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Home arrow Language & Literature arrow The Absent Mother in the Cultural Imagination : Missing, Presumed Dead


  • 1. US divorce rates are also cited as the reason for the large number of dead mothers in 1980s sitcoms (Bowie 2012).
  • 2. What Hahn does not address, however, is the gendered nature of this shorthand - the dead parent is more often the mother than the father.
  • 3. In folkloric studies, distinctions are made between fairy tales, wonder tales and folk tales. I will not address that issue here, but simply use the term fairy tales throughout.
  • 4. This explanation is somewhat complicated, however, by the fact that the Grimms changed the narratives they collected, turning the murderous mothers of, for example, ‘Snow White’ and ‘Hansel and Gretel’ into stepmothers (Tatar 1987, 36-37).
  • 5. Different scholars thus read Chodorow differently. It is agreed that girls remain close to their mothers, whereas boys distance themselves. But this closeness, or distance, is read by some as empowering and by some as damaging. It appears, however, that regardless which is which, one sex will always be in danger from the mother.
  • 6. It should be noted, however, that not only the number of women dying in childbirth but also the putative effect those deaths might have had on the community, has been problematized by Roger Schofield (1986).
  • 7. Parts of this chapter have previously appeared in Chapter 7 of her book Monstrous Motherhood (2012).
  • 8. For example, the much acclaimed science fiction film Interstellar (2014) features no fewer than three dead mothers, only one of them acknowledged as such. This lack of mothers merited almost no comment amongst reviewers.
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