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The Symbolic Annihilation of Mothers in Popular Culture: Single Father and the death of the mother
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
2015 (English)In: Feminist Media Studies, ISSN 1468-0777, E-ISSN 1471-5902, Vol. 15, no 4, 593-607 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article takes as its starting point the paradoxical representation of mothers in popular culture. On the one hand the mother is constructed as central to the physical and emotional development of the child; on the other, she is routinely rejected or elided, questioned, and vilified. One expression of this ambivalent attitude is the re-circulation of the trope of the dead mother. The trope, which ostensibly is employed to create sympathy for a character, or simply to drive the plot, often also privileges fathers, suggesting that children are better off without mothers. After a brief genre overview of the use of the trope of the dead mother on film and television, the article analyses how the BBC serial Single Father, with its repeated depictions of the mother's violent death, develops the trope, by not only privileging the father and vilifying the dead mother, but also reducing her death to a plot point, a backdrop for romance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2015. Vol. 15, no 4, 593-607 p.
Keyword [en]
dead mothers, film, television, literature, popular culture
National Category
Cultural Studies
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-97709DOI: 10.1080/14680777.2014.994100ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84920509111OAI: diva2:776145
Available from: 2015-01-07 Created: 2015-01-07 Last updated: 2015-09-04Bibliographically approved

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Åström, Berit
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