As recent and vigorous debate about reproductive rights across America demonstrates, the legal and social status of mothers and children, born and unborn, has immense ideological and cultural import, and is implicated in the more philosophical questions we will consider throughout the course: from what position can a mother speak? In the creation of “subjects” which motherhood implies, how can a woman retain a subject position when her legal and social status make her an extension of first her sexual partner, then her child? And to what extent does agency affect our perception of the reality and salience of those roles? We will take a somewhat historical survey of Western literature from the 17th century through the 20th to examine different facets of maternal subjectivity, and consider the possibilities that the different modes of aesthetic representation we will study—plays, novels, short stories, and poetry—offer in their examination of this concern. Our main texts will be Shakespeare’s Winter Tale, Theodor Fontane’s Effi Briest, Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, and Terry Tempest Williams’ Refuge, along with theoretical readings, short stories, and poetry from several other authors. As a composition course, we will also focus on specific elements of the writing process, including analysis, organization, audience, and the comparative method.