The transition to motherhood is difficult and jarring for many women. Not only does this transition demand life-altering changes to a woman's life, but especially in more recent times, this transition offers nothing but uncertainty. As the role and understanding of women continues to change, what motherhood means becomes increasingly difficult to define; additionally, the traditional narratives of stay-at-home mothers who are always happy to do housework and nurture their children no longer apply for many 21st-century women, leaving new mothers feeling uncertain about who they are and who they want to become. Since the turn of the century, mothers have turned to the blogosphere to document and share the events of their everyday lives, making the blogosphere a space for mothers to share the highs and lows of modern family life with their family, friends, and other mothers. The scholarship published on mommy blogs suggests that for the writers of these blogs, the act of blogging provides writers with the opportunity to literally revise the events that occur in their lives on their blogs, which allows them to actively shape and create their maternal identities. In turn, their blogs are read, complicated, and validated by a community of other readers, which implicitly suggests that readers are being affected in some way by their reading experiences. Although the relationship between the blog and the blog writer has been given adequate attention in the scholarship on mommy blogs, the relationship between the blog and the blog reader has not been fully explored. Consequently, my research attempts to explain how a reader's perception of her maternal identity is influenced by her reading experiences. By applying Kenneth Burke's theory of literary form to the public texts of mommy blogs, I suggest that readers are affected in equally profound ways as the bloggers themselves. Looking at reader responses through Burke's theory of form demonstrates that the act of reading a mommy blog allows readers to experience life as someone else lives it, which often reveals a gap between the reader's real experiences and her vicarious experience reading. This space prompts a shift in attitude in readers; however, these shifts vary from reader to reader. Some readers may feel inspired, while others feel envious or inadequate by the same blog, which suggests that either way, a reader's perception of her maternal identity has changed. And although these shifts depend in part on the experience offered by the blog, their response reflects their own experiences of motherhood and expectations for how motherhood should be represented, making mommy blogs ultimately a place where readers actively shape their maternal identities as well.



College and Department

Humanities; English



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mommy blogs, identification, Kenneth Burke