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Carol Ann Duffy: The World's Wife

3. Queen Herod

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the third poem in the collection, ‘Queen Herod’, focusing in particular on: (i) the original story of the Nativity of Christ, Herod and the Massacre of the Innocents; (ii) the literary heritage of asking how things might have been different if women were in charge, including Aristophanes’ Lysistrata; (iii) the importance of mother-daughter relations; (iv) the danger represented by men in this poem; (v) the extent to which violence is ‘gendered’ in modern society – is violence a predominantly male characteristic?; (vi) the hints of same-sex desire in the poem (“Queen to Queen, with insolent lust”); and (vii) the presentation of power in the poem – is it positive or negative?


In this course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Carol Ann Duffy’s 1999 collection, 'The World's Wife'. After a brief introduction to the collection as a whole, the course continue with a read-through and analysis of each of the thirty poems in the collection, one by one.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2020, April 28). Carol Ann Duffy: The World's Wife - Queen Herod [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Carol Ann Duffy: The World's Wife – Queen Herod." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 28 Apr 2020,