Mark P. Donnelly

Please see below for a possible list of presentations, talks, lectures and workshops which are available from:

Updated 12/2017

Mark P. Donnelly (Prof.) (B.A., B.A., M.A., M.A.) (Historian, Author, Screenwriter, Producer, and Professore di Armes)

 

Current Contact Information: Mark@markpdonnelly.com  

 

Please note that these presentations are only listed alphabetically by title and their order does not in any way indicate preference or quality or level of development.

Even presentations with short descriptions are fully developed. This list is constantly evolving and subject to change.

(Note: If an event has a certain specific theme, and would like a presentation developed which is not otherwise listed here, I would be happy to work something out.)

 

 

Working Title

Description

Type

 

Alexander Graham Bell and his telephone

Extracted from my book, Inventors and Impostors. This is the story of Alexander Graham Bell and Elijah Gray and their race to the patent office... which Bell lost... so why does the world remember him as the inventor of the telephone?

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Archery: its history and evolution

This presentation is derived from research assembled for a History Channel program I wrote and produced entitled  ‘Tales of the Bow’ (which aired in 2002).  If desired, this documentary could be shown as part of or in addition to the discussed lecture content of the presentation.

 

Lecture Presentation

Documentary Viewing

Bartitsu - Kernoozers and Antiquarian Antagonistics : How a 19th century fascination with medievalism led to a revival of antiquated forms of combat

The Kernoozers were a select Victorian Gentleman’s club dedicated to the collection and study of antique armour and weapons (if you define ‘study’ as getting drunk and then putting on a 14th century cuirass to dance around and shout look at me, I’m El Cid, before falling down the stairs).  The Antiquarian Antagonistics professors included Capt. Alfred Hutton, Egerton Castle and Sir Richard F. Burton.  Together these two movements were an expression of the late Victorian Fascination with all things Medieval and Renaissance.  And the work and research and public demonstrations of their knowledge and skills laid the foundation for all medieval and renaissance researchers and practitioners to follow.

 

Lecture Presentation

(Documentary viewing)

Bartitsu - Suffrajitsu workshop

By 1913, the sociopolitical battle that was the British women’s suffrage movement had reached a boiling point. Faced with the practice of hunger striking by jailed Suffragette leaders, the government responded with the so-called “Cat and Mouse Act“.  To keep their leaders free as long as possible, as well as to protect them against run of the mill assaults by irate defenders of the status quo, the Women’s Social and Political Union created a secret society known as The Bodyguard (The press called them “The Amazons”) Numbering 25 or 30 athletic and dedicated women, the Bodyguard was charged with providing security at Suffragette rallies throughout the UK.  This workshop is a basic introduction to some of the techniques taught to and practiced by the Bodyguard.

 

Participatory Interactive

Workshop

 

Bartitsu & Sherlock Holmes – The strnge case of the missing ‘T’

 

Unlike the other Bartitsu workshops in this list, this session is a presentation focusing on the connection between Sherlock Holmes and Bartitsu.  If Holmes knew Bartitsu how and when could he possibly have learned it?  And if Arthur Conan Doyle didn't intend Bartitsu when he wrote ‘baritsu’, then what could he have meant?  This lecture can include a documentary on the origins of Bartitsu and its connection with Sherlock Holmes which we produced in 2009-2010.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Bartitsu (Advanced) for experienced martial artists

 

This is also a participatory and interactive workshop, but on a much less introductory basis.  This is designed to be much more advanced material for participants with at least some degree of experience in martial training (in any form).

 

Participatory Interactive

Workshop

 

Bartitsu / Suffragitsu - Votes for Women – Or Else

By 1913, the sociopolitical battle that was the British women’s suffrage movement had reached a boiling point. To keep their leaders free as long as possible, as well as to protect them against run of the mill assaults by irate defenders of the status quo, the Women’s Social and Political Union created a secret society known as ‘The Bodyguard’. The foot soldiers of the early feminist movement were forced underground to pursue a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an increasingly brutal State. Were it not for the efforts of the “Amazon’ Bodyguard, as trained by members of the Bartitsu Club, the movement would have been delayed by decades.

Lecture Presentation

Bartitsu : The lost and found scientific Self Defense of Sherlock Holmes  

 

This workshop is designed to be an extensive introduction to this esoteric system of self-defense which incorporates: fisticuffs (in the scientific method); savate (use of low kicks in self-defense; grappling(judo/jiujitsu); as well as the use of numerous commonplace Victorian accessories such as walking-stick, cane, umbrella, top hat, snuff box, opera cape, handkerchief, etc. all employed in an effort to maintain “preservation of person and property when beset upon by ne'er-do-wells of nefarious intent”.

 

Participatory Interactive

Workshop

-------------Lecture Presentation

Documentary Viewing

Bartitsu for Ladies and gentlewomen: Kicking Ass in  Corset

This workshop is designed to be an extensive introduction to this esoteric system of self-defense specifically focused on ladies and gentlewomen. While gentlemen are obviously welcome to participate (as are ladies in the ‘mens’ workshops) some of the techniques employed by Victorian ladies studying this art vary from those taught to their male counterparts.  Partly this was physical (and partly a constraint of the fashions) but also due to the differing nature of the physical threat and the variety of accessories with which she might be equipped or encumbered. In the Ladies session, therefore, we will explore: grappling, savate, canne, parasol, fan, handbag, etc..

 

Participatory Interactive

Workshop

______________

Lecture Presentation

 

Battle Bikes – Bicycles at War

During the 1890s the safety bicycle became an entrenched part of the human transport scene. The deceptively delicate-looking device was a technological marvel. The machine was lightweight, strong, durable, reliable, and capable of operating with a minimum maintenance. It did not need fuel, food, or water. It was quiet and raised little dust. Perhaps most remarkably, the energy-efficient cyclist proved much faster than a horse or pedestrian, could carry 100 pounds or more in the process (plus the rider), and was not restricted to formed roads.

Not surprisingly, many a mind toyed with the military possibilities. Consequently, bicycles and bicycle technology were adapted to such military uses as ambulance stretchers, the laying of telegraph lines, topographic surveying, and the carrying of machine guns and cannon. Folding models were perfected. Extensive field trials, overland rides, and messenger relays were carried out, and battlefield tactics and maneuvers were tried. Inevitably, the cyclist's relationship, role, and effectiveness vis a vis the cavalry and mounted infantry was argued, often heatedly.

Lecture Presentation

 

Better Watch Out – The Dark Side of Christmas -  (Yule Be Sorry)

The customs of the holiday season, which include St. Nicholas Day, New Years Day, and Epiphany, as well as Christmas, often incorporate earlier pagan traditions that have been appropriated and adapted for contemporary use. Customs that encourage little children to be good, so as to deserve their Christmas gifts from Father Christmas, St. Nicholas, or Santa Claus, often come with a dark side: the punishment you'll receive from a monster or evil being of some sort if you aren't good! These nefarious characters vary from place to place, and they go by many different names and images.  Christmas is coming, so you better watch out.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Blythe Spirits: A history of Drink and Drinking

 

The history of civilization is inextricably linked with the history of alcohol.  How, when and where societies have drunk is as strong a statement about our cultural identity as any other social activity.  Blythe Spirits traces the history of drink from the discovery of wine almost 7,000 years ago through the corridors of time and around the globe to the present day.  Along the way we will learn what a dramatic, frequently tragic, and often amusing, impact alcohol has had on human culture.

Blythe Spirits traces the history of drink and drinking from Sumeria to ancient Egypt to the Roman empire to the Celts to the Vikings to the Middle ages to the Renaissance and Reformation to the early modern era to the age of exploration to the industrial revolution and beyond.

 

Lecture Presentation

Series

 

Bowie Knife and Tomahawk Combat

This session is an interactive workshop.  Depending on the setting, the students/participants may be expected to bring their own equipment, though equipment for about 10 can be provided by Professor Donnelly.

 

Participatory Interactive

Workshop

 

Brolliology

What is brolliology? Why, it’s the study of the brolly, of course, the gamp, the parasol, the parapluie, the bumbershoot, the bumbersoll, to you, the umbrella. If you think the ribbed, collapsible umbrella was the invention of some clever Victorian Englishman determined to fight back against the soggy weather of London town, you’d be mistaken. The fact is, the umbrella is one of the oldest artifacts in man’s history, already a familiar item in many cultures by the time humanity invented writing. The umbrella is so old that brolliologists can’t agree on its origin, or decide whether it was first used for protection from the rain or the sun.  But whatever the origin, the history of umbrellas and parasols spans the globe and continues to evolve and improve and influence fashion.

Lecture Presentation

 

Cannibals: Eat Thy Neighbor

Cannibalism is unquestionably one of the oldest and most deeply-seated taboos.  This lecture explores cases of ritual cannibalism in primitive and tribal societies.  It examines cases of survival cannibalism as in the cases of shipwrecks, sieges, war, drought and famine.  It can also extend to more aberrant cases of cannibalism such as: Sweeney Todd; Sawney Beane; Alf Packer; Ed Gein; Jeffrey Dahmer; Armin Meiwes, etc.. (Taken from my book: Eat Thy Neighbour) 

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Castle Ghosts of England,

Castle Ghosts of Ireland,

Castle Ghosts of Scotland,

Castle Ghosts of Wales

This project was a four-part television series.  Each episode consists of 4 or 5 short stories about castle hauntings in the given country.  It was very well received and rated.  These programs can be aired and discussed or the tales can be told and illustrated with stills and footage.

 

Lecture Presentation

Documentary Viewing

Series

Charisma +3: How anyone can increase their charisma in the real world

No matter your situation in life and your individual aims, one of the most important tools for success is your personal charisma. Charisma is what allows you to command a room, draw others to you, and convince people of your ideas. It’s an essential part of being the kind of leader who wins devoted followers who are willing to go to the ends of the earth for you. Charismatic men are perceived as both likeable and powerful, a dynamic, irresistible combination that opens endless doors to them.  Charisma may seem like a mysterious quality — something that some men are born with and some are not. But this is happily not the case. You don’t need to have hit the genetic charisma lottery in order to develop yourself into a man with powerful magnetism.  Far from being a magical and inexplicable trait, charisma can be broken down into a set of concrete, largely nonverbal behaviors that can be learned, practiced, and made natural. These behaviors can be placed into three categories: Presence, Power, and Warmth. When deftly combined, these three components produce strong personal magnetism.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

 

Combat Sports

Man is aggressive by nature.  For thousands of years he has had to fight to defend himself, his family or his territory.  The greatest threat, however, has always been his fellow man.  The earliest men and women fought one another with their bare hands or with sticks and stones.  As time went on, weapons were developed and the arts of mars became more refined.  Combat Sports describes the way in which fighting skills were take from the battlefield and adapted to become the modern sporting contest we know today.  The presentation traces the history of sports, which include fencing, boxing, wrestling, and unarmed combat.  Modern techniques, Olympic eventing and famous exponents such as Annie Oakley, Muhammed Ali, Bruce Lee, Jack Dempsey, ldo Nadi and James Figg have all contributed to the popularity that these sports enjoy.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Con Golf

Having invented this game at the SPWF, we found that every time we have played it, many bystanders have commented how they would love a chance to play.  Perhaps we could figure out a way to make that happen.

 

Participatory

Quiz/Game

Contraptions – Bizarre Victorian Inventions

 

History is full of ingenious inventions.  Progress through civilization has always been fueled by scientists, engineers and inventors. But not all inventions lead to progress.  This presentation highlights some of the most bizarre inventions and ideas to come out of the industrial revolution.  These are the Victorian equivalent of the shake weight or the sham wow.  Though arguably ingenious and creative, these are the Inventions No One Mentions.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Cutlass: Piratical and Naval Boarding Actions: Tactics and techniques for hand to hand combat in the Great Age of Sail

 

Boarding actions are unlike any other single type of hand to hand armed combat.  This lecture/presentation/(or interactive workshop)examines the complexity of naval boarding actions.  Weapons addressed will include cutlass, boarding axe, naval dirk, bowie knife and tomahawk, fixed bayonets, boarding pike, slung shot, etc..  It is presented by Professor Mark P. Donnelly who has been teaching boarding actions throughout Europe for about 10 years and is an acknowledged expert and certified instructor with the Historical Maritime Combat Association.

 

Participatory Interactive

Workshop

 

Death and Taxes: Riots, Rebellions, Revolts and unjust taxation through History

 

Throughout history, people have grumbled about unfair taxes.  In some instances, however, the populace has risen up, in greater or lesser numbers, and forcefully expressed their displeasure over their government’s insistence on separating them from their hard earned cash. The stories in this presentation range from tragic to laughable and from Ancient Rome to Modern Day, but all of them shine an unmercifully harsh and penetrating light on that most reviled and often corrupt institution in human history… taxation. Includes: Boudicca’s Revolt – Cathaginian Rebellion – Danegeld Resistance – Lady Godiva – Magna Carta – Wat Tyler’s Revolt – Jake Cade’s Rebellion – Bavarian Peasant Revolt – London Gin Riots – Boston Tea Party – Shay’s Rebellion – French Revolution – Whiskey Rebellion – American Civil War – Poll Tax Riots

 

Lecture Presentation

Series

Detectives in Victorian Literature

The popularity of detective fiction in the Victorian era no doubt owed much to the genre’s support of traditional social values and reassured the reading public that criminals and evildoers would always be found out and punished. But alongside that literary support of the status quo was something that challenged the traditional British hierarchical society: real-life detectives were undergoing a transformation from predominantly working-class, unskilled men of marginal importance into an elite group of professionals who were able to transcend traditional class boundaries — and in time, their expertise would transcend national boundaries as well.

Lecture Presentation

 

Donnelly Q&A (Port with the Professor)

Questions Answers and Discussions on any of these subjects (and more) over a civilized glass of port--- a sort of historian/author/screenwriter/martial artist Meet and Greet

 

Dueling through History

A historical and martial overview of duels through history both famous and obscure.

Presentation and Demonstration

 

Edison's Bright Idea

 

Everyone knows that Edison invented the light bulb… except... that he didn’t.- So the question here is if Edison didn’t invent the light bulb, who did?  And perhaps more importantly, how did Edison manage to take the credit and become remembered by history of the father of electric lighting? This lecture/presentation is excerpted from my book Inventors and Impostors

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Etiquette and Manners – civility, decorum and the art of gentlemanliness

 

Etiquette is far more than knowing which fork to use at a formal dinner, or knowing when to rise from your chair or when to hold open a door.  This presentation is designed for modern men who have never had access to the rules, strictures, and mores which govern the behavior of gentlemen.

 

Lecture Presentation

Discussion Panel

Exercise of Armes : A history of the sword and its use – Dueling through the ages  

 

In 1884 Sir Richard Francis Burton wrote that, “... the history of the sword is the history of mankind.”  This lecture/presentation examines the various types and evolution (read as process of change and not necessarily implying improvement) of swords through history.  Why they are designed they way they are and the techniques which were taught for their use.  Why and how they change and what other social and cultural factors they affected.  While this material could be presented as a simple lecture using slides, etc, if it is to take the form of a presentation, - that is if techniques are to be demonstrated, then I would bring somewhere between 50-200 swords for the purpose of illustration.  And while having a large collection of swords at the event would allow for a supervised 'handling session' at the end of the presentation, the logistics of transporting the artifacts may require special consideration.

 

Lecture Presentation

---------------------

Demonstration

Series

Fairies of Cottingley and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

 

The Cottingley Fairies appear in a series of five photographs taken by Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, two young cousins who lived in Cottingley, near Bradford in England. In 1917, when the first two photographs were taken, Elsie was 16 years old and Frances was 10. The pictures came to the attention of writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who used them to illustrate an article on fairies he had been commissioned to write for the Christmas 1920 edition of The Strand Magazine. Conan Doyle, as a spiritualist, was enthusiastic about the photographs, and interpreted them as clear and visible evidence of psychic phenomena. Public reaction was mixed; some accepted the images as genuine, but others believed they had been faked.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Flights of Fancy: A history of aviation before the Wright Brothers

– including the strange case of the mysterious airship of 1881

This lecture/presentation focuses not only on the highlights of the 'disciples of Daedalus', such as the famous Montgolfier brothers, but also the long series of failed (and often fantastical) attempts at flight.  In the end we will examine in detail the case of the mysterious airship which flew coast to coast across North America 30 years prior to Count Von Zeppelin's first experimental dirigible.  So the question arises... where did it come from?

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Flogging – A history of

Selected from the material assembled for the Big Book of Pain: Punishment and Torture through History, this presentation addresses the history and use of flogging and whipping for both punishment and deterrence.  Public and punitive flogging was one of mankind’s earliest pubic punishments and in several places around the world continues in use to this day.

Lecture Presentation

 

 

Gadget Canes

Over the years of being first an antique dealer and appraiser an now the owner and operator of Canes Enable, I have found an astonishing array of gadget canes or system canes.  These are canes or walking sticks which have unseen features or functions or hidden secondary features.  Gadget canes can conceal writing implements, compasses, maps, drinking flasks, watches, flashlights, musical instruments, swords or firearms or perhaps even transform into a chair or even a table.  This presentation will feature photos and explanations of some of the most unusual gadget canes as well as hands on rare examples from my personal collection.

Lecture Presentation

 

Gangs of NY

This presentation tells the real story of the Dead Rabbits and the Bowery Bhoys as depicted in the Scorcese film Gangs of New York.  Bill “The Butcher” Cutty was a real historic figure an was even worse than depicted in the fictionalized account of the film.

Lecture Presentation

 

Garroters, Thuggees, and Apaches oh my – 19th Century Street Crime and what was to be  done about it

Street crime, newspaper accounts, calls to action, self-defense weapons of every imaginable sort, and the movement toward physical culture, martial arts and the establishment of the police force and British constabulary

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Gatling, Maxim and the automated machine gun

– from Inventors and Impostors - While both Gatling and Maxim certainly did invent and patent automatic weapons in the form of machine guns.  They were not, however, the first to invent the machine gun, though those earlier attempts never quite caught on.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Genesis of Horror Parts 1-4

Part I: Dracula                                    Part II: Frankenstein

Part III: Jekyl & Hyde                       Part IV: Hound of the Baskervilles

What do these four classic horror stories have in common? Each of them was, in its own way, inspired by – (or dare I say spawned) – by an intense nightmare.  Each of these authors (Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) woke from sleep terrified by the nightmarish visions of their dreams and took up pen and paper to tell these stories and inspire millions of nightmares in turn.  This lecture/presentation series explores the origins of these classic works of horror fiction, exploring a biography of the authors along with how these nightmares came about and addition inspirations which contributed to the shape and form of these novels.

Lecture Presentation

Series

Gothic Pub Quiz

Over the years I have constructed a number of 'pub quiz' style participatory challenges using video clips for international western martial art conventions, symposiums and gatherings.  They have always proved great fun and highly popular. 

 

Participatory Presentation

Quiz/Game

Halloween – An historical evolution of a holiday

 

Halloween has never been so popular yet so little understood … until now.  From the Celtic Iron Age feis of Samain to today’s Trick or Treat, the rites and revels of Halloween have a strange and secret history.  In this presentation we will encounter a phantasmagoria of giantesses, witches, fairies, ghosts and zombies as we journey from the standing stones of Britain to the Mexican Day of the Dead.  Along the way we will visit with: haunted attraction operators who make their entire annual revenue in a single fortnight; a coven of witches in Salem Mass., who revere Halloween as one of the most sacred days of the year; we will meet an evangelical minister who claims that Halloween celebrations are little more than institutionalized devil worship; and we will meet the candy and costume manufacturers who unashamedly confess to having ‘created’ the holiday as a means of increasing business.  But there is something else going on here.  Something deeper, more fundamental.  Something dark and disturbing which echoes back to the very origins of human civilization.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Have Fun Storming the Castle (historical themes inspired by the Princess Bride)

Part I – Siege Warfare

Part II – Torture

Part III – The Duel

Part IV – The Real Dread Pirate Roberts

 

Lecture Presentation

Series

Hell’s Belles - women duelists and pugilists

Two stern, armed men come together in order to fight for honor of a king, a lady, or their own reputation.  And women either watch a contest from grandstands in a knight’s tournament or later learn about victory, wounds or death of husbands or sons. This is a story which begins in the 16th century and is repeated  throughout the known world but countless gentlemen defending this amorphous concept known as “honor”.  But sometimes it happened in a different way…

While it is true that women fighting their own duels… in defense of their own honor and ‘womanly virtue’… seems to have been something of a rarity, it certainly did happen.  One has to do a bit of digging, but a careful examination of the historical record shows a number of these instances and they are notable due their exceptionality.  Woman fought, like their male counterparts, over lovers, insults (both perceived and real), gossip, and ultimately, for their honor. They fought with all kinds of pistols and a variety of swords and knives. And the deeper one explores the topic, the more one comes to realize that there is a long, and varied history of dueling women in history.

Lecture Presentation

 

History of the Future : Yesterday’s Tomorrow

 

Since humanity’s first glimmerings of intelligence, and continuing down to our own time, our greatest fear has always been of the unknown. From serious scholars and thinkers who, since the dawn of recorded history, have plied their trade by various and often magical means to the crack-pots, cranks and flat-out conmen, the litany of seers, visionaries, prognosticators and futurists who have attempted to illuminate the unknown tomorrows that face us presents an amazing insight into our own deep-seated desire to know what lies before us.     It is these individuals and their varied concepts of what tomorrow will bring that form the subject of The History of Tomorrow:  Visions of the Future.  Hopefully, by examining their lives, their work and our own, collective reaction to it, we can better understand ourselves and those unknown terrors which cast a dark shadow over how we fact the unknown that lies ahead of us all.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Hocus Pocus :

A History of Magic 

This project shows the changing attitudes towards magic, magicians, witchcraft, sorcery, demonology, Satanism, and performance illusionists throughout history.

 

It examines how different cultures throughout history have viewed, embraced or denounced “magic” and how the very definition of ‘magic’ has changed over time.  The lecture/presentation is structured chronologically to include treatments of magic and magicians in the ancient world, classical Greece and Rome, Druidic Shamanism, Medieval alchemists, sorcerers, and prognosticators, Renaissance prophets, seers, and mystics, witchcraft and the heresy trials of the Inquisition, New World Puritanism and witch hunts, 18th century legerdemain, 19th century séances, occultism, and prestidigitation, and finally to 20th century performance illusionists and ‘escape artists’. 

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Honor

This session looks at the history of the concept of honor in the western world.  It explores the origins of the concept and asks the question... does honor still exist?  And can honor still exist?

 

Lecture Presentation

Panel Discussion

Horror, Birth of – Part 1 -Bram Stoker and the Origins of Dracula

Derived from our ‘Origins of Dracula’ documentary

Abraham Stoker's play and subsequent novel entitled “Dracula” while not wildly popular in his lifetime has never been out of print since its publication in 1897 and has been one of the best-selling novels of all time.  This presentation traces the inspirational origins of various elements of Stoker's most famous story.  Where does it come from and why did he write it?  What does it mean and how can we interpret it in terms of his Victorian audience?

 

Lecture Presentation

Documentary

Viewing

Industrial Revolutionaries – William Morris, Elbert Hubbard and the arts and crafts movement:

 

This lecture/presentation is an exploration of the arts and crafts movement and the ennobling of the artisan and craftsman (Material for this presentation is taken largely from my book Elbert Hubbard – the Commonsense Revolutionary)

At the Dawn of the 20th century, Elbert Hubbard was the best-known social philosopher and reformer in America; his ideas on management and the value of hard work were widespread throughout Europe, Russia and Japan.  A prolific writer, natural salesman and self-promoter, Hubbard’s influence was immense; but he was no ordinary revolutionary . . .  A successful businessman, Hubbard firmly believed in the capitalist values of profit and free enterprise – if their practices were accountable and their benefits shared equally.

With a practical philosophy based on co-operation, hard work and self-reliance – plus a radically progressive social conscience – Hubbard sought to reform a business world where workers were systematically exploited, honest companies routinely ruined and ‘robber barons’ ran riot over the economy of nations.

Writer, performer, philosopher and pragmatist, Hubbard’s story makes page-turning reading; his ideas and insights a wake-up call to our modern world of faceless corporations and empty rhetoric.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Infantry and Cavalry Sabre – its use, variations and forms - 18th and 19th Century

 

This session is an interactive workshop.  Depending on the setting, the students/participants may be expected to bring their own equipment, though equipment for about 10 can be provided by Professor Donnelly.

 

Participatory Interactive

Workshop

Lecture/Demo

Issac Singer and his sewing machine

 

Everyone knows what a sewing machine is.  And everyone knows that Singer invented the sewing machine. Except for the simple fact that he didn't.  This presentation (excerpted from my book Inventors and Impostors) contemplates the question... if Issac Singer did Not invent the sewing machine, then who did and why does Singer generally get the credit?

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Italian and German Medieval Longsword (greatsword/ two-handed sword)

 

This session is an interactive workshop.  Depending on the setting, the students/participants may be expected to bring their own equipment, though equipment for about 10 can be provided by Professor Donnelly.

 

Participatory Interactive

Workshop

 

James Watt and the Steam Engine

 

The nineteenth century ran on steam.  This is a commonly accepted fact. It is also commonly accepted that the man responsible for the invention of the steam engine was Scottish inventor James Watt.  But while Watt may have been significant in the commercialization of the instigator of the Industrial Revolution, he certainly cannot be credited with its  invention as we shall discuss.  This lecture/presentation is excerpted from my book Inventors and Impostors

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Kicking Ass in a Kilt

Scottish Backsword and dirk  - the use and variation of the sword of George Silver (1590s), The Roundheads of the English Civil War (1640’s) and the Jacobites of Culloden (1745)  This session is an interactive workshop.  Depending on the setting, the students/participants may be expected to bring their own equipment, though equipment for about 30 can be provided by Professor Donnelly.

 

Participatory Interactive

Workshop

 

Knights versus Samurai

 

Knight versus Samurai is an exercise in comparative history.  This presentation examines the parallels and discrepancies, which exist between the emergence of feudalism in Western Europe and Japan.  It goes on to examine the equipment and tactics of Medieval Knights and Medieval Samurai and dares to pose the question: What would have happened if champions of these two great warrior traditions had encountered each other in combat?

           

The fascination of comparing feudalism in Western Europe and Japan lies in the fact that the two cultures developed in total independence.  Because neither influenced the other, it is possible to look at the various factors involved in the growth of the two systems in such a way that each throws light on the other.

Knight versus Samurai concentrates on Western Europe between 400 and 1328 AD, and on Japan between 794 and 1868 AD.  It looks at differences as well as similarities and shows that the rhythm of development followed different patterns in the two places, although similar causes were often at work.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Mad Science Pub Quiz

Over the years I have constructed a number of 'pub quiz' style participatory challenges using video clips for international western martial art conventions, symposiums and gatherings.  They have always proved great fun and highly popular. 

 

Participatory Presentation

Quiz/Game

Masque –  a history of masks, makeup and disguise in film, theater, and performance

Frightening, fascinating and entertaining…

Since prehistoric times, in every culture, the mask has had the extraordinary power to attract and disturb. From the dances of shamans, to early Greek theatre; from Chinese Opera to comic superheroes like Batman; from Boris Karloff's Frankenstein to Doug Bradley's Pinhead and beyond… the mask has been used for its power to transform the wearer. It can idealize or frighten; impress or provide a link with unknown or uncontrollable forces.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Medieval Feast Etiquette

 

Derived from material assembled for my book Medieval Celebrations, this presentation explores the fact that a formal medieval feast alongside noblemen, and perhaps even royalty, was regulated by a long list of etiquette dos and donts. Far from being the orgiastic free-for-all so often displayed in fiction, A medieval feast was a serious occasion and how you behaved would influence the opinions of those of higher status as to your worth and worthiness.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Moral Fiber : Sylvester Graham, J.H. Kellogg and why eating cereal for breakfast was supposed to curtail masturbation.

 

As a rule, there's often more to folk wisdom than bad science, and so it is with myths about masturbation and other aspects of sexuality. In America, a peculiar flowering of these myths took place in the mid to late 19th century. Though the predictable culprits -- Victorian prudery, evangelical Christianity, entrepreneurialism -- are part of the picture, what's less known is the myths' century-old relationship with whole-grain foodstuffs. Thanks to certain influential health advocates, sex and diet were inexorably linked, and, for both, healthy meant bland. Anyone familiar with the 1994 film “the Road to Wellville” or the book upon which it is based will be well aware of this bizarre story.  Health and Diet crazes are nothing new, and they are often a quick route to making a fortune; and even more so when packed in prurient morality.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Mythic and fantastical pub quiz

Over the years I have constructed a number of 'pub quiz' style participatory challenges using video clips for international western martial art conventions, symposiums and gatherings.  They have always proved great fun and highly popular. 

 

Participatory Presentation

Quiz/Game

Off with their Heads: A History of Execution - It’s variety and purpose around the world and throughout history

Public executions served a variety of functions through history including: deterrence; punishment; example; and even entertainment. During the enlightenment, humanism took hold and many attempts were made at changing public execution into something quick and painless as well as something increasingly private. 

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Ouija – A history

In February, 1891, the first few advertisements started appearing in papers: “Ouija, the Wonderful Talking Board,” boomed a Pittsburgh toy and novelty shop, describing a magical device that answered questions “about the past, present and future with marvelous accuracy” and promised “never-failing amusement and recreation for all the classes,” a link “between the known and unknown, the material and immaterial.” Another advertisement in a New York newspaper declared it “interesting and mysterious” and testified, “Proven at Patent Office before it was allowed. Price, $1.50.”

Lecture Presentation

 

Outlaws : History’s Most Wanted

 

The very word “outlaw” conjures romantic images of daring adventures and courageous deeds – of men (and sometimes women) who have taken it upon themselves to fight the system for the greater good - Dashing, handsome figures who take from the privileged upper classes to redistribute wealth to the poor…  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Outlaws: History’s Most Wanted tells the story of individuals who led lives of crime.  They were murderers, thieves, smugglers, liars, cheats and rapists… yet they have somehow grown to heroic status in the cultures which produced them.  Everywhere, around the world,  stories and legends have grown up around criminals which paint them as either nationalistic or socially egalitarian role-models.  History’s Most Wanted explores this unusual phenomenon by detailing the lives of a series of colourful individuals and comparing the reality of their lives with the romance of their legends.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Pew Pew – a history of ray guns

Directed Energy Weapons, or ‘Ray Guns‘, go back to the alleged use by the Ancient Greeks of parabolic mirrors to set ships alight, but it was science fiction that created the modern idea. If we exclude Jules Verne’s 1875 Leyden Ball (a ball baring based electric Taser) the first use of such weapons in Sci Fi was the Heat Rayof the Martians from H G Well’s War of the Worlds written from 1898. In theory many of the more plausible weapons described in Sci Fi are possible, even as hand held weapons. A major problem is the power requirement, and the way projected energy dissipates in the air when released, even at the muzzle of such weapons. But all that is needed is a sufficiently strong miniature power unit to energize them and materials strong enough to take the constant heat.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Physics of Swords – Why Swords Work- or dont

This lecture attempts to present  for the first time material which contradicts some of the long held assumptions about the physical mechanics of swords. Understanding the function of swords is about understanding their design. This is a matter of understanding the complex elements of blade geometry. This presentation should be of interest to swordsmen, writers, engineers and physicists.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Pirates in New England

 

From the earliest days of the Colonial era until the end of the Revolution, This lecture contains historical accounts of pirates, privateers, picaroons and patriots along the Maryland coastline.  Some of these tales included famous and infamous figures from the Golden Age of Piracy, while others may be lesser known or obscured by the pages of history, but all of them are absolutely real and played significant parts in the shaping of early American history.  This presentation is based on research gathered for my forthcoming book entitled Pirates of New England

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Pirates in New York City

 

When we think of New York City (or even New Amsterdam) we do not generally think of pirates and piracy.  But from the time of its settlement, through the wars of independence and straight through the war of 1812, New York City was a hotbed of piracy.  Not only did pirates prowl the waters off the Atlantic seaboard for merchant vessel coming of going from the wealthy port city, but there was also a thriving black market for the stolen goods taken in piratical raids off the coasts of Virginia, the Florida keys and even the Caribbean.  The Story of Pirates in New York City is long and fascinating.  This material is taken from the research gathered for my forthcoming History Book, Pirates in New York City.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Pirates of Maryland

 

From the earliest days of the Colonial era until the end of the Revolution, This lecture contains historical accounts of pirates, privateers, picaroons and patriots along the Maryland coastline.  Some of these tales included famous and infamous figures from the Golden Age of Piracy, while others may be lesser known or obscured by the pages of history, but all of them are absolutely real and played significant parts in the shaping of early American history.  This presentation is based on research gathered for my book entitled Pirates of Maryland.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Pirates of New Jersey

 

From the earliest days of the Colonial era until the end of the Revolution, New Jersey's coastline swarmed with pirates who sailed back and forth across the Atlantic in search of plunder and rich prizes. Full of high adventure, dastardly deeds, and newly uncovered lore, this lecture features such famous characters as Capt. William Kidd and the notoriously cruel Blackbeard, as well as lesser known pirates from the Revolutionary War era who were based in Jersey. – This material is derived from my book: Pirates of New Jersey: Plunder and High Adventure on the Garden State Coastline

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Pirates of Pennsylvania

 

Whenever I mention this topic to someone, I invariably get the reply that Pennsylvania didn’t have any pirates… but that is simply not the case.  True, Pennsylvania certainly doesn’t have the same degree of coastline as the other states on the East Coast, but Philadelphia was a hotbed of black marketers who specialized in fleecing the stolen booty brought in by pirate ships from waters to the south.  Blackbeard himself was known to keep a house there (as well as one of his 27 wives).  Furthermore, up until Delaware achieved statehood in 1787 it was part of Pennsylvania.  And as such the Delaware coastline saw a large amount of pirate activity which was recorded and can be found in the Pennsylvania state archives.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Pirates of Virginia

 

From the earliest days of the Colonial era until the end of the Revolution, This lecture contains historical accounts of pirates, privateers, picaroons and patriots along the Virginia coastline.  Some of these tales included famous and infamous figures from the Golden Age of Piracy, while others may be lesser known or obscured by the pages of history, but all of them are absolutely real and played significant parts in the shaping of early American history.  This presentation is based on research gathered for my book entitled Pirates of Virginia.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Private (or small group) lessons in armed combat systems

 

Most frequently, when attending large international swordplay or martial art conventions around the world, I get asked if I would be available for a private instruction lesson.  In these cases, I am always more than happy to oblige.  This, too, is a service which I would like to make available at non combat focused events, such as steampunk events or pirate events or renaissance fairs.  Essentially, the eager students would approach me directly and book a private lesson in any available time slots I might have.  A small fee would, of course, be asked in exchange for the one on one lesson (or for small groups of say, 4 or 6) depending on what combat system or weapon form they wish to explore.

 

Participatory Interactive

Workshop

Series

Rapier – Crossing Swords with Shakespeare and D’Artagnan

The history and use of the Rapier in both the Spanish and Italian traditions along with companion weapons (Gauntlet, Main Gauche, Buckler, Target, Cloak, Brace, etc.) This session is an interactive workshop.  Depending on the setting, the students/participants may be expected to bring their own equipment, though equipment for about 10 can be provided by Professor Donnelly.

 

Participatory Interactive

Workshop

 

Real Sherlock Holmes – Dr. Joseph Bell mentor of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

 

This presentation profiles another luminary of history, the man who almost single-handedly invented deductive reasoning and forensic pathology.  He was the instructor and mentor of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle at the University of Edinburgh, and served as the model for Doyle's most famous character, the inimitable Sherlock Holmes.

 

Lecture Presentation

Sabrage – reviving the lost art of opening champagne with a saber

 

This session can either be a demonstration or a workshop on the flamboyant yet utterly pointless art of opening a champagne bottle with a saber.  If this is to be a presentation, I will teach and demonstrate this bizarre and esoteric skill.  If it is to be a workshop then any or all participants/attendees will be guided through the process of sabrage as they open their own champagne bottles (would could lead to quite a little celebration afterward (so perhaps best set for early evening).

 

Participatory Interactive

Workshop

 

Samuel Morse and his telegraph

– from Inventors and Impostors

The story of the telegraph is long and complicated, full of surprising, startling and amusing twists and turns. Functional apparatuses existed long before Samuel Morse became interested in telegraphy.  Why, therefore, does the world remember him as its inventor?

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Sartorial Elegance for men – The rules

 

Any true gentleman knows not to wear legible clothing or even to attempt a black suit (unless attending a wedding, coronation, or funeral).  There are rules to men’s fashion.  What should or should not be worn (and when) can be a minefield of seldom explained rules and codes of dress.  This lecture addresses and outlines these rules for both today and eras now passed.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Satan: An unauthorized biography – The Devil through History

This is an historical overview of the personification of the concept of evil.  It is the story of giving evil a face, and how that face has changed over the centuries from culture to culture.  This research was originally compiled for a one-hour documentary of the same name which was produced for Irish television.  If desired, this program could be shown as part of or in addition to this presentation.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Self Defense in the zombie apocalypse

If you are within melee distance of a zombie, you are in immediate danger of being attacked and infected. In this situation, you only have two options: 1.) Flee, or 2.) Eliminate the zombie. Placing yourself within reach of a zombie more than quadruples your chances of infection. For this reason, your primary weapon should always be a firearm that you are comfortable with and experienced in using. However, there are times where you may not be able to access your primary weapon, be out of ammunition, or when absolute silence is vital to surviving. Therefore, we explore a variety of handheld weapons and tactical approaches to enable a fairly competent combatant to survive a close encounter with the walking dead.

Participatory Interactive

Workshop

 

Shave and a haircut– strange shaving rituals from around the world

When most modern men shave or comb their hair, it’s just something they do to get ready for the day. Sure, you might make the experience a bit more enjoyable by using a straight razor or an old-school pomade, but other than that you probably don’t give grooming much thought. But throughout time and across cultures, shaving, beard trimming, and even hairstyling carried heavy cultural meaning for men. Shaving and grooming were part of many cultures’ rites of passage, were sometimes tied to religious rituals, and could connote power or status.  In this presentation we explore some of the unique cultural and religious meanings of shaving and men’s grooming from history and around the world.

Lecture Presentation

 

 

Shillelagh and Irish Stick Fighting : Fight Like a Leprechaun

The art called bataireacht or boiscín is a peculiar martial art not only because of its history but also because it has only recently begun to rise back from nearly total extinction. It is known around certain circles such as Historical European Martial Arts but even in Ireland you will find very few who know of its existence and even fewer who practice it.

This presentation is meant as a sort of basic overview of the history and practice of Irish stick fighting.

Participatory Interactive

Workshop

 

Siege Warfare in the Classical and Medieval World

 

Combining ancient tactics for the assault and defense of walled cities with the new innovations in projectile weapons and strategies, the siege became the decisive factor in the outcome of many medieval military campaigns. If engineering principles would be of significant interest to the prospective audience, then the material can be examined with a specific concentration on heavy artillery siege engines. This session will include material from our book Siege: Castles at War and can also include an airing of our Discovery Channel program on Medieval Siege Warfare.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Sir Richard Francis Burton:

 

This lecture/presentation presents a biographic expose of the exploits of the great 19th century explorer who traced the source of the Nile, worked as a spy and secret agent, went on pilgrimage to Mecca, and introduced Victorian England to the wonders of the Kama Sutra. (not to mention 1001 Arabian Nights).  This is a man who was referred to by no less than Queen Victoria herself as , “That great beast” - certainly a man worthy of a closer look.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Smallsword in 18th century France

 

This session is an interactive workshop.  Depending on the setting, the students/participants may be expected to bring their own equipment, though equipment for about 10 can be provided by Professor Donnelly.

 

Participatory Interactive

Workshop

 

Steampunk video pub quiz

 

Over the years I have constructed a number of 'pub quiz' style participatory challenges using video clips for international western martial art conventions, symposiums and gatherings.  They have always proved great fun and highly popular.  What I propose here is a steampunk equivalent, using clips and trivia and engaging those individuals who would rather sit in the bar than attend an evening concert.

 

Participatory Presentation

Quiz/Game

Supernatural Macabre Pub Quiz

Over the years I have constructed a number of 'pub quiz' style participatory challenges using video clips for international western martial art conventions, symposiums and gatherings.  They have always proved great fun and highly popular. 

 

Participatory Presentation

Quiz/Game

Swashbuckler pub quiz

– video clip team quiz for swashbucklers (can be thematic-such as pirates, barbarians, zorro, etc)

Over the years I have constructed a number of 'pub quiz' style participatory challenges using video clips for international western martial art conventions, symposiums and gatherings.  They have always proved great fun and highly popular.

 

Participatory Presentation

Quiz/Game

Swashbucklers and Ruffians:

 

Territorial gang warfare and the tactical and technological conflict between the combative styles of  Vincento Saviolo and George Silver in Shakespeare’s London (1590s).  This seminar discusses the strange gang-warfare which took place in the streets of London between two rival houses... the students of Vincento Saviolo and George Silver respectively.  This was not just about academy rivalries, or class conflict or even about nationalism and a rebellion against foreign ideas and teachings, but was also a conflict which pitted traditional English backsword against the newly fashionable Italian rapier.  It was a conflict of cut versus thrust.  And it was a conflict which would forever change the course of civilian swordsmanship.

 

Lecture Presentation

Sword and Buckler (Early Medieval) - Royal Armouries MS. I 33

 

This session is an interactive workshop.  Depending on the setting, the students/participants may be expected to bring their own equipment, though equipment for about 10 can be provided by Professor Donnelly.

 

Participatory Interactive

Workshop

 

Sword and Sorcery – exploration of genre

The term "Sword and Sorcery" first entered into popular language with the release of the 1982 film, Conan the Barbarian. Since then, the term has been sporadically and haphazardly applied to any story that happened to have both sword fighting and magic involved. In the last few years, sword and sorcery has even cropped up in a few reviews of The Lord of the Rings(1), but unfortunately this is one of the works that the term was invented to exclude. Despite this repeated misuse by people who do not know any better, and occasional misuse by people who should, a significant distinction can be made between Heroic Fantasy (the term that should be used by those who wish to group Conan and The Lord of the Rings together) and sword and sorcery. To prove and define this distinction, it is necessary to take a look at the origin of both terms and to establish the definitive works that fall into each category.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Swordplay for writers (Part 1)

This talk is about how swords work. About the forces that govern the shape and use of a sword, and - most importantly to you - how that relates to your story, and how that can be used to assist in your drama.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Swordplay for writers (Part 2)

Writing swordfights

Lots of writers, it seems, want to include sword-fights in their stories. Rather fewer actually manage to include anything which is remotely exciting. If you’re a writer looking for inspiration, I will try to draw together some examples of what works and what doesn’t. If you’re a literature student, this will probably be more for amusement than anything else. I’ve certainly never seen an examination essay entitled: “Discuss the sword fights in Chrétien de Troyes…”  Given that an awful lot of films (and not merely a lot of awful films) feature a sword fight as the climax, it may seem surprising that novels have not taken the same course. That is, until you actually try to write a sword-fight. That’s the point where you realize that what works on stage, or on film, is rather more difficult on paper.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Take a spare truss – Victorian travel advice for Steampunk adventurers

 

Victorian literature is filled with strange and curious advice for travelers. When combined with the outlandish claims of Victorian print advertising, we can see that late nineteenth century British travelers had to contend with exotic foodstuffs, intemperate climate, currency exchange rates, pickpockets, thieves, slave traders, sunshine, and even foreigners.  And yet, Mrs. C. E. Humphries wrote in 1897 of the British travelers duty: 'I... endeavour to convey as agreeable an idea as possible of ourselves to those countries which we honor with our distinguished presence in our little trips.'

 

Lecture Presentation

Tales from the Tower of London:

 

The Tower of London, both palace and prison, has been at the center of more intrigue, terror and crucial turning points in history than any other site in England – this presentation includes material from our book Tales from the Tower of London as well as the three-part documentary series  entitled Tales from the Tower

 

Lecture Presentation

Documentary

Viewing

Tea and the British Empire – how leaves in hot water built the British Empire

 

The story of how tea helped to create the largest empire the world has ever known is an odd and unpredictable one.  This presentation charts the course of that story (and of the Empire) and could be combined with a companion lecture on tea itself (its variety and forms) as well as its proper means of formal preparation.

 

Lecture Presentation

Tea through history

From Buddhist monks using it in their religious ceremonies to American revolutionaries tossing it in to Boston Harbor, tea has become more than a beverage; it has become an event. For nearly 5,000 years this drink has been a source of medicine, meditation, piracy, political upheaval, social order, congregation, and superstition.  It is also, somewhat surprisingly responsible for the establishment nd success of the British Empire.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Time Travel Pub Quiz

Over the years I have constructed a number of 'pub quiz' style participatory challenges using video clips for international western martial art conventions, symposiums and gatherings.  They have always proved great fun and highly popular. 

 

Participatory Presentation

Quiz/Game

Tomb Raiders – Pioneers of Egyptology

 

This session is derived from material which we researched and wrote for a 12-part documentary series for La Cinquiemme in France.  Understand that this material is not focused on Egypt or even on Egyptology itself... this is about Egyptologists.  The biographical profiles presented in this seminar trace the history of Europe's fascination with the lands of the pharaohs.  It begins with Baron Vivant Denon who explored Egypt under Napoleon's command and progresses through Champollion (who deciphered the Rosetta stone and made the stones speak), through G.B. Belzoni, the Italian circus strongman who stole massive monuments and smuggled them to Britain, through Gaston Maspero who used dynamite to break in to the pyramids in search of gold (for the Louvre), through Flinders Petrie, and many others up and including Howard Carter and the discovery of Tutankhamen. The story of these pioneers of Egyptology is one which progresses from tomb raiding through a race to fill the museums of Europe with looted treasures and finally through the development of archaeology itself as a science.

 

Lecture Presentation

Documentary Viewing

Series

Torture and Punishment through History

 

(Content taken from my book The Big Book of Pain – Torture and Punishment Through History) For millennia, mankind has devised ingenious and diabolical means of inflicting pain on fellow human beings.  This deplorable but seemingly universal trait has eaten away at mankind's very claim to civilization.  This lecture/presentation (which will be profusely illustrated using images from our book) is an exploration of the systematic use throughout the ages of various means of punishment, torture, coercion and torment. Since Ancient Greece it has been an acknowledged fact that virtually anyone can be made to confess to anything under sufficient torture.  The information extracted under torture, therefore, is wholly unreliable, so there is no good reason for a culture to advocate the use of torture in the hopes of using a legally useful confession.  And yet, it is a practice which has persisted in virtually every culture on the planet from pre-history until the present day.  This lecture asks why.

 

Lecture Presentation

Vampire Duel

The fantastical or supernatural elements notwithstanding, what might it look like if two vampires engaged in a duel to the (un) death armed with wooden stakes?  Although the scenario might be fictional, the content for this workshop is based on historical research in the use of medieval dagger and stiletto as well as the use of highland Scottish dirk.

 

Participatory Interactive

Workshop

 

Venus Envy – Vanity Fair: False Hair, Cosmetics, Perfume, and Plastic surgery through history

 

Are we really a vain society? Do we really have a more-than-normal pride in our appearance? To answer that, you’d have to define normal. There’s nothing wrong with being vain, as long as we don’t get carried away with it. We just want to look good – to look our best. And people have been working hard at looking their best for centuries. And that’s why cosmetics, wigs, plastic surgery and other extreme beauty regimens have such long histories. It is amazing how much the modern beauty industry has in common with our 10,000 year old ancestors.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Victorian Fitness fads

Time was, humans didn’t have to worry much about getting exercise. When we had to kill, gather, grow, or herd our own food, working out happened naturally. Of course, as soon as we figured out how to avoid those laborious chores, we did. Not long after, we had to come up with new ways of staying in shape; hence, exercise. “Kellogg had some unorthodox ideas about health.”  Exercising is a laborious, energy-draining, and time-consuming process, so the minute we started making machines to do our labor, we also made machines to do our workouts for us. In fact, if it weren’t for Victorian ingenuity, such terrible places as the sweat-drenched neon-lit 24-hour gyms would not exist.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Victorian Internet : A bizarre and fascinating examination of the rise, abuse and decline of the telegraph

Every point of the globe connected.  Information, important and mundane, sent at lightning speed.  Spam, fraud, matchmaking over the wires and hacking into private information for illegal gain.  A perfect description of the Internet, right?  Hold on.  Long before the World Wide Web there were other forms of mass communication that made the same promises and offered the same opportunities.  THE VICTORIAN INTERNET is a dramatic, factual and often humorous look at internets before the world wide web.

 

Lecture Presentation

Victorian Legacy : What did the Victorians Ever do for us?

Based on the non-fiction series which we wrote for the BBC which was hosted by Adam Hart Davis.

Lecture/

presentation

Discussion Panel

Victorian Medievalism

 

The late 19th century was obsessed with the Middle Ages (or at least their own Victorian interpretation of the Middle Ages). From the works of Sir Walter Scott to the 'gothic revival' of architecture and decor; from the arts and crafts movement to pre-raphaelite painting and 'antiquarian antagonistics', medievalism infused the imaginations of the Victorian world.

 

Lecture Presentation

Victorians Invented Christmas

 

Religious observation of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth has been observed for nearly 2000 years, but the origins of Christmas (as we know it) can be traced back long before the Birth of Christ.  But most of the traditions associated so closely with our modern observance of Christmas can be traced directly to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. During the Victorian period, Christmas grew to become a ubiquitous holiday throughout the British Empire. This lecture/presentation looks at how the Victorians invented Christmas.

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Weekend Warriors: A History of Historical Reenactment

Here, in the 21st century, most people believe that the phenomenon of historical re-enactment is a modern preoccupation with the past.  That may be so.  But if it is the case, it stems from a long and interesting history of antiquarianism.  Many cultures have gone to great lengths to stage spectacles of entertainment, which focused on the military endeavours of the past. 

Today in the early twenty-first century, re-enactment takes two distinct forms.  Firstly, there are tens of  thousands of individuals who, despite varied professional backgrounds, congregate to re-enact battles and living conditions of times past on virtually every weekend of the year.  One has to stop and ask themselves why these ‘weekend warriors’ invest so much time, energy and money into such an unusual hobby. 

Secondly, re-enactment can be found in film, television and popular entertainment. In this form it seems to fulfill the role which it has since ancient times.  It serves as a means of teaching the past, of illuminating history, and in a sense, of using propaganda.  All of these things are subjects to be discussed in Weekend Warriors, the history of re-enactment.

 

Lecture Presentation

Witchcraft and History

This lecture/presentation examines witchcraft from its early shamanic origins through its connection with sorcery, through its persecution for political power and control and onward to its modern ‘revival’ as a nature cult of sorts.  Although witchcraft is inextricably bound to the history of western civilization, this presentation also hopes to address the subject of witchcraft as practiced around the world and through history.

 

Lecture Presentation

Wonderland -- In Search of Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell

This project seeks to explore the historical background and literary origins of one of the world’s most beloved children’s classics.  We take the viewer on their own trip down the rabbit hole to meet the author, Lewis Carroll and discover the strange relationship he had with a young girl named Alice Liddell.  We delve deeper to uncover the inspirations which led to the bizarre cast of characters which inhabit ‘Wonderland’ and explore some of the locations where these inspirations were found. 

 

Lecture Presentation

 

Zeppelins as terror weapons in WWI

When World War I broke out in 1914, no countries yet had an “air force” capability. The first heavier-than-air flight had taken place only 11 years earlier, when the Wright Brothers made their successful flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. And although hot-air balloons had been used for military purposes since at least the mid-nineteenth century, they were mostly used for reconnaissance and not for offensive maneuvers. A rigid airship was designed by Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin in 1900 and was in use as a civilian passenger vehicle. However, many people predicted the use of aircraft in future wars, particularly as platforms from which to drop bombs.

As early as July 1913, France and Germany signed an agreement detailing how and when aircraft, including airships, could cross national borders and what would be done with any craft that landed or crashed.[i] There was no mention in the agreement of military uses of the airship other than the possibility of the vehicle being used to transport a crew. But when World War I began in late 1914, it was just a matter of time before the zeppelin was turned from civilian use to military use.

 

Lecture Presentation