For our 60th episode, we bring back the presenter who appeared in our very first podcast episode, writer and translator Karen Margolis. Drawing from her own history in higher mathematics, Karen ably tells the tale of Germany’s Emmy Noether, who developed key theorems in theoretical physics and made important contributions to abstract algebra. Excluded from academic positions in Germany as a woman, she worked unpaid and under other lecturers’ names. Once she was finally allowed to teach in 1919, she had only 14 years until the Nazis banned her from universities, as a Jew. In American exile, she taught at the women’s college Bryn Mawr and occasionally at Princeton, though she felt she was not welcome at “the men’s university, where nothing female is admitted.” Nowadays, everything from fellowships to a crater on the moon has honored Emmy, so it was clearly our turn to do so.
DLS co-founder Katy Derbyshire joins producer/host Susan Stone to introduce things.
At this, our twenty-second show (Wednesday, March 29, 7–9pm at the Red Room at KGB Bar), be regaled with the tales of an inventive storyteller and librarian who has had a long-reaching impact on children’s literature; a stylish designer who gives new meaning to the phrase eco-conscious; and a supposed femme fatale who was one of the most maligned women of the 21st century. Presented by three women with a deep love for literature, with a smattering of commentary by your devoted hosts.
In bittersweet news, this will be our last show at the Red Room for the time being before we move to a super-special new venue in May—details to come!
PURA BELPRÉ (1899–1982) was a New York City librarian from 1921 through 1944, during which she ran storytimes and performed puppet shows for children, sharing the folktales she’d grown up with in Puerto Rico. She was an early proponent of diversity and representation in children’s literature, as well as an author of numerous short stories, picture books, essays, and a novel. Today the American Library Association gives the annual Pura Belpré Awards for children’s and young adult literature.
ELIZABETH HAWES (1903–1971) was a gifted American designer, a prolific author, and a vocal labor activist. Over a career spanning five decades, she fought to bring high-quality garments to the masses and championed timeless style over passing trends. Although largely forgotten by the public, Hawes is beloved by fashion historians — in part for her role as an outspoken critic of the garment trade. Several shows are now giving Hawes her due, including Elizabeth Hawes: Along Her Own Lines, the first exhibition centered on her radical re-conceptions of the fashion industry, on view at the Museum at FIT through March 26.
MATA HARI (1876–1917) was a Dutch exotic dancer, courtesan, and spy who duped both Germany and France through her liaisons and allegedly brought down 50,000 soldiers during World War I. Although her innocence is contested, her life is a story of great risk and ambition including traveling far and wide, bearing children, forging relationships with high ranking officials, learning several languages, performing Asian dances, and trading secrets as well as gossip on invisible ink! How old was she when this occurred? Did she make it out alive? What happened to her husband and children? You will find out more at The Dead Ladies Show!
KRISTA AHLBERG is a copyeditor and writer living in Brooklyn. She had an actual bookstore inside her house until she was six, so her fate as a book lover was sealed from an early age.
ANNALISE GALL works for the New York Public Library and is studying textile conservation at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
SYEDA ZAIDI is a Brooklyn resident who loves a good old world scandal, apart from more innocent activities like listening to Latin music, going dancing, and baking for friends. By profession, she is an 11th-grade teacher. She wakes up everyday aiming to teach English and History, but comes home expanding her vocabulary of teen boy slang! Oh, ambition!
In this episode, we’re going to hear about a woman sometimes called a sculptress of sound — “the unsung heroine of British electronic music” — Delia Derbyshire, ably presented by our very own DLS co-founder Katy Derbyshire.
A working-class girl from Coventry, England, Delia studied music and mathematics, and went on to work at the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop. If you’re a SciFi fan, you’ve probably heard one of her best known works — the otherworldly theme tune to the TV show Doctor Who. A true pioneer of pre-synthesizer electronic sounds, Delia created music for more than 200 projects, but remained anonymous due to the BBC’s bureaucratic structures. She also set up studios making electronic music for soundtracks, festivals and theatre productions, until she left the public eye in 1975.
DLS co-founder Florian Duijsens joins producer Susan to set things up.
Join us, February 22, 7–9pm at the Red Room, for our twenty-first Dead Ladies Show on American soil, as we do things just a little bit differently! We will learn about two pioneering artists (an aristocrat-turned-Marxist and an Argentinian-turned-Italian) and a death-defying homemaker with a healthy respect for packaged baked goods. Presented by a postdoc, a photog, and a professional performer, respectively. Buy your tickets here, and we can’t wait to see you there!
INJI AFLATOUN (1924–1989) was a pioneering painter and feminist in mid-20th century Egypt. She was born to a traditional family she described as “semi-feudal and bourgeois,” before joining the League of University and Institutes’ Young Women and embracing new, more communal politics. After a two-year painting hiatus that reflected this political transformation between 1946 and 1948, Aflatoun resumed her artistic work, engaged in further political activism, and emphasized in her works a growing solidarity with Egyptian working class communities of the time.
Defying all expectations about what a woman should be, LEONOR FINI (1907–1996) was one of the most fiercely independent artists of her time. Known for her fashionable presence, lion-like hair, and intriguing personality, she was one of the few female artists that the male Surrealists treated as an equal. In a flip of the male gaze, her artwork is characterized by powerfully dominant women, while the men are frail and vulnerable. Openly bisexual and polyamorous, Leonor Fini remains one of the most unapologetically provocative artists in the Surrealist movement.
ANGELINA KATZ (1936–2019) loved a good laugh. She killed bees and wasps with her bare hands, walked barefoot in the snow, and could catch our parakeet Chirpy with a dishcloth whenever he got loose. She worked at Child’s World for decades and loved the kids even though they ruined her back. Her chicken parmigiana was legendary, and she believed Entenmann’s coffee cake could solve all solvable problems. She taught us the essential life rules: a crow is a visit from the dead, and never to follow an empty hearse. She loved to vacuum, especially when anyone’s favorite show was on TV. She once drove straight through the garage without braking.
HUSSEIN MOHSEN is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and a freelance writer who focuses on science and technology and the history and politics thereof as they pertain to the Arab World.
JR PEPPER is a photographer, lecturer, photo retoucher, researcher, cemetery tour-guide and self described ‘professional eccentric”. A New York native, she is known for her spirit photography and her peculiar love of guinea pigs.
CARLA KATZ is a storyteller and comic. She is a Moth StorySlam Champion and has been featured on PBS Stories from the Stage and The Moth Radio Hour. She has graced stages all over NY and NJ. More at www.carlakatz.com.
Welcome to our first podcast of 2023! In this episode, we zoom in on photographer Berenice Abbott. This American artist has a bit of a six-degrees-of separation going on with a number of our previous Dead Ladies, including Baroness von Freytag-Loringhoven and Emma Goldman. As told by DLS co-founder Florian Duijsens, Berenice’s story includes stints in Paris and Berlin, falling in love with eligible ladies, and learning photography from Man Ray. She took portraits of various greats, and when she returned to New York she switched to documenting the changing city, resulting in what’s called the “the greatest collection of photographs of New York City ever made.” Later in life she also excelled at scientific photography, taking with her studies of light and motion contributing to the understanding of physical laws and properties of solids and liquids, as she also made innovations in camera technology.
DLS co-founder Katy Derbyshire joins producer Susan Stone to introduce our episode.
DLS co-founders Florian Duijsens and Katy Derbyshire join producer Susan Stone to toast the holiday season, chat about this year’s good news in Dead Ladies, and to introduce our featured Dead Lady, artist Ruth Asawa.
Born to Japanese parents on a farm in California, Ruth Asawa first developed her artistic tendencies tracing shapes in the dirt. When her family was interned during World War II by the US government (along with thousands of US citizens with Japanese heritage, following the bombing of US military base Pearl Harbor by the Japanese) her life was put on hold, but she made opportunity where she could find it. When she was prevented from becoming a teacher by anti-Japanese prejudice and laws, she studied art and became a sculptor, often weaving cheap found material and wire. Her public artworks and her art education advocacy made her chosen home city, San Francisco, a more beautiful place, and her sculptures are now auctioned for millions, and exhibited around the world.
We are thrilled to invite you to our twentieth DLS NYC on Wednesday, December 7, 2022, at the Red Room at KGB Bar! (85 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003, Third Floor.) You can buy your tickets here!!!
It’ll be a sister act (in fact, if you’ve been with us a while, you’ll know it’s our very own Sister Act II), featuring one nun presented and a pair of sisters doing the other two presentations! LOVE IT.
Join us as we are regaled with the tales of a nun even the pope couldn’t bar from good works, a groundbreaking American dramatist, and a Black champion of Southern cuisine. Presented by three fascinating and intrepid Women of History(TM).
NB: We are now charging a $10 cover to defray costs of the event—if this presents any issue, please contact me and we can absolutely work something out.
CLARE OF ASSISI (1194–1253), born a noblewoman, is best known for her association with Francis of Assisi. When she was 18, she eluded unwanted marriage, escaped her parental home, and taking a vow of poverty, established a community of lay women under his guidance. She preached and served lepers and the poor—the life Francis had promised her—until a powerful cardinal set about to make her a cloistered nun. Ultimately from behind locked walls, Clare waged a decades-long fight with the papacy, upending some of its plans and blindsiding the pope who thought he had shut her from the world.
SUSAN GLASPELL (1876–1948) is the greatest writer you’ve (probably) never heard of. She flourished during the golden age of the short story, co-founded the first modern American theater company, the Provincetown Players, and earned the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. A path-breaking feminist writer, her play, Trifles, will keep you hanging on the edge of your seat and twist your stomach into knots. It’s a real killer.
EDNA LEWIS (1916–2006) was a self-taught African American chef and champion of Southern food, who trail-blazed the farm-to-table movement in the US—well before the model came to define the work of Chef Alice Waters at Chez Panisse. Born in Freetown, Virginia, Lewis eventually moved to New York City, where she opened Café Nicholson in 1948 with her friend, Johnny Nicholson. As the Midtown restaurant’s chef—rare for a Black woman at the time—she attracted literati, movie stars, and bohemians for decades with a pared down menu of roasted chicken and chocolate soufflé. Her mentorship and four cookbooks, based on a seasonal appreciation for ingredients, challenged America’s perception of the South and elevated its foodways.
KATHLEEN BRADY is the author of Ida Tarbell: Portrait of A Muckraker, for which she was named a Fellow of the Society of American Historians. She has also written biographies of Lucille Ball and now Francis and Clare of Assisi.
DEBORAH STREAHLE is a historian who writes about health activism, psychedelics, and death in American culture.
DR. KRISTEN STREAHLE is an expert in medieval Sicilian art and architecture. She has also worked in communities around the country to shift policy and urban design toward increasing food accessibility.
We couldn’t let this hectic year come to a close without one last DLS! This time we don’t have any funding, so there are only two talks, both in English, by your beloved co-hosts Florian Duijsens and Katy Derbyshire. Learn all about two impressive pioneers in their fields, women who pushed boundaries and gave us great work.
The aim of the show is to raise money for more podcasts, so we’ve adjusted the non-reduced price to €10, but reduced tickets still cost €4. Doors open 7.30 pm – come on time to get a good seat! We have limited space, so please book in advance.
BERENICE ABBOTT learned photography from scratch with Man Ray in 1920s Paris, where she did portraits of all the cool kids, alongside sculpture and poetry. Back in New York she switched to documentary photography, capturing the changing city with a sociologist’s eye. That work has been called “the greatest collection of photographs of New York City ever made.” She lived with her partner, the art critic Elizabeth McCausland, for 30 years, invented various pieces of photographic equipment, and later moved into scientific photography, with her studies of light and motion contributing to the understanding of physical laws and properties of solids and liquids.
DELIA DERBYSHIRE (no relation) pioneered electronic music in the UK’s BBC Radiophonic Workshop – if you’ve ever watched Doctor Who, you’ll remember her stunning theme music. A working-class girl from Coventry, she studied music and mathematics. At the BBC, she worked on music for some 200 programmes but remained anonymous due to the corporation’s bureaucratic structures. She set up studios making electronic music for soundtracks, festivals and theatre productions, until she largely gave up music in 1975. She left a large archive of sound material and papers, and has been hailed as “the unsung heroine of British electronic music” and a sculptress of sound.
To kick off Season 6 of our podcast, writer Leon Craig brings us the story of award-winning English author Angela Carter. Known for her feminist, gothic, and erotic sensibilities and for re-inventing folk and fairy tales with her now seminal collection The Bloody Chamber, Carter’s life had quite a few plot twists of its own. In her 51 years she wrote nine novels, five short story collections, several children’s books, and countless essays and articles. She also collected quite a few lovers after awakening from a stifling marriage, harvesting them first from her social circle and friends’ husbands, then later more randomly during her two years living in Japan. Shortly after her death from cancer, Angela Carter received a strong wave of recognition, and her writing is now taught to generations of British school kids.
After our summer break, it’s high time we returned to the ACUD stage! So on Tuesday, September 27, please join our guest presenters, writer and translator KAREN MARGOLIS and musician BERNADETTE LA HENGST, along with your beloved co-host FLORIAN DUIJSENS, to learn about three ladies who made great strides for womankind. All held together by your other beloved co-host KATY DERBYSHIRE. Join us in the ACUD Studio as the night sets in, celebrating women who lived as best they could in difficult circumstances.
As always, presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €7 or €4 reduced entry. Generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7.30 pm – come on time to get a good seat!
We have limited space, so please book in advance via Eventbrite.
ROMY SCHNEIDER made her film debut as a child – perhaps not surprisingly, both her parents and her grandmother were actors. She soon had a flourishing career, acting her way into millions of hearts as a saccharine embodiment of Austria’s Empress Sissi. As she got older, Romy gradually liberated herself from her audience’s expectations, partly by moving from Germany to France. Paris Match magazine compared her to Garbo, Dietrich, and Monroe for sheer star power, but the press came to plague her private life. She died far too young, adored by moviegoers across Europe. Sadly, the Austrian train dubbed after her was renamed “Familyland Austria” in 2002. That’s what happens when you vote right-wing populists into government.
EMMY NOETHER has been called (by male mathematicians) “the most important woman in the history of mathematics”. She developed key theorems in theoretical physics and made important contributions to abstract algebra. Excluded from academic positions in Germany as a woman, she worked unpaid and under other lecturers’ names. Once she was finally allowed to teach in 1919, she had only 14 years until the Nazis banned her as a Jew. In American exile, she taught at the women’s college Bryn Mawr and occasionally at Princeton, though she felt she was not welcome at “the men’s university, where nothing female is admitted”. She died at 53 after surgery. There is a Wikipedia page of things named after her, from theorems to moon craters and fellowships. She loved to dance.
VALERIE GELL was working in a Liverpool department store and teaching herself guitar and drums when she read about an all-girl beat group in the local paper. When it turned out they couldn’t play, Valerie went ahead and taught them how. After supporting bands like the Rolling Stones and the Kinks at home, the Liverbirds were offered a residency at Hamburg’s Star Club in 1964, and really came into their own. The band began to hit the singles charts, Val singing the more raucous R&B-numbers and playing rhythm guitar. She left the Liverbirds to care for her boyfriend after a car crash and ended up not playing for 26 years. She returned to the stage in Hamburg in her fifties, found love with her wife Susann, and died at the age of 71.