Motherhood and the Female Monster in the 20th and 21st Century Spanish Speaking World (Roundtable)


Spanish/Portuguese / Women's and Gender Studies

Ana Alvarez Guillen (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)

Sandra Garcia Gutierrez (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

This session aims to contribute to an understanding of the relationship of mother-daughter through the lens of monstrosity. Motherhood has always been one of the main themes of literature and art; women, within the patriarchal society, have been subjected to all kinds of pressures to maintain control over their bodies and their physical-affective decisions. Mother-daughter relationships have always been contentious, and even the role of the stepmother has inherited the mediaeval characterization of the witch. In the 21st century, feminist writers such as Patricia Esteban Erlés, Cecilia Eudave, Jacinta Escudos, Elvira Navarro, Liliana Colanzi, and many others, have used an aesthetic based on fear and the sinister to explore this theme. Using the term that the poet Lynn Luria Sukenick coined as "matrophobic" referred to a daughter's fear of her own mother, in this roundtable we seek to explore characterizations of contemporary monsters that represent this fear as a critique from different approaches such as horror and Folklore, the Gothic, and the fantastic. If resilience is defined as the capacity to overcome tensions and traumas, how do these representations of the monstrous deal with such problematic family relationships?

We welcome contributions in Spanish or English reflecting on (but not limited to) the following research lines in order to explore the possibilities of literary and filmic representations of monstrosity:

- The mother-monster as a celebration of difference and resilience

- The mother as monstrous, ‘matrophobic’ tensions in family relationships

- Queerness and otherness in motherhood

- Maternal practices in/among different species

- Monstrosity as the result of repressed sexual rights in the maternal body

- Rethinking motherhood through representations of mythological and folklore monsters

This roundtable aims to explore the possibilities of cultural representations of the mother and the stepmother as monstrous in the 20th and 21st century Spanish speaking world, looking into the conflicts of mothering and 'matrophobic' tensions through the tools of the Gothic and the fantastic.