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This online panel conversation will examine the importance of opportunities to speak freely and be heard across time. It will consider the human and social capacities that underpin such freedom, as well as the material conditions that can hinder or enable its exercise. It takes both a historical and a contemporary perspective, exploring the role of archives in facilitating expression across time, and showcasing contemporary arts and humanities projects that empower individuals and groups to find words. The event will pay particular attention to marginalized groups who may find it difficult to speak, or whose voices may not be recognized, valued or recorded, such as refugees, children and prisoners. We will address the importance of finding words for individuals and for society and think critically about who gets to speak and who doesn't.


The participants include:

  • Dave Carey and colleagues from the pioneering theatre company, Chickenshed, who will explain how they bring together people of all ages and from all backgrounds to produce theatre that celebrates diversity and inspires positive change through expression.
  • Arlene Holmes-Henderson and Tom Wright of the multi-disciplinary Speaking Citizens project which brings together educators and researchers to promote citizenship and education through talk. They will focus particularly on the role of oracy in schools.
  • Suzanne Rose, education and outreach officer at the Mass Observation Archive who will talk about the Beyond Boxes Project - a partnership with Blind Veterans UK, the Brighton Housing Trust and HMP Lewes, which has developed new ways for participants to share their life experiences. It has also addressed the barriers that prevent people from engaging with, and contributing to, archives of everyday life. 

The panel will be collaboratively chaired by Katherine Harloe, Director of the Institute of Classical Studies and Claire Langhamer, Director of the Institute of Historical Research. Audience questions and comments will be particularly welcome. 


2021-22 Open for Discussion Series

Freedom of Speech and academic freedoms have attracted renewed public and political interest. Debates often emphasise the importance of freedom of speech to democracy and democratic freedoms, while international organisations continue to monitor censorship and the free press across the world. Key questions continue to exercise scholars, politicians, the press and the public: should there be limits to freedom of speech? How should freedom of speech be recognised in the law? What are the implications for freedom of speech posed by new technologies and digital platforms? What are the barriers to having multiple voices heard, respected and acknowledged, now and in the past? How do we have open debates in polemical times?  

Speaking Freely is an events series that explores the legal, cultural and historical dimensions of these questions, both within the UK and internationally. The series brings together experts from across the world and from different sectors to debate and discuss these critical issues.

  • Session 2: 16 February 2022 | 18:00 - 19:30
  • Session 3: 16 March 2022 | 18:00 - 19:30 | Writing Freely
  • Session 4: 26 April 2022 | 18:00 - 19:30
  • Session 5: 18 May 2022 | 18:00 - 19:30 


All welcome, but advanced registration is required.

This event is free to attend, but booking is required. It will be held online with details about how to join the virtual event being circulated via email to registered attendees 24 hours in advance.