For this video that forms part of my university assessment requirements, I decided to focus on the way that crowdfunding in combination with low-cost media production such as podcasting allows for the creation of democratized media that caters to voices that are underrepresented in mass-marketed media. I decided to highlight two podcasts that are successfully covering their costs using Patreon as a crowdfunding model. In order to identify these podcasts, I put a message out on a podcaster forum and asked if anyone hosting a podcast that prioritizes discourse surrounding representation was successfully crowdfunding. I received several affirmative replies, but due to time constraints, I decided to choose two that demonstrated different approaches to representation and who have had slightly different funding models. They are also two podcasts that I listen to so I was pretty sure that the content they were providing was illustrative of my point.
I then organized and practised filming and delivering my script at a local wildlife reserve, but in the end, I was too self-conscious to use much of that footage. I had always planned to use slide images as a mode of delivering key points so that wasn’t going to change, but I needed to come up with a new way of conveying the bulk of the information. I ended up filming a bit of footage at home that I am not particularly happy with, but I’m pretty uncomfortable with video as a format so I’m not sure how I could have overcome this particular challenge.
I used the free music archive as it is a database of music that I am relatively comfortable navigating. I tried to find something a bit more upbeat but I’m happy with my music choice as it is appropriate and I think fits the video. I was unclear as to whether fading a track in or out constitutes modifying the track so I passed on some of the other music I liked as it was strictly no alterations. The track I settled on Impossibly by Small Tall Order was available to use under an Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike license. I contemplated using creative commons images but instead, I thought I would try to create the content myself, on reflection if I had of incorporated some creative commons images earlier on it may have made the video more professional.
As I began to focus my essay on the democratization of media due to crowdfunding I realized that I was skewing towards online activism so I thought that I should probably do my due diligence and incorporate some scholarly research about the need for media representation. As a result, my scholarly resources cover different elements of the video. Markham (2012) explores podcast motivations and allowed me to assert the relevance of the medium for representational discourse. Erlick (2018) shows how crowdfunding can foster trans positive discourse and Carstensen (2009) argues for the need for continued representational discourse. In a longer form, I would have liked to unpacked these scholarly sources and their implications a bit better, but I really wanted to include illustrative examples, so I sacrificed the scholarly discourse in order to make the content more accessible. I’m not sure that I succeeded.
I have definitely learnt my limitations when it comes to visual media. I am definitely not comfortable with being in videos and if I need to do this in future I will need to overcome that anxiety. Personally, though I think I will stick to audio mediums, because, as the expression goes; I have a face for radio.
Carstensen, T 2009. ‘Gender Trouble in Web 2.0. Gender perspectives on social network sites, wikis and weblogs.’ International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology, vol. 1, no.1, retrieved 5th May 2018,
Look I make poor dietary decisions on the regular, so it’s probably not particularly surprising that as soon as local restaurants in our smallish rural city started operating through Eat Now I took advantage of this new and exciting way to be incredibly lazy and eat bad food.
One day I realised that for every order, I placed I was earning points… points towards what I have no idea, but this is just a poorly executed version of gamification.
Gamification is the practice of applying traditionally video or computer game elements to everyday experiences. Accruing points towards a goal, levelling up or completing challenges out of the context of a game still ignites that competitive spirit that keeps us pushing to achieve the next goal.
One industry that has embraced gamification is the education industry. Even on the Deakin Cloud, we are encouraged to fill completion bars and achieve goals through quizzes. I’ve enlisted some help to find out more about the user experience of gamification in education at a primary school level…
Games like Mathletics are made available to kids all over the world with over 5 million students learning through games aimed to maximise learning and keep them focused. There are similar online tools such as ABC’s Reading Eggs for early literacy.
Important components in gamification for the purposes of education include setting realistic targets that cater to children at different academic levels, too hard and they will give up, too easy and they won’t be learning, or they may just get bored and wander off.
Gamification isn’t just about academic learning teachers can use tools like Class Dojo to introduce gamification into the realm of behaviour modification. Kids get their own “monster” avatar and every time they do something great, academically or behaviorally they get awarded a prize. Many of these teachers tools have an influence outside the school, with tools like class dojo sharing a students progress with parents and with learning tools like Mathletics children can access the games from home.
Teachers have been using charts and points systems for years to encourage and engage students but digital gamification presents children and teachers with a multitude of ways to interact with learning environments in the classroom and at home.
As students move beyond primary school they ways that they interact with technology becomes more complex and gamification can be decentralised according to specific areas of study. For example, the ABC’s online education hub provides educational games such as the history orientated QED Cosmo’s Casebook and the geography and conservation game Resort Rescue that cater to students studying different subjects.
The key factors that need to be established in order to achieve effective behavioural, educational and professional goals include:
Some method of tracking user progress such as levels or a progress bar.
A clearly identified loop of behaviour. For example, good behaviour gets rewarded prompting good behaviour which gets rewarded.
The rewards need to be limited so the user strives to achieve new goals, unlocking new rewards.
Attachment and ownership of a game element such as an avatar
It is easy to see how these elements are applied to Mathletics and the other educational tools
The adventure by Komiku is licensed under a CC0 1.0 Universal License.
Good Fellow by Komiku is licensed under a CC0 1.0 Universal License.
Poupi’s Theme by Komiku is licensed under a CC0 1.0 Universal License.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while you will know that I’ll often post uni work that is relevant to the literature, podcasting and writing nonsense that you will often find here. This time my first assessment is a blog post. This blog post.
I was going to try not to do this assignment on podcasts, but it is basically all I do.
I don’t watch TV or movies, I listen to Podcasts.
I get on social media to talk about podcasts.
I read books, but only so I can talk about them on my podcast.
I have a podcast problem. It started about 4 years ago.
I have always loved audio books, I grew up with storybook cassettes (I can still quote the entirety of the Lion King audiobook, just saying), then moved on to Amazon’s Audible app as an adult (all because I wanted that free copy of “The Chicken Gave it To Me” because I am an adult person who has definitely moved past my childhood reading list).
I think I knew about podcasts or they were at the very least on the periphery of my consciousness. I knew Ricky Gervais had one, and that BBC released their radio dramas as podcasts, but it wasn’t until Serial that I downloaded a podcast app. Serial definitely had a huge impact on the mainstream acceptance of the podcast as entertainment and has inspired a whole host of incredibly popular true crime podcasts, with true crime being one of the most, if not the most popular podcast genres (Bruzzi, 2016). Serial had me hooked, from there I went on to audio dramas like The Black Tapes and horror comedy podcasts like Last Podcast on The Left.
Then I discovered the often silly, very nerdy underbelly of the podcast world. I discovered the smaller podcasts that sprouted up in the wake of Serial and My Favorite Murder, and the indie podcasts that had been there the whole time but by virtue of not being true crime had only amassed a modest, albeit devoted following. It can be tough out there if you aren’t a crime related podcast as there is a huge swing in listenership towards true crime as a genre (Bruzzi, 2016).
I became a serial subscriber, I would, and still do subscribe to anything, listen to a few episodes and only delete it when the unlistened to episodes number in double, sometimes triple digits. I also began to engage with other fans of these podcasts and often the hosts themselves on Facebook and Twitter.
I work listening to podcasts, I walk listening to podcasts, if I could read listening to podcasts I would (and sometimes do if Librivox has a copy of the book up). There was a day about a month ago in which I thought I could listen to West Cork and parent at the same time, I was wrong.
“Oh, by the way, have I told you about my podcast…”
We started making The FrankenPod in December 2017, and released our first episode in on January 2018, and we have a bit of a following, but the most meaningful outcome of blasting another podcast into the 500,000 others out there (Lopez, 2018) that has surprised me the most is the online podcasting community.
According to Markham (2012) one of the most commonly cited reasons for podcasting community fostered through producing, promoting and creating, and that has certainly been our experience. Within a week of us releasing our first episode, I had an email from Nick who hosts Nick and Vince’s Podcast asking us if we wanted to come on their show and talk about Frankenstein.
I often interact with the podcast community in Facebook groups set up for podcast promotion, or to share podcasting resources such as Underdog Podcasts and Lady Pod Squad. Both of these groups also have Twitter hashtags that you can attach to podcasts as a signal to other “Under Dog” or “Lady” podcasters to retweet and promote, under the understanding that you will do the same for them.
The Twitter interactions between podcasts can move in genre groups. As our podcast, The FrankenPod is about gothic books and cinema and our relationships with other podcasters have not really stayed within that genre, but it is easier to collaborate with people who are doing something similar to what you are doing. The special interest groups tend to interact more closely together but podcasters will often promote across genre. Twitter has been my main point of contact with other podcasters and those interactions have allowed us to guest on other podcasts and set up some wonderful interviews with other podcasters.
The most valuable part of these interactive relationships with other podcasters is the relationships that are forged (Markham, 2012). Aside from everything else I have met some amazing, generous and intelligent people who love what they do. Podcasting is like a long rambling conversation with people across the world, many of them alone under doonas with a microphone to block out the noise of the outside world.
It sounds a bit sad, but really it is a very beautiful way to nerd out with other people who enjoy the same very specific stupid set of things that you do.
Eat → Sleep → Podcast → Repeat
Podcasts not mentioned that should be:
If I’m going to go ahead and talk about podcast promotions I would be remiss if I didn’t shout out the independent podcasts I love who I haven’t name-checked so here are some of my #ff and episode release posts from the past few weeks.
The film Nosferatueine Symphonie des Grauens (1922) which is used in the Tweet GIFs is out of copyright according to section 94 of the “Copyright Act 1968” (Australia Government, 2017) which states that copyright extends 70 years after publication took place.
I listen to a LOT of podcasts. I started with Serial as I think a lot of people did and it was the gateway drug into a full blown podcast problem. Lately, since we released our own podcast really, I’ve been exposed to a world of indie podcasts that I just wouldn’t have heard about otherwise. It’s really easy to get caught in a bit of a feedback loop, and for these podcasts to only reach audiences that largely consist of other indie podcasts struggling to be noticed. Everyone in the community is very supportive but it can be hard to be heard. I’m going to try to write a post once a week to shine a light on some of these wonderful podcasts. This week HISTORY!
Here are some amazing podcasts you should definitely listen to and subscribe to that have a historical flavour:
Maxwell takes you on historical adventures tied to artifacts and lost treasures. It’s like a better informed Indiana Jones without pilfering the important artifacts of another culture… actually it’s not like Indiana Jones at all.
This is the blog post for our episode Decorative Sex – The Picture of Dorian Gray in which we explore Oscar Wilde’s construction of a unique gothic monster, Mr Dorian Gray. Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray has an esteemed place within the gothic literary canon despite the fact that Wilde may have adopted the tropes of the gothic genre as a kind of set dressing similar to the way that Jane Austen uses gothic tropes in order to satirise Mysteries of Udolpho, and ends up accidentally crafting a superior gothic tale in Northanger Abbey.
In a world of dance cards, chaperones and presentations, the sexuality of Victorians were very heavily regulated. Women were not supposed to enjoy sex, and love and marriage were still not quite synonymous. There is a thinly veiled and thriving gay community that was common knowledge but not commonly acknowledged.
It is in this time of formality, etiquette and highlighted class division that Oscar Wilde unleashes the pleasure-seeking missile that is Dorian Gray. The Picture of Dorian Gray bridges the gap between our idea of uptight Victorian society and the seedy underbelly concealed just below the surface. The story was first published in Lippincott’s monthly magazine in 1890, the publisher feared that the story would insight public outrage and 500 words were deleted prior to publication. Despite this censorship, the story offended mainstream Victorian sensibilities and was reprinted in censored, revised and lengthened form in 1891.
For this episode, I read the edited, and by all reports significantly less scandalous, 1891 novel. In the book after a very revealing preface, which I discussed in a mini-episode called “A Quick Word With Mr Wilde” we are introduced to Sir Henry, a voyeuristic, amoral character with a knack for corruption and manipulation and his friend Basil Hallward a sincere and dedicated artist who has become enraptured with a young man called Dorian Gray who has become his muse. Basil does not want to introduce the impressionable Dorian to Sir Henry for fear that he will lead him astray.
Dorian is a Sulky Pain. He is as you might have guessed the protagonist of the piece, but he is very much not our hero. There are however a series of heroes who present themselves and are vanquished during the process of the story. I’m not going to get into too many plot points in this article but surface to say in the end it is Dorian’s own conscience, such as it is, that eventually defeats him, not the series of well-meaning, kind-hearted people who he evades, destroys or ruins during the course of the story.
This seems to have translated into the film, however, the film needs a force of inextinguishable good and in this case, the force of good injected into the story is Emma, Sir Henry Wotton’s daughter. She is a character who just plain doesn’t exist in the novel. Wilde’s story is much more troubling and complex in that Sir Henry, arguably the most corrupting human force outside of Dorian himself is the only pivotal character to survive the story.
Sir Henry is, well, the worst. He is flippant, immoral and entitled. He is the personification of how Oscar Wilde’s beloved aestheticism can go horribly wrong. He cares incredibly little for those around him, instead of pursuing pleasure and vice in any manner that suits him. Dorian is a good looking guy, so Sir Henry Wotton sets upon actively corrupting him. I really Don’t think Wilde meant for Sir Henry to be as deeply objectionable as he is. Like Frankenstein, I think that through the lens of our 21st century thinking these two men come off as privileged and unchecked. While the characters are very different I think they fall victim to the same fate, their author’s simply could not have foreseen how the
In discussing Sir Henry we have to have a chat about the Male Gaze.
The Male Gaze
The male gaze is a thing in The Picture of Dorian Gray. Okay, that is an understatement. The male gaze is THE thing in The Picture of Dorian Gray. It is the chief motivation of the vast majority of the characters and the catalyst that spurs on most of the action. Males objectifying males, males objectifying females, the whole novel the fraught with depictions of people beholding others as a spectacle of beauty or ugliness. In the case that anyone is judged by anything other than beauty, it is to dismiss them by means of class judgement or by virtue of poor reputation. The men in the text are unrivalled and unquestioned in their position of power and their ability to be standard bearers by which all others are judged.
Beauty is conflated with morality and innocence, and ugliness is conflated with immorality and degradation. The picture absorbs the ugliness that is presumed would manifest itself on Dorian through the ravages of time and the evilness of his deeds. But even with the supernatural assistance of an enchanted picture, there are still signifiers that Dorian’s pure beauty has been compromised. The signifiers are subtle such as the changing of the adjective for his hair from “golden” in his time of innocence to “yellow” when his virtue has been compromised.
As for Dorian’s acts of cruelty and indulgence, they are somewhat underwhelming to a
modern audience but his vices and scandals, though slightly hidden and coded behind Wilde’s flawless use of metaphor and innuendo, would have been somewhat shocking to Victorian readers. His treatment of Sybil, however, still seems cruel and inhumane to a modern audience. He chastises her for not living up to his unrealistic expectations of her, and rather than being delighted in her love for him, or even a little disappointed in her performance but ultimately unchanged in his affections, he completely tears her down for being distracted by the notion of a future with him. How dare she not be able to act? Dorian shows himself to be an absolute arse. Who cares if she can’t act! He supposedly loves her but she gives one shitty performance and the glass shatters.
The Fate of Sybil Vane
It is, of course, a horrible irony that his false love for her has lead to her perceiving everything that she would leave behind in being with him to be false. He completely upends her life, making him her whole world and then takes that whole world away. He is culpable in her death to the extent that anyone who has exerted emotional cruelty is responsible for the events that they set in motion. His ignorance and self-centeredness is, of course, no excuse, but he does not have a direct hand in her death and it is not until he kills the creator of the painting, Basil Hallward that he becomes an actual murderer.
From the moment Sybil Vane is introduced in the book we are hit with wave after wave of foreshadowing. It becomes pretty clear that this relationship is doomed. Dorian drags his two friends along to one of Sybil’s performances in an attempt to convince Basil and Henry of her genius, which is a hard task as Henry makes it very clear early on that he believes women are quote “a decorative sex”. The direct quote goes
“My dear boy, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals.”
To which Dorian cries “Harry How can you?”
And Henry continues
“My dear Dorian, it is quite true. I am analysing women at present, so I ought to know. The subject is not so abstruse as I thought it was. I find that, ultimately, there are only two kinds of women, the plain and the coloured. The plain women are very useful. If you want to gain a reputation for respectability, you have merely to take them down to supper. The other women are very charming. They commit one mistake, however. They paint in order to try and look young. Our grandmothers painted in order to try and talk brilliantly. Rouge and esprit used to go together. That is all over now. As long as a woman can look ten years younger than her own daughter, she is perfectly satisfied. As for conversation, there are only five women in London worth talking to, and two of these can’t be admitted into decent society.”
Poor Sybil meanwhile is telling her brother, James, and her mother how much she loves Dorian who she only knows as prince charming which is a red flag right there. If you are seeing a guy who only wants to be known as prince charming you need to get the fuck out of there. Dorian has changed this 16-year-old girl’s perception of the world so much that she has trouble pulling together the enthusiasm for pretending to fall in love with the balding middle-aged guy playing Romeo, and consequently gives a shitty performance. Dorian is embarrassed and confronts her, basically calling off the arrangement due to her crappy performance which has got to be one of the worst reviews in history.
And Poor Basil. Poor smitten, sappy Basil. He pretty much saw disaster on the horizon but was powerless to stop it. He knew how shitty Sir Henry was, and although he was blind to Dorian’s true nature he certainly saw his potential for corruption.
Is Wilde being funny when he depicts the death of Basil in the 13th chapter or is he being poetic?
I refuse to believe that Wilde was not conscious of this fortuitous coincidence, and it certainly marks the downward spiral upon which Dorian will slowly begin to descend. He begins to lose his grip on reality and starts in motion the events that will lead to his demise at his own hand.
I adore Oscar Wilde and hopefully, I can find a relatively fleshed out adaptation of “The Portrait of Mr W.H.” that we can cover in a later episode as that is one of my absolute favourite of Wilde’s stories. Wilde’s relationship to Victorian masculinity and the almost exclusively homosocial relationships in many of his books is reflective of a life torn between his desire for and love of other men and his feeling of obligation and love for his traditional Victorian family. As a man who dared to defy convention, despite his attempt to avoid direct public scrutiny for his personal life, no sooner did he begin to enjoy the success and acclaim that he deserved, he became a man under siege. The Picture of Dorian Gray was written before Wilde met the man whose family would shepherd in his downfall, Lord Alfred Douglas. The book, however, is seen by many Wilde fans as foreshadowing the relationship between the writer and the young lord. Dorian is young, attractive and, by the end of the book irredeemably corrupted, Lord Alfred Douglas was young, attractive, frequented sex workers and was a little less naive than his partner Wilde. It is Basil’s relationship with Dorian that is his downfall and one could certainly draw parallels between Basil and Wilde, but I think he would like to think he had the quicker wit of Sir Henry.
That young Lord Alfred Douglas, or Bosie, was the self-absorbed tornado that turned Wilde’s life upside down, or even that he was some sort of diabolical architect of Wilde’s destruction is to potentially oversimplify what is a real human relationship between two people. To paint Wilde as simply an unwitting victim is to do little justice to the author’s intelligence. I think there is one thing most people agree on…
John Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry was a nasty piece of work. The originator of the Queensbury rules of boxing, father of the aforementioned Bosie and all around hyper-masculine bastard, he is the one who started making public accusations against Wilde which lead to public scrutiny and the potential destruction of his career. Rather foolishly Wilde sued for libel, and in the process of trying to prove that Queensbury’s accusations of “Gross Indecency” were groundless, he gave the state enough cause to prosecute him. Wilde was given a heads up and it is implied that he was given a chance to flee, but he did not. Much is made of his motives to stay and face the criminal charges that would send him to gaol in 1895. This is not a great rundown of events, have a look at the references for better sources of information.
The Final Passages of The Picture of Dorian Gray
He looked round and saw the knife that had stabbed Basil Hallward. He had cleaned it many times, till there was no stain left upon it. It was bright, and glistened. As it had killed the painter, so it would kill the painter’s work, and all that that meant. It would kill the past, and when that was dead, he would be free. It would kill this monstrous soul-life, and without its hideous warnings, he would be at peace. He seized the thing, and stabbed the picture with it.
There was a cry heard, and a crash. The cry was so horrible in its agony that the frightened servants woke and crept out of their rooms. Two gentlemen, who were passing in the square below, stopped and looked up at the great house. They walked on till they met a policeman and brought him back. The man rang the bell several times, but there was no answer. Except for a light in one of the top windows, the house was all dark. After a time, he went away and stood in an adjoining portico and watched.
“Whose house is that, Constable?” asked the elder of the two gentlemen.
“Mr. Dorian Gray’s, sir,” answered the policeman.
They looked at each other, as they walked away, and sneered. One of them was Sir Henry Ashton’s uncle.
Inside, in the servants’ part of the house, the half-clad domestics were talking in low whispers to each other. Old Mrs. Leaf was crying and wringing her hands. Francis was as pale as death.
After about a quarter of an hour, he got the coachman and one of the footmen and crept upstairs. They knocked, but there was no reply. They called out. Everything was still. Finally, after vainly trying to force the door, they got on the roof and dropped down on to the balcony. The windows yielded easily—their bolts were old.
When they entered, they found hanging upon the wall a splendid portrait of their master as they had last seen him, in all the wonder of his exquisite youth and beauty. Lying on the floor was a dead man, in evening dress, with a knife in his heart. He was withered, wrinkled, and loathsome of visage. It was not till they had examined the rings that they recognized who it was.
For more information and much clearer articulation of the intricacies of The Picture of Dorian Gray and the life of Oscar Wilde see the below references:
We try to trace a line from a from our topic to Frankenstein and Gothic literature. This week it’s pretty simple. The gothic preoccupation with death and confronting the gruesome fate of the body after death is explored in a wide variety of texts vampire and zombie fiction explores ideas of the undead, corpses that come back to prey on the living and ghosts and spectres present a more ethereal threat which occurs when the soul or spirit is separated from the physical body at death. Relating our topic to Frankenstein is even simpler; How did Frankenstein get his corpses?
We’re going to talk about body snatchers, grave robbers and the Resurrectionists today. This post will have information from my research, for Courtney’s research I would highly recommend listening to the episode.
Courtney hosts a podcast with her best friend Ashley called The Cult of Domesticity. They explore intriguing, disturbing and entertaining stories of true crime, disaster and history.
Body Snatchers – A 19th-century Origin Story
In the early 1800s, surgery and anatomical study were flourishing. Hundreds of young doctors studied diligently in medical schools, and many I dare say substantially less diligently. Theoretical knowledge of what squidgy bit did what and which bits to cut was all well and good, but what they really `needed to hone their skills was an actual human body to dissect.
Today cadavers are often donors who give their bodies to science. But the people Regency and Victorian England were quite a bit more religious and superstitious. Donations were not forthcoming.
The only legitimate source of cadavers was from the gallows. Criminals sentenced to death would be sent to medical schools as subjects.
This had some drawbacks. For a start, all of the subjects died from the same cause. Second, the bodies had to be dissected very quickly as preservation techniques were pretty much non-existent. Third this influx of cadavers was not nearly enough to keep all the schools supplied.
As tends to happen when something is in high demand and heavily regulated, a black market sprung up to fill the need. Grave Robbers, Body Snatchers, The Resurrectionists, whatever you call them, they began making a tidy profit from digging up fresh graves and selling the cadavers to medical institutions and schools.
The need for fresh cadavers meant that thieves would often hover just out of sight while the funeral was still in progress.
Grieving families started alarming their loved one’s graves, or keeping vigil until the cadaver was useless to the body snatchers.
In summer medical schools undertook fewer dissections because the heat made it harder to store bodies. A fresh cadaver could fetch 8 pounds. In winter the schools conducted way more dissections so demand was higher and you could get 10 pounds a corpse. That is about one thousand American dollars and one thousand and two hundred Australian dollars at the time of recording.
But Robbing Graves was becoming a high-risk venture, and before long people started resorting to other means for obtaining a fresh corpse.
In England The anatomist William Harvey who was famous for discovering the circulatory system dissected his father and sister after their death. The London Burkers killed three boys and attempted to sell them to an anatomist who blew the whistle on them. At least one of the trio claimed to have robbed between 500- 1000 graves.
And in Edinburgh Scotland Burke and Hare had a system.
Scotland’s Fresh Cadaver Delivery Service
It all started in 1827 when a lodger called Donald died in the boarding house Hare ran. Having heard there was money to be made in selling fresh corpses they brought the guy from upstairs to a guy called Doctor Robert Knox who needed a supply of bodies for his anatomy lectures. Hare rationalized this by reminding himself and Burke that Donald owed him four pounds in unpaid rent.
Knox paid them seven pounds and 10 shillings. This was no small amount. And bolstered by the windfall they went back to their jobs.
When another lodger called Joseph contracted some sort of fever Hare became concerned she might deter lodgers.
So he called over his mate burke and they suffocated him with a pillow and sold his body to Knox.
The next victim is an unnamed Englishman selling tinder and matches who fell ill with jaundice while staying at the boarding house.
They developed a new method that they would use for most of the subsequent victims. Hare smothered the man’s face with his hand and Burke lay on top of him to prevent him from moving and flailing around noisily. Again Hare said he did it, for the good of this business…. Because you know the non-contagious condition of jaundice might scare away customers. In no way was it motivated by the 10 pounds they got for from Knox.
Abigail Simpson possibly next, accounts differ. She was a pensioner, who also sold salt and was travelling from the village of Gilmerton. They got her drunk and shoved her in a tea chest and sold her to Knox.
Maybe a month later Hare’s wife lured in an old lady and got her so drunk she passed out, Hare then covered her mouth and nose with a mattress cover and left her to slowly suffocate. Again Knox took the body, no questions asked.
It was then Burke’s turn to lure Janet Brown and Mary Paterson with alcohol. They went on a bender together, eventually ending up at Burke’s brother’s house. His Brother went to work and Mary Paterson passed out. That left Janet Brown and Burke up talking when Burke’s girlfriend Helen McDougal burst in accusing Burke of cheating on her. Both women left, angry with Burke leaving Mary Paterson passed out. Alone.
Her friend Janet would later be told she ran off to Glasgow with a salesman.
Burke rushed out and grabbed his buddy, Hare. They went back to the house, Mary was still asleep. They suffocated her, and shoved her in the same tea chest as Abigail Simpson, selling her to Knox and keeping her petticoats for Helen, Burke’s girlfriend.
Knox was delighted as the corpse was still warm.
People were going missing, and their relatives began to look for them. Mrs Haldane, who was smothered in an intoxicated slumber, had a daughter possibly called Peggy who came looking for her.
Burke listened to her story and they got talking., talking turned to drinking. Burke killed her without assistance for the first time, then shoved her in the tea chest and collected his 8 pounds.
There are 16 murders in total to get through. Including a range of unnamed intoxicated lodgers, a homeless salvager called Effy and even a visiting relative of Helen’s called Ann.
The tea chest got a lot of use and all the while Dr. Knox is not bothered by any of this.
At this point, Hare’s wife Margaret Hare suggests to her husband that they should kill Helen because she was “Scotch”. The Hares and Burke were Irish. Thankfully he refused.
Their second last victim was unfortunately known as Daft Jimmy. Daft Jimmy preferred snuff to alcohol. So their usual trick just didn’t work. He fought back. But the murderers prevailed.
However, Daft Jimmy was a familiar face on the streets of London, and Knox’s students recognised him at the initial inspection. So Knox presented Jimmy’s cadaver headless and without feet.
Other lodgers made the final murder very difficult for Burke and Hare.
The murder of Michelle Doherty was supposed to take place at the Broggan boarding house. Trusting a fellow person from Ireland she drank with the Hares. Everything went wrong. Fellow lodgers, Ann and James Gray, were so obstructive that they paid for them to stay at Hare’s lodging house. The Gray’s were witnesses to the drinking party and the next morning they came back and discovered the body in a pile of straw.
The police were called.
The two were arrested.
Hare turned state’s witness and after the trial, he disappeared into the night. Margaret also turns states evidence
Helen and Margaret upon their separate releases were chased by mobs… I cannot believe Margaret and William Hare got off pretty much scot-free3.
Knox the doctor who …totally knew what was going on was found entirely without fault which was crazy, and that was because Burke said Knox knew nothing about it.
“docter Knox never incoreged him neither taught or incoregd him to murder any person”.
William Burke was found guilty sentenced to death and was hanged on the 28th of January 1829 in front of a crowd of over 20,000 people.
His body was sent for public dissection and students fought for tickets.
Professor Monro lead the dissection and dramatically dipped a quill in Burke’s blood
and wrote “This is written with the blood of Wm Burke, who was hanged at Edinburgh. This blood was taken from his head”
His death mask and a book supposedly bound with HIS TANNED SKIN are on display in the Surgeon’s Hall museum…
His skeleton on display at Edinburgh Medical School.
So that’s the story of William Burke and William Hare.
Up the close and doon the stair, But and ben’ wi’ Burke and Hare. Burke’s the butcher, Hare’s the thief, Knox the boy that buys the beef. — 19th century Edinburgh rhyme
Thank you to Courtney from Cult of Domesticity for joining me and contributing so much to the conversation!
To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim.
The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.
The highest, as the lowest, form of criticism is a mode of autobiography.
Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.
They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book.
Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.
The nineteenth century dislike of Realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.
The nineteenth century dislike of Romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.
The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.
No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved.
No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable
mannerism of style.
No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.
Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art.
Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.
From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor’s craft is the type.
All art is at once surface and symbol.
Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.
Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.
It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.
Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.
When critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself.
We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.
All art is quite useless.
This gorgeous epigraph at the beginning of The Picture of Dorian Gray might be my favourite part of the whole book. It performs the same function as the modern day disclaimer that we are all so familiar with. This is Wilde getting in the first and hopefully the last word in a hypothetical debate with his contemporary literary critics. Wilde’s work was not by any means universally popular. In fact, there were several critics who took particular delight in eviscerating his works. The mere cheek and eloquence of this epigraph make it one of the most endearing defences of aestheticism in literary history.
Wilde today is acknowledged as being one of the most influential writers of the aestheticism movement that advocated art for art’s sake. Art that does not provide us with commentary or allegory, art that is just beautiful and enjoyable.
This epigraph dares critics to find fault with the narrative that follows, because if they do they will be guilty of the flaws they see in the text.
In summary, fuck you. It’s art and if you don’t like it then that’s your problem.
Calling literary criticism autobiography certainly has its merits for there are as many readings of a text as there a readers. We, as readers, bring the full scope of our life experience along for the ride when we read a book.
The small child sees a lady who is sad and lonely, who gets to go to a party, and, through a series of intervening events isn’t lonely or sad anymore.
As we grow up our understanding of the book changes, it becomes more complex and potentially, as in my case, less uplifting and more problematic. And very discriminatory against people with large feet.
So too does our understanding of more complex gothic stories like the tale of Dorian Gray.
There is no one right way to understand The Picture of Dorian Gray.
And now it is confession time…
This is a poorly worded epigraph or preface to a conversation I would like to have in the future, a conversation that Wilde may have hated.
Can The Picture of Dorian Gray be read as an allegorical cautionary tale?
A tale about the hubris of man wanting to interfere with nature?
Welcome to The FrankenPod. Today I want to give you a bit of a biography of the woman who created the science fiction genre. Apparently, there is a romantic movie that was screened last year to film festival audiences. I hope its good and does the woman justice because she is amazing.
Mary Godwin was the daughter of two highly regarded and critically acclaimed authors, who… SHOCK HORROR …. Were not married. Scandal!
Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was a pivotal proto-feminist writer that I would love to cover one day if I can somehow shoehorn in it into the podcast. Her father was also a highly respected and controversial called William Godwin. Their relationship was devoted but was cut devastatingly short when Mary died from complications after giving birth to Our Lady of Science Fiction, Mary Godwin.
Thus the notion of birth and death would be forever fused in her psyche. She felt the weight of her mother’s life and unfulfilled potential, and would always strive to live up to her mother’s legacy and public expectations. She reflected that there was never any doubt in her mind that she would write.
As she grew up with her father, step-mother and half-sisters she was exposed to some of the most brilliant and creative thinkers of her time who were friends and associates of her father. As the daughter of academic royalty, she was a subject of some interest to one young writer that orbited the Godwin household, Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Not Meaning to Yuck Anyone’s Yum but…
She was 16 and he was 22 when they started their affair. For the time this wasn’t a massive age gap, but he was married and had one soon to be two children. But Percy Shelley believed in free love, which does not seem to have extended to allowing his wife or girlfriend having other relationships. I could be wrong about that but I have found little evidence to support equality of free love in Shelley’s relationships.
They also met secretly at her mother’s grave, because romance.
Percy and Mary ran away together just months after hooking up and Mary’s half-sister Clare Claremont came along, possibly as a third wheel, possibly as a casual lover, (i hate that word) to Percy. Because free love? Clare, however, is far from a shy retiring flower, she was pursuing the famous poet Lord Byron, somewhat relentlessly.
There were a lot of people who were very unhappy with Mary and Percy’s relationship not least Percy’s wife and Mary’s father. Both parties demanded that they cut it out. And when they didn’t, they asked for money. I completely understand why Harriet, Percy’s wife needed financial support, but the payments to William Godwin are a little strange to me.
But then again a lot of the etiquette and social morality in Regency England baffles me.
Percy went entered into a lot of debt to meet these obligations and the trio travelled continuously to avoid his debts.
It was during this time of constant travel Clare convinces her companions to be unwitting accomplices in a romantic ambush of Lord Byron at the Villa Diodati where he is holidaying in Switzerland. I’m going to save the Villa Diodati for another episode, but from this holiday Mary Godwin found the inspiration for her sci-fi gothic novel.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
At the age of 18, she has given birth to 2 children one of which had not survived and the other, William, who would not survive a great deal longer. She gives birth to another daughter and names her Clara. Both Clara and William will be dead by the end of June 1819.
Frankenstein has published anonymously in 1818.
Her other half-sister, Fanny, and one of her strongest familial ties to her deceased mother commits suicide. Percy’s wife Harriet also killed herself, she was pregnant with their third child.
Percy and Mary get married and her dad, who didn’t care all that much about marriage in his own personal life decides that his daughter is a respectable woman and they reunite.
Mary Shelley nee Godwin gave birth to her only surviving child Percy Florence.
Three years later, while on a sailing holiday with a friend Percy Bysshe Shelley drowned in Italy. Due to quarantine laws, it was impossible for his body to be transported back to England.
Absolutely devastated, and left with on her own with their young son, Mary would not be able to attend Percy’s funeral. One of his friends, Leigh Hunt, who was present at Percy’s beachside cremation saved what he believed to be Percy’s heart and smuggled it home to Mary. It is now thought that it would probably not have actually been his heart but some other organ or mound of sinew. But whatever it was, it helped to console Mary in a very dark time, and she wrapped it in silk and kept it in her writing case.
Life After Percy
But Mary’s writing career was by no means winding down. She threw herself into her work. She published Valperga in 1823 and began to the gradual publication of her late husband’s work, but her father-in-law threatened to stop financially supporting her if she released any more of Percy’s work during his father’s lifetime.
In 1826 she published the post-apocalyptic novel The Last Man and eleven years later she published her final novel, Falkner.
Her father, her half-brother and her friend Lord Byron had died. She finally managed to published those poems of Percy’s that she loved so much.
It feels like I’m just listing events at this point which is really sad because it seems as though many scholars lose interest in Mary Shelley when her life with Percy finishes. But she was a very interesting and eclectic writer in her own right.
However, Percy’s long shadow continued to stretch across Mary’s life. 23 years after Percy’s untimely death some dude showed up claiming to be Lord Byron’s love child, potentially one of many given the Lord’s raunchy reputation. This guy claimed to have some of Mary and Percy’s letters and tried to use them to blackmail Mary. But she shut that shit down and got a court injunction.
In 1851 at the age of 54, Mary Godwin Shelley succumbed to what could have been a brain tumour and was buried at St Peter’s in Bournemouth. between her two parents who were moved just for this purpose.
The Legacy of Mary Shelley
An unconventional woman who lead an incredible life filled with adventure, curiosity and sorrow, her legacy would be heavily censored according to her son Percy Florence’s more reserved Victorian sensibilities.
In the past 200 years, many have tried to give credit for Frankenstein to Byron or Percy. Or attribute her entire development as a writer to the men who surrounded her. But recently people have finally come to accept her authorship and view her texts as remarkable novels from a remarkable woman, many written at an alarmingly young age.
If you are looking for a more complete biography of Mary Shelley I would highly recommend Romantic Outlaws. It interweaves Mary Shelley’s story with the incredible life of her mother Mary Wollstonecraft.
Following us on Twitter @thefrankenpod where I awkwardly try to human.
And please get in touch if you have additions suggestions and corrections.
Charlotte Sussman, Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies Vol. 4, No. 1, Women Writers of the Eighteenth Century (Spring/Summer 2004), pp. 158-186 http://www.jstor.org/publisher/upenn
And I really will get better at resources I’m sorry, in my defence it is uni break.
This is the accompanying article for another one of those solo FrankenPod’s that I do to fill the gaping void in the main episodes. In this, we continue an exploration of Mary Shelley’s Gothic Masterpiece, Frankenstein or the Modern Day Prometheus.
In this episode, I am going to introduce the myth of Prometheus as it is so critical to Frankenstein or the modern day Prometheus by Mary Shelley. Many of you who are familiar with the myth may have found it the same way as I did in those very dense omnibuses for children that retold stories of myth and legend. In the spirit of childlike wonder and sheer bald-faced laziness, I was going to retell the story of Prometheus the same way I first read it, in a 1920s children’s adaption very similar to the kind I used to read at my Nanna and Grandpa’s house when I was a kid. But I hadn’t anticipated how woefully inaccurate this retelling would be. So instead I’m going to attempt to break the myth down myself. Please bear in mind I’m no Jason from The Myths and Legends Podcast so this could be pretty rough going.
Also, I opted for modern rather than Ancient history in high school so I could tell you about the role of propaganda in world war 2… but I had to double check whether Zeus or Jupiter was the Greek one.
Like I said this could be rough.
Post-Olympian-Titan Kerfuffle Landscape
The creation of the universe had been rough and the war between the Olympian gods and the Titans had been a pretty messy affair resulting in the Titans being imprisoned on Tartarus.
Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus were two Titans who had been spared imprisonment as they did not get involved in the war. In fact, later versions of the myth have Prometheus engaged in a kind of espionage against the Titans, securing Zeus’s victory.
Zeus was an arsehole. A horny, narcissistic arsehole, who rapes women and other female creatures throughout Greek mythology. When it comes to Greek mythology he is the worst. But he was also the King of the Gods so everyone was supposed to head his every whim.
It’s Good to Have a Hobby
Prometheus may have done Zeus a solid but he was far from being just another Olympian servant towing the line of the Gods. Prometheus was a Titan. And he had a project. Pottery. Well kind of. Prometheus is credited with fashioning mankind out of clay. Some myths say it was him, some say it was a collaborative effort between the Gods.
Whoever made humankind there they stood. And Prometheus and Epimetheus set about attributing evolutionary edges to the animals of the earth. Leopards were given speed, tortoises were given shells and if the Greeks had ever seen a Platypus they would have attributed their poisonous barbs as a gift of Epimetheus and Prometheus. But when it came to mankind there was nothing left. Prometheus was sure that without a gift mankind would be eaten the first time they strayed too close to the forest or went for an ill-advised paddle in the shark and jellyfish infested water.
So Prometheus fashioned himself a torch or picked a stalk of fennel (sources vary) and stole fire from Zeus’s lightning. He gave fire to mankind and viola instant civilization. Zeus WAS NOT HAPPY. Fire was for the gods, not Prometheus’s night school pottery project. He was pissed. But not as pissed as he would be when Prometheus told mankind to stop giving the best meat and crops they had as a sacrifice to the gods.
Prometheus was like “guys you are getting a little carried away. Giving thanks to the gods is great but uh, not dying of starvation is better.”
And they took Prometheus’s advice and offered up offal wrapped in something more appetizing to trick the gods.
You Mad Bro?
In an act of extreme overreaction, Zeus chained Prometheus to a rock and gave him a liver that would continually replenish, so that every day, for eternity a vulture could come and feast on the liver. Inflicting tremendous pain on the titan that he would have to bear as punishment. All for helping humans lead a less shitty existence.
But Zeus wasn’t done
He then decided that two can play at this pottery game and decides to create a woman, the idea being she would ruin everything. Yes, Zeus is the definition of the fucking Patriarchy. Anyway, this lady he fashioned from the earth was called Pandora. It’s pretty widely thought that she was an unwitting participant in Zeus’s shitty plan.
Zeus in the grand tradition of treating women as property gives Pandora to Epimetheus, Prometheus’s brother as a bride.
Epimetheus seems to be more than fine with this and nowhere near as suspicious of Zeus as he should be. Because as I said. Zeus is the worst.
Pandora didn’t really have any belongings with her when she arrived at Epimetheus’s place. Except for this inconspicuous jar that she is told not to open. And like a button that says do not push or a piece of fruit that a god says do not eat, temptation eventually gets the better of her and she opens the jar. Out of the jar explodes all the sorrows of the world, that mysteriously, had not existed until this point. And after all those misfortunes floated away to plague mankind, all that was left in the jar to console mankind was Hope.
Linking Prometheus to Victor
And that is very basically the story of Prometheus. He may or may not get rescued by Hercules or reconcile with Zeus later but that is not particularly important to the story.
What is important is that both Prometheus and Victor Frankenstein are architects of creation that results in a creature that is an affront to one deity or another.
Both creature and creator suffer.
Although I would argue that Prometheus is far more compassionate towards mankind than Victor is towards his creature. But I suppose Prometheus was a Titan and Victor was just a mortal human Doctor.
What I find particularly interesting is that Mary Shelley has used a story in which the god in question is entirely unsympathetic and entirely culpable in the suffering of the creature and its creator. Interesting when we consider that Mary’s partner Percy Shelley was kicked out of at least one university for highly controversial atheist beliefs, beliefs which were antithetical to respectable English society at the time, but was an exciting point of discussion in the literary circles that both Mary and Percy ran in.
Hopefully next week we will release a little something about Mary Shelley.