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Examining Motherhood

Trust me, if Mom is a scholar, she wants books for Mother’s Day (May 13), and if you are wise, you will get them here on at sizeable discounts. Our site offers a variety of titles related to motherhood and/or womanhood, including some about women involved in the arts, civil rights, academics and literature. Here are a few selections from our publishers, including some previously summarized here:

Establishing the Family-Friendly Campus, edited by Jaime Lester, Margaret Sallee, $71.95, (List Price $79.95), Stylus, January 2009, ISBN: 9781579223304, pp. 200.

This book covers a range of issues related to creating “family-friendly” campuses and examines the reasons that women with children leave faculty positions at disproportionately higher rates than men do. It also looks at the pressures women face in combining motherhood and careers in academia, and it documents programs and policies some institutions are using to reverse the trends by attracting and retaining academics who parent.

Academic Mothers, by Venitha Pillay, $26.35 (List Price: $31), Trentham Books, September 2007, ISBN 9781858564173, pp. 206.

Dr Venitha Pillay, a senior lecturer at the University of Pretoria, explores the lives of three white South African women in their struggle to combine motherhood with their academic careers. She challenges notions that relegate women to the realm of emotion and nurturance, while reserving the life of the intellect for men, and examines how women in academia straddle both worlds. See Review from



Women and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965, edited by Davis W. Houck and David Dixon, $45, (List Price:  $50), University of Mississippi Press, March 2011, ISBN 9781604731071, pp. 352.

While women have received some credit for the vital roles they played and the influence they exerted during the Civil Rights Movement that peaked in the 1960s, their own voices have been largely unheard. This book gives voice to courageous women through 39 speeches made by women between 1954 and 1965 during the long war for equity and dignity. Among those presented in this anthology are. Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Daisy Bates, Lillian Smith, Mamie Till-Mobley, Lorraine Hansberry, Dorothy Height, and Rosa Parks. Some of the speech texts came from archives but some are taken from audiotapes transcribed for the first time for publication in this anthology.

You Must Be from the North: Southern White Women in the Memphis Civil Rights Movement, by Kimberly K. Little, $34 (List Price: $40), University of Mississippi Press, May 2009, ISBN 9781604732283, pp. 208.

This book focuses on a generation of white women in Memphis, Tenn., who were born between the two World Wars and who carried out their social activism outside of the structures of the Civil Rights Movement. They are not the women who joined sit-ins, marched alongside black demonstrators or risked their lives driving civil-rights workers through hostile territory at night. Instead, they are the “ladies” who joined such organizations as the Junior League to take on civic and charitable projects but eventually found themselves embroiled in and transformed by the inescapable war on segregation and racial disparity. That struggle came to a head in their city when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed there in 1968. That event transformed the women, the author argues, and they in turn were instrumental in changing the racial climate of Memphis and continued to influence their society long after the Movement.

The Mulatta and the Politics of Race, by Teresa C. Zackodnik, $45, (List Price: $50). University Press of Mississippi (September 2004), ISBN-10: 157806676X, ISBN-13: 978-1578066766, Pp. 235.

The mulatta, a woman of mixed black and white heritage but not quite belonging to either race, has been often been used in literature as a stand-in for complicated ideas about race and as a living symbol of the absurdity of racial classifications. The author examines ways in which writers have used her as a metaphor in fiction and nonfiction from the abolitionist lectures by Ellen Craft and Sarah Parker Remond and novels by Pauline Hopkins, Frances Harper, Jessie Fauset and Nella Larsen and others.

Somebody Always Singing You, by Kaylynn Sullivan TwoTrees, $25.50 (List price: $30), University of Mississippi Press, May 1997, ISBN 9780878059812, pp. 160.

The author is a Miami University scholar who has studied with the elders of indigenous cultures in North America, Africa and New Zealand. In this memoir, she tells of her own experience as the daughter of African-American and Native American parents and of how she came to understand her complex heritage. Her father was a Lakota from a South Dakota reservation and her mother was a black woman from Des Moines, Iowa. Because her mother was murdered when TwoTrees was very young, her black, middle-class grandparents raised her, but she visited her paternal grandmother on a reservation in the summers. (The title comes from one of the sayings of that grandmother.) TwoTree’s story reflects not only the pains of being called a “half breed” or “mixed blood” and of being the only person of color in a Catholic boarding school, but also the pleasures of learning to weave together the strands of her dual heritage.

Robbing the Mother: Women in Faulkner, by Deborah Clarke, $17 (List price: $20) University of Mississippi Press, January 2006, ISBN 9781578068807, pp. 224.

William Faulkner once said, “If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ is worth any number of old ladies.” While his words reflect candor, they do not convey a wellspring of love and affection for women. Clarke examines Faulkner’s work for clues about his attitudes toward women and argues that he “almost certainly feared and mistrusted” them and yet saw them as a powerful force that could be useful in his writing.

Shaping Our Mothers’ World: American Women’s Magazines, by Nancy A. Walker $18.70, (List Price:  $22), University of Mississippi Press, September 2000, ISBN 9781578062959, pp. 280.

The mass media of the mid-20th century helped to define and reshape the images of American womanhood in ways that have not been fully appreciated. Walker, a professor of English at Vanderbilt University, puts such mainstream women’s magazines as Good Housekeeping, Vogue, Mademoiselle and Redbook under a microscope to probe their roles in perpetuating stereotypes of the middle-class homemaker of the era and in the undoing of those same stereotypes. She argues that these periodicals presented a far more complicated, nuanced view of life, domestic and external, at a crucial juncture in history, than they are a sometimes given credit for.

Tillie Olsen and a Feminist Spiritual Vision, by Elaine Neil Orr, $21.25 (List price: $25) University of Mississippi Press, July 2007, ISBN 9781604734126, pp. 222.

Tillie Olsen, who died in 2007, was a feminist writer from Omaha, Neb., and an enigmatic figure. Orr, who teaches English at North Carolina State University and in the master of fine arts program at Spalding University, reflects on the spiritual vision of Olsen as demonstrated through her novels. It is a vision “rooted in her Russian Jewish heritage and in her own history as an American worker, a member of the Communist party, a humanist, a feminist, and a mother,” as the publisher describes it.


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