The experience of mothering and motherhood does not fit the idealistic happy stories the media would often have us believe in. More often than not, mothering and motherhood involve a degree of morbidity and even death.
This death can be real or imagined, willed or accidental. It can involve the mother, the (unborn) child, or both, taking the form of miscarriage, abortion, stillbirth, death of the mother in childbirth, infanticide, matricide, or post-partum depression and psychosis. The essays collected here explore the representation of this deadly mother-child link in literature and the visual arts. Indeed, although these "events" are represented in works of art, they are very rarely addressed critically and the aesthetic as well political stakes of their representation seem to have been much overlooked. This collection focuses on how artists envisage, onsciously or not, the death of children, and how this issue is likely to influence their creative process and their vision of society. It thus pays particular attention to the relationship of the body – corporeal and textual – with the lethal maternal, and how this affects the reception process. If these essays tackle the deathly motherchild relationship in different terms – aesthetic, biological, sociological, psychological, or historical –, they all put to the fore the individual and collective importance of writing and representing what is too often tabooed in the discourse of and about women.