Episode 25: Sweat

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat’ (Winston Churchill). For this episode let us join the Queen of queries, Dr Sam Willis, and the muppet of early modernism, Professor James Daybell, as they exercise their cerebral muscles to bring to you the unexpected history of sweat. By the perspiration of their brows our hardworking duo will lead you on a journey from the streets of London in the fifteenth century and the fear of the sweating sickness to the sweat lodges of Native Americans, from the sweat shops of Victorian England to the anti-sweating League and Charles Kingsley, and from the slums of nineteenth-century New York to ciphers and insane asylums.

Sam and James will work up a sweat to discover that this unexpected history is actually all about: medical mysteries and fear, community and sociability, purification and spiritual rites, industrialisation and globalisation, social reform and enlightenment, Marxism and trade unions, journalism and investigation, and of course cleanliness and the invention of body odour!

Listen out as James reveals how to keep an audience engaged – or not in this case, and how Sam came close to a near death experience in a sauna!

‘their swear, their tears, their blood’ (Winston Churchill)


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