Podcast #37: Chevalière d’Eon

Our 37th podcast episode celebrates a legendary spy, writer, and fencer whose very existence caused such a public uproar that it caused a grumpy British judge to outlaw all betting on a person’s gender. Although her story has been told many, many times before, most versions either invent her life story entirely or do not honor her own identity. Though she wanted to be recognized as the woman she was, that didn’t mean she was happy with society’s expectations of what a woman could or should wear, look like, or be around the time of the French Revolution. Mary Wollstonecraft was a fan, ranking her among the likes of Sappho and the Empress of Russia, and we think you’ll enjoy her story too.

Dead Ladies Show co-founder Florian Duijsens joins podcast host/producer Susan Stone to discuss our first episode about a woman we would now probably call a trans woman. Note that she is best known in the literature and all around the internet as the Chevalier d’Eon, Chevalière d’Eon is probably the more grammatically correct title 🙂 We also discuss the Dead Ladies Show’s famous three rules, and talk about about another unruly rulebreaker, Anne Lister.

Also available on Spotify, Apple PodcastsRadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Acast.

Show notes:

Here she is in a portrait by Thomas Stewart.
This is the entirely fabricated anime adaptation
And this is the only slightly more French film adaptation.
Embed from Getty Images
Note her lovely medal
And here she is earlier in life.
Note the funny helmet
The caricature from which Michael Urie got his Met Gala inspiration
Freemason caricature with mysterious accoutrements
Marie Antoinette’s enormous dress
That classy portrait from 1778
Her big fencing battle with the Black composer and champion fencer Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Born in Guadeloupe, he’d fought in the first all-Black regiment in Europe!
And here she is as Athena
Here she is late in life, more religious but still wearing that medal.

And if you wnat to know more about the Public Universal Friend, check out these two podcast episodes by NPR’s Throughline and What’s Her Name!

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Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.
Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode next month.

Don’t forget, we now have a Patreon! Please consider supporting our transcripts project and our ongoing work: www.patreon.com/deadladiesshowpodcast

If you’d prefer to make a one-time donation, here’s the link: paypal.me/dlspodcast

Podcast #36: Shirley Jackson

Our 36th podcast episode brings you a glimpse of the acclaimed author of some of the most chilling tales in contemporary American literature, Shirley Jackson. Her short story “The Lottery” has been a true classic since its publication in 1948. Jackson blended gothic and horror elements with explorations of women’s alienation and search for identity. In her real life, she was forced to balance her tremendous talent with the everyday duties of a wife and mother and societal expectations of femininity which she defied at almost every step.  Our presentation from Krista Ahlberg comes courtesy of Dead Ladies Show NYC, and was recorded live by Christopher Neil in the Red Room at New York’s KGB Bar in 2019.

Dead Ladies Show co-founder Florian Duijsens joins podcast host/producer Susan Stone to discuss some of Shirley’s stories and the films and series in the extended Shirley Jackson universe.

Also available on Spotify, Apple PodcastsRadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Acast. You can read the transcript here.

Show notes:

Shirley and her college best friend
Here’s Shirley in 1938.
Shirley reading her classic short story “The Lottery”
One of those cartoons Shirley drew of her family
Shirley and her kids
Some of the medication Shirley might have been prescribed
The trailer for the original film version of The Haunting of Hill House
And Lili Taylor in the 1999 remake
And the Netflix version
And We Have Always Lived in the Castle, which cannot be a match for the book
To cleanse your palate, here’s the trailer for Josephine Decker’s Shirley, starring Elizabeth Moss

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Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.
Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode next month.

Don’t forget, we now have a Patreon! Please consider supporting our transcripts project and our ongoing work: www.patreon.com/deadladiesshowpodcast

If you’d prefer to make a one-time donation, here’s the link: paypal.me/dlspodcast

Podcast #35: Ida B. Wells

We’re back with Episode 35! In this program, we’re coming to you live, limited, and socially distant from the courtyard of our beloved Berlin venue ACUD! 

Also available on Spotify, Apple PodcastsRadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Acast. You can download the transcript here.

On this sultry September evening, DLS Podcast producer and host Susan Stone took the stage to present the life and times of the unstoppable Ida B. Wells! This pioneering African-American investigative journalist, suffragist and activist was a pint-sized powerhouse. Born into slavery in Mississippi in 1862, Ida’s world opened up with the Emancipation Proclamation, and she became a teacher, newspaper editor, and international lecturer, fighting injustice and racism all the way. Her hold-nothing-back editorials and books exposed and documented the horrific practice of lynching in the American South. On her steely path to justice, she accepted no compromises, making friends and enemies along the way. 

DLS co-founders Katy Derbyshire and Florian Duijsens take up the introductions as we get back into the podcast swing of things after a summer break.   

Show notes:

Ida B. Wells
The People’s Grocery in Memphis
And its historic marker, from https://lynchingsitesmem.org/
Handsome lawyer Ferdinand Lee Barnett
With her children: Charles , Herman , Ida and Alfreda. Archivio GBB
Wearing that button… Ida B. Wells Papers, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library (061.03.00)

To find out more, you can read Ida B. Well’s autobiography, Crusade for Justice, published by her daughter in 1970. Susan also recommends Paula J. Giddings’ Ida: A Sword among Lions. And watch out from January 2021 for Ida B. the Queen by her granddaughter Michelle Duster.

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode next month. 

Don’t forget, we now have a Patreon! Please consider supporting our transcripts project and our ongoing work: www.patreon.com/deadladiesshowpodcast

If you’d prefer to make a one-time donation, here’s the link: paypal.me/dlspodcast

Dead Ladies Show #26

It’s been, as they say, a minute since you’ve last heard from us. And it’s been very strange not to be up there on stage at ACUD every two months. We miss you! I know we’ve been in contact through the podcast, and through our Patreon book club, but however much we cherish our listeners from afar, and we do, there’s really something special about sharing these lives (and awesome guest presenters!) with a real-life Berlin audience.

So with the current restrictions in place, and a slight change of scenery, we’re doing our 26th show at ACUD on September 14. It’ll be a very intimate one, just 20 people in ACUD’s open-air courtyard, and all those tickets have been sold to lovely folks on our mailing list.

For our final show of this season, we’re excited to present two more outstanding Berlin writers who share stories of awe-inspiring women who’ve fascinated them and influenced their work. Show numéro 26 brings you three women who went against the grain: a journalist, an artist, and a teacher/writer. Presented by writer DIVYA GHELANIDILEK GÜNGÖR, and your beloved podcast producer SUSAN STONE. All held together by your perennial perma-hosts KATY DERBYSHIRE and FLORIAN DUIJSENS.

Investigative journalist, newspaper editor, educator, suffragist and early civil-rights leader IDA B. WELLS was the most famous Black woman in the United States during her lifetime. Her intrepid reporting on lynching in the Deep South and her powerful editorials taking on discrimination and violent treatment were read widely at home and abroad, and she was dubbed “The Princess of the Press.” Ida journeyed twice to Britain on speaking tours and ran (unsuccessfully) for the Illinois State Senate in 1930, all the while utilizing boycotts and lawsuits to further her cause, which made her for a time unpopular with some more conservative activists. However, she did find love with one of her fellow rights fighters, and after their marriage, he put his career on the back burner to cook dinner most nights and also care for the kids while she traveled.

DORA MAAR’s work as an artist spans from collage to street photography, from abstract landscape paintings to eerie photograms. It also spans almost the entire 20th century, and it certainly surpasses her relationship with a certain dickish cubist (ok, Picasso). Though her work with him was fundamental to masterpieces like Guernica, for which Maar provided key photographic documentation, she was more than just his “muse.” One of the few publicly acknowledged women surrealists, she entered into the relationship with skills to teach him. Having traveled all over the world in the first part of her life, she would spend the second half largely secluded in the countryside, and only after her death was the full spectrum and force of her work from all those many decades revealed.

Having grown up and trained to be a teacher in Guyana, BERYL GILROY arrived in the UK in the early 1950s as part of the so-called “Windrush generation.” Homeschooling her two kids (one of whom would grow up to be great historian Paul Gilroy, coiner of the “Black Atlantic”) and working as a maid, factory worker, and slush-pile reader before she’d be able to work as a teacher, she ultimately become the first Black headteacher in London! She crystallized that experience in Black Teacher, a radical memoir that has shamefully fallen out of print. She would publish nine more novels, plus poems, essays, and a series of children’s books reflecting the Black British experience. If that weren’t enough, she also trained as a ethno-psychotherapist, and her literary work certainly reflects that sharply trained eye.

Dead Ladies Show NYC #17 – Zoom edition!

The seventeenth edition of DLS NYC is upon us! Tuesday, July 21, from 7–8:15 pm on Zoom. This month, please join EMILY KNAPP and ELIZA ROCKEFELLER to learn about a visionary artist and teacher and the revolutionary Mayor of Christopher Street. Presented, respectively, by an art historian-slash-curator and a student of government and philosophy. 

 Free admission, and an ~*important note!*~ If you can, you’re welcome and encouraged to donate what you would have paid for a drink or two to the KGB Bar/Red Room, which has been hit hard financially by the pandemic. They are distributing 30% of all donations directly to employees. Donate here: Literary Landmark KGB Bar NYC Aid

We also ask that you consider donating to the following organization: G.L.I.T.S. Inc, a nonprofit led by trans women of color that works to address “the health and rights crises faced by transgender sex workers.”

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LOÏS MAILOU JONES (19051998) was a visionary artist and teacher who spent much of her 70-year career as an ardent advocate for African-American art. She established the art department at Palmer Memorial Institute and later became a professor at Howard University, where she mentored generations of African-American artists until her retirement in 1977. Her profound range spanned mediums and continents, from her early work designing textiles in New York to her captivating paintings of Paris and Port-au-Prince, not to mention her work as a U.S. cultural ambassador to numerous African countries in the 1970s. 

A_photo_of_Marsha_P._Johnson

MARSHA P. JOHNSON (1945-1992), also known as the “Mayor of Christopher Street”, was an activist, drag queen, performer, and sex worker. Credited as one of the initiators of the Stonewall uprising of 1969, co-founder of the radical activist group Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, and an AIDS activist with ACT UP, she was one of the most prominent figures in the fight for queer liberation.

About your presenters:

INDIRA A. ABISKAROON is an art historian based in New York City. She is currently on leave from her role as Curatorial Assistant, Collections at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

ALMA BRADLEY is a Senior at Hamilton College concentrating in Government and Philosophy. She is spending her summer conducting research on alt-right protest movements and experimenting with fermentation in her spare time. 

Podcast #34: Willa Muir

In Episode 34, we’re once more in Muenster as guests of the Burg Hülshoff Centre for Literature, which happens to be named after a Dead Lady poet, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff! This time around, we’ll get introduced to Willa Muir, a prolific translator who brought Kafka into English for the first time. Born on a small Scottish island, she was eyewitness to some of Europe’s most important moments. She worked in tandem with her husband Edwin, who somehow managed to get all the credit… Presented by our co-founder Katy Derbyshire, also featuring Florian Duijsens, and produced and introduced by producer Susan Stone.

Also available on Spotify, Apple PodcastsRadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Acast. You can download the transcript here.

Show notes:

Here’s Willa’s portrait by Nigel McIsaac, held by National Galeries Scotland

Willa1

And this is the editorial board of her college journal, with Willa probably at the front, but possibly at the back.

Willa2

The racy cover of Willa and Edwin’s very first translation

Willa3

And all four of “their” Kafka books

Edwin, Gavin, Willa and cat at home

Willa8

Two books of Willa’s own writing

You can hear Willa’s lovely voice talking about Edwin at the London Review of Books’ The Space. And there’s more about Willa Muir’s writing at Scottish PEN’s very well named Dangerous Women Project.

For those now hooked on Kafka translating content, we strongly recommend Michelle Woods’ book Kafka Translated, which also has a lot of material about Willa.

If you understand German and want to listen to a three-minute podcast about our show in Münster, the Lesebürger*innen have exactly what you need!
 
The center’s online audio platform is called DROSTE FM.
 
Their online Droste festival is happening right now, so German-speaking lovers of modern-day takes on dead lady poets can dig right in. And non-German-speaking music-lovers can check out their accompanying Spotify playlists.
 
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Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! Don’t forget, we now have a Patreon! Please consider supporting our transcripts project and our ongoing work: www.patreon.com/deadladiesshowpodcast

If you’d prefer to make a one-time donation, here’s the link: paypal.me/dlspodcast

Podcast #33: Dorothy L. Sayers

Episode 33 takes us virtually to Muenster as guests of the Burg Hülshoff Centre for Literature, which happens to be named after a Dead Lady poet, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff! However, we’re here to talk about mystery queen Dorothy L. Sayers.
Dorothy, or DLS, as she preferred to be called, is probably best known for her crime novels featuring posh amateur detective Lord Peter Wimsey. But she also gave us an impressive English translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy, much loved to this day. Something of a child prodigy, she learned Latin at six and studied at Oxford before women were actually awarded degrees. She made an early living in advertising and later wrote essays on both Christian and feminist subjects, including the fabulously titled “Are Women Human?” All this while publishing sixteen detective novels, plus numerous plays and short stories, and leading what might best be called a turbulent private life.
Dead Ladies Show co-founder Florian Duijsens unravels the complicated plot of her life, as other co-founder Katy Derbyshire joins host & producer Susan Stone to set the stage. 
Also available on Spotify, Apple PodcastsRadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Acast. Find the transcript here.
Show notes:
Here are Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, Florian doing his thing, and that chandelier…

A young Dorothy in drag

DLS2
Dorothy and Eric the skull
DLS3
Some of her most famous ads:
DLS4
And some of her less famous books:
DLS8
Her enduring character, Lord Peter Wimsey
DLS5
Florian recommends two biographies…

Dorothy L. Sayers by Barbara Reynolds and A Careless Rage for Life by David Coomes.

That 1987 BBC series is available on YouTube.
And if you understand German and want to listen to a three-minute podcast about the show, the Lesebürger*innen have exactly what you need!
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Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode in June. Don’t forget, we now have a Patreon! Please consider supporting our transcripts project and our ongoing work: www.patreon.com/deadladiesshowpodcast

If you’d prefer to make a one-time donation, here’s the link: paypal.me/dlspodcast

Podcast #32: Rose Mackenberg

Welcome to our 32nd podcast, in which Nicole Saraniero and Dana Lewis (recorded live by Christopher Neil in the Red Room at New York’s KGB Bar in 2019) conjure up enthusiastic ghost-buster Rose Mackenberg. Sometimes called “Harry Houdini’s Girl Detective,” Rose was dedicated to debunking psychics who scammed vulnerable and grieving Americans recovering from the tragedies of World War I and the Spanish Flu of 1918. She started out as a stenographer and private investigator, joining forces with famed magician Houdini to crusade against fraud and psychic swindlers.

Here it comes, produced and presented by Susan Stone:

Also available on Spotify, Apple PodcastsRadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Acast. You can find the transcript here.

Show notes:

Here are Nicole (left) and Dana (right) on stage:

L_Nicole_R_Dana

Curious about those costumes?

mackenbergcostumes

Publicity material from the time:

spook_spy.696x0-is

If you want to read more, there’s a compilation of her writing put together by Tony Wolf, Houdini’s “Girl Detective”: The Real-Life Ghost-Busting Adventures of Rose Mackenberg.

Rose also has a belated obituary in the New York Times‘ rather good “Overlooked No More” series, dedicated to women who weren’t written about when they died.

A few excellent pictures of Rose in action are available in the Saturday Evening Post.

And she’s also featured in artist A R Hopwood’s exploration of The Ethics of Deception for London’s Wellcome Collection.

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In these coronavirus times, our venues could use your support. You can donate to ACUD in Berlin via Startnext, and/or to the KGB Bar in NYC via Fundly, and/or your own local cultural stronghold.

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Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode in May. And here’s a link to our Patreon, in case you’d like to help fund our work.

Support for the Dead Ladies Show podcast comes from the Berliner Senat.

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Dead Ladies Show NYC #16 – Zoom edition!

The sixteenth edition of DLS NYC is upon us! Tuesday, April 7, from 7–9pm, though we won’t meet in the Red Room this time, given the pandemic; we’re meeting on Zoom. We hear it’s hip to meet online these days! 😉

In April, join EMILY KNAPP, ELIZA ROCKEFELLER, and HALL ROCKEFELLER to learn about a colossal Jewish-American literary figure, a Celtic warrior queen, and a revolutionary prison-reform advocate. Presented, respectively, by a museum director-slash-historian, a classicist passionate about very dead ladies, and a director-slash-arts activist.

Free admission, and an ~*important note!*~ If you can, you’re welcome and encouraged to donate what you would have paid for a drink or two to the KGB Bar/Red Room, which has been affected by NYC’s mandated business closures and has been hit hard financially. They are distributing 30% of all donations directly to employees. Alternatively, you can buy drink tickets to use when the bar reopens (whenever normal life returns, blessed be the day!)—just specify “drink tickets for DLS” in your donation note.

Emma_Lazarus
EMMA LAZARUS, though now most famous for her poem “The New Colossus,” an excerpt of which is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, was both a consequential literary figure and activist for Jewish causes. She spoke out against anti-Semitism and waves of pogroms. In her short 38 years, she produced some of the most recognized and relevant prose of the 20th century.

Boadicea_Haranguing_the_Britons_(called_Boudicca,_or_Boadicea)_by_John_Opie

BOUDICCA (aka Boudica, Boudicea, or Boadicea) is perhaps one of the least popularized revolt leaders in Roman history. Celtic queen of the Iceni people in the 1st century CE, Boudicca led a deleterious revolt against the Roman Empire—yes, that Roman Empire—in the year 60/61 CE. Her story has been primarily bequeathed to us by two distinctly male and Roman voices (Tacitus and Cassius Dio), neither of whom were present during the revolt. The intense inherent bias of her biographers notwithstanding, she was a fierce warrior, who fought to protect her lands and people from the tight grasp of Roman rule.

Elizabeth_Fry

ELIZABETH FRY earned her place on the British £5 note through her revolutionary prison reform advocacy and activism in the early 19th century. She kept extensive and revealing diaries throughout her life, but her best known writing came in the form of an exposé-style book entitled Prisons in Scotland and the North of England. Fry invited members of the British nobility to spend nights with her in prison to reveal the conditions and encourage political action and founded the Association for the Reformation of the Female Prisoners in Newgate.

About your presenters:

ANNIE POLLAND is the director of the American Jewish Historical Society in New York and co-author of Emerging Metropolis: New York Jews in the Age of Immigration.

CAROLINE KNAPP is a lover of the ancient world, languages, and ice cream. Unlike Boudicca, she has not spearheaded a revolt against an invading foreign army to protect her beloved homeland…yet…

LEIA SQUILLACE is a Virginia-born, Brooklyn-based theatre director, arts activist, criminal justice reform advocate, and baker.

Podcast #31: Alexandra Kollontai

Welcome to episode 31, in which Dead Ladies Show co-founder Katy Derbyshire talks about Russian revolutionary Alexandra Kollontai. She was present at the Copenhagen Second Congress of Socialist Women in 1910, where she voted for the introduction of International Women’s Day. Kollontai worked hard to promote women’s interests in the early Soviet Union, often a losing battle. And she had some exciting ideas about love in the new society.

Here it is, introduced and produced by Susan Stone for your enlightenment and enjoyment:

Also available on Spotify, Apple PodcastsRadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Acast. You can find the transcript here.
Show notes:
Koll2
Katy’s favourite pic, Kollontai (centre) at the Congress of the Peoples of the East, Baku 1920
Koll3
Young Alexandra
Koll4
Rabotnitsa, or The Woman Worker, 1923
Koll5
Kollontai as a Soviet ambassador
Koll8
With medals
For further reading, Katy recommends Cathy Porter’s excellent Alexandra Kollontai, A Biography, which gives a lot of helpful background information. And if you read German, Barbara Kirchner’s edition of Kollontai’s Autobiographie einer sexuell emanzipierten Kommunistin.

 

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode in April. And here’s a link to our Patreon, in case you’d like to help fund our work.

Support for the Dead Ladies Show podcast comes from the Berliner Senat.

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