Maternal bodies in the visual arts

By Rosemary Betterton

Maternal bodies in the visual arts


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3526-1
  • Pages: 224
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £25.00
  • Published Date: May 2018
  • BIC Category: Contemporary Art, Art History, Later 20th century c 1950 to c 1999, Human figures depicted in art, History of art, ART / History / Contemporary (1945-), ART / History / General, The arts / Art & design styles: from c 1960, The arts / Human figures depicted in art, The arts / History of art / art & design styles, ART / Subjects & Themes / Human Figure


Maternal bodies in the visual arts brings images of the maternal and pregnant body into the centre of art-historical enquiry. By exploring religious, secular and scientific traditions as well as contemporary art practices, it shows the power of visual imagery in framing our understanding of maternal bodies and affirming or contesting prevailing maternal ideals. The book reassesses historical models and, in drawing on original case studies, shows how visual practices by artists may offer the means of reconfiguring the maternal. It will appeal to students, academics and researchers in art history, gender studies and cultural studies, as well as to general readers interested in the maternal and visual culture.


'This book treads delicately between historical analysis ofthe visualisation of the maternal and an embodied experience of looking. It isvital for any visual artist, historian or social scientist seeking therehabilitation of the maternal into art history and the practice ofaesthetics.'
Hermione Wiltshire,artist and Senior Tutor in Photography, Royal College of Art

'Betterton provides a dazzlingly erudite topography ofmaternal bodies across history and the western world, ranging from the sacredto the profane, from the public to the private and the dis/abled and "out ofplace" to culturally entrenched norms.'
Cathy McClive, BenWeider Chair in French Revolutionary Studies, Associate Professor in History,Florida State University

'Maternal bodies is a rich and much needed account of thematernal and what may appear on the surface. It speaks of the artists who havechallenged and given voice to this important experience and summons a forcefulbank of representation and image through its visual intensity and dialogue.'
Helen Knowles,artist and Curator/Director of the Birth Rites Collection


Introduction: becoming maternal
1 Maternal space and public intimacy
2 Maternal matters: making bodies in art
3 Enfleshing the divine: sacred and profane maternal bodies
4 The transparent womb: visual technologies and the maternal
5 Promising monsters and the maternal imagination
6 Maternal time: moments of encounter
7 Ageing and maternal bodies


Rosemary Betterton is Emeritus Professor in Women's Studies at Lancaster University

Maternal bodies in the visual arts

By Rosemary Betterton

Paperback £25.00 / $36.95

Hardcover £85.00 / $130.00

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