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Whitechapel Society One Day Symposium

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  • Whitechapel Society One Day Symposium




    SPEAKER - Ifan D H Shepherd
    PRESENTATION 'The Skeptical Historian:
    A mindset for researching East End pasts'

    Questioning one’s sources is not just the responsibility of detectives and QCs. Every historian needs to learn how to interrogate, doubt, challenge, rattle and shake their information to ensure they extract the necessary truths. In this presentation, I will revisit Charles Booth’s justly famous maps of London poverty, which were produced during the late 1880s when Jack the Ripper was stalking his victims in Whitechapel. I will undertake a detailed critique of elements of his survey and mapping techniques to illustrate how modern historians (and others) should take a skeptical view both of original historical sources and also of the prior analyses and interpretations to which they have been subjected. In the light of modern scientific ‘deniers’ and ‘contrarians’, some concluding comments will be made as to where the limits of useful skepticism might be drawn."

    SPEAKER - John Marriott
    PRESENTATION - ‘The Historical Significance of the Whitechapel Murders’

    John Marriott is Professor in History at the Raphael Samuel History Centre, University of East London, and author of 'Beyond the Tower: A History of East London' (2011) Yale University Press. Review of the brilliant new book by John Marriott 'Beyond the Tower'
    ….he has done a brilliant job of gazing past the theme-park standbys (from Jack the Ripper to the Krays) to give us a portrait of an area that once more – as in the 17th and 18th centuries – contains pockets of wealth, as well as steep poverty. The difference now is that the wealth is clustered upon the river’s edge, where once lascars, street children and old men and women struggled daily to survive. Perhaps the International Olympic Committee officials should read this terrific book as their chauffeured cars purr up and down the commandeered streets of Whitechapel next year.”
    Sinclair Mckay, The Daily Telegraph

    SPEAKER - Alexandra Warwick
    PRESENTATION - 'The Women of Whitechapel'.

    This talk will be about the role of women in the Whitechapel murders and in the larger social context of the East End in the late-nineteenth century.
    It will consider prostitution, philanthropy and social and legal campaigns to show that women were far more than simply victims or objects of charity, but actively involved in trying to change their own conditions and the society in which they lived.
    Alexandra Warwick has been teaching at Westminster University since 1991 where she is now Head of the Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies. She teaches on undergraduate and postgraduate modules in nineteenth-century literature and culture.
    Her research interests are in the field of nineteenth century studies, particularly the fin de siècle.
    Recent publications include a monograph on Oscar Wilde, a co-edited collection on media, cultural and historical representations of Jack the Ripper, and a Victorian Studies Reader. Her current work is on archaeology and the Victorian imagination.

    SPEAKER – David Taylor
    PRESENTATION - 'Another fiendish crime'?
    Explaining criminal behaviour in late-Victorian Britain

    Using the Ripper murders as a starting point, this presentation will consider the various ways in which the Victorians sought to explain criminal behaviour. Particular attention will be given to scientific and environmentalist explanations and the extent to which they challenged predominantly moral-based explanations that had been inherited from the early nineteenth century.

    SPEAKER – David Bullock
    PRESENTATION – The man who would be Jack

    In 1893, Detective Inspector William Race of the Metropolitan Police met with two journalists working for the Sun newspaper and told them that he knew the identity of Jack the Ripper.
    Less than three weeks after the last Whitechapel murder, Race had arrested 25-year-old Thomas Hayne Cutbush for attacking two young girls with a knife. Having an extensive knowledge of the Ripper case, Race noted a number of startling facts that convinced him he had in fact arrested Jack the Ripper.
    Race’s superiors, perhaps embarrassed by the fact that one of them, Superintendant Charles Henry Cutbush, was believed to be Thomas’ uncle, ignored the inspector’s suspicions, so he eventually decided to go to the press.
    The Sun newspaper set about investigating Cutbush, gathering startling new evidence and compelling eyewitness testimony. When they published their results they caused a sensation, leading to the once secret and now infamous, deeply flawed Macnaghten Report (1894) in which the Chief Constable of the CID dismissed Cutbush as a suspect. As a result, Cutbush has been ignored as a serious Jack the Ripper contender ever since.
    David Bullock does not make the mistake of simply claiming that Cutbush was Jack, only that when the stories of the Ripper and Cutbush are told side-by-side, they steadily merge into a tantalisingly logical conclusion: Thomas Cutbush is the most likely of all the suspects to be the Man Who Would be Jack.

    Details and booking -
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  • #2
    A great line-up of speakers, Frogg. Well done to everyone who put that together. I wish I could be there.


    • #3
      Cheers Paul,

      We are looking at six speakers for the day and waiting on one more confirmation. Following the Symposium (later that evening at the same venue) we have 'The Jeremy Beadle Lecture' which is our yearly charity bash for 'Children with Cancer'. Last year this was hosted by the fantastic Roy Hudd so wath this space for news of this years host!