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The Future of the Charters of Liberty in the 21st Century: From homo idioticus to femina communis

By mute, 9 May 2015

A talk by Peter Linebaugh, presented by artists Emma Rushton and Derek Tyman, The Victorian Prison, Lincoln Castle.


Organised by the City of Lincoln & the University of Lincoln

Monday, 15 June 2015 from 19:00 to 20:30.

Lincoln England



This event marks the sealing of Magna Carta 800 years ago on 15 June 1215 and launches “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.


Lincoln’s newly restored Castle, with its Victorian Prison and purpose built Vault housing Lincoln’s Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest will be open to members of the audience free of charge from 6.00pm.


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 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 Doug 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 subsistence rights for 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 practitioners 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, Germany, 2015; Fear of the Surplus, The Tetley, Leeds, 2014 and in Where do I end and you begin, Edinburgh Art Festival, 2014.


The Castle prison is fully accessible.





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 and Lincoln Culture and Arts Partnership. The residency is managed by the City of Lincoln Council and the University of Lincoln. We are grateful for the support of Lincoln Castle in hosting this event.



More about Peter Linebaugh:


Peter Linebaugh, a historian currently residing in the region of the American Great Lakes, grew up amid the hopes and rubble of post-war London, was schooled by (among others) Anglicans in Karachi, Quakers in Swarthmore, and Cold War Warriors in New York. Later he worked with E.P. Thompson (author of ‘The Making of the English Working Class’) at the Centre for the Study of Social History at the University of Warwick. Throughout the 1970's and 80's he taught Marxism in men’s prisons in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Illinois and New York. Linebaugh specializes in British history, Irish history, labor history, and the history of the colonial Atlantic.


Linebaugh has taught at the University of Toledo in Ohio, Rochester, New York University, University of Massachusetts-Boston and has received Grants from the Max Planck Institute in Göttingen, Germany, and Fulbright and Mellon fellowships. His writing has appeared in many publications including the New York University Law Review and Social History. Since the publication of The Magna Carta Manifesto he has been invited to address audiences about Magna Carta from San Francisco, Delhi and Johannesburg to Barcelona, London and Madrid.