MicroHistory 1: Cannibalism!

Friday, December 4th, 2020

This is the launch of a new challenge! We’ve enjoyed so much our recent lengthier explorations of unexpected subjects in which one topic runs over two podcasts, such is the depth of our research! Nonetheless it raises the important question of whether or not we could do a micro history – take an historic subject and try to demonstrate how it has a history in just 15-20 minutes!! And without just talking at supersonic speed. In this first foray into historical brevity the histories of the unexpected duo of James Daybell and Sam Willis tackle the spine-tingling subject of CANNIBALISM, which is inspired by their book on the Tudors. Taking that as their starting place, the boys tackle topics including Shakespearean Theatre (with images cannibalism in Much Ado About Nothing, Coriolanus, The Tempest, and the Merchant of Venice), Michel de Montaigne’s essay ‘Of the Caniballes’, travel to the New World, as well as Tudor medicine and eating ‘mummy flesh’. We then look at a voyage made in 1884 by four men, who set sail from Southampton in a small yacht, the Mignonette, which they sailed to its new owner in Australia, and encountered real tragedy on the journey The episode ends with discussion of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People for Being a Burthen to their Parents or Country (1729), a satirical text that proposes the eating of babies as the solution to the economic problems in Ireland.

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