"Mommy Podcasts": A Feminist Reading of What to Expect and Big Fat Positive

Blankenship, Mary Chandler, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Ceraso, Steph, AS-English-Eng Lit Ops, University of Virginia

The podcasting industry has exploded in popularity since launching in 2004. This thesis examines one notable genre, podcasts about motherhood. Four major research strategies are used in this thesis: (1) historical context, with a special focus on the Industrial Revolution which was a splintering-off point for motherhood advice; (2) a summary of relevant contemporary motherhood scholarship, with a special focus on the ideology of intensive mothering; (3) a description of five prominent subgenres that the author identified within the motherhood podcasting genre; and (4) close readings of two episodes. The roles of “expert” and “peer” are central to the genre, with many podcasts utilizing a peer- or an expert-oriented approach. An episode from the What to Expect podcast (expert-oriented) and an episode from the Big Fat Positive podcast (peer-oriented) were chosen for close readings. Both episodes were released in the summer of 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic. The readings reveal several insights about the motherhood podcast genre, including its nuanced sociality, its close attention to intensive mothering, and the central role of listeners.

MA (Master of Arts)
Podcasts, Motherhood Podcasts, Mommy Podcasts, Intensive Mothering, Industrial Revolution, What to Expect Podcast, Big Fat Positive Podcast, Contemporary Motherhood, Motherhood Advice
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