplinary collection—Surviving Sexism in Academia: Strategies for Feminist Leadership—is part storytelling, part autoethnography, part action plan. The chapters document and analyze everyday sexism in the academy and offer up strategies for survival, ultimately ‘lifting the veil” from the good old boys/business-as-usual culture that continues to pervade academia in both visible and less-visible forms, forms that can stifle even the most ambitious women in their careers (from publisher’s website).

Connelly, Rachel, and Kristin Ghodsee. Professor Mommy: Finding Work-Family Balance in Academia. Rowman & Littlefield, 2011.

Professor Mommy is designed as a guide for women who want to combine the life of the mind with the joys of motherhood. The book provides practical suggestions from the authors’ experiences together with those of other women who have successfully combined parenting with professorships. Professor Mommy addresses key questions—when to have children and how many, what kinds of academic institutions are the most family friendly, how to negotiate around the myths that many people hold about academic life, etc.—for women throughout all stages of their academic careers, from graduate school through full professor (from publisher’s website).

Hausman, Bernice L. Mother’s Milk: Breastfeeding Controversies in American Culture. Routledge, 2003.

Mother’s Milk examines why nursing a baby is an ideologically charged experience in contemporary culture. Drawing upon medical studies, feminist scholarship, anthropological literature, and an intimate knowledge of breastfeeding itself, Bernice Hausman demonstrates what is at stake in mothers’ infant feeding choices–economically, socially, and in terms of women’s rights. Breastfeeding controversies, she argues, reveal social tensions around the meaning of women’s bodies, the authority of science, and the value of maternity in American culture. A provocative and multi-faceted work, Mother’s Milk will be of interest to anyone concerned with the politics of women’s embodiment (from publisher’s website).

Koerber, Amy. Breast or Bottle?: Contemporary Controversies in Infant-Feeding Policy and Practice. U of South Carolina P, 2013.

Breast or Bottle? is the first scholarly examination of the shift in breastfeeding recommendations occurring over the last half century. Through a close analysis of scientific and medical controversies and a critical examination of the ways in which medical beliefs are communicated to the public, Amy Koerber exposes layers of shifting arguments and meaning that inform contemporary infant-feeding advocacy and policy (from publisher’s website).

Mantas, Kathy, editor. Mothering Multiples: (Re)exploring, (Re)presenting and Making Meaning in the Process of Becoming Pregnant, Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting Experiences with Multiples, Demeter Press, 2016.

There has been an increase of twin births and higher order multiple birth babies born in Canada and around the world in the past few decades. On Mothering Multiples: Complexities and Possibilities seeks to (re)explore, (re)present, and make meaning of the process of conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and mothering experiences with multiples. It features a collection of scholarly, creative non-fiction, and visual essays from a wide range of disciplines and cultural perspectives. Additionally, these scholarly and more artful accounts contribute to a body of literature that although present is also limited, and provide insight into some of the complexities and possibilities inherent in mothering multiples (from publisher’s website).

Seigel, Marika. The Rhetoric of Pregnancy. U of Chicago P, 2013.

Using a sophisticated rhetorical analysis, Marika Seigel works to deconstruct pregnancy manuals while also identifying ways to improve communication about pregnancy and healthcare. She traces the manuals’ evolution from early twentieth-century tomes that instructed readers to unquestioningly turn their pregnancy management over to doctors, to those of the women’s health movement that encouraged readers to engage more critically with their care, to modern online sources that sometimes serve commercial interests as much as the mother’s (from publisher’s website).

Young, Anna M., editor. Teacher, Scholar, Mother: Re-envisioning Motherhood in the Academy. Lexington, 2017.

Teacher, Scholar, Mother advances a more productive conversation across disciplines on motherhood through its discussion on intersecting axes of power and privilege. This multi- and trans-disciplinary book features mother scholars who bring their theoretical and disciplinary lenses to bear on questions of identity, practice, policy, institutional memory, progress, and the gendered notion of parenting that still pervades the modern academy (from publisher’s website).


Cucciare, Christine Peters, et al. “Mothers’ Ways of Making It—or Making Do?: Making (Over) Academic Lives in Rhetoric and Composition with Children.” Composition Studies, vol. 39, no. 1, 2011, pp. 41-61. JSTOR,

This article focuses on five women’s experiences “making it” as rhetoricians with children. Expanding the definition of success Michelle Ballif, Diane Davis and Roxanne Mountford set forth in Women’s Ways of Making It in Rhetoric and Composition, the article offers suggestions for moving toward more family-friendly academic structures, not least by recognizing that the seemingly individualistic idea of choice—such as the choice to have children—rests uneasily with the often invisible structures that shape and delimit choices. The authors call for increased visibility of and acceptance for a greater range of possibilities for “making it” in the field today.

De Hertogh, Lori Beth. Reinscribing a New Normal: Pregnancy, Disability, and Health 2.0 in the Online Natural Birthing Community, Birth Without Fear.

De Hertogh argues that the online natural birthing community, Birth Without Fear, operates as a Health 2.0 space where members reinscribe a new normal regarding disability and pregnancy, a process that both empowers and disempowers women. To explore this issue, I draw on concepts and terminologies from cyberfeminist and feminist disability studies. In using these methodologies, I bring attention to how pregnant bodies are perceived as medically disabled and highlight how Birth Without Fear both positively and negatively shapes rhetorics of pregnancy on the web.

Hidalgo, Alexandra. “Alto Precio: Love, Loss, and Rebellion in Raising Bilingual Children.” Technoculture: an Online Journal of Technology in Society, vol. 6, 2016.

Hidalgo crafts a powerful video essay on her own experiences navigating two different languages and cultures. She then analyzes the struggle of teaching her young son to be bilingual and embracing the cultures inherent within both languages.

Koerber, Amy. “Postmodernism, Resistance, and Cyberspace: Making Rhetorical Spaces for Feminist Mothers on the Web.” Women’s Studies in Communication, vol. 24, no.2, 2001, pp. 218-240.

This article argues that online communities can be seen as fostering meaningful political action, but that to understand such action requires rethinking the notion of political resistance in postmodern terms. Its claims are based on rhetorical analysis of the political activity occurring in an online community being fostered by a cluster of websites on feminist mothering and alternative parenting.

—.“Rhetorical Agency, Resistance, and the Disciplinary Rhetorics of Breastfeeding.” Technical Communication Quarterly, vol. 15, no. 1, 2006, pp. 87-101.

Drawing on interviews from a qualitative study, this article extends theorizing about rhetorical agency and resistance by analyzing how breastfeeding advocates and their clients resist medical regulatory rhetoric. The resistant acts that interviewees describe begin with a negotiation of discursive alternatives and subject positions framed by the grid of disciplinary rhetoric about breastfeeding. But in some acts of resistance, breastfeeding women use both discursive and bodily actions to disrupt the intelligibility of this grid and what it deems possible. When such disruption occurs, the results are unpredictable and so must be understood as more than the occupation of preexisting subject positions.

—. “‘You Just Don’t See Enough Normal’ Critical Perspectives on Infant-Feeding Discourse and Practice.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication, vol. 19, no. 3, 2005, pp. 304-327.

Building on Herndl’s concept of critical practice, this article presents a case study of attempts to change the discourse practices surrounding breast-feeding in today’s medical environment. To complicate readers’ understanding of rhetorical agency, resistance, and discursive change, the author considers the rhetorical efforts of two high-profile physicians alongside those of the nonphysician breast-feeding advocates she interviewed. Ultimately, this dual perspective shows that discursive efforts to change medical practices can fail, even when supported by powerful figures within the medical establishment, if the new ideas communicated in such efforts conflict with long-established material conditions.

Marquez, Loren. “Narrating Our Lives: Retelling Mothering and Professional Work in Composition Studies.” Composition Studies, vol. 39, no. 1, 2011, pp. 73-85. JSTOR,

Responding to Michelle Ballif, D. Diane Davis, and Roxanne Mountford’s Women’s Ways of Making It in Rhetoric and Composition, this article provides a more expansive definition of “making it,” and argues that not only should we focus on women who are professionals in rhetoric and composition at institutions other than the Research I schools and women who have already “made it,” but we must look at the generation of upcoming teacher-scholars who are in the process of presently “making it”—women, young in their careers trying to obtain tenure, running writing programs, researching, teaching, mentoring and mothering. This narrative expounds on how one junior writing program administrator on the tenure track at a teaching university with two young children sees her roles as mother and academic in composition studies as both complicated and complemented because each role sharpens the other.

Book Chapters

Mack, Katherine. “Does Two a Family Make? Hollywood Engages Intentional Single Motherhood.” Lone/Single Parenting: A 21st Century Perspective. edited by Maki Motapanyane. Demeter Press, 2016. 53-71.

Novotny, Maria. “Failing Female Fertility: A Case to Queer the Rhetoric of Infertility.” Interrogating Pregnancy Loss: Feminist Writings on Abortion, Miscarriage, and Stillbirth, edited by Emily R. M. Lind and Angie Deveau, Demeter Press, 2017, pp. 183-197.

Lapayese, Yvette. “Mother-Scholars: Thinking and Being in Higher Education.” Surviving Sexism in Academia: Strategies for Feminist Leadership, edited by Kirsti Cole and Holly Hassel, Routledge, 2018, pp. 163-170.

Rodino-Colocino, Michelle, Molly Niesen, Safiya Umoja Noble, and Christine Quail. “Professors and (M)Others: Smashing the ‘Maternal Wall.” Surviving Sexism in Academia: Strategies for Feminist Leadership, edited by Kirsti Cole and Holly Hassel, Routledge, 2018.

Hodge, Diane. “Motherhood and Leadership in Academia: Getting Beyond Personal Survival Mode.”Surviving Sexism in Academia: Strategies for Feminist Leadership, edited by Kirsti Cole and Holly Hassel, Routledge, 2018, pp. 208-217.

Films and Videos

Teta. Directed by Alexandra Hidalgo, performances by Alexandra Hidalgo, William Hidalgo-Bowler, Santiago Hidalgo-Bowler, and Nathaniel Bowler. Sabana Grande Productions, 2017.

Breastmilk. Directed by Dana Ben-Ari. Aleph Pictures, 2014.


Hannahbach, Cathy, host. “Imagine Otherwise: Elizabeth Walker and Maria Novotny on Oral History, Reproductive Justice, & The ART of Infertility.” Imagine Otherwise, 17 Aug. 2016.

Mavros, Steven, host. “WFB Live! – Elizabeth and Maria.” Waiting for Babies, 24 Aug. 2017.

Art Exhibits

The ART of Infertility, traveling exhibit.

4th Trimester Bodies Project, 4th Trimester Bodies Project is a movement dedicated to educating, embracing and empowering humans through photographs and storytelling.


Interview: Alexandra Hidalgo.” Interviewed by Sophie Mayer for Raising Films: Making Babies, Making Films, Making Change. 31 July 2015.


The Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (MIRCI)

The Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (MIRCI) is a scholarly and activist organization on mothering-motherhood, developed from the former Association for Research on Mothering at York University (1998-2010).

Book Reviews

Novotny, Maria. “Review of Rhetorics of Motherhood.” Present Tense: A Journal of Rhetoric in Society, vol. 4 no. 2, Spring 2015. Available:

Advice Articles by non-academics

Kane, Eileen. “Female Academics and the Flexibility Myth.” 31 March 2017.