The Absent Mother in the Cultural Imagination

Missing, Presumed Dead

  • Berit Åström

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Theorizing the Absent Mother

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 23-23
  3. The Absent Mother as Protector and Advisor

  4. Shakespeare’s Absent Mothers Revisited

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 109-109
    2. Rebecca Potter, Elizabeth Ann Mackay
      Pages 127-142
    3. Anna Fraser Mackenzie
      Pages 143-158
  5. The Absent Mother as Expendable, or a Threat

  6. Absent Mothers on the Big and Small Screen in the New Millennium

  7. Back Matter
    Pages 259-264

About this book


This anthology explores the recurring trope of the dead or absent mother in Western cultural productions. Across historical periods and genres, this dialogue has been employed to articulate and debate questions of politics and religion, social and cultural change as well as issues of power and authority within the family. Åström seeks to investigate the many functions and meanings of the dialogue by covering extensive material from the 1200s to 2014 including hagiography, romances, folktales, plays, novels, children’s literature and graphic novels, as well as film and television. This is achieved by looking at the discourse both as products of the time and culture that produced the various narratives, and as part of an on-going cultural conversation that spans the centuries, resulting in an innovative text that will be of great interest to all scholars of gender, feminist and media studies.


mothers mothers in Shakespeare mothers in Disney popular media scholarly research medieval folktales Dickens the dead or absent mother spectral mother politics and religion social and cultural change power and authority within the family

Editors and affiliations

  • Berit Åström
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Language StudiesUmeå University UmeåSweden

Bibliographic information