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John Issitt - Agents of Reason

Agents of Reason. The demand for fair political representation - from the French Revolution to the Treason Trials of 1794.

From July 1794 London’s radicals and dissenters once again pressed for fair representation. The hero of Agents of Reason is Jeremiah Joyce who liaised between the reform societies and distributed radical political literature. He operated largely around Red Lion square, Fleet Street and St Paul’s Churchyard. He was working class, a Unitarian and a political radical. He also worked for the Earl of Stanhope and taught William Pitt’s nieces and nephews. By 1794 the system of spies and prosecutions for sedition and treason had stamped out the radical voice and Jeremiah ended up in Newgate.

Agents of Reason is based on the limited remaining archive and accounts a critical moment in the lineage of ‘the left’. John Issitt’s fictionalized account brings to life the personal compromises of a worker for freedom and justice who was used and abused both by circumstances and by his more genteel masters keen not to get their own political hands dirty. In this talk John Issitt will describe his own compromises in negotiating the orthodox register of academic history and the literary license of historical fiction.

John Issitt was Provost of Langwith College in the University of York until September 2013. Whilst retaining ‘survival’ teaching hours, he is now a writer and political commentator. Agents of Reason is his second book. He is currently working on Tom and Edmund which spans the 250 years from the childhood experiences of Tom Paine and Edmund Burke to their legacies in the modern world. He uses archival resources but fictionalizes and crosses literary genres to dig deep into the human issues at stake.

11.00, £5 in advance/free to members

Tea & Coffee will be available.

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  • terence f.

    interesting topic but content seemed to be mostly about the personalities rather than discussion on reason as a concept. My error perhaps. Delivery and enthusiasm were clear.

    October 6, 2013

5 went

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