For many of us, the approach of Mother’s Day prompts a frantic spree at the shopping mall or a quick stop at the florist. But allow it, please, to also inspire a once-a-year parameter for browsing recent titles and perennial favorites on the JHU Press list.
From Nancy Demand’s Birth, Death, and Motherhood in Classical Greece to Jessamyn Neuhaus’s Manly Meals and Mom’s Home Cooking to Nancy J. Mezey’s New Choices, New Families, moms and motherhood have been the focus of thoughtful works by historians, literary scholars, political scientists, and sociologists.
Just published, and a great new addition to this sub-set, is Maternal Megalomania: Julia Domna and the Imperial Politics of Motherhood, by historian Julie Langford. The book looks at the life of Julia Domna, wife of Roman emperor Septimius Severus, and especially at how her image and story were used in imperial propaganda to advance the position of her husband and two sons (both future emperors). The book is clearly a must-read for all who think their own family politics are fraught and fractious. But the book also carries Julie Langford’s lovely dedication to her own mother, which we reprint here with warm thoughts and best wishes to mom’s everywhere:
“This book is dedicated to my mother, Mary Langford, who fed, clothed, and educated seven children on one civil engineer’s modest income. She woke us at the crack of dawn to read scripture before we went to school, surreptitiously robbed the grocery budget to pay for our music lessons, and mended her winter coat so that she could buy us new ones. Though she initially disapproved of my decision to pursue a career in academia instead of staying home to raise a family, once she got on board with the idea, she defended it fiercely. She admits that she does not always understand what I am yammering on about, but she is sure nonetheless that it is brilliant. For these and so many other kindnesses, I thank her.”