Tall tales – Prof. Marguerite Johnson

Lecture 5: Tall tales – 5 Jan 2025

From ancient tales of evil rulers, battlefield apparitions and hauntings, kidnapped children, to madcap stories of octopi in Roman sewers, this talk incudes modern comparisons – from weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein’s human-shredder – to the black swine of Hampstead sewers. It considers the social and cultural power of such urban legends, how these stories enforce rules about the best way to behave, as well as their role in imbuing prejudices around those deemed to be a threat to society.

Interested in some background reading? Some books on old and new tall tales (and urban legends), include: Scott Wood’s London Urban Legends: The Corpse on the Tube and Other Stories; Jan Harold Brunvand’s Too good to be true: the colossal book of urban legends; Adrienne Mayor’s Flying Snakes and Griffin Claws and Other Classical Myths, Historical Oddities, and Scientific Curiosities

Image: Octopus vase from Palaikastro, c. 1500 BCE. Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.

Bio:

Marguerite Johnson is a cultural historian of the ancient Mediterranean, specialising in sexuality and gender, particularly in the poetry of Sappho, Catullus, and Ovid, as well as magical traditions in Greece, Rome, and the Near East. She also researches Classical Reception Studies, with a regular focus on Australia. In addition to ancient world studies, Marguerite is interested in sexual histories in modernity as well as magic in the west more broadly, especially the practices and art of Australian witch, Rosaleen Norton. She is Honorary Professor of Classics and Ancient History at The University of Queensland, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

don’t worry if you miss it – we will send you a recording valid for two weeks the next day

 

This Lecture is Part of the Folk Belief in The Ancient Mediterranean a 5 part lecture series – tickets may be booked for this lecture here or for the whole series

In this five-part series, Marguerite Johnson takes you on a journey over land, sea, sky, and into the ethereal world of folk belief in the ancient Mediterranean. Complete with illustrations and the words of the ancients themselves, we look at the strange creatures believed to inhabit land and sea, the terrifying demons that threatened to snatch your child, the werewolf and other shapeshifters, the ancient prototype of the fairytale, ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ and some old-fashioned tall tales.

Series image: Sebastian Münster from Olaus Magnus’ Carta marina (Basel c. 1544).

Beauties and beasts – Prof. Marguerite Johnson

Lecture 4: Beauties and beasts – 8 Dec 2024

Once upon a time there was a princess called Psyche who was so beautiful that she aroused the envy of the goddess, Venus. As the story goes, Venus sent her son, Cupid to shoot Psyche with an arrow so that she would fall in love with the first hideous thing she saw. However, the clumsy youth scratches himself with his own weapon and falls madly in love with the maiden. So begins a tale as old as time and a prototype for many fairytales thereafter. In this talk we consider the tale of Cupid and Psyche and explore how folktale and fairytale influence generations of tellers, looking at the connections between this ancient tale and ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ It also includes fascinating details about beauty in the ancient world and the many examples of the folklore surrounding it, as well as ancient motifs such as wicked stepmothers and stepsisters, deception, making and breaking taboos, marrying monsters, and animal bridegrooms that continue to inform folktales and fairytales to the present day.

Interested in some background reading? Try Terri Windling’s ‘Retelling Beauty & the Beast,’ Myth & Moor (July 11, 2019): Myth & Moor: Retelling Beauty & the Beast (terriwindling.com) and Simon Hughes’ ‘Was it Really East of the Sun and West of the Moon?’ Folklore Thursday (January 20, 2020): Was it Really East of the Sun and West of the Moon? – #FolkloreThursday

You may also like: Stephen Harrison’s ‘Love and the soul: the timeless tale of Cupid and Psyche,’ Antigone: an open forum for classics and Marina Warner’s book, From the Beast to the Blonde: on fairytales and their tellers

Image: August Riedel, ‘Cupid and Psyche’ (1872).

Bio:

Marguerite Johnson is a cultural historian of the ancient Mediterranean, specialising in sexuality and gender, particularly in the poetry of Sappho, Catullus, and Ovid, as well as magical traditions in Greece, Rome, and the Near East. She also researches Classical Reception Studies, with a regular focus on Australia. In addition to ancient world studies, Marguerite is interested in sexual histories in modernity as well as magic in the west more broadly, especially the practices and art of Australian witch, Rosaleen Norton. She is Honorary Professor of Classics and Ancient History at The University of Queensland, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

don’t worry if you miss it – we will send you a recording valid for two weeks the next day

 

This Lecture is Part of the Folk Belief in The Ancient Mediterranean a 5 part lecture series – tickets may be booked for this lecture here or for the whole series

In this five-part series, Marguerite Johnson takes you on a journey over land, sea, sky, and into the ethereal world of folk belief in the ancient Mediterranean. Complete with illustrations and the words of the ancients themselves, we look at the strange creatures believed to inhabit land and sea, the terrifying demons that threatened to snatch your child, the werewolf and other shapeshifters, the ancient prototype of the fairytale, ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ and some old-fashioned tall tales.

Series image: Sebastian Münster from Olaus Magnus’ Carta marina (Basel c. 1544).

Shapeshifters – Prof Marguerite Johnson

Lecture 3: Shapeshifters – 3 Nov 2024

Imagine being able to use witchcraft to change form. To the ancient Romans, witches were able to do this, assuming the form of birds to fly about at night to wreak havoc and evil. In this talk, we meet these fearsome witches, along with werewolves, who did not choose to transform but had transformation forced upon them. Fairy tales are also important to our investigation, and we look at stories such as ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ which may be tied to ancient beliefs in werewolves. As shapeshifters are present throughout time and space, we consider some from other cultures, ending with some modern-day monster-hunters who claim to have found evidence of ‘real life’ shapeshifters.

Interested in some background reading? Try Clare Mully’s ‘Women Who Fly,’ History Today 68.6 (June 2018): Women Who Fly | History Today– a book review of Serenity Young’s Women Who Fly– and April Holloway’s ‘Bizarre Discovery of Werewolf-Like Skull in a Chained Box in Bulgaria,’ Ancient Origins (October 30, 2014): Bizarre Discovery of Werewolf-Like Skull in a Chained Box in Bulgaria | Ancient Origins (ancient-origins.net)

You may also like: Tanika Koosmen’s articles: ‘The Origins of the Ancient Werewolf,’ The Conversation (October 29, 2018): The ancient origins of werewolves (theconversation.com); ‘Why Werewolves Eat People: Cannibalism in the Werewolf Narrative,’ Folklore Thursday (January 18, 2018): Why Werewolves Eat People: Cannibalism in the Werewolf Narrative – #FolkloreThursday

Image: Dolon. Detail from an Attic red-figure lekythos, c. 460 BCE.

Bio:

Marguerite Johnson is a cultural historian of the ancient Mediterranean, specialising in sexuality and gender, particularly in the poetry of Sappho, Catullus, and Ovid, as well as magical traditions in Greece, Rome, and the Near East. She also researches Classical Reception Studies, with a regular focus on Australia. In addition to ancient world studies, Marguerite is interested in sexual histories in modernity as well as magic in the west more broadly, especially the practices and art of Australian witch, Rosaleen Norton. She is Honorary Professor of Classics and Ancient History at The University of Queensland, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

don’t worry if you miss it – we will send you a recording valid for two weeks the next day

 

This Lecture is Part of the Folk Belief in The Ancient Mediterranean a 5 part lecture series – tickets may be booked for this lecture here or for the whole series

In this five-part series, Marguerite Johnson takes you on a journey over land, sea, sky, and into the ethereal world of folk belief in the ancient Mediterranean. Complete with illustrations and the words of the ancients themselves, we look at the strange creatures believed to inhabit land and sea, the terrifying demons that threatened to snatch your child, the werewolf and other shapeshifters, the ancient prototype of the fairytale, ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ and some old-fashioned tall tales.

Series image: Sebastian Münster from Olaus Magnus’ Carta marina (Basel c. 1544).

Female Demons – Prof Marguerite Johnson

Lecture 2: Female Demons – 6 Oct 2024

Throughout antiquity, from the Mediterranean to the Levant, the world was animated by terrifying female demons. We begin with Mesopotamian child-snatching demons, also known to harm mothers, and the magical devices to trap them. From West Asia, we travel to Greece to meet Lamia, and Empousa, demons who could assume the form of beautiful women to seduce men and feed on their bodies. From Greece, we encounter Mormo, a scary monster invoked by mothers and nurses to instil good behaviour in children. Included in our survey are some comparisons to similar figures in other times and places, including ogres and vampires.

Interested in some background reading? Try Marguerite Johnson’s ‘‘I gave birth but did not bring a child to life’: for millennia, women expressed their pain through a belief in demonic, female monsters,’ The Conversation (July 5, 2023): ‘I gave birth but did not bring a child to life’: for millenia, women expressed their pain through a belief in demonic, female monsters (theconversation.com)– a book review of Sarah Clegg’s Woman’s Lore: 4,000 Years of Sirens, Serpents and Succubi.

You may also like: Erle Lichty’s ‘Demons and Population Control,’ Expedition Magazine 13.2 (1971): Expedition Magazine | Demons and Population Control (penn.museum)

Image: A seventeenth-century depiction of Lamia by Edward Topsell.

Bio:

Marguerite Johnson is a cultural historian of the ancient Mediterranean, specialising in sexuality and gender, particularly in the poetry of Sappho, Catullus, and Ovid, as well as magical traditions in Greece, Rome, and the Near East. She also researches Classical Reception Studies, with a regular focus on Australia. In addition to ancient world studies, Marguerite is interested in sexual histories in modernity as well as magic in the west more broadly, especially the practices and art of Australian witch, Rosaleen Norton. She is Honorary Professor of Classics and Ancient History at The University of Queensland, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

don’t worry if you miss it – we will send you a recording valid for two weeks the next day

 

This Lecture is Part of the Folk Belief in The Ancient Mediterranean a 5 part lecture series – tickets may be booked for this lecture here or for the whole series

In this five-part series, Marguerite Johnson takes you on a journey over land, sea, sky, and into the ethereal world of folk belief in the ancient Mediterranean. Complete with illustrations and the words of the ancients themselves, we look at the strange creatures believed to inhabit land and sea, the terrifying demons that threatened to snatch your child, the werewolf and other shapeshifters, the ancient prototype of the fairytale, ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ and some old-fashioned tall tales.

Series image: Sebastian Münster from Olaus Magnus’ Carta marina (Basel c. 1544).

Entities of land and sea – Prof Marguerite Johnson

Lecture 1: Entities of land and sea – 8 Sep 2024

The ancient Greeks and Romans believed their world to be inhabited by all sorts of beings, creatures that chose to reveal themselves – or not. These are the entities of land and sea, non-human inhabitants, some of whom are referred to as ‘nature spirits.’ Some are sentient, while others are more akin to forces of nature. In this talk, we look at some examples, ranging from dryads and other assorted nymphs to the ketos (a huge sea-monster), and the folktales associated with them. We’ll also consider comparative creatures from other cultures, such as fairies and mermaids.

Interested in some background reading? Try – on fairies – Ronald Hutton’s ‘The Making of the Early Modern British Fairy Tradition,’ Historical Journal 57.4 (2014): 1157-75: Fairies4_1_.pdf (bris.ac.uk)

You may also like: Crystal Rome and Debby Sneed’s ‘Sirens in Ancient Greece and the Near East,’ Department of Classics, University of Colorado Boulder (June 19, 2017): Sirens in Ancient Greece and the Near East | Department of Classics | University of Colorado Boulder

Image: Dryad. Creative Commons (Pxfuel).

Bio:

Marguerite Johnson is a cultural historian of the ancient Mediterranean, specialising in sexuality and gender, particularly in the poetry of Sappho, Catullus, and Ovid, as well as magical traditions in Greece, Rome, and the Near East. She also researches Classical Reception Studies, with a regular focus on Australia. In addition to ancient world studies, Marguerite is interested in sexual histories in modernity as well as magic in the west more broadly, especially the practices and art of Australian witch, Rosaleen Norton. She is Honorary Professor of Classics and Ancient History at The University of Queensland, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

don’t worry if you miss it – we will send you a recording valid for two weeks the next day

 

This Lecture is Part of the Folk Belief in The Ancient Mediterranean a 5 part lecture series – tickets may be booked for this lecture here or for the whole series

In this five-part series, Marguerite Johnson takes you on a journey over land, sea, sky, and into the ethereal world of folk belief in the ancient Mediterranean. Complete with illustrations and the words of the ancients themselves, we look at the strange creatures believed to inhabit land and sea, the terrifying demons that threatened to snatch your child, the werewolf and other shapeshifters, the ancient prototype of the fairytale, ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ and some old-fashioned tall tales.

Series image: Sebastian Münster from Olaus Magnus’ Carta marina (Basel c. 1544).

 

Folk Belief in The Ancient Mediterranean – Prof. Marguerite Johnson – 5 part Lecture Series

Folk Belief in The Ancient Mediterranean – Prof. Marguerite Johnson – 5 part Lecture Series

In this five-part series, Marguerite Johnson takes you on a journey over land, sea, sky, and into the ethereal world of folk belief in the ancient Mediterranean. Complete with illustrations and the words of the ancients themselves, we look at the strange creatures believed to inhabit land and sea, the terrifying demons that threatened to snatch your child, the werewolf and other shapeshifters, the ancient prototype of the fairytale, ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ and some old-fashioned tall tales.

Series image: Sebastian Münster from Olaus Magnus’ Carta marina (Basel c. 1544).

Lecture 1: Entities of land and sea – 8 Sep 2024

The ancient Greeks and Romans believed their world to be inhabited by all sorts of beings, creatures that chose to reveal themselves – or not. These are the entities of land and sea, non-human inhabitants, some of whom are referred to as ‘nature spirits.’ Some are sentient, while others are more akin to forces of nature. In this talk, we look at some examples, ranging from dryads and other assorted nymphs to the ketos (a huge sea-monster), and the folktales associated with them. We’ll also consider comparative creatures from other cultures, such as fairies and mermaids.

Interested in some background reading? Try – on fairies – Ronald Hutton’s ‘The Making of the Early Modern British Fairy Tradition,’ Historical Journal 57.4 (2014): 1157-75: Fairies4_1_.pdf (bris.ac.uk)

You may also like: Crystal Rome and Debby Sneed’s ‘Sirens in Ancient Greece and the Near East,’ Department of Classics, University of Colorado Boulder (June 19, 2017): Sirens in Ancient Greece and the Near East | Department of Classics | University of Colorado Boulder

Image: Dryad. Creative Commons (Pxfuel).

Lecture 2: Female Demons – 6 Oct 2024

Throughout antiquity, from the Mediterranean to the Levant, the world was animated by terrifying female demons. We begin with Mesopotamian child-snatching demons, also known to harm mothers, and the magical devices to trap them. From West Asia, we travel to Greece to meet Lamia, and Empousa, demons who could assume the form of beautiful women to seduce men and feed on their bodies. From Greece, we encounter Mormo, a scary monster invoked by mothers and nurses to instil good behaviour in children. Included in our survey are some comparisons to similar figures in other times and places, including ogres and vampires.

Interested in some background reading? Try Marguerite Johnson’s ‘‘I gave birth but did not bring a child to life’: for millennia, women expressed their pain through a belief in demonic, female monsters,’ The Conversation (July 5, 2023): ‘I gave birth but did not bring a child to life’: for millenia, women expressed their pain through a belief in demonic, female monsters (theconversation.com)– a book review of Sarah Clegg’s Woman’s Lore: 4,000 Years of Sirens, Serpents and Succubi.

You may also like: Erle Lichty’s ‘Demons and Population Control,’ Expedition Magazine 13.2 (1971): Expedition Magazine | Demons and Population Control (penn.museum)

Image: A seventeenth-century depiction of Lamia by Edward Topsell.

Lecture 3: Shapeshifters – 3 Nov 2024

Imagine being able to use witchcraft to change form. To the ancient Romans, witches were able to do this, assuming the form of birds to fly about at night to wreak havoc and evil. In this talk, we meet these fearsome witches, along with werewolves, who did not choose to transform but had transformation forced upon them. Fairy tales are also important to our investigation, and we look at stories such as ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ which may be tied to ancient beliefs in werewolves. As shapeshifters are present throughout time and space, we consider some from other cultures, ending with some modern-day monster-hunters who claim to have found evidence of ‘real life’ shapeshifters.

Interested in some background reading? Try Clare Mully’s ‘Women Who Fly,’ History Today 68.6 (June 2018): Women Who Fly | History Today– a book review of Serenity Young’s Women Who Fly– and April Holloway’s ‘Bizarre Discovery of Werewolf-Like Skull in a Chained Box in Bulgaria,’ Ancient Origins (October 30, 2014): Bizarre Discovery of Werewolf-Like Skull in a Chained Box in Bulgaria | Ancient Origins (ancient-origins.net)

You may also like: Tanika Koosmen’s articles: ‘The Origins of the Ancient Werewolf,’ The Conversation (October 29, 2018): The ancient origins of werewolves (theconversation.com); ‘Why Werewolves Eat People: Cannibalism in the Werewolf Narrative,’ Folklore Thursday (January 18, 2018): Why Werewolves Eat People: Cannibalism in the Werewolf Narrative – #FolkloreThursday

Image: Dolon. Detail from an Attic red-figure lekythos, c. 460 BCE.

Lecture 4: Beauties and beasts – 8 Dec 2024

Once upon a time there was a princess called Psyche who was so beautiful that she aroused the envy of the goddess, Venus. As the story goes, Venus sent her son, Cupid to shoot Psyche with an arrow so that she would fall in love with the first hideous thing she saw. However, the clumsy youth scratches himself with his own weapon and falls madly in love with the maiden. So begins a tale as old as time and a prototype for many fairytales thereafter. In this talk we consider the tale of Cupid and Psyche and explore how folktale and fairytale influence generations of tellers, looking at the connections between this ancient tale and ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ It also includes fascinating details about beauty in the ancient world and the many examples of the folklore surrounding it, as well as ancient motifs such as wicked stepmothers and stepsisters, deception, making and breaking taboos, marrying monsters, and animal bridegrooms that continue to inform folktales and fairytales to the present day.

Interested in some background reading? Try Terri Windling’s ‘Retelling Beauty & the Beast,’ Myth & Moor (July 11, 2019): Myth & Moor: Retelling Beauty & the Beast (terriwindling.com) and Simon Hughes’ ‘Was it Really East of the Sun and West of the Moon?’ Folklore Thursday (January 20, 2020): Was it Really East of the Sun and West of the Moon? – #FolkloreThursday

You may also like: Stephen Harrison’s ‘Love and the soul: the timeless tale of Cupid and Psyche,’ Antigone: an open forum for classics and Marina Warner’s book, From the Beast to the Blonde: on fairytales and their tellers

Image: August Riedel, ‘Cupid and Psyche’ (1872).

Lecture 5: Tall tales – 5 Jan 2025

From ancient tales of evil rulers, battlefield apparitions and hauntings, kidnapped children, to madcap stories of octopi in Roman sewers, this talk incudes modern comparisons – from weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein’s human-shredder – to the black swine of Hampstead sewers. It considers the social and cultural power of such urban legends, how these stories enforce rules about the best way to behave, as well as their role in imbuing prejudices around those deemed to be a threat to society.

Interested in some background reading? Some books on old and new tall tales (and urban legends), include: Scott Wood’s London Urban Legends: The Corpse on the Tube and Other Stories; Jan Harold Brunvand’s Too good to be true: the colossal book of urban legends; Adrienne Mayor’s Flying Snakes and Griffin Claws and Other Classical Myths, Historical Oddities, and Scientific Curiosities

Image: Octopus vase from Palaikastro, c. 1500 BCE. Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.

Bio:

Marguerite Johnson is a cultural historian of the ancient Mediterranean, specialising in sexuality and gender, particularly in the poetry of Sappho, Catullus, and Ovid, as well as magical traditions in Greece, Rome, and the Near East. She also researches Classical Reception Studies, with a regular focus on Australia. In addition to ancient world studies, Marguerite is interested in sexual histories in modernity as well as magic in the west more broadly, especially the practices and art of Australian witch, Rosaleen Norton. She is Honorary Professor of Classics and Ancient History at The University of Queensland, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

don’t worry if you miss it – we will send you a recording valid for two weeks the next day

The Puppet Made Me Do It. The Uncanny and the Grotesque in Puppetry – Dr Emily LeQuesne

The Puppet Made Me Do It. The Uncanny and the Grotesque in Puppetry

Puppets are inherently uncanny, but why? This talk will explore links between puppets and the visceral, the uncanny, and the grotesque. Perhaps an uncanny response is on a sliding scale, specific to each spectator. From moments that make one’s hair stand on end and heart palpate in terror to the conscious recognition of the uncanny little doll brought to life on stage. Some people find any type of puppet manipulated into life to be uncanny while others need the puppet to be disturbingly human looking in features, movement, colour, texture, shape, and size before they will admit to a sense of the grotesque or unnerving. Over many centuries the puppet’s journey from spiritual, magical and/or religious object of anima to becoming the ‘low’ cousin of so-called proper theatre, the target of ridicule and unfairly diminished to the realm of kids’ stuff, has taken those of us in Western secular society further away than ever from the uncanny experience that is the possibility of a psychic and magical encounter with puppets. From the “ensouling” (Nielson. 2001,33), of statues in a sacred grotto to the grotesquery of the uncanny brought to life through puppetry, and onto political protest through animation of effigy and statue.

Bio

Dr. Emily LeQuesne is a dramaturg, theatre maker, writer, and lecturer. She received her doctorate from Bath Spa University, focussing on puppetry and dramaturgy. She has presented her research on dramaturgy, the uncanny, and puppet theatre, sometimes individually and sometimes all together in the UK, USA, and Austria. She teaches her dramaturgy system The Mosaic Scale online. For over 20 years she has written, directed and dramaturged projects in cabaret, theatre, puppetry, and applied theatre. She is co-founder of Croon productions puppet company. Emily has worked extensively as a performance lecturer in FE & HE and for the educational provision of theatres. She currently teaches playwriting at City of Bath college.

Her book: 1000 Ways to Ask Why. An Introduction to Dramaturgical Thinking is forthcoming from Routledge.

Curated & Hosted by

Marguerite Johnson is a cultural historian of the ancient Mediterranean, specialising in sexuality and gender, particularly in the poetry of Sappho, Catullus, and Ovid, as well as magical traditions in Greece, Rome, and the Near East. She also researches Classical Reception Studies, with a regular focus on Australia. In addition to ancient world studies, Marguerite is interested in sexual histories in modernity as well as magic in the west more broadly, especially the practices and art of Australian witch, Rosaleen Norton. She is Honorary Professor of Classics and Ancient History at The University of Queensland, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

don’t worry if you miss it – we will send you a recording valid for two weeks the next day

Mary Shelley’s Frontispiece and The Frankenstein Monster’s Penis – Professor Marie Mulvey-Roberts

Mary Shelley’s Frontispiece and The Frankenstein Monster’s Penis

From the bawdy humour of Mel Brook’s film Young Frankenstein (1975) to Alice Cooper’s suggestive lyrics in “Feed my Frankenstein” (1992), there has been perennial curiosity over the genitalia of Mary Shelley’s monster. This talk will uncover a hidden sexual level of meaning in the world’s most famous frontispiece, which appears in the 1831 edition of Frankenstein, depicting the moment of creation. The artist is Theodor von Holst, whose reputation was sullied when it was revealed that he had produced erotic drawings for the Prince Regent. What art historian Max Browne has described as Holst’s “bizarre and eccentric sense of humour” will become apparent in the frontispiece once the obscene iconography hidden within it has been decoded. This image has been reproduced in thousands of copies of Frankenstein around the world and yet its lewd joke has passed by under the noses of its readers unnoticed for around two centuries.

Bio

Professor Marie Mulvey-Roberts is the author of Dangerous Bodies (Manchester University Press, 2016), winner of the Alan Lloyd Smith Memorial Prize, and has authored and edited over thirty books including Global Frankenstein (2018). She is Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Women’s Writing on historical women writers before the twentieth century and is a Series Editor for Bloomsbury Studies in Global Women’s Writing. Her most recent book is a scholarly edition of Caroline Norton’s “Love ‘in the World” (Routledge, 2023). She has published widely on Mary Shelley and also the author Angela Carter, the subject of three books, the latest being Angela Carter’s Pyrotechnics (Bloomsbury, 2022). She is interested in the history of art and co-curated the exhibition, Strange Worlds: The Vision of Angela Carter at the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol. Currently she is writing about the late artist Paula Rego.

Curated & Hosted by

Marguerite Johnson is a cultural historian of the ancient Mediterranean, specialising in sexuality and gender, particularly in the poetry of Sappho, Catullus, and Ovid, as well as magical traditions in Greece, Rome, and the Near East. She also researches Classical Reception Studies, with a regular focus on Australia. In addition to ancient world studies, Marguerite is interested in sexual histories in modernity as well as magic in the west more broadly, especially the practices and art of Australian witch, Rosaleen Norton. She is Honorary Professor of Classics and Ancient History at The University of Queensland, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

don’t worry if you miss it – we will send you a recording valid for two weeks the next day

Slaughter, Fire and Gibbet: Boudica – Archaeology, History and Legacy – Dr Duncan Mackay

Slaughter, Fire and Gibbet: Boudica – Archaeology, History and Legacy

This talk explores the story of Boudica, leader of a bloody rebellion against Roman rule in AD 60, interrogating the Roman historical sources, the archaeology of her war, and her continued importance as a symbol of rebellion and defiance.Boudica’s war against Roman subjugation in AD 60 has come down to us in three surviving Roman texts, by two different authors. These provide a broad campaign narrative of the war, and everything that we know of Boudica as a person. The archaeological record often supports this history, enabling more intimate stories to be teased out of the destruction layers. Combining these threads of evidence has allowed for a detailed reconstruction of the war, particularly in the towns destroyed, but how far can that reconstruction be superimposed on the wider, modern landscape? Boudica did not survive her war, but her identity as a rebel, warrior woman lives on, variously appearing as an icon of the women’s suffrage movement, a heroine of British imperialism and nationalism, and as symbol of rebellion against unjust authority.

Bio

Duncan Mackay is an archaeologist and writer with a lifelong interest in Boudica. He worked as a field archaeologist for many years, mostly with the University of Cambridge Archaeological Unit. He is the author of Echolands – A Journey in Search of Boudica, published by Hodder and Stoughton 2023.

Curated & Hosted by

Marguerite Johnson is a cultural historian of the ancient Mediterranean, specialising in sexuality and gender, particularly in the poetry of Sappho, Catullus, and Ovid, as well as magical traditions in Greece, Rome, and the Near East. She also researches Classical Reception Studies, with a regular focus on Australia. In addition to ancient world studies, Marguerite is interested in sexual histories in modernity as well as magic in the west more broadly, especially the practices and art of Australian witch, Rosaleen Norton. She is Honorary Professor of Classics and Ancient History at The University of Queensland, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

don’t worry if you miss it – we will send you a recording valid for two weeks the next day

Jack the Ripper and other Monsters: how did the Whitechapel Murder case impact the Lives of ordinary Victorians? – Dr Drew Gray

Jack the Ripper and other Monsters: how did the Whitechapel Murder case impact the Lives of ordinary Victorians?

How did contemporaries view the Whitechapel murders and the rapid rise to infamy of the mysterious ‘Jack the Ripper’? How did the presence of a supposedly ‘superhuman’ killer impact Londoners who found themselves sharing a city with a murderer the police were powerless to catch? The idea that one might be murdered by a stranger, seemingly for no reason at all, must have terrified contemporaries. Speculating on what sort of person might do this must also have played a part in how people tried to come to terms with what was happening. Given the lack of comparators, this must have been particularly difficult and perhaps inevitably led to a merging of fact with fiction. This talk will explore the reactions of Londoners and others to the Whitechapel murders and reflect on the extent to which the character of ‘Jack the Ripper’ merged with previous terrors, like ‘Spring Heeled Jack’, to haunt the dreams of late nineteenth-century Londoners.

Bio

Dr Drew Gray is the Head of Culture at the University of Northampton, where he also teaches the history of crime and supervises PhD candidates. Drew has written several books and articles, including London’s Shadows: The Dark Side of the Victorian City (Bloomsbury, 2010) which places the Ripper murders in their social context, and Murder Maps: Crime Scenes Revisited (Thames & Hudson, 2020). His latest book, Nether World: Crime and the Police Courts in Victorian London was published by Reaktion in 2024.

Image title

‘London’ by peterock72

Curated & Hosted by

Marguerite Johnson is a cultural historian of the ancient Mediterranean, specialising in sexuality and gender, particularly in the poetry of Sappho, Catullus, and Ovid, as well as magical traditions in Greece, Rome, and the Near East. She also researches Classical Reception Studies, with a regular focus on Australia. In addition to ancient world studies, Marguerite is interested in sexual histories in modernity as well as magic in the west more broadly, especially the practices and art of Australian witch, Rosaleen Norton. She is Honorary Professor of Classics and Ancient History at The University of Queensland, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

don’t worry if you miss it – we will send you a recording valid for two weeks the next day