Alchemy: a search for truth

The next East Midlands Salon will take place online for the first time. Our speaker is local author and Salon member, Jo Herlihy, who will talk about her new book: Alchemy: A Search for Truth.

Her book tells the story of the people, the books, the controversies and the dangers surrounding the secretive art of alchemy and the search for truth. Alchemy is a multifaceted and mercurial subject.

In her ‘Introduction’, Jo says: ‘There is no doubt that the practical experimentation undertaken by alchemists provided real insights and new knowledge, bringing real benefits to society, and also paved the way for modern chemistry‘. Join us to hear Jo discuss this fascinating subject and join in the discussion.

Jo’s book is available on Amazon

You can follow Jo on her Instagram account: @fragmentsofalchemy

Date and Time:

Thursday 7 May 7 PM powered by Zoom (follow the link to sign up for free)

Invitation Only – for details visit our Facebook Group.

Stop Mugging Grandma

At our February Salon, sociologist, Dr Jennie Bristow will talk about her latest book STOP MUGGING GRANDMA: THE ‘GENERATION WARS’ AND WHY BOOMER BLAMING WON’T SOLVE ANYTHING. She says “Part of my motivation in writing Stop Mugging Grandma was to challenge the shrill, brittle, and dishonest framing of politics as a clash between old and young, and to warn of the dangers arising when an obsession with generation collides with the logic of identity politics.”

Date, Time and Venue: Thursday 13 February at 7 PM in the Brunswick Inn, Derby. Tickets £3 (to help cover costs). Details and tickets on Eventbrite Alternatively, pay on the door but please let the EMS know you are coming.

Why a Salon in the 2020s?

Salon organisers from Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester will be in Derby on Thursday 23 January to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the East Midlands Salon.

The East Midlands Salon was founded in 2010. Our first Salon on 26 January featured the distinguished philosopher, poet, novelist, cultural critic and clinical neuroscientist, Professor Raymond Tallis, who defended the proposition ‘I am NOT a Beast’, and explained ‘how we humans evolved to be so different’ which was the theme of his then forthcoming philosophical essay Michelangelo’s Finger: an exploration of everyday transcendence (Atlantic Books 2011).

Since then dozens of distinguished speakers have come to Salons in Derby to engage in debates and talk about their work and often to put forward some very controversial ideas. Like other Salons in the UK and internationally, we defend the freedom to think, to act, to say what needs saying – even if it offends others. .

This 10th Anniversary Salon will be a celebratory event . We have invited speakers from other Salons to share their experiences and to discuss the importance of Salons in the 2020s. Speakers include: Simon Belt (Manchester Salon), Rosie Cuckston (Birmingham Salon) and Paul Thomas (Leeds Salon).

Simon Belt in conversation with Ray Tallis 26 January 2010

Date, Time and Venue: Thursday 23 January at 7 PM in the Brunswick Inn, Derby. (Refreshments will be provided) This Salon is free but registration via Eventbrite is required.

By erasing the past are we racialising the campus?

This debate is part of the series Killing controversy: the silencing of speech

In recent years, attempts at a variety of universities to ‘decolonise’ the curriculum have gathered momentum. The movement is underpinned by the idea that the curriculum is too full of ‘dead white men’ and needs to be more diverse. This suggests that the identity of authors is as important as their ideas and their contribution.

The arguments in favour of decolonising the curriculum suggest that students can only empathise with and learn from thinkers and writers from their own culture or racial background. Does this mean that non-white students of literature cannot understand or relate to Shakespeare in the same way as their white peers? What are the implications of this thinking? Is the decolonising movement promoting a hyper-racialism on campus?

As well as the attempt to decolonise the subjects taught, there is also an attempt to base pedagogy – that is, how you are taught – on racial or cultural lines. What are the implications of saying that students from certain cultures or racial backgrounds need different forms of teaching? Does the decolonising movement imply that your identity defines you? Though the movement may be well intentioned, does it end up being divisive?

Dr Jim Butcher (Canterbury Christ Church University) and Dr Ruth Mieschbuehler (University of Derby) will explore the background to these developments and the dangers they may present for the future of education. Folasade Lamikanra, a writer and education researcher, will chair the debate.

DATE, TIME AND VENUE: THURSDAY 28 NOVEMBER, 19:00—20:30, BRUNSWICK INN, DERBY, DE1 2RU. Tickets are £3 and can be booked in advance on Eventbrite.

Is ‘toxic masculinity’ dangerous in the academy?

In 2018 The American Psychological Association (APA) declared masculinity to be harmful and subsequently published guidelines for dealing with men and boys. Male students are now treated as inherently problematic and even dangerous to themselves and female students. They are considered to be potential sexual molesters and rapists in need of mandatory ‘consent classes’

Are these positive developments in the age of #metoo or are they a result of the feminisation of universities and a rejection of men and anything masculine?

Is the feminisation of the university to blame for worries about men?

Our Speaker is Elizabeth Hobson, communications director of the political party Justice For Men and Boys (J4MB), who will discuss these developments in relation to her campaigning experience and what she sees as a new diminished sense of what it means to be a man today. Responding to her talk will be Dr Nicholas Joseph, a parent of two girls and a lecturer at the Universities of Derby and Keele. Chairing will be Dr Vanessa Pupavac (University of Nottingham).

This is a Battle of Ideas Satellite event hosted by the East Midlands Salon and sponsored by the campaign group Academics For Academic Freedom (AFAF).  It is the second in a series  of  three on The Silencing of Speech.

Date, Time and Venue: Thursday 14 December at 7 PM in the Brunswick Inn, Derby. Booking is essential, tickets (£3) are available on Eventbrite.

The dangerous rise of academic mobbing

From Socrates to Salman Rushdie heretical thinkers and writers have been persecuted by powerful authorities whether they were the church or the state. In the last few years a new form of persecution of dissident voices has appeared not from without but from within universities which are supposed to be bastions of free speech. That persecution comes not from government or bureaucracies but from academics themselves in alliance with students. Open letters, petitions and campaigns by academics and students to get academics removed from their posts are the new form of censorship. AFAF’s The Banned List gives many examples which, in 2019 alone, include Noah Carl, John Finnis, Jordan Peterson, Michelle Moore, Nina Power and the latest, Boris Johnson.

Our speaker, in conversation with Professor Dennis Hayes (Director, Academics for Academic Freedom), is Professor Nigel Biggar (Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, University of Oxford). In 2017 Professor Bigger was subject to an international campaign to close down his five-year ‘Ethics and Empire’ project which sought to have a balanced assessment of colonialism. Critics said he was an apologist for colonialism.

This is a Battle of Ideas Satellite event hosted by the East Midlands Salon and sponsored by the campaign group Academics For Academic Freedom (AFAF). It is the first in a series of three on The Silencing of Speech.

All three Salons take place at the Brunswick Inn, Derby. For tickets and further details go to Eventbrite (£3 for each event).

Summer Salon Book Launches

Thursday 23 May is the East Midlands Book Launch of The Labour of Words in Higher Education: Is it time to reoccupy policy?  when Professor Sarah Hayes (University of Wolverhampton) will introduce her new book which analyses the rhetoric of McPolicy that is disempowering academics.

Date, Time and Venue: Thursday 23 May at 7 PM in the Brunswick Inn, Derby.

Tickets £3 on Eventbrite (We know it’s the European elections, so vote early and come along!).

Thursday 20 June is the East Midlands Book Launch of The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education Second Edition in the Routledge Education Classic Series when Professor Dennis Hayes (University of Derby) will discuss the continuing dangerous rise of therapy in education since his and Kathryn Ecclestone’s controversial and bestselling book first appeared in 2008. 

Date, Time and Venue: Thursday 20 June at 7 PM in the Brunswick Inn, Derby.

Tickets £3 on Eventbrite.

A Parcel of Ribbons

At our next East Midlands Salon, Anne Powers will talk about the research that led to the publication of her book A Parcel of Ribbons:

Set among the sugar plantations of Jamaica and the balls and masquerades of Georgian London the story is told by the Lee family in their own words. In 1749 thirteen year-old Robert Cooper Lee sailed to Jamaica taking a parcel of ribbons for sale. When his family was left all but penniless, Robert and his brothers forged new lives in Jamaica, fathered children with women who were the descendants of slaves and supported their sister left behind in England. Robert returned to London with his family in 1771. A prominent attorney, respected throughout Jamaica and among the West Indian lobby in London, he had built a fortune that enabled his children to mix with royalty. This remarkable collection of letters tells a story of triumph against adversity, of a family that suffered sickness, bankruptcy, sudden death, a clandestine marriage and an elopement. Through it all the bonds of family endured.

Date, Time and Venue

Thursday 28 March, 19.00 in the Brunswick Inn, Derby

Free, but please register on Eventbrite.

Three Salons on the Enlightenment

The great German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, began his essay ‘What is Enlightenment?’ (1784) with this statement:

‘Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed nonage. Nonage is the inability to use one’s own understanding without another’s guidance. This nonage is self-imposed if its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in indecision and lack of courage to use one’s own mind without another’s guidance. Dare to know! (Sapere aude.) “Have the courage to use your own understanding,” is therefore the motto of the enlightenment’.

Dare to know! is also the motto of the East Midlands Salon which is committed to promoting the Enlightenment values of reason and the pursuit of truth and human progress. In 2019 we begin with two Salons on the British Enlightenment with a focus on Derby and the Midlands. Our third Salon will be a contemporary discussion of the possibility of colonising space.

All three Salons will take place in the Parlour of the Brunswick Inn, Derby at 7 PM. Tickets will be available on the door at £2 (a donation towards costs) or you can book the remaining two Salons for £3 on Eventbrite.

Dates and Topics

On Thursday 31 January — Professor Paul Elliott discussed the Derby Philosophers and the British Enlightenment ;

On Thursday 28 February — Professor Jonathan Powers will talk about the leading thinkers and scientists of the Enlightenment in the Midlands;

On Thursday 18 April – in the tradition of Enlightenment speculation, scientist and astronomer Dr Martin Braddock will probe ‘The next step: Space Exploration and Colonisation.’

About the Speakers

Professor Paul Elliott

Paul’s research interests and publications span history, cultural and historical geography, the history of education and the history of science. Paul has forged close working relationships with local government, heritage, professional, community and media organisations. He is a member of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Research and Publications Committee and on the editorial board of History: West Midlands magazine. His books include The Derby Philosophers: Science and Culture in British Urban Society 1700-1850 (2009), Enlightenment, Modernity and Science (2010) and The British Arboretum (2011) which are available from Amazon. The Independent newspaper recently describe Paul as: ‘One of the country’s leading historians of British Gardens’

Professor Jonathan Powers

Jonathan was the Academic Director of Derbyshire College of Higher Education and hence the first Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic) of the University of Derby when, in 1992, it became the only such College to become a University at the same time as the former Polytechnics.

He is an outstanding scholar and philosopher, way back in 1983 his Philosophy and the New Physics was listed by Choice in the USA as one of the outstanding academic books of the year.

Since his retirement he has – among many other things – helped organise programmes of events and have given special lectures focussed on developing Derby’s awareness of its cultural history. Demand for transcripts of the unscripted lectures led him to recreate them as ‘mini-monographs’ with the profits going to local cultural charities. A full list can be found on the Quandary Books web site. A selection of his publications is also available at the City Art Gallery and Museum.

Dr Martin Braddock

Martin is a professional scientist and project manager working in the field of drug discovery and development with 32 years’ experience of working in academic institutes and large corporate organisations. He holds a BSc in Biochemistry and a PhD in Radiation Biology (from the Radiation Biology Unit, Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Harwell Oxfordshire), is a former Royal Society University Research Fellow at the University of Oxford.

In 2009, Martin was awarded the title of Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology for outstanding contribution to Bioscience and in 2012 he was a recipient of an Alumnus Achievement Award from the University of Salford for distinction in science. He is currently on the editorial committee of eleven scientific journals. He has published widely and is author on over 140 peer-reviewed publications, is a member of several scientific advisory boards, a listed inventor on 8 patents and has given lectures all over the world.

He has a serious interest in astronomy and in 2015 was elected Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. He is passionate about all aspects of Astronomy, Cosmology and Astrobiology.

Martin is also an active committee member of the Mansfield and Sutton Astronomical Society, supporting this registered charity at public open events and regular society meetings.

Selected Readings

Immanuel Kant What is enlightenment?

Frank Furedi Towards Enlightenment

John Keane The 18th Century Enlightenment and the Problem of Public Misery

Goncalo Fonseca Enlightenment Then, Enlightenment Now

Stanford (University) The Dark Side of the Enlightenment (The Super Enlightenment)

Robert Wilde A Beginner’s Guide to the Enlightenment

Generation Wars: Myth Or Reality

“Is the ‘conversation between generations’ coming to an end? The knowledge and values that are the basis of social and civilised life are the inheritance of new generations but their transmission requires some interweaving between the generations. Today the reciprocal relationship between the old and young appears to be at breaking point.

The old argued for and voted for Brexit. Did they betray their children who, polls say, voted to remain? The consequence of Brexit, some commentators now argue is that there is a new generation war a ‘youthquake’ with young fighting the old. United for All Ages, a self-proclaimed ‘think and do tank’, argues that we need to rebuild a community which coheres across generations.

One of the divides in this seeming war comes from the fact that young people no longer expect to own a house and are said to be jealous of their parents’ affluence and privilege. Friction over home ownership has left some questioning whether millennials are simply waiting for their parents to die, hoping to save the membership of the EU in the process. But have the old really become selfish and the young cruel or is this all hyped up by remainers in the media? The seeming loss of traditional familial love has led to the suggestion by the Intergenerational Foundation that the solution is for the older generation to downsize their homes or to subdivide their properties to tackle the housing crisis. Can the ‘generation gap’ be closed by ‘shared spaces’ or is this another solution to a problem that could be easily overcome by simply building more affordable homes?

The term ‘youthquake’ – the Oxford Dictionary’s ‘word of the year’ in 2017 – is clever but does it have any substance? Does it describe a new era of politics where the older generations simply cannot understand the principles and values of the young in the 21st Century or do we just need to talk to each other?”

Our second Battle of Ideas satellite panel debate will see Dr Jennie Bristow (Canterbury Christ Church University), James Keith (East Midlands Salon), Anna Keenan (Student at Bilborough Sixth Form College) and Father Daniel Joseph, discuss whether there truly is a generation war? Dr Nicholas Joseph (Associate Lecturer, University of Derby) will chair and ensure peace.

Time, Date and Venue

7 PM on 23 October at the Hallmark Hotel Derby Midland

Tickets £5 from Eventbrite.

(Illustration: Saturn devouring his sons, by Goya (1797) Public Domain)