In search of lost motherhood : the representation of the mother-daughter relationship in contemporary cinema

Jakucione, Indre (2017) In search of lost motherhood : the representation of the mother-daughter relationship in contemporary cinema. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


In the ancient Homeric mother-daughter myth ‘Hymn to Demeter’ the goddess mother mourns the loss of her daughter Persephone. The bond between mother and daughter in the myth is presented so close that its forced separation endangers continuity of the human race. This thesis suggests that in our modern world the stories of mothers and the mother-daughter dyads are reversed. I argue that in contemporary Western cinema the patriarchal institution of motherhood still prevails with mothers lacking subjectivity and foregrounded voice, and daughters being deprived of positive role models, and regarding ‘idealised motherhood’ as the norm. Highlighting that the topic of this thesis is under-researched and in need of scholarly attention I aim to provide a pioneering critical examination of the representation of the mother-daughter relationship, motherhood, mothering, youthful femininities and daughterhood in contemporary cinema. All texts examined in this thesis are products of popular culture: they are topical, relatively commercially successful and influential Hollywood films. The dissertation consists of three interlocking parts according to the application of the generic approach and close textual analyses. Although each part is unified by the focus on a specific genre, such as the fairy-tale film, the horror film and the comedy, this thesis employs diverse methodologies in order to examine the genre texts. Moreover, recognising a new resurgence of interest in feminism in the media and among young women this thesis explores how feminism have informed the contemporary representations of youthful femininities, motherhood and generational relationships. Drawing upon recent studies of the fairy tale, genre studies, feminism, femininity and popular culture, I seek to advance the field of the representation of motherhood and daughterhood, aiming to make a scholarly contribution to the study of the representation of the mother-daughter dyad.

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