Mapping American Motherhood

Project: “Mapping American Motherhood” is an interactive exhibit with digitized resources aimed at connecting people to valuable information within the sphere of gender studies, motherhood, fatherhood, and family education. Its goal is to assist users in navigating resources that are helpful to cultivating agency for the purpose of empowerment, wellbeing, and self-advocacy. This will be the first collaboratively created project in the field of Mother Studies, and the first to propose integrated intellectual content that is delivered in accessible ways in a web-based platform. The project is premised on interactivity and solicits input from its users while providing them with solid theoretical content. It goes to the heart of the digital humanities mandate using text, music, video, articles, (and ultimately games), to archive, share, and manage a series of collections.

The first of this series, called “Electric Mommyland” will digitize, archive and disseminate an interactive auto-ethnographic collection at the intersection of feminism, history, popular music, activism, consumerism, and the academy. Using CD’s, taped sound bites, film clips, books, press stories, photographs, and portions of my thesis, items will be situated in compelling and educational ways. This is a social history and culture project that is forward facing, meaning its aim is to derive clearer understandings of the past to better envision the future, while addressing issues of efficacy, which is something every family, feminist, and educator concerns themselves with. This project can be executed on wordpress using soundcloud, youtube, and other plugins, but I welcome suggestions for other web-based tools.

Authors Comments: We live in a digitally connected world, but human beings still enact caregiving in ways that leave them prone to serious issues. Information and support can be difficult to find and result in problems for those performing such labor. A few of those problems are: economic disempowerment, emotional isolation, physical harm (inside/outside the medical system, or their own partners), and psychological trauma. If the “net” shows us, as David Parry suggests in his article “Burn the Boats/Books”, that “knowledge is about navigating, creating, and participating” (Pg. 2), then let freedom ring. Education can now move beyond economic barriers. We can fight gender inequity, classism, racism, and other major issues by circulating knowledge, and forging connections with vast bodies of intellectual resources that inspire us to actively participate in our own evolution and the evolution of that knowledge.

This is a project of my class at CUNY, The Graduate Center.


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