Naomi Morgenstern considers the ways literature represents anxieties surrounding the decision to reproduce. Modern contraceptives and assisted reproductive technologies have increasingly afforded some bourgeois adults the ability to choose whether to have children and under what precise circumstances, and, according to Morgenstern, exercising this level of control over reproduction profoundly increases the expectation of totalizing parental responsibility for the lives of children. If parents have consciously decided to have a child, then they are more likely to feel pressure to manage every aspect of their child’s experience in order to validate the choice to bring the child into existence. The “intensive parenting” of the book’s title refers to extreme situations of parenting, such as the efforts of a father to keep his son alive in the postapocalyptic world of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006) or the confinement of Jack and his Ma...

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