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Helen Charman: first political history of motherhood in the UK & Ireland

Helen Charman: first political history of motherhood in the UK & Ireland
Thursday, 3rd October, 2024    
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
*Five Leaves Bookshop
14a Long Row, Nottingham, NG12DH
Tickets: £4.00 - £25.00
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“Not all maternal stories begin in the womb; ‘mother’ is not a category limited only to those who have given birth to a child… It seems to me that it is my mother’s knees that are the true record of mine and my brother’s existence. Yes, we began our lives in her uterus, but nine months pales in comparison to the long years her care for us was performed through those complicated joints”

Helen will be joining us for the evening to discuss her new book,Mother State: A Political History of Motherhood’.

Growing up the daughter of a single mum in the 1990s, Helen Charman believed in the notion of a nurturing state: a vision of shared social responsibility in the raising of children that she has seen fall away in her own lifetime. Was that notion of the state or of motherhood ever a reality? Could we imagine instead, today, a world where mothering ceases to be a solely individual responsibility and becomes one of shared possibility – an expansive collective term to organize under, for people of any gender, with or without children of their own? If so, it begins with an understanding: that to mother is a political act.

In Mother State, Helen Charman uses this provocative insight to write a new history of Britain and Northern Ireland. Beginning with Women’s Liberation and ending with austerity, the book follows mothers’ fights for an alternative future. Alongside the mother figures that loom large in British culture, from Margaret Thatcher to Kat Slater, we meet communities of lesbian squatters, anti-nuclear campaigners, the wives of striking miners and teenage mothers protesting housing cuts: groups who believed that if you want to nourish your children, you have to nourish the world around them too.

The care of children is a social responsibility that rightly should be shared by all of us. Still, though, this isn’t the case: in the UK today, mothering is frequently politicised, but rarely acknowledged in all its fullness to be political.”

You will be able to buy the book from the shop in advance, with your event ticket, or on the night (though it is not required to attend the event!).

Refreshments included.

Helen Charman is a Fellow and Assistant College Lecturer in English at Clare College, University of Cambridge. Her critical writing has been published in the Guardian, The White Review, Another Gaze, and The Stinging Fly among others. As a poet, Charman was shortlisted for the White Review Poet’s Prize in 2017 and for the 2019 Ivan Juritz Prize for Creative Experiment, and has published four poetry pamphlets, most recently In the Pleasure Dairy. Charman volunteers as a birth companion in Glasgow.



Ticket Type Price Spaces
Standard Ticket £4.00
Book and Ticket £25.00

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