Silent No Longer: Rhetorical Dimensions of Mood Memoirs Written by Teenage Mothers of the 1960s, 1980s, and Today

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)



Date of Award

Summer 2018


This dissertation extends conversations in rhetorical and medical discourses about the ambiguous nature of freely discussing postpartum depression (PPD) suffered by teenage mothers as well as feminist discussions about the changing role of the woman across three different, albeit deeply related eras: the 1960s, the 1980s, and today. What follows is a feminist rhetorical analysis of the ways PPD is represented within three popular memoirs to which I apply Katie Guest Rose Pryal’s label of “mood memoirs”: Lee Campbell’s Stow Away, Sallie Foster’s One Girl in Ten: A Self Portrait of the Teen-age Mother, and Farrah Abraham’s My Teenage Dream Ended. My study of these texts presenting teenage PPD extends opportunities for the previously silenced depressed teenage mother to provide a concrete response to anxiously urgent uncertainties about her disorder and/or the existence thereof. In short, I use this dissertation to spearhead a look at the rhetoric of teenage PPD through my close reading of how young women suffering with PPD express and make sense of their daily PPD realities, and in doing so, engender identification with readers despite rhetorical barriers typically observed in memoirs depicting mental illness. Moreover, I analyze the ways their stories develop into rhetorical arguments in response to two of their most significant silencers: society and the medical field.


Shannon Carter

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature