York prof receives a Lillian Robinson scholarship

York women’s studies Professor Andrea O’Reilly, director of York’s Association for Research on Mothering (ARM), has been awarded a Lillian Robinson scholarship from Concordia University’s Simone de Beauvoir Institute in Montréal.

The scholarship offers O’Reilly the opportunity to conduct research at the institute from Nov. 1 to Dec. 6 as a visiting scholar where she will take part in daily life of the institute and continue working on several projects.

“It is certainly an honour to be chosen for this most prestigious fellowship and to have my scholarship on motherhood recognized by such an esteemed institution. Similar to the emergence of women studies as an academic discipline in the 1970s, motherhood scholarship has become, in the last decade, an academic discipline in its own right,” said O’Reilly.

The honour is validation for O’Reilly’s 12 years of tirelessly researching all aspects of motherhood. She is the founder of ARM as well as founder and editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering.

Right: Andrea O’Reilly

“Motherhood studies, as this new field of study is called, is researched and studied by hundreds of scholars and students worldwide,” said O’Reilly. “The fellowship means not only that motherhood studies is now recognized and respected as important academic field within women’s studies but that my scholarship on motherhood and in particular the long and hard years I have spent establishing ARM and its journal and press are formally acknowledged and appreciated.”

As a visiting scholar at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, O’Reilly will continue to explore what it means to be a mother in academe through a series of interviews, a project funded by the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). O’Reilly has already conducted some 50 interviews and hopes to do another five to 10 while at Concordia. She also plans to analyse some of the interviews she has already completed with the view of developing a scholarly monograph.

O’Reilly is in the midst of editing Motherhood at the 21st Century: Policy, Identity, Experience and Agency, accepted by Columbia University Press for publication next year, and she hopes to wrap that up while in Montréal. “This is the first ever collection on 21st motherhood,” said O’Reilly. “So I’m most excited about it.”

That’s not all. This York professor is also editing a volume on Sara Ruddick’s landmark text Maternal Thinking (Beacon Press, 1989) to mark its 20th anniversary, to be published by ARM’s Demeter Press in the fall of 2009. “All the chapters are in and I will use the month in Montréal to write the conclusion and write my chapter for this collection,” said O’Reilly. In addition, O’Reilly hopes to continue her work on the first ever encyclopaedia on motherhood and her SSHRC-funded work on young mothers.

O’Reilly is the author of Toni Morrison and Motherhood: A Politics of the Heart (SUNY, 2004) and Rocking the Cradle: Motherhood, Feminism and the Possibility of Empowered Mothering (Demeter Press, 2006). She is also the co-editor or editor of 12 books on motherhood, including her most recent, Feminist Mothering (SUNY Press, 2008).

 O’Reilly and Robinson shared many of the same interests in women’s studies. The Lillian Robinson Scholars program honours Robinson’s memory by bringing distinguished visiting scholars to the Simone de Beauvoir Institute at Concordia to enhance the intellectual vitality of the institution.

Robinson was principal of the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, home of the first women’s studies program in Canada, from 2000 to 2006. She was widely recognized as one of the leading feminist theorists of the 20th century, whose essays and books inspired feminist scholarship around the world.

The Simone de Beauvoir Institute of Concordia University created the Lillian Robinson Scholars Program as a living memorial to Robinson.