This is Halloween: Werewolf

Halloween is pretty much upon us: scary films, crazy costumes and spooky stories. What’s scarier, a vampire or a zombie? Will you dress up as a witch or a werewolf? In this seriesMuriel Bailly profiles a famous Halloween monster every day this week to manifest the myths beneath the masks and make-up.

Werewolf

Werewolf, German woodcut from 1722.
Werewolf, German woodcut from 1722.

Fact file

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This is Halloween: Witch

Halloween is pretty much upon us: scary films, crazy costumes and spooky stories. What’s scarier, a vampire or a zombie? Will you dress up as a witch or a werewolf? In this seriesMuriel Bailly profiles a famous Halloween monster every day this week to manifest the myths beneath the masks and make-up.

Witch

Fact File

  • Distinctive signs: Pointy hat, unflattering nose, warts, flies on a broomstick, has unusual pets
  • Likely to say: “I like children and I could eat a whole one!” or “Cackle, cackle!”
  • Good points: Can fly, can change their enemies into pretty much anything they like, black is slimming
  • Bad points: Shrill laugh, their cooking is an acquired taste, think of children as snacks
  • Heroes: Hermione Granger (Harry Potter), Bonnie (The Craft), Willow Rosenberg (Buffy), Samantha (Bewitched), Sabrina
  • Villains: Bellatrix Lestrange (Harry Potter), Ursula (The Little Mermaid), The White Witch (Chronicles of Narnia), Madam Mim (Sword in the Stone), Wicked Witch of the West (Wizard of Oz), Hocus Pocus

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The X chromosome

Chromosomes carry the genetic code that determines the characteristics of a living thing. They are fascinating due to the varied factors they determine, the sometimes negative effects they can have and their complexity. Equally interesting are the stories of their discoveries. This series will explore the history of specific chromosomes and their impact on science.

Humans typically have 23 pairs of chromosomes. One of these is comprised of our sex-determining chromosomes, X and Y. Taryn Cain starts this series off by looking at the X chromosome.

When cytologist Hermann Henking looked down his microscope in 1891, he was surprised to see that approximately half of his fire wasps had a spare chromosome floating around. Confused and intrigued, he named his lonely chromosome the “X element”.

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Unravelling our memories

We recently displayed the results of Unravelled in an installation at Wellcome Collection: a collaboration between art and psychology students from St Marylebone School. Fifteen Sixth Form students worked on the exciting project with artist Sarah Carne entitled ‘Archiving our Memories’. Birte Meyer tells us about the process and work involved.

Unravelled

In the first session in May we were introduced to the Wellcome Library’s fascinating archive and the role of an archivist. Alice Mountfort introduced us to personal diaries from the archive that document experiences and the multiple ways in which people record these. After the talk and handling session the students shared something from their own memories and histories to consider how we archive our own lives. In order to understand how we use our brains as an archive, how we store our memories, and how we retrieve them, we had a talk by Dr Gursharan Virdee, a Clinical Psychologist.

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A to Z of the Human Condition: Y is for Yawning

We invited you, as fellow experts on the #HumanCondition, to add your own idiosyncrasies to our current exhibition by submitting photographs on Instagram for a few of the themes explored in the gallery. As a thank you for your wonderful pictures, this series explores those themes and finds out the roles they play in making us human. In this final post of the series, Richard Firth-Godbehere explores how we use expressions to speak with our faces, illustrated by your photos.

Untitled-12

One area where we historians find ourselves struggling is in the realm of ‘extra-linguistic communication’. Most of what we do involves reading texts with words in them and trying to first piece together what was meant by those words before translating that to modern language. History, in essence, is an act of translation; just translating from old words to new ones is far from easy. This is why going beyond words is even harder, especially when it comes to emotions.

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