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  • 1.
    Gregersdotter, Katarina
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    Isaksson, Malin
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    Lindgren Leavenworth, Maria
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    Svensson, Maria Helena
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    Editorial: Textual Echoes2011In: Transformative Works and Cultures, ISSN 1941-2258, E-ISSN 1941-2258, no 8Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 2.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    A Narrative of Fear: Advice to Mothers2015In: Literature and medicine, ISSN 0278-9671, E-ISSN 1080-6571, Vol. 33, no 1, p. 113-131Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Taking present-day research into so-called new momism and intense mothering as a starting point, this article argues that the current mothering discourse, rather than articulating a new phenomenon, perpetuates a regulative discourse developed in the nineteenth century, in advice books written by medical doctors for pregnant women and new mothers. Both the Victorian and the present-day texts play on feelings of guilt and inadequacy in order to control the actions and emotions of mothers, although the threatened outcome differs: present-day mothers are warned that their children may become obese or develop neuropsychological disorders, whereas Victorian mothers are warned that their children might die.

  • 3.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    "Because My Mother was a Liar and a Whore": Adulterous Mothers and Paternity Uncertainty in Jo Nesbø’s The Snowman2015In: The Mother-Blame Game / [ed] Vanessa Reimer, Sarah Sahagian, Toronto: Demeter Press, 2015, p. 204-218Chapter in book (Refereed)
  • 4.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    Dying to create a hero: changing meanings of death in childbirth?2017In: Absent mothers / [ed] Frances Greenslade, Bradford: Demeter Press, 2017, p. 7-16Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The greatest gift a mother can bestow on her son is to die in childbirth, Pliny the Elder argued as early as AD 77, using Julius Caesar as one example. The link between maternal death and military prowess has persisted through the centuries. Knights and warriors such as Tristram, the Arthurian Knight of Sorrows, and Macduff, are shown to be great men, because they have freed themselves from the taint of the maternal body, as Janet Adelman has discussed in Suffocating Mothers, effectively giving birth to themselves. In this chapter I chart the changing use of the trope of the warrior emerging from his mother's dead or dying body. Older iterations are read against the 2011 film Conan, in which the mother's death is reinterpreted into an act of heroism on her part, which confers glory on both mother and son. However, she still dies, and in my analysis I ask the question why it is still the case that a mother must die for her son to become successful.

  • 5.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    Döda mammor och ensamstående pappor: föräldraskap i tecknad film2016In: Att konstruera en kvinna: berättelser om normer, flickor och tanter / [ed] Karin Lövgren, Lund: Nordic Academic Press, 2016, p. 79-98Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 6.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    From Understanding Mother to Hero Father: The Story of Ferdinand the Bull2019Other (Other academic)
  • 7.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    Introduction: explaining and exploring the dead or absent mother2017In: The absent mother in the cultural imagination: missing, presumed dead / [ed] Berit Åström, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, p. 1-21Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This chapter addresses the question of why the dead/absent mother-trope is invoked in so many narratives and the many answers given, in mainstream conversations in various online media as well as in scholarly analyses. The chapter includes an overview of previous scholarly research, which is grouped according to the explanatory model given, rather than chronologically. Such an organization generates useful insights, not only into how scholars have approached the dead/absent mother-trope, but also into the transhistorical character of the trope itself. The chapter is concluded with an overview of the other chapters in the anthology, showing how they demonstrate that the dead/absent mother-trope is a cultural conversation that transcends historical and generic divisions. 

  • 8.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    "Let's get those Winchesters pregnant": Male pregnancy in Supernatural fan fiction2010In: Transformative Works and Cultures, ISSN ISSN 1941-2258, Vol. 4Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This article investigates mpreg slash fiction—same-sex relationships featuring male pregnancy—based on the television series Supernatural, looking at issues of gender and genre. It has been argued that slash writing is a highly subversive and resisting activity, appropriating someone else's characters and rewriting the romance script to suit different tastes than those prescribed by patriarchy. Yet fan fic texts are very diverse and it is difficult, if not impossible, to draw any general conclusions from them. The theme of male pregnancy has the potential to produce narratives that challenge our notions of gender, identity, sexual and social practices, as well as parenthood. Although the fan fiction I have analyzed all deals with these notions in various ways, the focus lies elsewhere. The authors of the texts focus more on exploring Sam and Dean as fathers and homemakers, on writing about family life, with all its traditional trappings. When the authors bring pregnancy into the equation, they draw on narrative and social conventions that follow this experience, resulting in conventional stories set in a very unconventional universe

  • 9.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies. engelska.
    Livslångt lärande - att undervisa utbytesstudenter2008In: LMS - Lingua, Vol. 4Article in journal (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
  • 10.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    Marginalizing motherhood: postfeminist fathers and dead mothers in animated film2017In: The absent mother in the cultural imagination: missing, presumed dead / [ed] Berit Åström, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, p. 241-258Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    It is a commonplace that very few mothers survive to the end of animated feature films. The construction of the families and fathers the mothers leave behind has changed over the last few decades, however, as well as the reasons the mothers disappear. In this chapter, the films The Little Mermaid (1995), Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Aladdin (1992) are contrasted to the more recent Finding Nemo (2003), Chicken Little (2005) and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009). This chapter analyzes how the trope of the dead mother intersects with the trend towards representations of postfeminist fatherhood in popular culture, and discusses how a new type of parenting is created, which, although progressive in many ways, is still predicated on the absence of the mother. 

  • 11.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    Murdering the Narrator of The Wife's Lament1999In: Medieval Feminist Forum, ISSN 1536-8742, E-ISSN 2151-6073, Vol. 27, no 1, p. 24-27Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 12.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    Negotiating motherhood in The hunger games2018In: Handmaids, tributes, and carers: dystopian females' roles and goals / [ed] Myrna Santos, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018, p. 2-17Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This chapter investigates and problematizes representations of motherhood in Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games-trilogy. The novels depict a range of maternal models, some traditional and conservative, some transgressive. If, as has been argued, young adult literature affects how readers "on the cusp of adulthood" consider society and their place in it, the way mothers and mothering are represented in the novels may have a substantial impact on the readers' identity formation.

    Characterised by scholars as weak, despondent and overly feminine, Katniss' mother has been criticised as a failure, abdicating from her maternal role. Conversely, Katniss' marriage and maternity have been read as a heteronormative cop-out, undoing the character's gender-transcending work. Drawing on literary and sociological research, I suggest a different reading of both characters, in which the narrative allows Katniss' mother to explore a way of mothering that allows for maternal subjectivity, complexity of character and reconciliation of personal growth with motherhood. I further interrogate the epilogue, but not, as other scholars have done, from the point of view of the supposed domestication of Katniss, but from the character's lack of agency and choice. It is suggested throughout the novels that Katniss does not want to have children, and the final decision is framed in terms of (ultimately futile) resistance on her part and coercion on Peeta's. Analysing the text within the framework of voluntary childlessness as female liberation as well as the difference between "will" and "consent" in relation to reproduction, I suggest that Katniss' submission and subsequent emotional distress articulate an ambivalent attitude towards motherhood. Ultimately, it could be argued that Katniss' mother achieves a maternal role that is more transgressive and liberating than that of her daughter. The novels thus offer up a variety of maternal models, which make it possible for readers to negotiate their own understanding of mothering.

  • 13.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    Over Her Dismembered Body: The Crime Fiction of Mo Hayder and Jo Nesbø2013In: Rape in Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy and Beyond: Contemporary Scandinavian and Anglophone Crime Fiction / [ed] Berit Åström, Katarina Gregersdotter, Tanya Horeck, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, p. 97-113Chapter in book (Refereed)
  • 14.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    Post-feminist fatherhood and the marginalization of the mother in Cormac McCarthy's the road2018In: Women - A Cultural Review, ISSN 0957-4042, E-ISSN 1470-1367, Vol. 29, no 1, p. 112-128Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Critics have tended to dismiss feminist analyses of Cormac McCarthy's works as misguided, labelling investigations of potential narrative misogyny in his novels as irrelevant. In this article, the author argues that such investigations are, on the contrary, highly relevant in the current climate of mother-blaming. The author specifically explains how McCarthy’s 2006 dystopian novel The Road uses post-feminist fatherhood to valorize the father and vilify the mother, thus participating in a continuing cultural trend of privileging fathers over mothers. The Road invokes traditional cultural expectations of motherhood and fatherhood, presenting the mother as unable and unwilling to care for the boy, in stark contrast to the very competent and able father. Many literary analyses of this highly acclaimed novel have unquestioningly accepted the post-feminist marginalization of the mother, and critics have elaborated on and developed the mother-blaming in the novel in a move that the author terms ‘critical co-writing’. Critical co-writing occurs when critics ally themselves with an author, rather than retaining a critical distance, and represent the author's ideas without problematizing them. In the case of The Road, many critics build on post-feminist cues in the novel, adding their own, unreflected, understandings of motherhood and fatherhood. In so doing, they reinterpret and rewrite the novel into an even more forceful presentation of flawed mothering. In a critical discussion of these readings, the author demonstrates how these critics transform the novel's implicit criticism of the mother character into explicit condemnation.

  • 15.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    Postfeminist Fatherhood in the Animated Feature Films Chicken Little and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs2015In: Journal of Children and Media, ISSN 1748-2798, E-ISSN 1748-2801, Vol. 9, no 3, p. 294-307Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Drawing on Hannah Hamad's concept of postfeminist masculinity, this article analyzes how the animated films Chicken Little (Disney, 2005) and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Sony, 2009) construct postfeminist fatherhood in opposition to two traditional stereotypes: the emotionally distant authoritarian and the bumbling pal. In contrast to films from the 1980s and 1990s, in which sons struggle to live up to their fathers’ expectations, these films demand a change in paternal attitudes, requiring fathers to adapt to their sons’ needs instead. The article argues that the films offer a didactic message to fathers as well as sons, which suggests that in postfeminist fatherhood older parenting models are no longer viable, and a new culture of fatherhood is needed, which may offer a way of challenging hegemonic masculinity.

  • 16.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    Referred pain: privileging male emotions in narrative instances of female physical suffering2011In: Journal of Gender Studies, ISSN 0958-9236, E-ISSN 1465-3869, Vol. 20, no 2, p. 125-137Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This article analyses literary patterns of female subordination, and focuses in particular on what the author terms "referred pain." By juxtaposing two early modern texts, William Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus and Aphra Behn's Oroonoko, with two modern visual texts, John Woo's Mission Impossible 2 and Baz Lurhman's Moulin Rouge, the author discusses the recurring trope of privileging male emotional suffering over female physical suffering, and suggests that one reason for the continuing popularity of this can be sought in the kinship system and its exchange of women. The article argues for the application of a transhistorical perspective when studying literature, as a means of revealing patterns that may otherwise go unnoticed.

  • 17.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University.
    Shakespeare and 'Shakespere' in Justin Cronin and Emily St John Mandel2019In: Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction, ISSN 0306-4964, Vol. 48, no 134, p. 19-31Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    There appears to be an affinity between Shakespeare and postapocalyptic fiction. His works are invoked in a number of such novels, including Justin Cronin’s The Passage (2010) and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven (2014). Cronin’s novel is mainly set ninety-two years after a failed military experiment that has turned a large part of the American population into vampires, where what is left of humanity is living under a constant threat of violent extinction. Here Shakespeare is only present in a number of epigraphs, what Gerard Genette has referred to as ‘mute gesture[s]’ (156). In Mandel’s novel, set mainly in an America slowly recovering twenty years after a devastating influenza epidemic that killed millions of people, Shakespeare has a greater presence, both through the framing story of a production of King Lear, and through a travelling acting company, which almost exclusively performs Shakespeare’s plays. In this article I investigate the various ways in which Shakespeare is referenced and utilised, as well as which of his texts the authors have chosen to include, discussing what work the Shakespearean references perform and how they relate to questions of cultural memory. I argue that the epigraphs in The Passage, although relying on the reader’s participation in application and interpretation in order not to be a ‘mute gesture’, could be said to be of greater relevance to the reception and understanding of the novel, than Station Eleven’s often casual references to Shakespeare’s ‘greatest hits’.

  • 18.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    "Sucking the Corrupte Mylke of an Infected Nurse": regulating the dangerous maternal body2015In: Journal of Gender Studies, ISSN 0958-9236, E-ISSN 1465-3869, Vol. 24, no 5, p. 574-586Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Drawing on medieval medical encyclopaedias, early modern and Victorian advice books, as well as twentieth scientific advice to mothers, and linking them to present-day mothering discourse in the media, this article discusses cultural attitudes towards breast-milk and nursing mothers. The texts present a paradox in that while breast-milk is claimed as the best food for an infant, and mothers who choose not to nurse are vilified, it is simultaneously discussed as a potential poison and corrupting agent. I argue that the fear of breast-milk is a symptom of a cultural anxiety that periodically resurfaces, constructing the maternal body as threat to the infant, a threat that must be controlled and contained.

  • 19.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    The absent mother in the cultural imagination: missing, presumed dead2017Collection (editor) (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This anthology explores the recurring trope of the dead or absent mother in Western cultural productions. Across historical periods and genres, this dialogue has been employed to articulate and debate questions of politics and religion, social and cultural change as well as issues of power and authority within the family. Åström seeks to investigate the many functions and meanings of the dialogue by covering extensive materials from the 1200s to 2014 including hagiography, romances, folktales, plays, novels, children's literature and graphic novels, as well as film and television. This is achived by looking at the discourse both as products of the time and culture that produced the various narratives and as part of an on-going cultural conversation that spans the centuries, resulting in an innovative text that will be of great interest to all scholars og gender, feminist and media studies.

  • 20.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    The Creation of the Anglo-Saxon Woman1998In: Studia Neophilologica, ISSN 0039-3274, E-ISSN 1651-2308, Vol. 70, no 1, p. 25-34Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 21.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    The Politics of Tradition: Examining the History of the Old English poems The Wife's Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer2008Book (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Book Description:

    In recent years, Anglo-Saxonists have widened the scope of their studies to include not only various aspects of Anglo-Saxon society and literature, but also their own discipline. Studying the scholarship on The Wife's Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer, Åström examines the roles of these scholars in the critical history of the two poems. These poems are two of the most haunting, and at the same time cryptic, texts of the entire Old English corpus. Because of these characteristics, the research they inspire is wide-ranging, imaginative and provocative. The study focuses mainly on two aspects of scholarly research: the emergence of a professional identity among Anglo-Saxonist scholars and their choice of either a metaphoric or metonymic approach to the material. A final chapter charts the concomitant changes within Old English feminist studies. The study summarises the approaches to points of ambiguity in the poems and provides a comprehensive bibliography of twentieth century scholarship on the two texts, which should make it not only a concise introduction to the field of Old English studies, but also a useful work of reference for anyone wishing to pursue further research on the poems.

  • 22.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Modern Languages.
    The Politics of Tradition: Examining the History of the Old English Poems The Wife's Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer2002Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Old English literary studies is a fascinating field of research which spans many various approaches including philology and linguistics as well as literary and cultural theories. The field is characterised by a certain conservatism, what in this thesis is referred to as tradition. This thesis examines the scholarship on The Wife's Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer, projecting its cumbersome affinities with tradition as a conservative force as well as the resistance against it. The investigation focuses mainly on two aspects of scholarly research: the emergence of a professional identity among Anglo-Saxonist scholars and their choice of either a metaphoric or metonymic approach to the material. A final chapter studies the concomitant changes within Old English feminist studies. The thesis also summarises the approaches to points of ambiguity in the poems, and provides a comprehensive bibliography of scholarship on the two texts.

  • 23.
    Åström, Berit
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    The Symbolic Annihilation of Mothers in Popular Culture: Single Father and the death of the mother2015In: Feminist Media Studies, ISSN 1468-0777, E-ISSN 1471-5902, Vol. 15, no 4, p. 593-607Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This article takes as its starting point the paradoxical representation of mothers in popular culture. On the one hand the mother is constructed as central to the physical and emotional development of the child; on the other, she is routinely rejected or elided, questioned, and vilified. One expression of this ambivalent attitude is the re-circulation of the trope of the dead mother. The trope, which ostensibly is employed to create sympathy for a character, or simply to drive the plot, often also privileges fathers, suggesting that children are better off without mothers. After a brief genre overview of the use of the trope of the dead mother on film and television, the article analyses how the BBC serial Single Father, with its repeated depictions of the mother's violent death, develops the trope, by not only privileging the father and vilifying the dead mother, but also reducing her death to a plot point, a backdrop for romance.

  • 24.
    Åström, Berit
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    Gregersdotter, Katarina
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    Horeck, Tanya
    Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK.
    Introduction2013In: Rape in Stieg Larsson's Millennium and Beyond: Contemporary Scandinavian and Anglophone Crime Fiction / [ed] Berit Åström, Katarina Gregersdotter, Tanya Horeck, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, p. 1-18Chapter in book (Refereed)
  • 25.
    Åström, Berit
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
    Gregersdotter, KatarinaUmeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.Horeck, TanyaAnglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK.
    Rape in Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy and Beyond: Contemporary Scandinavian and Anglophone Crime Fiction2013Collection (editor) (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    With its powerful images of rape and revenge, Stieg Larsson's bestselling Millennium trilogy has made a major impact on the contemporary crime novel. This collection explores the role that rape plays in contemporary crime fiction, examining the sexually violent images at the heart of the Millennium trilogy in its many guises – from novels, to Swedish film adaptations, to Hollywood blockbuster. At the centre of discussion is Larsson's female heroine, Lisbeth Salander, one of popular culture's most unforgettable characters. The collection evaluates her status as a twenty-first century heroine, arguing that what makes Salander so interesting and culturally relevant, is her blend of vulnerability and violence.

    Putting Larsson's work into dialogue with a range of contemporary Scandinavian and Anglophone crime novelists, including Jo Nesbø, Håkan Nesser, Mo Hayder and Val McDermid, these essays offer cross-cultural insights into how notions of sexual violence, victims and vengeance are constructed. Opening up a range of vital new questions, the book interrogates the very terms by which we understand and encounter violent images in popular fiction and film.

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