Single motherhood has become a widespread phenomenon within contemporary societies, part of an ongoing revolution in family life. In order to address the outdated and thoughtless language being used to describe single mothers and their children, I will scrutinize the emergence and development of 21st century European cultural attitudes toward single motherhood using desk-based methods. To reconstruct its evolvement since the beginning of the century, this study proposes an innovative multidisciplinary approach, which combines comparative analysis of the UK’s and Russia’s policies toward single mothers with content and multiple approaches to text analysis of non-fiction, children’s and young adult fiction, social semiotics and multimodal discourse analysis of children’s illustrated literature. The overall aim of the proposed research is to advance my career through the completion of the present project, which examines the development and current stage of the cultural attitudes and policies directed toward single motherhood in two politically different countries. This aim is reflected through three primary objectives: to investigate contemporary European policy on single motherhood with focus on the UK and Russia, with attention to public attitudes toward the variation (unwed mothers, widows, divorced mothers, single mothers by choice) within single mothers as a social group; to examine the gendered British and Russian cultural ideologies since the beginning of the century up to the present and expressed through non-fiction and children’s and young adult literature and centered around social and cultural facets: abortion, virginity, affairs with men, pedagogical strategies, bad habits, beauty and clothes, professional career and education, and (re)marriage; to examine how this coding system was adapted to rules and grammar of the visual and, therefore, represented in children’s illustrated texts.
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