Destry Maria Sibley
- Doctoral Candidate
- City University of New York, The Graduate Center
Through a written dissertation and accompanying podcast, “After Mother: Genres of the Maternal in Twenty-First Century American Memoir” poses a deceptively simple question––What is a mother?––and troubles its assumed answers. Reading contemporary life writing on parenting––memoir, autofiction, personal essays, parenting guides, and social media accounts–– it traces the gap between the fantasies promised by twenty-first century feminism and the material injustices of current life, and asks why increased visibility of the problematics of parenting has not amounted to material improvements in the lives of actual parents. In conversation with these texts and their authors, this dissertation, along with its supplementary podcast, divests “the mother” from discourses of liberal gender and identity formation, and instead, with each chapter and episode, recasts motherhood in multivalent ways.