Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media

For a Special Issue on

Matrescence and Media

Manuscript deadline
01 November 2023

Cover image - International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media

Special Issue Editor(s)

Laura Bissell, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
[email protected]

Jodie Hawkes, University of Chichester
[email protected]

Elena Marchevska, London South Bank University
[email protected]

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Matrescence and Media

“Matrescence - the time of mother-becoming” coined by the anthropologist Dana Raphael is defined as the process of becoming a mother. The word describes the physical, psychological, and emotional changes experienced during the significant transformation that is motherhood. This special issue of the International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media uses matrescence to refer to the experience of becoming a mother rather than parturition as not all people who become mothers go through childbirth. Same sex couples, trans women, people who adopt a child or use a surrogate may not go through the physical act of childbirth but can experience matrescence. This issue draws from feminist philosopher Sara Ruddick, who shifts the understanding of the word mother from a noun to a verb, in doing so, maternal practice may be understood as something anyone can do (not just biological or cis gendered women).

For mother/artists who work on or with the body, a specific enquiry around the way in which matrescence impacts art-making practices has been recognised in recent years and the field of maternal performance studies has emerged (Emily Underwood-Lee and Lena Šimić, 2021). This issue explores how performing matrescence has been communicated via digital mediums that capture, document, curate, complicate and layer various experiences of becoming mother.

Mother/artists have been working with film, video and other digital mediums through maternal performance practices for decades. These mediated, mediatised or hybrid live/digital works capture matrescence in a different way to live performance. How have new media technologies become tools for exploring and disseminating experiences of becoming mother?  What is the lineage of this work? What is its legacy? How can mediated performance practices and approaches expand understandings of the field of maternal performance?

While this issue is not focused exclusively on work that has emerged since 2020, it does acknowledge the increase in mother/artists adapting performance practices to include or encompass the use of new media technologies to be able to continue to make work despite restrictions and challenges. It is also notable that the maternal experience was shifted with and in relation to the digital in new ways during COVID19: online baby groups for children born during the pandemic; parenting children glued to screens as teachers produced endless PowerPoints; local community groups set up to provide for vulnerable people – the act of maternal care giving (beyond one’s own children) meant new maternal digital experiences and therefore practices for many evolved during the pandemic. If live performance has provided a space for experiences of motherhood to be made visible and to be acknowledged, what occurred when these spaces were no longer active or accessible? What emerged in term of the relationship between maternal performance and new media during the period of life being “on pause?” (Nolan, 2021) since 2020?

This issue invites contributions exploring the following questions:

  • How do film, video, digital media, and/or AI explore and extend the “embodied, relational and durational” elements of maternal performance and art-making? (Underwood-Lee and Šimić, 2021).
  • How do the personal, ethical, political and social entanglements of maternal performance translate to other artforms and mediums?
  • What emerged for mother/artists during the pandemic when moving live performance practices to digital platforms and mediums?

And the following areas:

  • Experiences of matrescence from diverse positions of gender, class, race and ability.
  • Film/digital media as documentation of becoming/being mother.
  • Collaborative performance works with children and mothers via new media technologies.
  • Media works exploring pregnancy, birthing and mothering with (dis-)abilities, illness, and children with specific needs.
  • Questions and complications of constructions of gender in motherwork, pregnancy and birthing.

This issue of the International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media aims to foreground experiences of matrescence as performed through media. While the focus of this is the specific intersection of becoming a mother and exploring and disseminating this via new media technologies, it is vital to acknowledge the difference in the experiences, both of motherhood, and in terms of the art forms, practices and approaches that we invite.

Submission Instructions

We seek articles (7000-8000 words) as well as other documents, which can include practice-research reports, creative-critical responses, interviews, media essays, reflective accounts, and more. When submitting to ScholarOne please select special issue title "Matrescence and Media". Submissions will be peer-reviewed. If you would like to discuss a potential submission then please contact the editors via the email addresses below.

[email protected], [email protected], [email protected]


Call for Papers July 2023

First drafts 1st November 2023

Feedback by February 12th 2024

Second draft March 30th 2024

Publication 2024

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article