body snatching

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body snatching,

the stealing of corpses from graves and morgues. Before cadavers were legally available for dissection and study by medical students, traffic in stolen bodies was profitable. Those who engaged in the illicit practice were sometimes called resurrectionists; they were active from about the early 18th cent. to the middle 19th cent. Public opposition to any dissection of bodies was further aroused by discovery of the resurrectionists' activities; outbursts of violence occurred in Europe as well as in America. Robert Knox, an eminent British anatomist, became a victim of public attack because a body he had purchased for dissection proved to be that of one of a number of victims murdered by William Hare and an accomplice named William Burke for the purpose of selling the bodies; the murderers were brought to trial (1828) and convicted. This and other similar cases led to the passage (1832) in Great Britain of the Anatomy Act, which permitted the legal acquisition by medical schools of unclaimed bodies. In the United States dissection of the human body has been practiced since the middle of the 18th cent.; riots and acts of violence frequently occurred in protest against lecturers on anatomy and medical students, who reputedly dug up bodies for study. In 1788 outraged citizens of New York City precipitated a riot while ransacking the rooms of anatomy students and professors at Columbia College Medical School in search of bodies. The following year body snatching was prohibited by law, thus creating a climate for the growth of an illegal group of professional body snatchers. It was not until 1854 that anatomy students were allowed access to unclaimed bodies from public institutions.


See The Diary of a Resurrectionist (ed. by J. B. Bailey, 1896); T. Gallagher, The Doctors' Story (1967).

References in periodicals archive ?
As in all cases, the prey is taken to the family of the body snatcher, only that in this version the choice body parts that the children covet are described in great detail and the killing of the "man-eater" is recorded with violent specificity, as is the chase by the woman and the obstacles raised in her path by the pretended corpse before she reaches the river.
If you bred Body Snatchers with The Feminine Mystique, Levin's novel would be the result.
In fact, the emergence was almost creepy, kind of like the pod people in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
The author explains how Hunter's contacts in the seedy underbelly of society, including London's infamous body snatchers, led ultimately to a revolution in medicine.
In fact, on the heels of Deitch's show, a fresh crop of body snatchers was reported in and about London.
But these observations are a mere warm-up for a breathless rant about the political body snatchers that have invaded America.
2) His Aristotelian analysis can be supported, challenged, and enriched by considering this sequence of Body Snatchers, 1954 to 1993.
Imagine a cross between Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Valley of the Dolls, and you've got a general sense of Ira Levin and William Goldman's chilling sci-fi thriller about two suburban wives trapped in a Connecticut village where all the other women suffer from a chronic case of mindless marital bliss.
However well artistry serves as camouflage, all the most memorable cataclysm films of the 1950s and 1960s--On the Beach, The War of the Worlds, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Dr.
Cryptoclone classics like Dead Ringers (1988) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956, 1978) offer campy delirium without making any particular point (though Invasion of the Body Snatchers does offer a Red-scare allegory).
One of the better scares of the 1950s came from Don Siegel's idiosyncratically edgy thriller Invasion of the Body Snatchers, made on the cheap for Allied Artists.