Professor Peter Linebaugh’s Public Lecture at Lincoln Castle

The Future of the Charters of Liberty in the 21st Century: From Homo Idioticus to Femina Communis, a talk by Professor Peter Linebaugh, presented by artists Emma Rushton & Derek Tyman.


Last night our Pro Vice Chancellor and Head of College Matthew Cragoe had the privilege of introducing renowned historian Professor Peter Linebaugh‘s public lecture which took place in the newly refurbished Victorian Prison at Lincoln Castle. It was a brilliant talk, examining five key moments in the struggle for freedom in these islands, peppered with some suitably salty observations about contemporary politics on both sides of the Atlantic. Professor Peter Linebaugh addressed a packed audience at the Victorian Prison and got a wonderful ovation at the end.

The event marked the sealing of Magna Carta 800 years ago on 15 June 1215 and launched “Gnawed by Rats” a programme of art for Lincoln and foray into the history and contemporary relevance of Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest, by artists Emma Rushton and Derek Tyman.

Professor Peter Linebaugh, is a renowned historian of Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest. His books include The Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberties and Commons for All, 2008 and most recently Stop, Thief! The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance, 2014.  He has also written on the history of crime and society  – The London Hanged: Crime and Civil Society in the Eighteenth Century, 1991 and as co-editor with EP Thompson and Douglas Hay of Albion’s Fatal Tree: Crime and Society in Eighteenth-Century England, 1975.

Emma Rushton and Derek Tyman’s concerns lie in social and political history. In this project for Lincoln, they will explore Magna Carta’s role in relation to the powers of government and Charter of the Forest’s championship of the subsistence rights of the poor. They are particularly interested in the wider context of ‘the Commons’ i.e. all things from water to rain forests and health provision that are held in common as essential to life for all, but are today increasingly under threat. 

Rushton and Tyman work collaboratively to realise projects and exhibitions, often inviting experts in other areas, musicians, artists, writers, members of the public and activists to contribute to and participate in the work. They studied at the Royal College of Art and currently teach at Leeds and Falmouth universities. They have most recently exhibited Dread of Scarcity, Fear of Abundance at Simultanhalle, Cologne, 2015; Fear of the Surplus, The Tetley, Leeds, 2014 and in Where do I end and you begin, Edinburgh Art Festival, 2014.

Emma Rushton and Derek Tyman’s residency Gnawed by Rats: Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest is part of the Magna Carta Lincoln Voices  programme  2015 -17 and has received funding from The Magna Carta Trust, Arts Council England and Lincoln Culture and Arts Partnership. It is managed by the City of Lincoln Council and the University of Lincoln. 

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