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Free Thinking Essay: Speaking Truth to Power in the Past and Present

Joanne Paul on satire, flattery and document leaks in the C16 and C17 centuries and now.

From Monarchs to Presidents. Joanne Paul on satire, flattery and document leaks in the C16 and C17 centuries and the relevance of strategies for telling truth to those who hold power over us now.
Five hundred years ago a miscalculation on this front could leave you without a head. Today, the personal stakes may not be as high, but globally, we’ve never had so much to lose. Renaissance historian and New Generation Thinker Dr Joanne Paul, from the University of Sussex, takes us back to the 16th and 17th century techniques for challenging the establishment and the writings of Gegorge Puttenham, Thomas More and Sir Thomas Elyot and debates over the merits of flattery versus honesty, and whether it was better to lead or to compel.

Recorded with an audience at Sage Gateshead as part of BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival.

New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to select 10 academics each year who can turn their research into radio

Producer: Torquil MacLeod

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20 minutes

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