80. Mothers

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

‘A boy’s best friend is his mother’      (Norman Bates – Psycho, written and directed by Joseph Stefano and Alfred Hitchcock, 1960). Welcome to Histories of the Unexpected where you will discover the history of things you did not know even had a history, like the history of nonsense or the history of the itch. For this episode let us join the Abbott of historical action, Dr Sam Willis, and the Marconi of long distance historical communication, Professor James Daybell, as they bring forth the unexpected history of mothers.

Join the very well preserved and embalmed historical adventurers as they take you on a journey of nurturing and sometimes less than tender care, from Freud’s controversially proposed Oedipus complex to the archaeological site of Banpo, China, discovered in 1953, from the Cross of Honour handed out to mothers in Nazi Germany to Stalin’s Order of Maternal Glory, and from the maternal conflict and violence evidenced within the fifteenth-century Paston Letters to the poignant seventeenth-century diary extracts of a worried mother, Lady Anne Clifford.

Our two old maters discover that this unexpected history is actually all about: conflict and matriarchy, communist theory and shared economies, capitalism and inherited material wealth, legitimisation and state doctrine, propaganda and ideology, tyranny and idealism, cultural conformity and social engineering, knowledge transmission and dissemination, … and ugly babies, which were disliked by Queen Victoria.

Listen out for James’s own tribute to his mother, and a big Hi! to all mums listening.

‘Good mother, do not marry me to yond fool’    (Anne – Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 3, Scene 4, written by William Shakespeare, 1602).

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