From Pig to Dog: Depictions of Feral Maternal Bodies in Contemporary Novels

Research output: Contributions to conferencesPaper



This paper explores depictions of feral maternal bodies in contemporary novels. Written twenty five years apart, Marie Darrieussecq’s Pig Tales and Rachel Yoder’s Nightbitch, both offer a subversive critique of societal expectations of maternal bodies through narratives of feral metamorphoses. In Pig Tales, narrated
in first person “piggy squiggles”, a young woman employed at a cosmetics company and beauty ‘massage’ parlour which acts as a façade for sexually corrupt clients to engage in “barnyard behaviour” begins to notice changes in her body as she gains weight and develops a snout. As society in Paris crumbles around her and her wolf-lover Yvan, this ironic fable exposes political and cultural hypocrisy around gender as the woman oscillates between sow and human forms becoming pregnant and then losing her babies. In Nightbitch, having found the expected performance of motherhood frustrating and deadening and mourning her previous life as an artist, the mother begins her own performance art project exploring feral motherhood, through doggy games with her son and night-time hunts, transforming into Nightbitch, as her art and life become one.
Drawing on Braidotti, Delueze and Guattari, Haraway and Halberstam, this paper argues that becominganimal for the women in these novels becomes a conduit for the rage, violence, ferality, creativity and animal kinship that these woman experience as they try to navigate social cultural expectations of them as
woman/mother and how their animality erupts and disrupts normative narratives of femininity. The terms pig and bitch are often used as derogatory terms, but each protagonist’s metamorphoses into animal forms is portrayed as simultaneously joyful, empowering, fulfilling and necessary to become their full creative selves.


Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished or Performed - 15 Jun 2023
EventMaternal Bodies Symposium: Individual, Collective, Other - University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Duration: 15 Jun 2023 → …


ConferenceMaternal Bodies Symposium
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period15/06/23 → …

Author keywords

  • maternal bodies; motherhood; feral; creativity; contemporary novels