Podcast #17: Ada Lovelace

Part 3 of our 4-part FRANKENFRAUEN miniseries, produced by Susan Stone in December 2018.

Professor Laura Scuriatti of Bard College Berlin presents the story of Ada Lovelace, accomplished mathematician. She fits into the Frankenstein puzzle by being the only legitimate child of Lord Byron, who was present at the story’s inception. But of course she achieved a whole lot without ever really meeting him. With a live intro from the Dead Ladies Show at the ACUD Studio.

Also available on Soundcloud, Spotify, iTunes, RadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and A Cast.

Show notes:

Here’s Ada in a little sparkly number, painted by Margaret Sarah Carpenter in 1836.

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Here’s a model Babbage made of the Analytical Engine that he and Ada worked towards, on display in London’s Science Museum.

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And a sketch of the full ballroom-sized thing, never made in real life:

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Laura recommends three great books to find out more about Ada: James Essinger’s Ada’s Algorithm; a collection of Ada’s own writing in the dOCUMENTA series 100 Notes – 100 Thoughts; and the graphic novel The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sidney Padua:

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Thanks for listening! Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon. Check out parts 1, 2 & 4 of our FRANKENFRAUEN miniseries for more fascinating women involved in some way with the classic story of Frankenstein.

Podcast #15: Mary Wollstonecraft

Part 1 of our 4-part special FRANKENFRAUEN miniseries, produced in December 2018 by Susan Stone.

Your beloved DLS co-host, translator extraordinaire Katy Derbyshire, gives us the low-down on proto-feminist and mother of Mary Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. With lots of live atmo from the stage presentation.

Also available on Soundcloud, Spotify, iTunes, RadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and A Cast.

Show notes

Here’s Mary, painted by John Opie. The studious look at the top of this post is from 1790-1 and the more relaxed portrait below is from 1797 or thereabouts.

Mary W 2

For contrast, here’s a fashionable lady with a lapdog from the 1780s, a portrait of Dona Maria Teresa Apodaca de Sisma by Agustín Esteve:

Lapdog lady

Clearly, you’ll want to read Mary’s classic proto-feminist text, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. We recommend this annotated edition, edited by the excellent Janet Todd.

And if you want to find out more about Mary herself, try Claire Tomalin’s now-classic The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft.

Follow the progress of – or donate to – the campaign to get a statue of Mary put up on Newington Green, where she first led an independent life. Mary on the Green! And here’s what that statue will look like, designed by Maggi Hambling:


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Thanks for listening! Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon. Check out parts 2 to 4 of our FRANKENFRAUEN series for more fascinating women involved in some way with the classic story of Frankenstein.

Dead Ladies Show New York Edition #1

The very first NYC edition brings you not just your usual three ladies, but an extra bonus lady as well! These incredible women include a radical Catholic, a history-making dressmaker, a forward-thinking chemist, and a codebreaker extraordinaire. Presented by marketing maven MARY KATE SKEHAN, fashion guru CANDACE MUNROE, doctor and performer CHIOMA MADUBATA, and your host, MOLLY O’LAUGHLIN. Join us as we toast these groundbreaking women at the KGB Bar on Wednesday, 5 September, at 7pm.

Free admission; please buy a drink or two to ensure the future of DLS NYC at KGB.

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Dorothy Day

DOROTHY DAY was a journalist, social activist, and political radical in New York in the 20th century. During the Great Depression, she founded the Catholic Worker Movement, a pacifist and social justice movement comprised of direct aid for the poor and nonviolent political action on their behalf. The Catholic Worker Movement continues to be active throughout the world. Day is a candidate for sainthood in the Catholic Church.

Ann Lowe

ANN LOWE dressed pirate queens, American royalty, and silver screen starlets during her career that spanned over 50 years. Born in the South, to a long line of dressmakers, she took over the family business at the age of 16 by designing a gown for the Governor of Alabama’s wife. She worked her way from Alabama to a studio on Madison Avenue. Her work is featured in museums around the country, including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and CUlture adn the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Rosalind Franklin

ROSALIND FRANKLIN’s research helped elucidate the structure of DNA, the molecule that determines the growth, development, and reproduction of all living things. She was a chemist and an expert in X-ray crystallography whose results were essential in Watson & Crick’s final model of DNA—but her data were shared with them without her knowledge, much less consent. Franklin also studied viruses, visualizing the first viral atomic structures and studying the structure of polio. At age 38, she died of ovarian cancer, possibly due to her long work with X-rays. During her lifetime, fellow scientists recognized her valuable work on coal structures and viruses. However, her essential work on DNA has only recently been recognized.

Elizebeth Smith Friedman

Through the course of ELIZEBETH SMITH FRIEDMAN’s lifetime, she went from being a Quaker schoolteacher in Indiana to being a master cryptanalyst whose work laid the foundations for the NSA. She went up against Shakespeare conspiracy theorists, rumrunners, and even J. Edgar Hoover. Her work in World War II helped prevent the Nazis from taking over South America, but nearly all of it was a national secret until after her death.

Pics from Show #17

A few highlights from our June show, including Isabel Cole and Binnur Çavuşlu, Bettina von Arnim, Halide Edip Adıvar, Anne Lister, and some of our gorgeous guests from the audience. Thanks to Rosalie Delaney for the photos.

Dead Ladies Show #16

Spring is upon us, so we’re celebrating renewal with a killer combination of dead dames. And this time, we reckon you’ve probably heard of at least one of them! We bring you a Berlin-born film director and animator, a translator of Dante who wrote a spot of classy crime fiction on the side, and a fairly famous Mexican artist, presented by journalist and podcast producer Susan Stone, your regular co-host Florian Duijsens, and storytelling shero Dorothea Martin. All kept on the rails by your other beloved co-host, Katy Derbyshire. Think fairytale outfits and a whole lot of skulls and flowers, as we raise a glass of something to three thrilling women at the ACUD STUDIO on 24 April, 8pm.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5 or €3 reduced entry. Now generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7:30 pm – come on time to get a good seat!

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Lotte-Reiniger

LOTTE REINIGER was born in Charlottenburg in 1899 and went on to combine her two youthful passions, silhouette puppetry and cinema, making the world’s oldest surviving animated feature film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926). A whizz with the scissors, she made more than 45 films using her animated cutouts and special camera technique, most on fairytale themes. In 1933, she and her husband left the Germany of Bertolt Brecht, Max Reinhardt, and Fritz Lang and spent eleven years trying to get permanent residency in London, Paris, and Rome, before reluctantly returning to Berlin to care for Reiniger’s elderly mother. She won major awards for her life’s work, and also has her own star on the pavement at Potsdamer Platz.

Skull

DOROTHY L. SAYERS 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.

Frida_Kahlo,_by_Guillermo_Kahlo

Does FRIDA KAHLO need an introduction? Probably every feminist’s favourite 20th-century folk-art-inspired Mexican Communist painter, she found a visual language for the pain of her physical and mental existence, using her art to raise questions about identity that don’t feel dated today. Her very face has become iconic – Fridamaniacs can buy Frida Kahlo socks, shoes, nail varnish, cookbooks, tarot cards, aprons, tequila, and anything and everything in between. In June, London’s V&A Museum will be showing her personal artifacts and clothing for the first time outside of Mexico. But who was she?

 

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Dead Ladies Show #14

Dead Ladies Show number 14 brings you three out-and-out rebellious ladies who took their lives in their own hands and gave us great art: an East German writer who found recognition and then disapproval in the West, a painter who shaped both Surrealism and feminism, and one of the most influential blues musicians of all time. Presented by top Berlin writer ANNETT GRÖSCHNER, Australian author JESSICA MILLER, and your favourite regular, FLORIAN DUIJSENS. Co-host KATY DERBYSHIRE will be holding the reins and welcoming you all. So throw caution to the wind, embrace your inner rebel, and raise a glass to a trio of fabulous females with us in the ACUD STUDIO on 21 November, 8pm.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5 or €3 reduced entry. Now generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7:30 – come on time to get a good seat!

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Our dead Berliner this time round is CHRISTA REINIG, born right here in 1926. A working-class lesbian writer, her remarkable life took her from Trümmerfrau to floristry to museum curating, all the while refusing to conform to authority. Having been banned from publishing her work in the GDR, she got her poems and stories into print in the West. In 1964, she went to West Germany to accept a literary award – and never went back. The 1970s saw her discovering feminism, finding a sometimes satirical voice to articulate women’s experiences and ways to write poetry about lesbian love. But – surprise! – the literary establishment wasn’t much into that. Christa Reinig is remembered for her “life-affirming sarcasm” and brash, Berlin-style charm.

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The painter and novelist LEONORA CARRINGTON was born in England but spent most of her adult life in Mexico. Even as a child, art offered her a way out of the constraints of her family’s expectations, and she was soon drawn to Surrealism – and the artist Max Ernst. Not one to settle for muse status, Carrington began painting and sculpting in the Surrealist style. She also wrote to deal with the blows life threw at her, from incarceration in an asylum to aging while female. In Mexico, she became a fêted political artist and helped begin the country’s Women’s Liberation movement. She received the ultimate posthumous honour in 2015, with a painting of hers made into a Google Doodle.

Tobacco-chewing blues singer MEMPHIS MINNIE ran away from home at the age of 13 and made a living off music from then on, from street performances supplemented by prostitution to hundreds of now classic recordings. It was said she never put her guitar down until she could no longer hold it in her hands, and she was known to use it as a weapon when required. Her songs were about the joys and hardships of everyday black life; according to the poet Langston Hughes, she played “music with so much in it folks remember, that sometimes it makes them holler out loud.” Largely forgotten for many years while white men covered her songs, she is now celebrated for her huge contribution to blues music and what came after.

 

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Dead Ladies Show #13

The Dead Ladies Show is a series of entertaining and inspiring presentations on women who achieved amazing things against all odds. Every two months, the show hosts three passionate cheerleaders of too-oft forgotten women, inviting its loyal audience into a sexy séance (of sorts) celebrating these impressive icons, their turbulent lives, and deathless legacies.

Our 13th event showcases three such extraordinary ladies who pushed the boundaries of their times: a poet and Afro-German activist, a pioneering doctor who took a liberal view of female sexuality, and a silent movie star who wowed crowds in a lavish 1917 version of Cleopatra, now lost for all eternity. Our presenters are the award-winning German writer DAVID WAGNER, Dublin/Berlin-based columnist ALIX BERBER, and your beloved co-host KATY DERBYSHIRE. And of course our master of ceremonies, FLORIAN DUIJSENS, will ensure the evening’s entertainment runs smoothly. So put on your glad rags and raise a glass with us in the ACUD STUDIO on 26 September, 8pm.

Launching our year of dead Berliners is MAY AYIM, who made our fine city her home in 1984. She was a founding member of the Initiative of Black People in Germany a year later, and published the groundbreaking book Showing Our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out soon afterwards. Ayim trained as a speech therapist and taught at university level, but she’s remembered for her work on Afro-German history and her unmasking of racism – and for her moving poetry which explores her own memory and identity and those of others.

ANNA FISCHER-DÜCKELMANN was one of the first women to study medicine, running a clinic for women and children in Dresden for many years. She wrote books on reforming women’s clothing, women’s sexuality, and gynecology, plus a popular illustrated guide to medicine for women. Keeping her maiden name after marriage, Fischer-Dückelmann championed both natural remedies and women’s rights. “Women’s equality,” she wrote, “is the key to a new heavenly realm of love.”

The silent movie actress THEDA BARA rose to become Fox Studios’ biggest star prior to the 1920s, often cast as a vamp. Yet she also played Shakespearean roles like Juliet and Cleopatra. In pre-code Hollywood, she was known for her skimpy costumes and early sex-symbol status. Criticized for her dark roles – from gang moll to Princess Zara of the South Seas – she responded: “I will continue doing vampires as long as people sin.” Although she made more than 40 silent films, very few of them have survived.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5 or €3 reduced entry. Now generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7:30 – come on time to get a good seat!