At Sea: Being More Than Mother

Rachel E. Moss

Names matter. Of course this is a trite sort of thing to write, given that many scholars have written reams on the spiritual, psychological, cultural, economic and political value of names. In my own field Jane Bliss’s Naming and Namelessness in Medieval Romance (2008) springs immediately to mind. In my own book, I spend some time talking about heroes without names, and how finding a father and finding a name are both complementary pieces in that patriarchal puzzle of fashioning identity in late medieval narratives. I also write, more briefly, about daughters without names and how their identities are subsumed into their fathers’ desires, often at great cost.

Today, however, I’m thinking about mothers. I tweeted yesterday about my frustration that my local health visitor service and baby clinic seem to have a policy that staff address the mothers of babies as “Mum”, even though the names of these women are…

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