Representing the Contemporary North American Family: Family Portraits

The rise in individualism and the growing liberalism of family law may be seen as potential threats to the family as a unit. Currently, defenders of traditional family models are being forced to accept a more fluid definition of family as an intrinsic heterogeneous unit. Central to this book is the idea that the family, as a social unit around which society is structured, still plays a pivotal role in North America. States, courts, and political parties have had to address the major mutations of the family landscape in the last decades. The family is instrumental in reorganizing communities in migration contexts, and is a key component of political strategies.

The way family is staged in the press, on social media, and in TV shows, reflects the fast-changing patterns and new realities of North American families, and offers alternatives to hegemonic representations of normative families. It also ranks high among current literary obsessions since it is the privileged receptacle for contemporary anxieties and operates both as an ideal retreat or an alienating space. The proliferation of family narratives, in their ever-shifting forms, reveals that family has boundless potential for fiction, and continues to run deep in the North American imaginary.

This book gathers together approaches that range from field study, sociology, politics, media studies and literature. The contributions here show the centrality of the family both as an individual unit and as social, political, legal, and fictional constructs.


Sophie Chapuis holds a PhD from Université Paris 3–Sorbonne Nouvelle and is currently teaching American literature as a Senior Lecturer in the English Department of Université Jean Monnet, France. She has published articles about masculinity, illness, and domesticity, and worked on authors such as William T. Vollmann, David Vann and Gary Shteyngart. Her research centers on the mutations of contemporary American fiction, particularly narratives of the self.

Marie Moreau is a Senior Lecturer in North American Studies in the Language Department of Université Jean Moulin–Lyon 3, France, and a member of the research group Institut d’Études Transtextuelles et Transculturelles. She obtained a PhD from the Université Paris 3–Sorbonne Nouvelle, and her research focuses on gender roles and on moral, social, sexual, and family values in North America. She has published articles about reproductive rights, representations of gender roles, and family politics.

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ISBN: 1-5275-7285-4

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-7285-0

Release Date: 19th August 2021

Pages: 210

Price: £61.99

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