’A Yellow Smell’: The Mother Wound in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’

Pedersen, A. B. (Lecturer)

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


The focus on colors at the conference made me want to explore the phrase “a yellow smell” from Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” from 1892. I offer two interpretations of the smell and propose that combining the psychological concept of “the mother wound” with the idea of birth as life’s first trauma and the figure of the patriarchal mother in an exploration of Gilman’s short story permits a reading of the text as a story about daughterhood.
Period2017 → …
Held at “American Colors: Across the Disciplinary Spectrum”: The Twenty-Fifth Biennial Conference of the Nordic Association for American Studies, University of Southern Denmark, Odense., Denmark
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Motherhood
  • Toxic Motherhood
  • The Yellow Wallpaper
  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • Monstrous Mother
  • Monstrous Motherhood
  • Monstrous Women
  • American Literature
  • The Mother Wound
  • Birth
  • Birth and Trauma
  • Trauma
  • The Patriarchal Mother
  • Narcissistic Mother
  • Adrienne Rich
  • Matrophobia
  • Otto Rank
  • The Trauma of Birth
  • Kate Millett
  • The Basement
  • Motherless Daughters
  • Female Bodies
  • Mommy Dead and Dearest
  • Postpartum Depression
  • Gothic
  • Horror
  • Women and Writing
  • Misogyny
  • Gender Studies
  • Feminism
  • Feminist Criticism
  • True Womanhood
  • Madness
  • Suicide
  • Sylvia Likens
  • Sylvia Marie Likens
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Art and Academia
  • Merging the Personal and the Academic