Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius

CraniokleptyDate: Sunday November 15th
Time: 6:00 PM
Admission: $5

By Colin Dickey,  author of “Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius” (copies of the book will be available for sale)

With the rise of phrenology, the early 19th century saw a host of bizarre grave robberies, in which the graves of famous men were plundered for their owners’ skulls. Both scientific curiosities and morbid fetishes, the skulls became subject to extended legal battles between religious and secular authorities over who owns these remains, while phrenologists continued to study them for visible proof of genius. Colin Dickey will discuss the history of these skull thefts and the motivations of their perpetrators, as well as tracing the long and bizarre odysseys of several famous heads, including those of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Sir Thomas Browne, who had famously written what a “tragical abomination” it is to be “gnawed out of one’s grave,” some 150 years before his own skull was plundered in 1840. Copies of his book, “Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius,” will also be available for sale and signing.

Colin Dickey is the author of “Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius,” and the co-editor (with Nicole Antebi and Robby Herbst) of Failure! Experiments in Aesthetic and Social Practices.  His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Cabinet, TriQuarterly, and The Santa Monica Review.  A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, he now lives in Los Angeles.

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