Valerie Heffernan

Associate Professor in German Literary and Cultural Studies 

Maynooth (Ireland)

From January 12 to January 16, 2020

Biography —

Personal Website

Valerie Heffernan is an Associate Professor in German Literary and Cultural Studies at the Maynooth University School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures. She studied at University College Dublin, the Université de Lausanne (Switzerland) and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Germany). She received her PhD in 2004.

Valerie’s research interests encompass feminist theory, cultural studies and literary studies. Her current work looks at how motherhood is represented in contemporary European literature and culture. She is particularly interested in how prevailing images and narratives of motherhood impact upon women’s mothering practices, as well as their fertility decisions.

Project —

During my stay at Faber, my colleague Dr Katherine Stone and I will be working on a book chapter about the international response to the concept of maternal regret. We are interested in how Israeli sociologist Orna Donath’s recent research on women who regret their motherhood has been received in the press and on social media in different countries, as well as how this response relates to prevailing cultural ideas about “good” motherhood in those countries. We aim to show how idealized standards of good motherhood place unreasonable pressure on all women, whether or not they choose to have children.