PRESERVING MATERNAL WRITING
Catapulting life writing into the public sphere, a myriad of women are engaging with digital assemblage and composition through their participation in the phenomenon of mommyblogging. Mommybloggers are using digital online writing to mediate systems of sexism, classism, and racism, and although the mamasphere is far from ideal, it is an evolving space where women are literally rewriting the stories of motherhood and more generally, womanhood. Mommyblogging is a form of maternal writing that collectively disrupts notions of motherhood derived through or because of the male gaze. As mothers are becoming producers of narratives of birth in a way unique to the blogosphere, there is undeniably a reclaiming and recasting of motherhood.
An Archive Project
In the Spring of 2017, I began thinking about ways to archive birth narratives. The idea came to me while researching digital birth narratives for an article because although I found many websites that asked mothers to submit their birth stories, I could not find any sort of digital space devoted to the kinds of birth stories I was interested in. I was specifically looking for stories of birth on already existing mommyblogs or birth stories that prompted the creation of the blog rather than stories submitted to external sites. I wanted to examine the ways in which mommyblogs helped create identity and thus new ways of thinking about pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experiences. After this experience, I thought it would be valuable to devote time to compiling a digital archive of pregnancy narratives pulled from mommyblogs.
In order to begin the project, I wrote up a research proposal and submitted it for review. After it’s approval, I began thinking of parameters for the project (all of which would change once I began compiling the information). During the following Fall semester, I was pleasantly surprised by how many students were interested in the project and I’m currently working with three undergraduate students who are helping organize and collect the stories. This website is a compilation of our archiving efforts thus far.
“All human life on the planet is born of woman. The one unifying, incontrovertible experience shared by all women and men is that months-long period we spent unfolding inside a woman’s body. Because young humans remain dependent upon nurture for a much longer period than other mammals, and because of the division of labor long established in human groups, where women not only bear and suckle but are assigned almost total responsibility for children, most of us first know both love and disappointment, power and tenderness, in the person of a woman.”