Self-seekers, Madmen and Poets

Public Inaugral Lecture  Wednesday 27 February, 2013 at 5pm – Lecture Theatre SMB.0.14 (Stewart Mason Building)

Professor Ruth Kinna, Department of Politics, History and International Relations

In this lecture, Professor Kinna will use the socialist William Morris’s description of nineteenth-century revolutionaries as a springboard to consider the way that marginal figures can illuminate our understanding of political ideology.

She will focus on figures like Morris, the anti-parliamentarian Guy Aldred, and the egoist Dora Marsden, who refused to take part in mainstream institutional politics at the turn of the twentieth century and who intervened in political debate as agitators, propagandists and pamphleteers.

Through these figures, Professor Kinna will discuss the argument that the history of ideas is enriched by engagement with the aspirations, dreams and motivations of neglected activists.

One strand of the argument is that their work provides an insight into the depth of radical politics and that this challenges the tendency toward easy ideological labelling.

A second strand is that the work of these extraordinary political actors, “self-seekers, madmen and poets”, reveals a passion and commitment which is not only inspiring, but which is often forgotten in mainstream histories of ideas.

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