Whose lives do we remember as ‘great’ and why? Are heroes celebrated for their creativity, empathy, or reasoning? Were their achievements down to hard work or chance? How do we commemorate those we decide are worthy, and who gets left out?
In an 1881 article for children in her freethought journal Our Corner, Annie Besant encouraged readers to ‘judge for yourself’ who deserves the label ‘hero’. Introducing the lives and achievements of figures like Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin, Besant hoped to inspire the next generation of freethinkers, empowering them to make their own judgements about who to admire. Today, discussions about legacy and commemoration are more important than ever. Join us to continue the conversation.
Clare Stainthorp (Queen Mary University of London) and Madeleine Goodall (Humanists UK), two experts in the history of humanism and freethought, will be leading an inclusive discussion and a variety of hands-on activities designed for attendees of any age to reflect upon who gets to be remembered, and why they ought to be. Over the course of an hour you will learn about some historical freethinkers, get creative to envision a ‘real hero’ of your own to take home, and hopefully be inspired to ‘Think for yourself, act for everyone’.
This event is funded by the Leverhulme Trust and The National Lottery Heritage Lottery Fund. It is part of Being Human Festival, the UK’s national festival of the humanities, taking place 9–18 November 2023. Led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, with generous support from Research England, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. For more information, visit beinghumanfestival.org
This event will run in 3 separate hour-long slots, starting at 10am, 12pm and 2pm.
If you have any accessibility enquiries, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org / 020 7405 1818.