Podcast #49: Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

We kick off 2022 with an episode devoted to a woman famed for her wit and beauty, and later for her status as a sort of early inoculation influencer. Her tale is told by DLS co-founder and devoted traveler, Florian Duijsens.

English aristocrat Lady Mary Wortley Montagu was raised to keep her opinions to herself, be it at home or in the King’s court, but she travelled widely, published secretly, and convinced many to take important steps that saved lives. When her husband became the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in 1716, she accompanied him to Constantinople. Gaining access to female spaces in Turkey, she witnessed smallpox inoculations there and had her son immunized in the same way, using a small sample of the live virus that had killed her brother and caused severe scarring to her own face. The principle was adapted into what we now know as vaccination. Lady Mary later left her husband behind in England after falling for an Italian count, only returning after she was widowed. She wrote poetry, essays, and copious letters, many of which were published after her death, encouraging other ladies to travel as she had done.

DLS other co-founder Katy Derbyshire joins producer Susan Stone to introduce the featured Dead Lady. 

Continue reading “Podcast #49: Lady Mary Wortley Montagu”

Dead Ladies Show Deutsch: La Malinche Bonus-Episode

Mal was anderes: ab und zu produzieren wir außerhalb der Reihe eine deutschsprachige Podcastepisode! Diesmal erzählen Aurélie Maurin und Michael Ebmeyer anlässlich des Translationale-Festivals von einer ehemaligen Übersetzerin, die sagenumwobene La Malinche. Immer noch eine machtvolle Ikone in Mexiko, La Malinche war die versklavte Dolmetscherin zwischen dem spanischen Konquistador Hernán Cortés und den Menschen, die er zu unterwerfen suchte.

Der Vortrag basiert auf einer Performance von Aurélie Maurin und Maria Hummitzsch.

Continue reading “Dead Ladies Show Deutsch: La Malinche Bonus-Episode”

Podcast #48: Zaha Hadid

In our last episode of 2021, The DLS team of Susan Stone, Katy Derbyshire, and Florian Duijsens all come together to clink glasses of bubbly, and discuss our favorite Dead Lady news of the year.

Plus, DLS Producer and journalist Susan Stone presents our featured Dead Lady, architect Zaha Hadid.  Born in Baghdad, Zaha started her creative life early, designing her own clothes and furniture at the age of 7 or 8.  She studied at, then taught at, the Architectural Association School in London, where she honed her boundary-breaking skills and unmatchable style.

Both life and her designs threw a series of curves her way, but she excelled and inspired, becoming the first woman to with the Pritzker Architecture Prize, considered the Nobel Prize for architecture, as well as many more accolades and contracts, eventually designing everything from schools to shoes. Along the way she faced notable sexism and racism as one of few women and Arabs in the field. But she wowed critics, and created some of the most incredible buildings the world has ever seen before her death at the age of 65 in 2016.

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

Show notes:

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Dead Ladies Show #29

Here we are again! Bringing three new ladies to regale you with! Not outdoors, because it’s November, but with excellent ventilation and a strict 2G+ formula.
 
Next Tuesday, join our guest presenters, the impressive writers Asal Dardan and Hinemoana Baker, along with your beloved co-host Florian Duijsens, to learn about three women who changed the world. All held together by your other beloved co-host, Katy Derbyshire. There’ll be an anti-fascist adventurer, a convention-breaking writer, and a real lady of a lady who brought the idea of vaccination to Western Europe. We’ll be rocking the ACUD Studio as the night sets in, celebrating lives lived to great effect.
 
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. 2G+ entry only – so scannable proof of being either geimpft or genesen, plus a recent Burgertest. To ensure everybody’s safety and peace of mind, we will also ask you to wear a mask even while seated. Thank you for your understanding and support!

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OLGA BENÁRIO PRESTES was a Jewish communist from Munich, who joined the party at the age of 15. A youth instructor with military training and experience with jailbreaks, she was assigned as a bodyguard to her later husband and tasked with helping him return from the Soviet Union to Brazil. There, they were eventually arrested and the pregnant Olga was extradited to Nazi Germany, giving birth to her daughter in Barnimstrasse women’s prison. She was gassed with hundreds of other women political prisoners in 1942; her daughter is a professor of Brazilian history, still teaching occasionally in retirement.

by Lady Ottoline Morrell, vintage snapshot print, 1916-1917

KATHERINE MANSFIELD was an influential modernist writer from New Zealand. She wrote from a young age, leaving for England at 19. Dispatched to Bavaria after leading a fast-paced life in London, including various male and female lovers, she discovered Chekov and started writing in earnest, culminating in her first collection, “In a German Pension”. Back in England, World War I sparked her most prolific period, producing many short stories and poems. Her lasting legacy was partly published posthumously, following her early death of tuberculosis in the company of her “wife,” her fellow Bloomsbury Group writer Ida Baker, in Fontainebleau, France.

LADY MARY WORTLEY MONTAGU was an English aristocrat famed for her wit and beauty. When her husband became ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in 1716, she accompanied him to Constantinople. Gaining access to female spaces in Turkey, she witnessed smallpox inoculations there and had her son immunized in the same way, using a small sample of the live virus that had killed her brother and caused severe scarring to her own face. The principle was adapted into what we now know as vaccination. Lady Mary later left her husband behind in England after falling for an Italian count, only returning after she was widowed. She wrote poetry, essays, and copious letters, many of which were published after her death, encouraging other ladies to travel as she had done.

Podcast #47: Milena Jesenská

In this edition of the Dead Ladies Show Podcast, DLS co-founder Katy Derbyshire brings you the story of Milena Jesenská live from the stage of the Berlin translation festival Translationale, held at the Collegium Hungaricum. 

A journalist, writer, editor and translator, Milena Jesenská is often simply called “Kafka’s Milena” for her connection to the famous writer. But her life and work deserve far more attention. 

Born in Prague in the former Austria-Hungary, now Czech Republic, Milena Jesenská straddled cultures and languages, politics and ideologies. As part of an underground resistance, she helped many refugees to escape the dangers of National Socialism, but was captured by the Gestapo and died in a concentration camp in Germany. 

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

Show Notes:

Continue reading “Podcast #47: Milena Jesenská”

Podcast #46: Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven

In this edition of the Dead Ladies Show Podcast, DLS co-founder Florian Duijsens introduces us to the eccentric Dada artist Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. An eternally eclectic, German-born New Yorker, the Baroness was known for living life as a work of art, wearing a collage of found items, from tin cans to postage stamps to live birds, seducing almost everyone she met, and creating mind-blowing poetry and sculptures, yet never making any money off them. These days, she deserves some reclaimed recognition for creating the found art genre known as readymades, including a particular infamous sculpture credited to French artist Marcel Duchamp (or Marcel Dushit, as the Baroness called him.)

DLS other co-founder Katy Derbyshire joins producer/host Susan Stone to introduce the show, which was recorded in front of a live audience of enthusiastic college students as part of Bard College Berlin‘s student-organized Pankumenta festival back in 2019.

**This episode contains brief mentions of suicide and suicide attempts as well as some humorous profanity**

Also available on SpotifyApple PodcastsRadioPublicPocket CastsStitcherGoogle Podcasts, and Acast.

Notes:

Continue reading “Podcast #46: Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven”

Dead Ladies Show #28

We’re going live again! Dead ladies, live on stage, next Tuesday, October 5, 8pm at ACUD.

We’re going to try and do it outdoors but if the weather doesn’t play along we’ll move inside! We have limited space, so please book in advance via Eventbrite. 3G entry only – geimpft, genesen, getestet. In the event of rain, sleet, snow or cold weather, we’ll move indoors to the ACUD Studio, so please bring a mask to use when you’re not at your seat.

Join our guest presenters, awesome academic AGATA LISIAK and jubilant journalist THEMBI WOLF, along with our podcast producer SUSAN STONE, to learn about three fascinating females who shaped our world. All held together by your familiar hosts, FLORIAN DUIJSENS and KATY DERBYSHIRE. You’ll learn about three revolutionary women – in fields as diverse as politics, sex, and architecture. We’ll be rocking the ACUD courtyard as the sun goes down, celebrating ladies who changed other people’s lives.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €8 or €5 reduced entry. Generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7:30 pm – come on time to get a good seat!

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ROSA LUXEMBURG was a Polish Marxist and co-founder of the anti-war Spartacus League in 1915 Germany, which became the KPD. Having started out as a political activist at the age of 15, she had organized a general strike before she left school. She wrote prolifically and travelled widely in the service of the revolution, all while on the run from the tsarist police. Luxemburg moved to Berlin in 1898, where she “hated the stifling conservatism, despised Prussian men and resented what she saw as the grip of urban capitalism on social democracy.” After Germany’s 1918 revolution she was tortured, murdered and thrown in the Landwehr Canal by Freikorps soldiers. Today she has her own square, though, so there’s that.

DR. JUNE DOBBS BUTTS was an African-American sex researcher and therapist who argued for greater openness about sex in the Black community. The youngest of six daughters of a civil rights activist, she grew up playing with Martin Luther King Jr. After years of study and breakthrough research, she eventually had her own practice in Maryland, hosted a radio show, and wrote articles and columns for Black magazines like Jet, Ebony and Essence. “I realize that there are a lot of critics,” she said, “but I’ve found out that nine times out of 10 they have a sex hang-up themselves.”

ZAHA HADID was a British-Iraqi architect. Dubbed “the queen of the curve” and “a planet in her own orbit”, she received awards by the truckload for the buildings she left us. Hadid studied in Baghdad and London and opened her own firm in 1980, only three years after graduating. Many of her ambitious plans went unbuilt while she established her unique style, until she designed a fire station near the Rhine. From then on, her projects grew bigger and bigger (and often curvier). She taught and painted and designed interiors and products, and was also on the editorial board of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Podcast #45: Nana Yaa Asantewaa

In the first episode of our fifth podcast season, you’ll hear the Berlin-based British-Ghanaian author and political activist Sharon Dodua Otoo talking about her favourite woman who ever lived: Nana Yaa Asantewaa. This Asante queen led the 1900 war against British colonialism in present-day Ghana. When the British governor demanded the kingdom’s emblem of power, the Golden Stool, Nana Yaa Asantewaa encouraged the Asante government to fight back through a powerful speech, and was chosen to head an army of 5000 at the age of sixty.

Sharon gives us all the context of who, what, where and when – and tells us how important Nana Yaa Asantewaa is as a role model for her and many others. DLS co-founder Katy Derbyshire joins Susan Stone to introduce this fascinating talk.

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

You can read the transcript here.

Notes:

The Golden Stool
Statue showing the Golden Stool in Ghana

There aren’t many photos of Nana Yaa Asantewaa, but there’s this:

Not actually Nana Yaa Asantewaa, but the image most commonly associated with her

Sharon mentions two key books:

If you’d like to read Sharon’s own books in German or English, there are plenty to choose from.

Here’s where to watch Vanessa Danso’s The Legendary Nana Yaa Asantewaa. Or you could defeat the colonial masters guided by the queen herself in a live-action game, from the safety of your own home.

To finish off, here’s the school named after her, part of an impressive legacy.

Yaa Asantewaa Girls’ Senior High School, Kumasi

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon. Thanks for listening!

We’ll be back with a new episode in October.

Dead Ladies Show #27

Tuesday, 7 September

8:30 pm

We’re back! We’ve got new ladies to tell you about! And we’re doing it outdoors!

We’re tentatively extending a toe into the live-event waters, since it seems safe to us under Berlin’s restrictions. So come along and enjoy some fresh air and edifying entertainment.

Join our guest presenters, the awesome writers SHARON DODUA OTOO and NADIRE BISKIN, along with old stalwart KATY DERBYSHIRE, to learn about three fascinating females who did their own thing. All held together by our prodigious podcast producer SUSAN STONE. There’ll be a royal rebel against colonialist rule, a woman who rethought the binary and the borderland, and a lady who was seriously into bees. We’ll be rocking the ACUD courtyard as the sun goes down, celebrating lives lived to great effect.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €8 or €5 reduced entry. Generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 8 pm – come on time to get a good seat!

We have limited space, so please book in advance via Eventbrite. 3G entry only – geimpft, genesen, getestet. In the event of rain, we’ll move indoors to the ACUD Studio, so please bring a mask to use when you’re not at your seat.

YAA ASANTEWAA led the 1900 Ashanti war against British colonialism in present-day Ghana. Born in 1840, she was a skilled farmer and mother, before ascending matrilineally to the title of Queen Mother in the 1880s. That made her a key advisor and king-maker. When the British governor demanded the kingdom’s emblem of power, the Golden Stool, she encouraged the Ashanti government to fight back through a powerful speech, and was chosen to head an army of 5000 at the age of sixty. Though she was captured and died in exile, and the war was lost, her mortal remains were returned home for a royal burial. She lives on in many imaginations today, especially in Ghana.

GLORIA ANZALDÚA was an American scholar of Chicana cultural theory, feminist theory, and queer theory. Born in the Mexico-Texas border region, she thought deeply about marginalization and the in-between. She began her working life as a schoolteacher and went on to live from her writing and academic work. Her ideas often challenged binary notions – in language, identity, sexuality – and the status quo of the movements she was part of. She spoke of herself as a “Chicana, tejana, working-class, dyke-feminist poet, writer and theorist”. Her collection of figurines, masks, rattles, candles, and other ephemera used as altar objects is held at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

EVA CRANE was a British expert on bees and beekeeping. Her education took her from a southeast London grammar school to a PhD in nuclear physics, which she taught at Sheffield University. Having been given a beehive as a wedding present in 1942, she quickly shifted her attention from atoms to apiculture. She founded the Bee Research Association and edited both the Journal of Apicultural Research and Bee World, while travelling to sixty countries to investigate local bees and the long history of human honey cultivation. To the delight of many translators, she was also general editor of ten multilingual dictionaries of beekeeping terms.

Podcast #44: Irmgard Keun

In this episode of the podcast, DLS co-founder Katy Derbyshire introduces us to daring German writer Irmgard Keun. As an ingenue, Irmgard’s writing debut was much more consequent than her acting debut, and she garnered praise and a film adaptation. Her books explored women’s lives in Weimar-era Berlin with a humor all her own, which of course meant the Nazis banned them. There’s dark wit, wild parties in the face of danger, and fabulous costume changes — oh, and an unreliable narrator. It’s a bit of Babylon Berlin meets Cabaret, perhaps.

Irmgard Keun is also one of the original Dead Ladies (along with Dorothy Parker) that sparked the creation of the Dead Ladies Show in the first place!

Our other DLS co-creator Florian Duijsens joins podcast producer and host Susan Stone for the introducing duties in our last episode of DLSP Season Four!

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

Notes:

Irmgard looking dashing
Plaque marking where (and which actual year) she was born in Berlin
Young Irmgard
Irmgard basking in her big fur coat
Brigitte Helm in the film version of Gilgi, Eine von uns
and Helm in Metropolis
Stuck in Ostend with Joseph Roth
and free again in Nice
Reports of Irmgard’s death were greatly exaggerated
Irmgard’s rather intense interior in Cologne
Released from hospital!
And at the height of the Keunissance in the film version of After Midnight
Channel this energy next time someone tries to get you to work for free

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon. Thanks for listening!

We’ll be back with a new season and new episode in September.