All posts tagged: Sarah Knott

From cradleboards to ‘firking like a flounder,’ wet nurses, and more, Sarah Knott unravels the history of mothering in MOTHER IS A VERB

By Leslie Lindsay Timely and fascinating investigation and examination of what it means to be a mother–from the early 15th century through present-day.  MOTHER IS A VERB: An Unconventional History (FSG/Sarah Crichton Books) by Sarah Knott is such a sweeping piece of historical, personal, and lyrical research. It begins with the author’s decision to have children, and thus an examination of who has children and who doesn’t. This is a keenly researched book that is part-memoir, part-history lesson, and to some, it might come across as academic (Knott is, by profession, a college professor at Indiana University). That said, I found the anecdotes and archives presented fascinating and intriguing. The structure of MOTHER IS A VERB is not linear, but rather divided into topics from pregnancy, quickening, miscarriage, labor/delivery, early days, sleeping infants (sleeping parents), including co-sleeping (or not), types of beds, feeding/breastfeeding/other types of nourishment, clothing, and even welcoming the second child. Scattered throughout the narrative are glimpses of the author’s mothering journey, which I felt helped to personalize historical context. Knott’s writing is scholarly, but also companionable. It’s lyrical and …