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University Relations

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March 24, 2005
Contact: Susan Harris, KU English department and Hall Center for the Humanities, (785) 864-2639.

No female-driver jokes, please: KU lecture on 'My Mother the Car' coming

LAWRENCE -- Deb Clarke of Pennsylvania State University will give a talk titled "'My Mother the Car': Automotive Maternity and American Culture" at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 14, in the Hall Center for the Humanities conference room. Her talk is free and open to the public.

Beginning with the 1960s television show "My Mother the Car," Clarke examines fictional works that demonstrate how the automobile age has transformed maternity.

" My Mother the Car" is a segment of Clarke's current project, "Women on Wheels: Automobility and American Women's Fiction," which uses popular culture, automobile history and women's fiction to launch an investigation into women's relationship with cars in 20th-century America. Arguing that access to cars transformed women's lives as profoundly as suffrage, Clarke examines how the car shapes gender and identity.

" When women take the wheel," she notes, "family structure and public space are reconfigured and re-gendered."
Clarke teaches 20th-century American literature at Penn State, where she is known for her leadership roles in English, women's studies and American studies.


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