Censorship in the eighteenth century and now

Criticising powerful aristocrats in eighteenth century France could mean being sent to the Bastille. Criticising powerful ideologues today can mean being cancelled and driven out of your job. Our speaker, historian and author, Julia Gasper, has researched the lives of eighteenth century women, who stood out against tyranny, including Anne-Marie Fauques de Vaucluse and Elizabeth Craven. Julia has also faced twenty-first censorship and is a fighter for free speech and academic freedom. In her talk at the next East Midlands Salon, she will draw on her historical research and personal experiences to assess the state of women’s freedom today.

Date, Time and Venue: Thursday 23 March (18.30 for 19.00) in the Parlour of the Brunswick Inn, Derby.

Tickets: £3 (plus fee) via Eventbrite.

About Julia

Julia is an English Literature scholar and historian. She has a D.Phil from Somerville College, Oxford University. She is the author of several books including Elizabeth Craven: Writer, Feminist and European (Vernon Press, 2017), The Marquis d’Argens: A Philosophical Life (Lexington Books, 2014), Theodore von Neuhoff, King of Corsica (University of Delaware Press, 2012), and The Dragon and the Dove: the Plays of Thomas Dekker (Oxford University Press, 1990). She was one of the editors of the Oxford edition of the Plays of Thomas Middleton, and is the editor of The Modern Philosopher and Other Works by Elizabeth Craven(Cambridge Scholars Press, 2017).

She is a member of the Academics For Academic Freedom (AFAF) Advisory Board.

How can we defend the legacy of the Enlightenment?

At this special East Midlands Salon event we will launch our glossy 24-page booklet about the Salon that contains two essays giving some philosophical and historical background.

The Salon exists to re-invigorate the Enlightenment tradition that once flourished in Derby and the Midlands. But what is the Enlightenment and why is it important? The Enlightenment is characterised by universal values that we can summarise as a commitment to reason, truth, science and progress.

Those values are challenged today, and our Salon will focus on a round table discussion on how we can defend those values.

Date, Time and Venue: Thursday 13 January at 18.30 (for 19.00) in the Parlour of the Brunswick Inn, Derby.

We are asking attendees to donate a small amount to cover our costs (£3 is suggested).

The classic short essay by the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, What is Enlightenment? (1784) is useful background reading.

(Illustration: Reading of Voltaire’s tragedy of the Orphan of China in the salon of Marie Thérèse Rodet Geoffrin in 1755, as imagined by Anicet Charles Gabriel Lemonnier (1812) Public Domain)  

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

The Enlightenment: has the light gone out?

Immanuel KantOn Tuesday 2o January at 7:00PM in Hallmark Hotel Derby, Midland Road, DE1 2SQ Derby, the East Midlands Salon is hosting a discussion entitled ‘The Enlightenment: has the light gone out?’

Sapere aude! – ‘Dare to know!’ or ‘Have the courage to use your own reason!’ was what the philosopher Immanuel Kant chose as the motto of the Enlightenment. In his famous essay ‘What is Enlightenment?’ (1784) he wrote:

‘…enlightenment requires nothing but freedom–and the most innocent of all that may be called “freedom”: freedom to make public use of one’s reason in all matters. Now I hear the cry from all sides: “Do not argue!” The officer says: “Do not argue–drill!” The tax collector: “Do not argue–pay!” The pastor: “Do not argue–believe!” Only one ruler in the world says: “Argue as much as you please, but obey!” We find restrictions on freedom everywhere. But which restriction is harmful to enlightenment? Which restriction is innocent, and which advances enlightenment? I reply: the public use of one’s reason must be free at all times, and this alone can bring enlightenment to mankind’. Continue reading