We have it in our power to begin the world over again. —Thomas Paine, Common Sense
A six-week course examining the often hidden or forgotten contribution of radicals, rebels, and revolutionaries to the development of ground-breaking ideas and campaigns in the nineteenth century such as human rights, birth control, women’s rights, the right to vote, republicanism, and free speech.
One thing uniting all those to be studied is their secularism, the philosophy underlying their activism. Personalities and topics to be studied will include:
– Thomas Paine, political activist, republican and revolutionary across two continents.
– Richard and Jane Carlile, radical publishers and champions of the free press, birth control and free love.
– G.J. Holyoake, radical editor, secularist and co-operator.
– Annie Besant, political activist and women’s rights proponent and pioneer of birth control.
– Charles Bradlaugh, atheist MP and president of the National Secular Society.
– George William Foote, editor of the ‘blasphemous’ Freethinker newspaper and press freedom campaigner.
These individuals were pioneering men and women willing to sacrifice family, friendship, reputation and security in order to stand up for their beliefs. They were prepared to go to jail to make sure that their voices and the voices of the disenfranchised were heard in order to make the world a better, more equal place.
The course will be taught through interactive classroom sessions featuring an illustrated subject talk and small group discussions. Use will be made of the Conway Hall Library and Archives resources and artefacts where appropriate.
Participants will be familiar with the main struggles of these heroic personalities who fought for personal freedom and human rights.
Participants will have had an opportunity to reflect on and better understand terms and concepts such as republicanism, radicalism, liberalism, press freedom, democracy, feminism, secularism, freethinking, atheism and agnosticism etc.
21 February – 28 March 2019 6:30-8:30pm (every Thursday for 6 weeks)
Biography of course tutor
Bob Forder is a member of the National Secular Society Council and acts as NSS historian. In the past he has written extensively for the Freethinker and other radical publications. He says it is his ‘mission’ to ensure that the memory of brave infidels and heretics is not lost to future generations.
We are committed to promoting inclusive practice at Conway Hall. Due to the constraints of our building, the Library is not currently accessible to wheelchair users or those with limited mobility, we are happy to discuss with you how we can make the contents and materials accessible to you. We carefully monitor which events are held in the Library, and will use your comments to enable us to develop ways to ensure that everyone should be able to attend events in the future.