|LEGENDS OF THE UNDEAD
Zombies and Premature Burial
with Roger Luckhurst and Jan Bondeson
Sunday 23rd October from 3:30 pm
It wasn’t until American adventurers in the 1920s started trying to unravel the mysteries of their new colony, Haiti, that the zombie emerged from the mists of superstition and dubious ethnography and stumbled into American popular culture. One book in particular, William Seabrook’s The Magic Island, first published in 1929, established the story of men enslaved by Voodoo Priests, raised from the dead and forced to work in the cane fields. Seabrook claimed to have come face to face with zombies at work. The story travelled because Seabrook was one of the most celebrated exotic travellers and feature writers of the age. ROGER LUCKHURST will weave together his bizarre life with his enduring contribution to the horror movie genre.
Readers of Edgar Allan Poe's tales may comfort themselves with the notion that Poe must have exaggerated: surely people of the 1800s could not have been at risk of being buried alive? But such stories filled scholarly medical journals as well as popular fiction, many people feared a premature tomb. To safeguard against such an extremity, the Germans built Leichenhauser, a foul-smelling hospital for the dead where the corpses were incubated with strings tied to their fingers and toes, awaiting the onset of putrefaction. There were also security coffins, with bellropes, breathing tubes and escape hatches. JAN BONDESON will chronicle the history of the signs of death and the fear of premature interment, and answer the question whether people were really buried alive in Victorian times. And could it be possible that we ourselves are in danger of being buried alive by mistake, with all the safeguards of modern medicine? Do not be too quick to dismiss your fears ...
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Roger Luckhurst is a British academic and writer. He is Professor in Modern and Contemporary Literature in the Department of English and Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London. Luckhurst is also notable for his role as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Columbia and for his introductions and editorships to the Oxford World’s Classics series volumes. He is the author of many books, among them The Trauma Question (Routledge, 2008), The Mummy’s Curse: The True Story of a Dark Fantasy (Oxford University Press, 2012), and Zombies: A Cultural History (Reaktion Press, 2015).
Jan Bondeson is a rheumatologist, scientist and author, working as a senior lecturer and consultant rheumatologist at the Cardiff University School of Medicine. Outside of his career in medicine, he has written several nonfiction books on a variety of topics, such as medical anomalies and unsolved murder mysteries. Bondeson is also the biographer of a predecessor of Jack the Ripper, the London Monster, who stabbed fifty women in the buttocks, of Edward 'the Boy' Jones, who stalked Queen Victoria and stole her underwear, and Greyfriars Bobby, a Scottish terrier who supposedly spent 14 years guarding his master's grave.