Wednesday, October 2, 2013

19th Century radical secularists: lecture series Oct. - Nov. 2013

Alternatives to Religion

A five week lecture series In conjunction with The Socialist History Society and
The Freethought History Research Group

8th October – 5th November 2013
Tuesdays, 7p.m.
at Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square
Holborn, London WC1R 4RL

8th Oct
George Jacob Holyoak
– Stefan Dickers
George Jacob Holyoake was the leader of the Victorian Secular movement and was imprisoned for Blasphemy in 1842. He was a Chartist, campaigner for Co-operation, Free Speech, and a feminist, but while he supported votes and education for women, in 1877 he fell out with Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh over the issue of contraception.

15th Oct
Charles Bradlaugh
– Deborah Lavin & Bryan Niblett
Without ignoring the two big Bradlaugh controversies of the “Fruits of Philosophy” (Birth Control) Trial or the Oaths Question, Bryan Niblett, explores the importance of atheism to Bradlaugh’s radical thinking and Deborah Lavin looks at radical secularism’s response to the Irish Question.

22nd Oct
John Stuart Mill
– Prof. Greg Claeys
With reference to Mill’s “On Liberty” and “The Subjection of Women”, Greg Claeys examines Mill’s idea of secular progress, his arguments in support of Malthusianism and feminism; alongside a discussion of his growing interest in socialism and concern to reconcile the conflicted demands for more equality and social justice with the dynamism of the Liberal meritocratic and individualist ideal.

29th Oct
Harriet Law
– Dr Laura Schwartz
Harriet Law was a deeply unrespectable woman. Freethinker, feminist and socialist, she abhorred religion, condemned the institution of marriage and was the only woman on Karl Marx’s First International. A newspaper editor, lecturer and Secularist activist in Victorian Britain.

5th Nov
Annie Besant
– Louise Raw & Marie Terrier
Annie Besant was a socialist, strike leader, secularist, lover of famous men and de facto religious guru. Louise Raw looks at why these interpretations of one woman’s life miss the point and Marie Terrier will talk on Annie Besant’s secularism as a weapon in the fight for women’s emancipation (1874-1890).

All lectures are £5 (£3 to members of the participating societies) and available online at

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