Is ‘community’ dead?

In February 2014 the East Midlands Salon hosted a discussion entitled ‘Is ‘community’ dead?‘.

Our speaker was Dave Clements, author of many publications including “Society Wars” (IOI, 2012), “Social Care for Free Citizens” (Manifesto Club, 2010) and “The Future of Community”(Pluto, 2008). Dave convenes the Social Policy Forum at the Institute of Ideas and blogs for the Guardian, the Independent and Huffington Post. As an introduction to his talk, he writes: Continue reading


Balloon Debate 2013

At the December Salon the East Midlands Salon is hosting its second ‘Balloon Debate‘.

At this festive event Salon regulars and others will defend their favourite books as they metaphorically float heavenwards in a balloon. The Salon will vote on their attempts and, one by one, they will be thrown out of the balloon until we have a winner….come along and join in the fun!

Balloonists include:

Continue reading


Why Shakespeare?

At our November Salon Vanessa Pupavac discussed Why Shakespeare?
Why are more people turning or returning to Shakespeare? Not only do tickets to the Globe or the RSC sell out, but so too do initiatives like National Theatre Live bringing theatre performances to cinemas nationally and internationally. People have often turned to Shakespeare in times of crisis. or political oppression. If Ben Johnson said Shakespeare is for all time, CLR James argued this was only because he articulated his own times so… well.
So what is it that makes us feel today that Shakespeare is our contemporary and speaks to our preoccupations?
Vanessa will explore how Shakespeare’s tragic vision offers insights for and challenges to our oh so miserable now anti-humanist  culture and its degradation of humanity as a species. Macbeth and other tragic protagonists take us to a nihilistic abyss and see a world devoid of human meaning. Such bleakness has tempted successors to tidy up and sanitize Shakespeare’s tragedies. Nevertheless Shakespeare’s uncompromising tragedies assert a radical humanism affirming humans as speaking, acting, thinking and feeling individuals, and the tragedy of our mortality.
In The Parlour, The Brunswick Inn, 1 Railway Terrace, Derby, DE1 2RU:

Fiction, fatwa and fear: writing after The Satanic Verses

Book BurningThe 26 September 2013 sees the 25th anniversary of the publication of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. Rushdie has argued that it could not be published today. Have publishers become cowardly and writers taken to consciously or unconsciously engaging in self-censorship? The furore over the publication of Monica Ali’s Brick Lane or more recently of Sherry Jones’ The Jewel of Medina showed the politically correct watchdogs in the academy are at the forefront of the modern literary censorship as much as any mad mullahs. Continue reading


A Modern Guide to Witch Hunting

witch-huntOn Wednesday 19 June at 7 PM in the The Parlour, The Brunswick Inn, 1 Railway Terrace, Derby, DE1 2RU:, lawyer and educationalist Richard Harris will introduce our next Salon topic and give us his ‘modern guide to witch hunting’

Witches and wiccans are now accepted as normal religious figures. The classic text Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of the Witches) could be dispatched to the dustbin of history. But today there is a moral crusade against led not by priests but by the press and all ”right thinking people against new demons. Who are they and what can we learn from Malleus Maleficarum  about the new witches and the witch hunters?


The Leveson Effect: a good thing for press freedom?

The Leveson Effect:  a good thing for press freedom?

Speaker: Peter Lloyd, with a response by Dennis Hayes

7 PM on Wednesday 15 May 2013 in The Parlour, The Brunswick Inn, 1 Railway Terrace, Derby, DE1 2RU: Continue reading


Enlightening Personalities

At the next Salon on Wednesday 17 April at 7 PM in the ‘Parlour Room’ of  The Brunswick Inn, 1 Railway Terrace, Derby,  Professor Jonathan Powers will give talk with the interesting title ‘Enlightening Personalities’

Jonathan has started writing a series of mini-biographies of Enlightenment period figures associated in some way with Derby (or Derbyshire). They are based on public lectures he’s given to mark anniversaries of births and deaths. The first two are out already – “Henry Cavendish – the man who ‘weighed’ the Earth” and “Benjamin Franklin and Darwin’s ‘Lunaticks'” but they are available only at selected outlets ! (Derby Museum and Art Gallery, Derby Cathedral, Erasmus Darwin House in Lichfield, Chatsworth, and Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.) Four more are planned which will discuss the work and ideas of Thomas Hobbes, ‘Mad Madge’ Cavendish, John Flamsteed, John Whitehurst, James Ferguson, Erasmus Darwin, and Herbert Spencer. But what is so special about ‘anniversaries’ and why choose a particular location like Derby ? Is telling the extraordinary stories of these very different personalities, who happened to have been this way at some point, a proper way to go to about the history of ideas, or is Jonathan simply contributing to the construction of a narrative for the local ‘heritage industry’ ? Should we persuade him to stop or should he go on?


The New Atheism

The next Salon will be on held at 7 PM on Wednesday 6 February, also in the Brunswick Inn, when Dolan Cummings will discuss ‘The New Atheism’ and ask ‘What’s the point?’ To register, email:

From the controversy over teaching ‘intelligent design’ in schools, to arguments over prayers at council meetings or religiously based opposition to euthanasia, abortion or gay marriage, atheists have crossed swords with religious believers over a number of issues in recent years. And the critique is not limited to mainstream religion: champions of science, reason and evidence have also sought to expose the pretences of clairvoyants and alternative-health charlatans. Continue reading


I Will Survive!

“I WILL SURVIVE!” The rise of the ‘survivor identity’ and its dangers

At the next East Midlands Salon, author and academic Dr Ken McLaughlin will introduce a discussion of the themes in his controversial book ‘Surviving Identity’

Many individuals and groups today like to self-identify themselves as ‘survivors’ but they are only the more public voice of what Ken calls ‘the survivor ethos. The trends he identifies in his book affect us all. By lowering our expectations of ourselves and each other the prevailing mood is one in which we are all merely ‘survivors’.  Continue reading


Are children moral?

Are children moral?

The next East Midlands Salon will be held on Wednesday 20 June at 7 PM in the Brunswick Inn, Derby, when Nina Powell (University of Birmingham) will present her controversial new research: “Some recent research argues that ground-floor and somewhat sophisticated moral cognition develops as early as 14 months of age. Using my recent research I will argue that the case for an innate moral understanding that expresses itself before the age of 6 or 7-years-old is at best, limited, and at worst, grossly misrepresented in the research. The implications of such misrepresentations of moral development are in misguided efforts to increase moral understanding in the early years through schooling and parenting interventions, as well as an overall problematic view that ignores the complexity and changeability of human beings and the way we think about morality.”