Pregnancy in Literature and Film

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About the Book

This exploration of the ways in which pregnancy affects narrative begins with two canonical American texts, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (1848) and Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861). Relying on such diverse works as Frankenstein, Peyton Place, Beloved, and I Love Lucy, the book chronicles how pregnancy evolves from a conventional plot device into a mature narrative form.
Especially in the 20th and 21st centuries, the pregnancy narrative in fiction and film acts as a lightning rod with the power to electrify all genres of fiction and film, from early melodrama (Way Down East) to noir (Leave Her to Heaven); from horror (Rosemary’s Baby) to science fiction and dystopia (Alien, The Handmaid’s Tale); and from iconic (Lolita) to independent (Juno, Precious). Ultimately, the pregnancy narrative in popular film and fiction provides a remarkably clear lens by which we can gauge how popular American film and fiction express our most profound—and most private—fears, values and hopes.

About the Author(s)

Parley Ann Boswell is a professor of English at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois, where she teaches American literature and film studies courses. She lives in Monticello, Illinois.

Bibliographic Details

Parley Ann Boswell
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 248
Bibliographic Info: 15 photos, filmography, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7366-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1468-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Preface  1

Introduction: The Pregnancy Narrative  7

1. “A” Is for Pregnant: The Birth of American Pregnancy Literature  27

2. The Weepies: Pregnancy, Melodrama and Noir  58

3. Pregnant Teenagers and Other Monsters  92

4. The Mothership Arrives: Pregnancy in Science Fiction  126

5. Ways of Seeing Pregnancy  160

Chapter Notes  197

Filmography  207

Works Cited and Consulted  213

Index  225