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Journal Article

Citation

Hasian M, Flores LA. Howard J. Commun. 2000; 11(3): 163.

Copyright

(Copyright © 2000, Informa - Taylor and Francis Group)

DOI

10.1080/10646170050086303

PMID

unavailable

Abstract

This essay examines the mass mediated representations of the Susan Smith trial that circulated in both legal and public spheres. Building on the interdisciplinary work of feminist theorists and critics, the authors contend that the media framing of the concept of motherhood occasionally turned Smith into a cipher for discussions of a variety of social issues in America. Although some observers viewed her as an emblematic reminder of the problems that have come from the abandonment of traditional values, other commentators saw her as the victim of patriarchy and abuse. The authors conclude that the mainstream construction of motherhood eventually took precedence over other interpretations of the case. Within this dominant narrative, the tragic drowning of two children in a South Carolina lake in 1994 transformed Smith into a modern Medea, an iconic reminder of what awaited other women who violated the laws of motherhood.

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