Mothers: Jacqueline Rose and Devorah Baum

‘I think to be a mother for five minutes is to know that the world is unjust, and that our hearts are impure.’

In her latest book Mothers: An Essay on Love and Cruelty (Faber) Jacqueline Rose, co-director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, regular LRB contributor and prominent cultural and literary theorist, investigates the question of what we ask of mothers, and what we hold them responsible for, often against all sense of reason. Drawing on literature, newspaper reports and psychoanalysis, Rose uncovers how our expectations of what mothers can and should do are damaging both to women, and the world.

She was in conversation about her ideas with Devorah Baum, lecturer in English Literature and Critical Theory at the University of Southampton and author of Feeling Jewish and The Jewish Joke.