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The family contracts




Wernsing, Sarah, author
Dungy, Camille, advisor
Cooperman, Matthew, committee member
Fernandez-Gimenez, Maria, committee member

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The family contracts is a manuscript of poetry that explores the nexus of motherhood, family history, and place, particularly the suburbs as the site of the family home. It is a work at once expansive in its reach toward the past and also incredibly insular in its exploration of the construct of the suburbs and their place in American life and motherhood. It interrogates the demands of motherhood and the ways in which motherhood is shaped by family inheritance. The manuscript attempt to marry ecopoetics with a feminist perspective to recognize the damage that American suburban life inflicts upon women as well as the land around us. The manuscript is divided into four sections, the first and third of which are section-length poems and the second and fourth of which are a collection of multiple poems put together. The first section brings into conversation the life cycle of plant with the movement of generations of mothers and daughters. The second section focuses more on epistolary poetry that explores family inheritance and what motherhood means within the speaker's particular family context. The third section moves back and forth in time and place between William Bradford's Of Plimouth Plantation, the speaker's grandmother's life, and the interactions between speaker and daughter. The fourth section issues out of the personal and family history of the first three sections. It is entitled "suburban georgic" and follows the georgic tradition of recording the season changes, attempts at farming, and instruction on living in a particular location within a particular climate.


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