6 Feb 2012 1:00pm - 2:00pm CRASSH, Seminar room SG2 (Ground Floor)


Afternoon session

Chairs:Professor Linda Layne, Susanna Graham, Irenee Daly and John Appleby


In our work on single mothers by choice, Graham and Layne have noticed that the single most frequent criticism of women who choose to make families on their own is that they are “selfish”. What exactly is meant by this judgment? What rhetorical work does this term do? 

In this interdisciplinary, exploratory discussion we would like to explore to whom else, and in what circumstances, this negative moral judgment is applied. Are there similar situations where selfishness is not applied but perhaps other terms such as irresponsible, self-centred or narcissistic are? How do these terms differ? Are there gender and class dimensions to the selfishness rhetoric?


We will also explore the rhetoric of “selflessness”. This term, though less frequently articulated, clearly informs the moral discourse that is being marshaled by those who accuse others of selfishness. 

Other areas where the selfish/selfless rhetoric may apply and could be explored are:

·      Older mothers

·      Suicide and assisted suicide

·      End of life care

·      Parenting styles and techniques (e.g. raising children as gender neutral)

·      Parenting children with disabilities

·      Abortion after a positive diagnosis for foetal abnormality

This CIRF event will form an initial discussion regarding this topic with a mind to organising further events in the future to develop this topic. It would be great if you could come along with any ideas you may have regarding the rhetoric of selfishness/selflessness and how it could be explored.

If you can't make this workshop but would be interested in discussing these ideas further please e-mail repro@hermes.ac.uk and we’ll get back to you.

Looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible on Monday



Open to all.  No registration required.

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