I want to know more about grave robbing!
well then good news: im a big ol Gothic Romance fuck, and I’ve Got Some Shit For You about 19th century bodysnatching
- this episode of the BBC “history cold cases” documentary series (watch all of them tbqh). its fucking sad as anything, as the title implies, but also really interesting?
- grave robbers were called resurrectionists. how unfairly fucking cool is that,
- grave robbing and 19th century medicine, especially anatomy, are inseparable. grave robbing is an undercurrent through all of dr lindsey fitzharris’s work with the Under the Knife youtube series (and also presumably in her new book The Butchering Art, which I am so fucking stoked to get my hands on). this is the most relevant episode!
- this documentary on how the victorians viewed death, grave robbing, and burial, and particularly why it was seen as so horrible to be used bodysnatched for dissection.
- in the same vein, Sawbones, excellent as always, has a graverobbing episode. also, listening to more of Sawbones gives you a healthy appreciation for just how fucking weird medicine got at the time, which is not unrelated.
- mortsafes and the other many weird ways people came up with to stop the resurrectionists (i’m serious about this, i would probably be a grave robber if people would call me a ‘resurrectionist’)
- burke and hare! they murdered people because graverobbing was too much effort. burke was punished with dissection after his execution and they made his skin into a wallet! what the fuck!
- if you find death and burial customs interesting then everything on the Ask a Mortician youtube channel will probably seem cool but these episodes are especially relevant to fucked up things people have wanted corpses for! also they discuss the Romantics, who are a good chunk of the reason why I’m so interested in this
- a lot of the need for grave robbing went away after the 1832 Anatomy Act, which was great, except that it did so by allowing doctors to claim and dissect the bodies of the poor, which was not great, and really didn’t do any positive things for the public’s already-strained feelings about anatomists.
(to explain my specific interest: I personally believe that fears of grave robbing are closely tied to the complicated feelings about science and scientific ethics present in Frankenstein, and especially to the creation of the creature himself. It’s fascinating that it’s never actually stated directly in the book that Frankenstein builds it from corpses (although it is very clear that he’s been grave-robbing for his anatomy studies), but readers have assumed that since its first publication. Medical history, man. it’s fucked up.)