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Teaching and Learning Multimodal Communications

Alyssa Arbuckle, Alison Hedley, Shaun Macpherson, Alyssa McLeod, Jana Millar Usiskin, Daniel Powell, Jentery Sayers, Emily Smith, Michael Stevens, Authors

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Reinterpretation: Discoveries and Conclusions from Mapping Victorian Maternal Mobility

Not insignificantly, the difficulty of mapping the prescriptions that the texts give for maternal behavior also foregrounds the difficulty an individual Victorian female would encounter in trying to adhere to the cultural model of maternity. The supposedly stable category of normalcy deteriorates when one tries to locate it in material reality—there is no perfectly average individual, no truly moderate pregnancy. That these manuals advocate the impossible only emphasizes that they operate within larger cultural discourses that seek to perpetuate anxiety about normalcy, thereby controlling the maternal body. The irreconcilability of guidebooks and actual practice disseminates cultural anxiety about childbearing on an individual level.

The discoveries and lines of inquiry illuminated along the way demonstrate that ultimately my project emphasizes making/building, which has been a thematic thread running through the whole semester's work. Though our projects are still very much under construction, we are all engaged in a process that invites new possibilities of forming, deforming and interpreting texts digitally while remaining grounded in the humanistic literary tradition. And here, as elsewhere, our DH forbearers (Stephen Ramsay and Mark Sample, among others) anticipate our experience and offer suggestions for future engagement in this work.

Author: Alison Hedley
Word Count: 195
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