England's Criminal Corpses

The Obscura Society of New York City invites you to a lecture by Professor Sarah Tarlow on English executions during the 18th and 19th centuries.

By the middle of the eighteenth century in England, people could be executed for damaging the banks of a canal or sending poison pen letters. In response to this runaway punishment inflation, the Murder Act of 1752 specified that those convicted of really serious crimes should have their sentence augmented by a post-mortem element: they were to be denied burial until they had first been dissected by anatomists or left to rot in a gibbet cage. In this talk, Sarah Tarlow will examine the power of the criminal corpse through its journey from the gallows, where the touch of a dead man's hand could be used to cure disease, through the weird geography of its dissection or 'hanging in chains', to its eventual deposition in a grave, a medical museum or a cabinet of curiosities.

The event will be on September 28th, as part of the “Atlas Obscura Speakers” series. This is just the kind of thing the Obscura Society comes up with in cities all over. Find out more about it at Atlas Obscura. Link

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