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School of English and Drama

Freethought in the Long Nineteenth Century: New Perspectives

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This multidisciplinary conference will be held 9-10 September 2022 at Queen Mary University of London.

This event has now taken place - thanks to everyone involved for making it such a success. A conference report has been published by Humanist UK: Groundbreaking academic conference explores far-reaching history of humanist thought


We are pleased to confirm that our keynote speaker is Dr Carolin Kosuch (University of Göttingen). Her keynote lecture will be: 'The Gender of Secularism: Masculinities and Cremation'.

Download the Freethought Conference programme [PDF 77KB]

Please note that programme details are subject to change. We will circulate a conference pack with finalised timings, paper abstracts, and speaker bios to registered attendees.

Event Details

Registration via Eventbrite has now closed.

'Freethought in the Long Nineteenth Century: New Perspectives' is an in-person conference held in the Graduate Centre on Queen Mary University of London's Mile End campus. It will take place between 9:00 and 18:00 on Friday 9 September and 9:00 and 17:20 on Saturday 10 September.

Registration costs:  £10 for the full conference or £5 for single day attendance (kindly subsidised by the Leverhulme Trust). Registration will close on Friday 26 August. Please note that fees are non-refundable.

Lunch and refreshments on both days, plus a wine reception on Friday, is included in the conference fee.

There will be an optional conference dinner on Friday evening that will be an additional cost – details to be confirmed with those who have registered.

Travel and Accommodation

The QMUL Mile End campus is close to two London Underground stations (Mile End on Hammersmith and City, District and Central lines; and Stepney Green on the Hammersmith and City and District lines) and it is also well connected to bus routes. See here for details about all transport links:

Unfortunately it is not possible to stay in QMUL rooms on the weekend of the conference. A couple of options for budget hotels that are close to the Mile End campus are:

However, it would be easy to stay elsewhere in London and travel to the conference location by public transport, which opens up a wide range of accommodation options.



Clare Stainthorp (Queen Mary University of London), with Anton Jansson (University of Gothenburg) and Madeleine Goodall (Humanists UK)

This conference is funded by the Leverhulme Trust and organised in partnership with the International Society for Historians of Atheism, Secularism and Humanism and Humanists UK.


The logos of the Leverhulme Trush, Humanists UK, and the International Society for Historians of Atheism, Secularism, and Humanism





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Please note that the call for papers is has now closed.

Click here to download CFP for Freethought in the Long Nineteenth Century [PDF 191KB]

We welcome proposals which explore how freethought discourses circulated within and across nations in the period c.1789–1914, and how the legacies of these persisted across the twentieth century and through to the present.

Please submit a 300-word proposal for a 15 minutes paper plus a 50-word biography in Word format to by Tuesday 15 March 2022.

We are also interested in proposals for panels or presenting work in alternative formats. We recommend getting in contact to discuss potential approaches prior to submission.

Four fee waivers and travel bursaries (up to £100) will be available for unwaged, precarious, and student speakers. Information about how to apply for these will be sent to those whose papers are accepted and are eligible.


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