Accueil > Documentations scientifiques > Revues récentes > RANDRANA : A JOURNAL OF ANGLOPHONE STUDIES > Issue 1 : May2022 Family Dynamics in a Changing Context > A household of one : reconceptualization of the family inThe Prime of Miss (...)

  • A household of one : reconceptualization of the family inThe Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) and Mona Lisa Smile (2003)
    Issue 1 : May2022 Family Dynamics in a Changing Context

    auteur(s) : Zoly Rakotoniera ; Zoée Brina Faranirina

    Keywords : Family, tradition, singlehood, women, social reproduction.

    [ENG] The traditional view maintains that celibacy is antithetical to the notion of family. Supposedly starting from the union of two heterosexual adults, a traditional nuclear family is built when the couple gives birth to a progeny. Remaining single is thus a considerable obstacle to such a family pattern. Modern debates, however, focus on the diversity of families according to the definition of a family as the sets of relationships people create to assure social reproduction. This paper aims at intervening in those debates through a feminist study of two movies, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Mona Lisa Smile. Set in highly conservative societies amidst the heyday of the ‘Cult of Domesticity’, the stories feature dissenting figures of single female teachers. Very popular among their students, those women are remarkable for their unconventional teaching and the values they embody. Very soon, the teachers’ communities realize that these women are far more inspiring and influential than expected.In this sense, the movies raise important questions regarding values transmission, care and mentoring, which are inherent to the notion of family. This paper will attempt to shed light on the construction of the family enacted by the characters. Their explicit rejection of normative models and adoption of other forms of family relationships reveal that family can better assure its social reproduction function when it is not centered on imposed structures such as marriage. In fact, the family has to be founded on chosen sets of relationships that enable empowerment and the fulfillment of each individual.


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