Ah, the Happy Mother!
Mia will be our guide on this reading about the Enlightenment (sic) and tale of the good mother embroidered in both art and literature of the period! Here are a few questions to ponder:
1. Before the Enlightenment, how was the family portrayed in art? Was this rendering faithful to the social reality of marriage?
2. Did the association of marriage with sexual satisfaction in 18th-century imagery seem surprising to you? How did the presence of children diminish the erotic nature of these representations?
3. Before the paradigm shift that Duncan charts, what were the roles assigned to husband and wife in marriage?
4. Discuss the representations of adultery and why that alternative was so widespread.
5. Before Rousseau, how were children perceived and how did Enlightenment thinkers change peoples’ views on parenting?
6. How did the paintings of Greuze and Aubrey reflect the ideas espoused in Rousseau’s Julie, Nouvelle Heloise, and Emile?
7. How did these new views of conjugal love affect portraiture? How did they affect contemporary families?
8. The very heart of the Enlightenment family was the wife-mother as eulogized by Diderot. In wanting to do what they were required to do, some women failed to measure up. What women did not match these criteria?
9. What were the origins of this cult of motherhood? What, if any, were the historical repercussions of the formula that “motherhood = happiness?”