Can Any Mother Help Me?

Social Mothers: Motherhood, Motherwork and Social Media


UK mums only please!

What happens when the oldest job in the world meets the newest technology? Is social media transforming the way women adapt to motherhood? Are you constantly onilne posting photographs of your little ones? Exclaiming how litte sleep you’ve had? Asking advice on everything from how to sooth cracked nipples to where to buy calpol at 3am? Or do you just trust your instincts?

The purpose and value of this study is to find out what impact social media has on the experience of motherhood and how it effects women’s transition into motherhood as well as how it continues to positively or negatively impact on their lives. If you are a UK mother and use social media either a lot or a little I would like to hear about your views and experiences. All the information you share in the survey is anonymous.

It will take about 20 minutes and feedback from mothers who have already taken it was that they found it interesting and enjoyed filling it in. I appreciate your time and in sharing this with other UK mothers. If you have questions about the survey please do not hesitate to contact me through this blog.  If you want to be updated on the findings of this research and any related publications please follow this blog. I’ll be posting updates here.

Click on the link below to access the survey. AND THANKS!

Motherhood and Social Media Survey 2015


Old gender Frontlines endure in Todays Suburbs: Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk

This novel was suggested to me by my PhD supervisor as I began my research in to the impact social media is having on experiences of motherhood. The women and mothers in this novel don’t make use of social media, nor does their author to communicate who they are so it wasn’t for that that my supervisor suggested the book. Rather it was for its precise anatomy of the struggles of women with the daily divided tertories of men and women’s work. they way Cusk describes lives where the politics of gender should be alive, kicking and screaming – but isn’t. These women are bright, intelligent but most exist as if feminism hasn’t happened. As if The Feminine Mystic, Female Eunuch, A Room of One’s Own and the many other conscious raising tracts of the politics of sexual inequality hadn’t happened nor the movements they inspired. Cusk and her characters are dissatisfied in their housework and child rearing duties and wonder what’s changed for women now compared to the past. Certainly not much as far as they see. Some accept this as the way of things. Some find it less easy to stomach. But what to do? Crop your hair the only answer one woman comes up with. Cusk relies on a conventional third person narration to detail the thought, dreams and actions of her characters with a genome scientists precision. The shopping trips, school runs, neighbourly dinner invitations that make up their seemingly similar suburban lives  in desirable  Arlington Park the landscape in which they must thrive or sink. As we move over the lives of these characters Cusk gives us a wide tracking shot of their lives, intercut with well place close ups – but she keeps us at a distance and at times I found myself reading on as a matter of duty rather than desire. I think the distancing effect of her writing is due it part to its eloquence. Dare I say over eloquence? Although I admire and enjoyed her prose the impact of the characters lives feels backgrounded as a consequence of Cusk’s prose style somehow. Cusk writes with acuity and if you are a wife and/or mother it is likely you will find something to recognise in these pages. But don’t expect any solutions to the problems of domestic life it raises.

Week 9: The End of Books…

This week we will be looking at Writing About You Work in preparation for your critical commentary essay assessment element and Multi-Modal Story telling, Digital and E-Literature. With regard to the former you are required to submit a 1000 word essay critically reflecting on your creative writing practice [your responses to 4 out of the 5 experimental modals of creative writing presented on the course]. You should identify the key strategies presented with each model and how you have adapted and interpreted these for your own work. You should reflect on and assess your work according to the works’ achievements in adhering to and/or developing the original author’s strategy, using references and demonstrating the depth of your understanding of the methods and context of the work through close textual analysis, self reflection and critical comment [don’t forget to reference the Everyday Life Theory we covered too].

Multi-Modal Story telling, Digital and E-Literature

Digital literature is a term is used in a number of ways. It can mean anything that finds itself presented in computational form; it is the preferred term for any new writing that is generated and designed to be read digitally – in North America the term E-literature is favoured for this type of work. Basically both terms refer – in their purest sense – to work that is ‘digital born’ representing both a strategy and form of new writing that sets out to make use of the non-linear narrative capabilities of digital language. Veering away from the constraints of singular, linear cause and effects narrative relationships to more complex, network neonarratives. The latter can be said to represent the a paradigm shift in the way we understand the world and seek to make sense of it through stories. [An amusing and interesting aside –]

Here’s an article from the NEW YORK TIMES  that provides a good introduction to e-literature. It is published in 1992 – so practically ancient history – but very interesting both for its description of what this ‘new’ art form is and could be – but also as a historical object.

The form began with hypertext

“”Hypertext” is not a system but a generic term, coined a quarter of a century ago by a computer populist named Ted Nelson to describe the writing done in the nonlinear or nonsequential space made possible by the computer. Moreover, unlike print text, hypertext provides multiple paths between text segments, now often called “lexias” in a borrowing from the pre-hypertextual but prescient Roland Barthes. With its webs of linked lexias, its networks of alternate routes (as opposed to print’s fixed unidirectional page-turning) hypertext presents a radically divergent technology, interactive and polyvocal, favoring a plurality of discourses over definitive utterance and freeing the reader from domination by the author. Hypertext reader and writer are said to become co-learners or co-writers, as it were, fellow-travelers in the mapping and remapping of textual (and visual, kinetic and aural) components, not all of which are provided by what used to be called the author.” Extract from above article in NY Times.

Early Hypertext fiction used a writing environment called Storyspace – which you can have a look at here

A significant trend in more recent work in this field explore the narrative possibilities that exists in the convergence between new multimedia and writing. Exploring exciting new storying possibilities as sound, image and text combine to make new story worlds that reflect our own increasingly complex, multi-connected lives.




On Chris Joseph’s site I recommend tube lines [first left on grid] and i wake at eight [near the bottom far left] – lots of other great work on their too.

It is clear to see how the experimental and new writing writing strategies we have studied on the course lead us here…

Week 7: Psychogeography / Inner and Outer Journeys

psychogeography[1]This week we’ll be reading and thinking about psychogeography with a view to writing your next project [Project 5].  As a form or style or genre of writing it is, as with many of the forms we’ve explored so far, hard to define but it is characterized by the writer taking a solitary walk through a particualr environment. It is often a journey taken on the edge of places or that explore places on retreat or in decline. With this in mind much psychogeography is concerned with documenting loss or change. The 18th cnetrury poet John Clare is often cited as setting the precedent for this kind of writing – famous for his celebratory representations of the English Country side when enclosure legislation threatened an end to country life as was then known with its freedom to roam. More recently Will Self and Iain Sinclair have both – and with idiosyncraatic colour – made this style of writing a central part of their writing and intellectual practice.

Please read and watch the following and be prepared to come with responses and ideas for your own exploration of this for next class.

Sinclair on ‘motiveless walking’

Sinclair ‘On London’ extract

Sinclair ‘London Orbital’ ‘look inside’ chapter 1

Self – South Downs Way [extract]

The uses of Psychogeography – Self

What is Psychography?

Psychogeography has its soots in situationism of which Guy Debord was a key member Psychogeography was defined in 1955 by Guy Debord as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.”[. If you haven’t already read Perspective for Conscious Alterations of Everyday Life [see Week 2]  [Highmore Everyday Life reader] then do!

Watch [at least] some of this film:

There is a translation of French Voice Over available by following the link to a blog on the You Tube page. it’s very interesting to observe the way the camera’s eyes sees. With the v/o processes specific ideas and interpretations about ‘the seen’.

And for another fascinating filmic response to psychogeographical approaches to ‘landscape and journey writing have a look at Andrew Kottings Gallivant [UK 1995]. if you have a look at Sinclair’s web site you’ll see they’ve worjed together quite a bit.

Week 6: Small is Beautiful / Micro Fiction


This week we are turning our attention to micro fiction. Whether it’s flash, just short or macroscopically micro we are interested in what makes good short fiction great.

There is much flash fiction about. David Gaffney has made a bit of a name for himself with the form and much of his subject matter makes a good match for our investigation in to theories of Everyday Life. Here is what he has to say about how to write it:

here’s where you can read two of his flash fictions from his Book Sawn Off Tales via Amazon’s Look Inside option  Your Name In Weetos and the Lost Language of Hairgrips. [more coming in printed form via hand outs in class]

And here’s somewhere to read more flash fiction and another short by David Gaffney Happy Places

He also performs words with a fellow writer – short fiction is growing a broader audience through quirky, imaginative performance presentations.

I also thought i’d throw in this link from MJ Hyland. A Guardian How To Write Fiction missive with a more general fiction writer in mind but nevertheless with some great tips and advice.

Week 2: Tracing The Invisible Threads of Life

Attempts to theorize the minutae of everyday life are destined to be problematic at best. Geater minds have tried and slipped but in the trying perhaps make the path for the next traveller a little surer. The search for something is often lauded as equal if not greater than the thing that is itself searched for and if this is true it were never more so than of the search for a standup, conclusive theory of everyday life. But where theory may stutter and falter under the weight of its own need to provide an all encompasing explanation creative writing may have the edge.  In its diversity, it polyphony, it ability to capture. convey, illuninate and engage. So as you consider Ben Highmore’s clear assimilation of the key theoretical approaches and perspectives on the subject in his Everyday Life and Cultural Theory:An Introduction or reflect on the primary source texts in his reader [highlights for me includes Barthes essay on Plastic] you can think about how this quest to find a way to render visible the invisible threads of our everyday existence – – might open up your own world. How you might [re]discover the mundane and passed over, the forgotten, the unnoticed and yet to be considered in your own life and that ofthose you see around you – unique yet familiar lives, full of ordinary extraordinariness and see what impact that illumination may have on your writing.

Debord ‘Alterations’ Extract – Discussion Questions

EL = Everyday Life

  1. What is the purpose of studying EL?
  2. What needs to be transformed and why?
  3. Why is Debord concerned with demomstrating EL is right here?
  4. Debord compares EL with the search for the Yeti. In what ways does this illuminate the problems of defining EL?
  5. EL is not..? What is it not?
  6. What connection does Debord see between the notion of EL and revolution?
  7. How does a denial of the existence of EL leads to a society of alienation?