The word bastard hasn't always been meant to offend. Used simply as an indication of illegitimate birth at first, the label bastard didn't bring with it shame or stigmatization until long after it first appeared in the Middle Ages.
Today, while its original meaning has not been forgotten, it's use is largely reserved for insult. Yet ironically, the underdog status once associated with a person of illegitimate birth is now something our modern culture celebrates.
From Alexander Hamilton to Game of Thrones' Jon Snow, the bastard's ability to rise above his or her unfortunate circumstances to achieve greatness has become something to root for. This hour, we speak with historians and culture critics about the origin, evolution, and triumph of the bastard!
- Sara McDougall - Associate Professor of History at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York; and author of Royal Bastards: The Birth of Illegitimacy 800-1230
- Scott Andrews - Writer and science fiction reviewer for The Philadelphia Enquirer, columnist for Winteriscoming.net and author of The Guild Leader's Handbook
- Joanne Freeman - Professor of History and American Studies at Yale University; co-author of The Essential Hamilton: Letters & Other Writings
Colin McEnroe, Betsy Kaplan, and Chion Wolf contributed to this show, which originally aired on July 18, 2017.