From Tomboy to Killjoy: Affects, Temporalities and Materiality in Narratives of Non-Parenting

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Camilla Schwartz


University of Southern Denmark


DKK 755,000




Monograph Fellowships


The monograph examines how women who choose not to become mothers have been portrayed, in a historical context, in both popular culture, literature, film and fine art. The monograph takes its point of departure in an investigation of how Western popular culture has framed the childfree figure as unimportant, unproductive, and potentially inhuman and how contemporary literature, film and fine art about childfree women use affective, temporal, and material reconfigurations to rethink and reshape the stigmatized position of the "barren" woman. The monograph also examines how these reconfigurations function as a site for processes of recognition in late modernity.


Childfree women are a neglected group within key humanities research traditions such as cultural studies, motherhood studies and film and literary studies. The monograph aims to include childfree women in the cultural interpretation of late modernity and will offer a much-needed cultural study of representations of non-parenting or childfree women in a very broad range of aesthetic and medial forms.


I use queer theory, kinship theory, affect theory and new materialism to conduct cultural analysis and I work with a broad conception of text: poems, novels, autobiography, essays, paratexts, film, TV, performance, fine art and fashion. The texts come from a wide range of contemporary Western contexts, and in order to reflect on how literary texts travel across time offering new meanings in new contexts a diachronic perspective is added by relating texts across different times.

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