Siegel, Kristi. Women's Autobiographies, Culture, Feminism.   Second Printing. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. 208 pages, February 2001. ISBN:0-8204-55989. $29.95 (paperback).

Book Description
Using an approach that links feminist, psychoanalytic, and cultural theory, Dr. Siegel examines how the figure of the mother becomes a site of textual turbulence in women's autobiography as well as an underexamined metaphor in modern culture and feminism. Women's Autobiographies, Culture, Feminism analyzes writings from a wide array of authors including Simone de Beauvoir, Nathalie Sarraute, Annie Dillard, Maya Angelou, Zora Neale Hurston, Erma Bombeck, Betty MacDonald, Maxine Hong Kingston, Alta, Nancy Mairs, Anne Roiphe, Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva, and Helene Cixous.
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Editorial Reviews
From Booknews:
Does pregnancy render a woman "a body among minds?" Linking
feminist, psychoanalytic, and cultural theory in confronting such
questions in how mothers have been represented by themselves and
their daughters, Siegel (English, Mount Mary College, Wisconsin)
analyzes how metaphors of motherhood affect feminism and even
how the "reborn" body is viewed in organ transplantation.
Perspectives examined range from the rejection of motherhood in
Simone de Beauvoir's
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter to "the housebroken,
domesticated gothics" of Erma Bombeck.

Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

From Gregory S. Jay, Professor of English, University of

"What's a mother to do? And what's a daughter to do with her? These
questions lie at the heart of Kristi Siegel's fascinating study, aptly titled
Women's Autobiographies, Culture, Feminism. Through a series of
engaging discussions of writers such as Simone de Beauvoir,
Nathalie Sarraute, Annie Dillard, and Maxine Hong Kingston, Dr. Siegel
exposes how women's texts give voice to the culturally enforced
ambivalence--or outright hostility--toward mothers. Does modern
culture now value motherhood and the work of mothering, or do we find
ourselves once more caught up in the same old myths, fears, repressions,
and misunderstandings? Dr. Siegel's book demonstrates in particular the
centrality of an uneasy mother-daughter discourse within modern women's
autobiographies. At the same time she places this discourse in a wider
cultural context that includes TV shows like
thirtysomething, the bestsellers
of Erma Bombeck, and the advent of postmodernism. Anyone interested
in modern literature, feminism, or cultural politics will find Dr. Siegel's
volume provocative and enlightening. Indeed, I would recommend
it to anyone who has a mother."
Table of Contents

Chapter 1  - The Daughter's Discourse
The Site of Motherhood
Situating Women's Autobiography
Tracing Women's Autobiographical Theory
The Autobiographical Man/The Autobiographical Woman

Chapter 2 - A Body Among Minds
Creating the Mind/Body Split: Simone de Beauvoir and Motherhood
A Mind of One's Own:
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter
Her Mother/Her Self:
A Very Easy Death

Chapter 3 - The Mother as Spectacle
Mothers, Daughters, and Desire
Nathalie Sarraute's
Childhood: The Mother as Lack
Annie Dillard's
An American Childhood - Mothers, Daughters,and Bodies:
Culturally Trapped, Beautifully Wrapped

Chapter 4 - The Mother Speaks: A Really Bloody Show
The Order of Things and Mothers
Mom's Best Sellers: The Housebroken, Domesticated Gothics of Betty MacDonald,
Shirley Jackson, and Erma Bombeck
Strategies of Transcendence: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Maxine Hong Kingston
Making Room for Mommy: The
Tranche de Vie Autobiographies of Contemporary Mothers

Chapter 5  - Conclusion: Mother, Body, and Metaphor

The Site of Motherhood Revisited
The Dis-Location of Maternal Space
The Economy of Écriture Féminine
Epilogue: Re-Membering, Re-Mothering the Postmodern Body
Mothering as Disease
Re-Organizing the Body
Mothering as Metaphor
KRISTI SIEGEL is Associate Professor of English at Mount Mary College in Milwaukee and earned her Ph.D. in Modern Studies from the University of   Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She published Issues in Travel Writing: Empire, Spectacle, and Displacement (Peter Lang, 2002), is editing another collection of essays, this one treating women’s travel writing, Gender, Genre, and Identity in Women’s Travel Writing (Peter Lang, forthcoming 2003), serves as General Editor for the book series Travel Writing Across the Disciplines (Peter Lang), and has published various articles on postmodern, feminist, cultural, and autobiographical theory.