Podcast

Arts & Ideas

Leading artists, writers, thinkers discuss the ideas shaping our lives & links between past & present and new academic research.

Episodes

  • Patti Lupone

    Feb 19 2019

    How loud should you be? Italian American performer Patti Lupone talks to Philip Dodd about why she doesn’t consider herself an American, her politics, unsuccessful auditions, backbiting, corporate entertainment, #Me Too. Her career has taken her from a Broadway debut in a Chekhov play in 1973 to performances in the original productions of plays by David Mamet and musicals including Evita on Broadway and Les Misérables and Sunset Boulevard in London’s West End. She won a Tony award for her role a...more

  • Scented gloves and gossip: civility and news in the Renaissance

    Feb 15 2019

    Shahidha Bari discusses new research on the the ins and outs of Renaissance culture: John Gallagher on civility, Emily Butterworth on news and gossip, Lauren Working on material culture, Sarah Knight and Hannah Crawforth on 'difficultness'. This podcast is made with the assistance of the AHRC - the Arts and Humanities Research Council which funds research at universities and museums, galleries and archives across the UK into the arts and humanities and works in partnership with BBC Radio 3 on t...more

  • Love

    Feb 14 2019

    Poet Andrew McMillan, philosopher and psychologist Laura Mucha, poet and novelist Lavinia Greenlaw & writer Elanor Dymott explores who and why we love. Presented by Anne McElvoy. Laura Mucha has written Love Factually: the science of who, how and why we love Andrew McMillan's new book of poetry is called Playtime Lavinia Greenlaw's novel In the City of Love's Sleep is out in paperback and her new book of poetry is called The Built Moment Elanor Dymott's latest novel Slacktide is out now. It f...more

  • Africa Babel China

    Feb 13 2019

    West Africa has a fundamental place in the shaping of the modern world and its story is told in a new history by Toby Green. He joins Rana Mitter in the Free Thinking studio alongside Xue Xinran who explores China's recent history through the lives and relationships of one family and Dennis Duncan of the Bodleian Library muses on why the English needed English dictionaries and the desirability of a universal language. A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave trrade to the Ag...more

  • Spike Lee

    Feb 12 2019

    The film-maker Spike Lee talks to Matthew Sweet about black power and prejudice, the politics of blackface, and the Oscars as his film BlacKkKlansman is nominated for six Academy Awards. Since 1983, his production company has produced over 35 films. His first film in 1986 was a comedy drama She's Gotta Have It filmed in black and white which he turned into a Netflix drama in 2017. In 1989 Do The Right Thing was nominated for Best Original Screenplay in the Academy Awards. Best Picture that yea...more

  • Self Knowledge, Global Catastrophe and Simulated Worlds

    Feb 07 2019

    Self-knowledge, intellectual vices & conspiracy theories are debated by Professor Quassim Cassam and presenter Matthew Sweet. Plus New Generation Thinker Simon Beard discusses an exhibition of artwork commissioned by the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. And a re-release of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 1973 sci-fi TV series Wire World on a Wire takes us into cybernetics and artificial life. Quassim Cassam's new book is called Vices of the Mind. Ground Zero Earth curated by Yas...more

  • Encylopedias and Knowledge: from Diderot to Wikipedia.

    Feb 06 2019

    Jimmy Wales talks Diderot & collecting knowledge + Tariq Goddard on Mark Fisher aka k-punk. The French writer Diderot was thrown into prison in 1749 for his atheism, worked on ideas of democracy at the Russian court of Catherine the Great and collaborated on the creation of the first Encyclopédie. Biographer Andrew S. Curran and Jenny Mander look at Diderot's approach to editing the first encyclopedia. Plus writer and publisher Tariq Goddard on the work and legacy of his collaborator and friend,...more

  • Street Culture, Protests, Food.

    Feb 05 2019

    Gilet jaune and novelist Edouard Louis, food expert Fabio Parasecoli, journalist, Gavin Mortimer and the historians Jerry White & Joanna Marchant with Philip Dodd. Whether it’s Berlin, Moscow or the Paris of the gilet jaunes - streets play a vital role in our history and culture. They're focal points of celebration and of protest ; they're gathering places for the young and old; places for a promenade or for fânerie; they're where the homeless build makeshift shelters and where musicians busk:...more

  • Sea Goings

    Jan 31 2019

    Conceptual artist Katie Paterson on art which produces candles scented with planetary odours – one of Saturn's moons has a hint of cherry…and how she and co-exhibitor the Romantic painter JMW Turner share an interest in the precise nature of moon light. Writers Julia Blackburn and Charlotte Runcie on the gaze of the beachcomber and searching for lost worlds along the tideline and Cutty Sark curator Hannah Stockton explains why the story of the famous tea cutter is one of survival. A place that...more

  • Slavoj Zizek, Camille Paglia, Flemming Rose

    Jan 30 2019

    Can causing offence be a good thing? Philip Dodd explores this question with the Slovenian philosopher, the American author and the Danish journalist. On the 15th February 1989 the Ayatollah Komeni issued a fatwah following the publication of Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses. Flemming Rose is the man who published the Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed and ignited international controversy. Slavoj Zizek has been called the most dangerous philosopher in the West; and Camille Pagli...more

  • Art & Refugees from Nazi Germany.

    Jan 29 2019

    Following this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day, Anne McElvoy looks at new writing which reflects on this history and at a festival marking the impact on British culture of refugees and artists who fled from the Nazis. Ed Williams from leading marketing firm Edelman sifts through the fall-out from Davos. Martin Goodman's novel J SS Bach is published in March 2019. Daniel Snowman's books include The Hitler Emigrés: The Cultural Impact on Britain of Refugees from Nazism. Monica Bohm-Duchen has ...more

  • Consent

    Jan 24 2019

    Kate Maltby, Lucy Powell, Zoe Strimpel join Shahidha Bari. Virtue Rewarded is the subtitle of Samuel Richardson's 1740 novel Pamela, which began as a conduct book before he turned it into the new literary form of the novel. Playwright Martin Crimp has taken this book as the inspiration for his latest work When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other. Shahidha Bari & guests debate consent then and now + news of the £40,000 Artes Mundi 8 Prize which is awarded tonight in Cardiff. The Artes Mundi...more

  • Slow Looking at Art

    Jan 23 2019

    As new shows featuring the Post-impressionist, Pierre Bonnard and the video artist, Bill Viola, open in London, Laurence Scott and his guests discuss the way we experience art from the current vogue for slow looking to the 30 second appraisal scientists say is the norm for most gallery goers. How do small details reshape our understanding of paintings? What about looking more than once? Does digital art require more or less concentration ? Kelly Grovier's book A New Way of Seeing: The History ...more

  • Oscars 2019

    Jan 22 2019

    Matthew Sweet and critics Catherine Bray and Ryan Gilbey look at films making waves as the Academy announces this year's nominations. Writer Jan Asante and cultural theorist Bill Schwarz assess James Baldwin's legacy in the light of the film adaptation of his novel If Only Beale Street Could Talk. Language historian John Gallagher gets to grips with the dialogue in period dramas including The Favourite and Mary Queen of Scots. Producer: Torquil MacLeod

  • Icons.

    Jan 17 2019

    Do our heroes and heroines have to be perfect? How do religious ikons link to iconoclasm and the labelling of film idols & politicians "icons of our time". Matthew Sweet is joined by film historian Pamela Hutchinson, bioethicist Tom Shakespeare, historian Julia Lovell and psychotherapist Mark Vernon. Julia Lovell’s book Maoism a Global History is out soon Mark Vernon’s book A Secret History of Christianity is out soon. For more information about the BBC TV series of programmes profiling moder...more

  • Tourism past and present

    Jan 16 2019

    The must see sights on the Grand Tour, in Cold War Moscow & tourist hot spots now. Rana Mitter is joined by Roey Sweet, Sarah Goldsmith, Nick Barnett, Cindy Yu and Simon Calder. Producer: Torquil MacLeod.

  • Walls

    Jan 15 2019

    Novelist John Lanchester, journalist Tim Marshall and historians David Frye and Kylie Murray join Anne McElvoy to discuss why we build walls rather than bridges and what it says about civilisations past, present and future from Persia to Berlin, the USA to a dystopian vision. John Lanchester's latest novel is called The Wall. David Frye has written Walls: A History of Civilisation in Blood and Brick is out now Tim Marshall's book Divided: Why We're living in an Age of Walls is out now Produ...more

  • Boredom

    Jan 10 2019

    Shahidha Bari, Josh Cohen, Madeleine Bunting, Lisa Baraitser, Rachel Long, and Sam Goodman explore the value of doing nothing and our wider experience of time. Josh Cohen is the author of Not Working: Why We Have to Stop. Lisa Baraitser is Professor of Psychosocial Theory at Birkbeck, University of London and co-creator of Waiting Times, a research project on waiting in healthcare http://waitingtimes.exeter.ac.uk/ Madeleine Bunting is a novelist and writer Rachel Long is a poet New Generation...more

  • Free Thinking: Born in 1819: Ruskin, Clough and Bazalgette

    Jan 09 2019

    The social campaigning, engineering and writing of three Victorians - art critic and philanthropist John Ruskin, poet and assistant to Florence Nightingale Arthur Hugh Clough and the builder of London's sewer system Joseph Bazalgette. Greg Tate, Suzanne Fagence Cooper , Stephen Halliday and Kevin Jackson join Laurence Scott to debate the way these 3 Victorians changed the way we look at the world and shaped our understanding of the Victorians. Producer: Zahid Warley

  • Landmark: Laurel and Hardy's The Music Box

    Jan 08 2019

    Lucy Porter, Neil Brand and David Quantick join Matthew Sweet to talk about Cric e Croc or Flip i Flap or even Dick und Doof though, if you're not Italian, Polish or German, it's far more likely that Hollywood's most famous comedy duo will be known to you simply as Stan and Ollie. Laurel and Hardy to give them their more formal title won the hearts of cinema goers all over the world in the '30s and '40s with films such as Way out West, Sons of the Desert and The Music Box, the sublime short wh...more

  • The Digital Humanities

    Dec 21 2018

    What’s the connection between Jane Austen’s particular choice of words in an afternoon in 1812, the oldest manuscript of Beowulf, fake news in 17th century England, and high definition digital photography? Laurence Scott talks to Kathryn Sutherland of St Anne’s College, Oxford, Noah Millstone of the University of Birmingham, and Andrew Prescott of the University of Glasgow about new possibilities for research opened up by digital technology. Producer: Luke Mulhall

  • Landmark: Watership Down

    Dec 20 2018

    An ecological fable about a perfect society which terrified children when it was first animated. Matthew Sweet reads Richard Adams' classic as a new version arrives on UK TV screens. He's joined by Dr Diana Bell, conservation biologist at UEA; Victoria Dickenson, author of Rabbit, a cultural history of rabbits; Brian Sibley, adaptor of the novel for a radio version and New Generation Thinker Lisa Mullen to debate rabbits both real and fictional. First published in 1972, Adams' novel follows ra...more

  • What does game playing teach us?

    Dec 19 2018

    University Challenge star Bobby Seagull, writer and critic Jordan Erica Webber, games consultant and researcher Dr Laura Mitchell, and British Museum curator Irving Finkel join Shahidha Bari and others in the Free Thinking studio to get out the playing cards and the board games and consider the value of play, competitiveness and game theory. Bobby Seagull has published The Life-Changing Magic of Numbers. Irving Finkel has written Ancient Board Games, the Lewis Chessmen, Cuneiform, The Writing...more

  • Trees of Knowledge

    Dec 18 2018

    Why Are We Here? What is a sentient being? These are questions we don't normally explore using plants but perhaps we should. Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough hears how identifying more closely with living beings who produce our oxygen and store the Sun's energy is a good way of navigating existential angst and have much to teach us about co-operation and mutual support and the unifying principles of life. Peter Wohlleben The Hidden Life of Trees: The Illustrated Edition is out now Emanuele Coccia ...more

  • Ice

    Dec 13 2018

    Anne McElvoy wraps up warm for an account of life in Antarctica through prose and poetry, how the idea of the North Pole has fired the human imagination for centuries and an artist's interpretation of the Arctic through sound. Also how the spectacular stage effects that thrill panto audiences have their roots in the 17th century and the court of James I and VI - New Generation Thinker Thomas Charlton looks at theatre history. North Pole by Michael Bravo is published on 14th December. Ice Diari...more

  • Linton Kwesi Johnson

    Dec 12 2018

    "My generation, which was the rebel generation of black youth, has changed England and in changing England we've changed ourselves" - the words of Linton Kwesi Johnson - the man who invented dub poetry and used it to chronicle some of the key events of black British history, from the celebrated case of George Lindo, wrongly accused of robbery in Bradford in 1978, to the New Cross Fire and Brixton riots a few years later. Philip Dodd talks to him about the roots of his poetry, his love of music a...more

  • Writing and Frankness

    Dec 11 2018

    Deborah Levy, Adam Phillips and Amia Srinivasan join Matthew Sweet at the British Library for a Royal Society of Literature debate. Why do we read? Why do we write? What do we reveal when we do? A writer, a psychotherapist and a philosopher discuss what we reveal about ourselves through literature and the difference, if any, between non-fiction, novels and the psychotherapist’s couch. Deborah Levy is a playwright, novelist and poet. In her ‘living autobiography’ The Cost of Living, she consid...more

  • Are we being manipulated?

    Dec 06 2018

    Who's pulling your strings - from advertisers and peer pressure to political campaigns and self-deception - hidden persuaders are everywhere. Journalist Poppy Noor, historian Sarah Marks, psychologist and magician, Gustav Kuhn, the philosopher, Quassim Cassam and Robert Colvile from the Centre for Policy Studies join Matthew Sweet to track them down. We're all confident that we know our own minds -- but do we? And if we don't, why not? Producer: Zahid Warley Quassim Cassam is professor of ph...more

  • Is there a great divide between the arts and science?

    Dec 05 2018

    Geneticist Sir Paul Nurse, current director of the Francis Crick Institute, and Tristram Hunt, historian and now director of the V&A, debate the impact of robots, the winners and losers in funding, whether our education system has the balance right between STEM and Arts subjects and they reveal their own arts and science hits and misses. Recorded before an audience at Queen Mary University London, the presenter is Shahidha Bari. Nearly 60 years on from C.P. Snow's 'Two Cultures' lecture in whic...more

  • Natasha Gordon. Bessie Head. Rwanda Representation and Reality

    Dec 05 2018

    As her award-winning debut play, Nine Night, comes to London's West End, Natasha Gordon tells Anne about the grieving ritual that binds in the Jamaican diaspora. Nine Night at Trafalgar Studios, London, until February 23rd On the 50th anniversary of the publication of Bessie Head's first novel, two of her titles, When Rain Clouds Gather (1969) and Maru (1971), have just been republished. Head's influence and creativity are discussed by journalist Audrey Brown and literary scholar Louisa Uchum ...more

  • Mike Hodges; Dark Sweden.

    Nov 29 2018

    The director of the 1971 film Get Carter, which starred Michael Caine, has now written his own crime novellas. Mike Hodges talks to Matthew Sweet. If Nordic Noir has reshaped an image of Sweden away from Abba into a society showing cracks - journalist Kajsa Norman has been tracking stories such as the cover-up of assaults on teenage girls at music festivals in 2015. She's called her book Sweden's Dark Soul: The Unravelling of a Utopia. Mike Hodges' trio of novellas is called Bait, Grist and Secu...more

  • Slavery Stories

    Nov 28 2018

    A long lost classic by William Melvin Kelley, who coined the term "woke" back in 1962 in a New York Times article, Esi Edugyan's Booker shortlisted novel, and new research on slavery with historians Christienna Fryar, Kevin Waite, and Andrea Livesey. Laurence Scott presents. A Different Drummer was the debut novel of Kelley - first published when he was 24. Compared to William Faulkner and James Baldwin, it was forgotten until an article about it earlier this year. Kelley died aged 79 in 2017....more

  • Plagues, Urban Inequality and Restricted Books

    Nov 27 2018

    Should we worry about the world getting healthier? Thomas Bollyky thinks we should. Jane Stevens Crawshaw looks at cleanliness and disease in Renaissance cities & Penny Woolcock films Oxford and LA. Rana Mitter presents. For the first time in recorded history, parasites, viruses, bacteria, and other infectious diseases are not the leading cause of death and disability in any region of the world but that doesn't mean our cities are healthier and more prosperous. Jane Steven Crawshaw from Oxford...more

  • Leadership: lessons from US Presidents and campaigners.

    Nov 23 2018

    Doris Kearns Goodwin on POTUS, crisis management and ambition - from Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt through FDR and LBJ to Donald Trump. Novelist Georgina Harding and Philip Woods compare notes on the impact of the war in Burma and depictions in fiction, war reporting and memoirs. New Generation Thinker Louisa Egbunike looks at the campaigning of Obi Egbuna the Nigerian-born novelist (1938- 2014), playwright and political activist who led the United Coloured People's Association. Anne McElvoy pr...more

  • The Left Behind

    Nov 21 2018

    Eric Kaufmann talks to Philip Dodd about white identity, immigration and populism. Plus Hungarian politics with cultural historian, Krisztina Robert, journalist, Matyas Sarkozi and Zsuzsa Szelenyi of the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna. Eric Kaufmann's book is called Whiteshift: populism, immigration and the future of White majorities. Krisztina Robert teaches at the University of Roehampton Producer: Zahid Warley

  • What kind of history should we write?

    Nov 21 2018

    Peter Frankopan brings his history of ties across Asia into the present while Maya Jasanoff, winner of the world's richest history prize, uses the novels of Joseph Conrad to show that the novelist was wrestling with the same problems and opportunities of globalisation we face today. Historian Peter Mandler also joins Rana Mitter to discuss new proposals for publishing historican research. As the centenary of the birth of Orkney film maker and poet Margaret Tait is celebrated nationally, New Gen...more

  • Buses, beer and VR - a taste of university research.

    Nov 15 2018

    A 3,000 year old Iranian ritual, archaeology on a council estate, and London's Greek Cypriot community: Matthew Sweet hops on the 29 bus route, puts on some VR glasses, and visits the hospital which was home to "the Elephant Man" as he talks to researchers showcasing their projects at the 2018 Being Human Festival. Petros Karatsareas and Athena Mandis guide Matthew through the moves made by the Greek Cypriot diaspora in London along the 29 bus route. Carenza Lewis and Ian Waites of the Univers...more

  • Death rituals

    Nov 14 2018

    From death cafes to bronze age burials, C19th mourning rings to the way healthcare professionals cope when patients die. Eleanor Barraclough looks at research showcased in the Being Human Festival at UK universities. Laura O'Brien at Northumbria University is running a death cafe and looking at the way celebrities can "live on" after their death. New Generation Thinker Danielle Thom works at the Museum of London and has been researching the history behind some of the jewelry in their collectio...more

  • Lost Words and Language

    Nov 14 2018

    New Scots words to add to the The Dictionar o the Scots Leid and a quiz about words from medieval Ireland are 2 of the Being Human Festival projects explored by Shahidha Bari. Plus how researchers are using film to explore social history and a major new exhibition about the sculptor and painter Elisabeth Frink (1930-1993). The Being Human Festival showcases research into the Humanities at universities around the UK. It runs from Nov 15th - 24th 2018 https://beinghumanfestival.org/ Watch the w...more

  • Why are we silent when conflict is loud?

    Nov 08 2018

    Journalist Peter Hitchens; the Rector of St James’s Church Piccadilly Lucy Winkett; performer and director Neil Bartlett and Professor Steve Brown from the Open University join Anne McElvoy at the Imperial War Museum for their 2018 Remembrance Lecture. In 1919, the first national silence was observed to commemorate the end of the First World War. Organised silences were designed to remember the human impact of conflict, but do twenty-first century collective silences fulfil that purpose? Thi...more

  • Butterflies and Bloodstains: Fragments of the First World War

    Nov 08 2018

    Shahidha Bari is joined by cultural historian Ana Carden-Coyne, literary scholar Santanu Das, and Julia Neville, co-ordinator of the Exeter First World War Hospitals Project, to discuss the 1914-1918 War. Their research turns the War into a mosaic of feeling and experience, a sensory dislocation and cultural melting pot. Dr Ana Carden-Coyne is Director of the Centre for the Cultural History of War (CCHW) in the School of Arts, Histories and Cultures, University of Manchester, and author of T...more

  • Landmark: Journey to the End of the Night

    Nov 07 2018

    Better than Proust -- the man who made literature out of colloquial French -- the arch chronicler of human depravity --- some of the things that are said about Louis Ferdinand Céline, author of Journey to the End of the Night - one of the masterpieces of 20th century literature. His semi- autobiographical novel, first published in 1932, is a ferocious assault on the hypocrisy and idiocy of his time. It follows its anti hero Ferdinand Bardamu from the battlefields of the First World War to Afri...more

  • Wilfred Owen: Poetry and Peace.

    Nov 06 2018

    Gillian Clarke, Sabrina Mahfouz and Michael Symmons Roberts respond to the war poet Wilfred Owen with their own new commissions from the Royal Society of Literature. Shahidha Bari hosts a discussion recorded with an audience at the British Library on the 100th anniversary of Owen's death during the crossing of the Sambre–Oise Canal on 4 November 1918, exactly 7 days (almost to the hour) before the signing of the Armistice which ended World War I. Born in Cardiff, Gillian Clarke’s work has be...more

  • Re-thinking the Human Condition

    Nov 01 2018

    Henry Hardy has written In Search of Isaiah Berlin: A Literary Adventure Diving For Seahorses: A Journey Through the Science of Memory by Hilde Østby and Ylva Østby explores the study of memory from the Renaissance to the present day. Dafydd Daniel is a New Generation Thinker and the McDonald Lecturer in Theology and Ethics, University of Oxford.

  • Religious divisions, puppet shows and politics.

    Oct 31 2018

    The exile of English Catholics 450 years ago, suffragette Punch and Judy plus Shahidha Bari interviews Kapka Kassabova, the winner of a prize for fostering global understanding. The British Academy’s Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding was announced this week. The winner Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe by Kapka Kassabova is out in paperback. Dr Lucy Underwood teaches at the University of Warwick and is the author of Childhood, youth and religious dissent in post...more

  • The Memes that Make Us Laugh

    Oct 30 2018

    The memes that make us laugh - have we become meaner or can schadenfreude be a positive thing? Philosophical traditions around the world - can you outline the ideas of Nishida as well as Nietzsche? Is Japan facing a key moment of change in what it means to be Japanese? Julian Baggini, and New Generation Thinkers Tiffany Watt Smith and Christopher Harding join Rana Mitter. Plus "starchitects" - inspirational big names or a symptom of what has gone wrong with architecture? Professor James Stevens ...more

  • From the Gallows to the Holy Land: Medieval Pilgrimage

    Oct 26 2018

    From a hanged man who came back to life to walk from Swansea to Hereford, to a woman who travelled from London to Evesham in a wheelbarrow, studying pilgrimage opens up a unique window on the world of the middle ages. Catherine Clarke, Anthony Bale, and Sophie Ambler explain to Shahidha Bari how research into pilgrimage helps us understand how medieval people thought about themselves and their lives, the kinds of things they worried about, how they spent their disposable income, and interacted w...more

  • The Dark and Political Messages of Kids Fiction.

    Oct 25 2018

    Michael Rosen and Kimberley Reynolds talk to Anne McElvoy about socialist fairy tales and radicalism in books for children. Nikita Gill and Katherine Webber on giving traditional tales a modern twist. Reading & Revolution: An Anthology of Radical Writing for Children 1900-1960 is out now Workers' Tales: Socialist Fairy Tales, Fables and Allegories from Great Britain is published on 13th November Fierce Fairytales & Other Stories to Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill is out now Katherine ...more

  • Mike Leigh

    Oct 24 2018

    The film director talks to Matthew Sweet about his career and his approach to dramatising history. His new film Peterloo depicts the 1819 massacre at a rally in Manchester where a crowd of 60,000–80,000 were demanding the reform of parliamentary representation. It follows his film about the painter Mr Turner and the 2004 film Vera Drake which depicted the 1950s - a period when abortions were illegal in England. Peterloo is in UK cinemas from 2 November Jacqueline Riding's Peterloo - The St...more

  • Playing God

    Oct 23 2018

    How do you put the Bible on stage or make a modern medieval mystery play? Shahidha Bari talks to the National Theatre of Brent's Patrick Barlow as his play The Messiah starts at UK tour. New Generation Thinker Daisy Black watches a new medieval mystery play in Stoke. Plus the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition at the British Library sees a giant Northumbrian Bible returned to Britain for the first time in 1300 years. And historian Iona Hine discusses her research into how we understand biblical sto...more

  • Enchantment, Witches and Woodlands

    Oct 18 2018

    Matthew Sweet takes to the woods with thoroughly modern witch, William Hunter, and writer and folklorist, Zoe Gilbert, to look for green men and suitable spots for a ritual. If modern magic is all about re-enchanting the world then old magic was more about fear and keeping witches out but as a new exhibition opens in Oxford, Dafydd Daniel and Lisa Mullen discuss whether magical thinking is an inevitable part of being human while in Marie Darrieussecq's new novel set in a not very far away and dy...more

  • Francis Fukuyama, Olga Tokarczuk, Alev Scott, Michael Talbot.

    Oct 18 2018

    What's it like to be banned from your own country or to have your writing spark a row? Rana Mitter's guests talk identity, borders, forest landscapes and the long impact of the Ottoman empire. The American political scientist Francis Fukuyama is associated with the phrase "the end of history". His latest book Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment looks at what he sees as the threats to Liberalism. Alev Scott has travelled through 12 countries, talking to figures in...more

  • Re-writing C20th British Philosophy

    Oct 16 2018

    Putting women back into the C20th history of British philosophy. Shahidha Bari talks to Alex Clark about the 2018 Man Booker Prize, considers the thinking of Mary Midgley whose death at the age of 99 was announced last week and puts her alongside Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, and Iris Murdoch who were undergraduates at Oxford University during WWII. The In Parenthesis project of Clare Mac Cumhaill and Rachael Wiseman asks whether you can call them a philosophical school. Plus, Mark Robins...more

  • Sinking Your Teeth Into Vampires

    Oct 16 2018

    Is soap opera the heir to the gothic novel? Is America seeing a resurgence of gothic TV and fiction? Shahidha Bari looks at new Gothic research with Nick Groom and Xavier Aldana Reyes. Vampires weren’t invented by horror writers, but were first encountered by doctors, priests and bureaucrats working in central Europe in the mid 17th century - that's the argument of The Vampire: A New History written by "the Goth Prof" Nick Groom from Exeter University. Xavier Aldana Reyes researches at the Got...more

  • Discrimination

    Oct 11 2018

    Helena Kennedy on #MeToo and the message it sends that the British legal system needs to get its house in order. Plus power in Pinter's plays and rape in Chaucer. Shahida Bari talks to theatre directors Jamie Lloyd and Lia Williams about language and the roles for women on stage in the Pinter at the Pinter Season, an event featuring all of Harold Pinter's short plays, performed together for the first time. And Professor Elizabeth Robertson has been researching references to rape in Chaucer's wri...more

  • Greed and Landownership Past, Present, Future

    Oct 11 2018

    The Scottish Clearances by Tom Devine, Professor Emeritus, University of Edinburgh. The Farm, a new novel by Hector Abad is translated by Anne McLean The Future of Capitalism by Paul Collier, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government and a Professorial Fellow of St Antony's College. Anne McElvoy presents a short film Is Capitalism Here to Stay for BBC Ideas https://www.bbc.com/ideas/ Browse their A-Z of Isms

  • Drugs and Consciousness

    Oct 10 2018

    Does LSD open the doors of perception or just mess with your head? Leo Butler tells Matthew Sweet about writing a play inspired by taking part in the world's first LSD medical trials since the 1960s. Philosophers Peg O'Connor and Barry Smith lock horns with neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt over whether drug-induced hallucinations allow access to a deeper reality. Producer: Torquil MacLeod

  • A Feminist Take on Medieval History

    Oct 06 2018

    How does Chaucer write about rape and consent ? What links Kim Kardashian West & Margery Kempe - an English Christian mystic and mother of 14 children who wrote about her religious visions in the 1420s in what has been called the first autobiography in English. Alicia Spencer-Hall, Elizabeth Robertson and New Generation Thinker Hetta Howes join Shahidha Bari for a conversation about new research and what a feminist take brings to our understanding of the medieval period. Made with the assist...more

  • The Frieze Debate: Museums in the 21st Century

    Oct 04 2018

    . Museum directors from USA, Austria and Britain look at the challenges of displaying their collections for new audiences. Anne McElvoy's guests include Michael Govan, Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art LACMA, Sabine Haag, Director, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna and Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum. Recorded with an audience at the Royal Institution in London as one of the events for the 2018 Frieze London Art Fair. Find our playlist of discussions ab...more

  • Sarah Perry’s Melmoth, Spookiness and Fear.

    Oct 03 2018

    Matthew Sweet talks to the author of The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry, about her re-imagining of the Melmoth story, first published in 1920 by the Irish playwright, novelist and clergyman Charles Maturin. His Melmoth the Wanderer was a critique of Catholicism following a scholar who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for living 150 years longer. Sarah Perry's version begins in Prague with a female scholar who feels she's being watched. Plus, experts on the Gothic Roger Luckhurst and Helen Wh...more

  • Gandhi's power, portable citizenship & Indian writing - China's missing film star

    Oct 02 2018

    Gandhi's power, portable citizenship and Indian writing. Rana Mitter talks to Ramachandra Guha about his new biography of Gandhi, hears about "portable citizenship from Indrajit Roy and discusses Indian writing and literary tradition with Amit Chaudhuri and Sandeep Parmar. Rana also breaks off from the subcontinent briefly to explore the mysterious disappearance of China's biggest film star, Fan Bingbing with the historian, Julia Lovell. Ramachandra Guha has written Gandhi: The Years that Chan...more

  • Loss, Grief and Anger

    Sep 27 2018

    Lisa Appignanesi, prize-winning writer and Freudian scholar, with a personal memoir that explores public and private loss and anger. Presenter Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough also looks at a Festival of Canadian and North American writing meeting authors Heather O'Neill and Cherie Dimaline whose novels explore the meaning of family in dystopian visions of Canada, urban and rural. And, as the Oceania exhibition opens at the Royal Academy in London and a new Pacific Gallery opens at the National Mari...more

  • Slavoj Žižek, Camille Paglia, Flemming Rose

    Sep 26 2018

    Can causing offence be a good thing? Philip Dodd explores this question with the Slovenian philosopher, Slavoj Zizek, the American author, Camille Paglia and the Danish journalist, Flemming Rose. Camille Paglia is a Professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia whose Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson was rejected by seven publishers before it became a best-seller. Flemming Rose was Culture Editor at the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten when in Septe...more

  • The Goodies

    Sep 25 2018

    Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie talk to Matthew Sweet about how humour changes and the targets of their TV comedy show which ran during the '70s and early '80s. A box set of the 67 half hour episodes is being released. Producer: Harry Parker.

  • What Nietzsche teaches us

    Sep 20 2018

    How Nietzsche might have responded to current debates, including Trump, 'post-truth', identity and Europe. Kwame Anthony Appiah talks about his new work on identity and biographer Sue Prideaux and philosophers Hugo Drochon and Katrina Mitcheson join Matthew Sweet to think about Nietzsche. I Am Dynamite! A Life of Nietzsche by Sue Prideaux is published on October 30th. Her books include Edvard Munch: Behind the Scream, which was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and Strindberg: A Lif...more

  • What Camus and Claude Lévi-Strauss teach us

    Sep 19 2018

    Rana Mitter talks to poet and writer Ben Okri and writer and journalist Agnes Poirier about the contemporary resonance of The Outsider by Albert Camus (1913-1960), and as a new biography of the anthropological giant, Claude Levi-Strauss by Emmanuelle Loyer comes out in English, he talks to anthropologist, Adam Kuper about travel, anthropology and how we classify. Rana is also joined by Peter Moore who has written a history of the ship Endeavour which carried James Cook on his first explorations ...more

  • What St Augustine teaches us

    Sep 18 2018

    Ideas of tryanny, martyrdom, sin and grace in a new play set against Indian politics today and an exhibition which might be called pornographic. April De Angelis has relocated a Lope De Vega play to contemporary India, and a backdrop of political unrest. The original Fuenteovejuna was inspired by an incident in 1476 when inhabitants of a village banded together to seek retribution on a commander who mistreated them. The Spanish Baroque artist and printmaker, Jusepe de Ribera (1591-1652) is known...more

  • Proms Plus: Retelling Troy

    Sep 18 2018

    Bettany Hughes and Alex Clark discuss feminist retellings of The Iliad. Rachel Stirling reads extracts.

  • Sebastian Faulks

    Sep 13 2018

    The author of Birdsong talks to Anne McElvoy in one of the first conversations about his new novel. Sebastian Faulks discusses depicting France past and present from World War I to Algeria and immigration now as he publishes his latest novel called Paris Echo. Recorded with an audience at the BBC Proms. Producer: Fiona McLean

  • Women Finding a Voice

    Sep 12 2018

    Deborah Frances-White host of podcast The Guilty Feminist joins Catherine Fletcher. Novelist Michèle Roberts reviews a portrait of artist Louise Bourgeois woven from conversations, and comedian and classicist Natalie Haynes discusses co-writing a modern political comedy based on The Assembly Women by Aristophanes, whilst Jeanie O'Hare talks about filling in the gaps in Shakespeare's depiction of Queen Margaret in her new play. Now, Now Louison written by Jean Frémon, translated by Cole Swens...more

  • Design

    Sep 11 2018

    A silent room and a design to encourage disobedience are amongst the exhibits that Matthew Sweet and Laurence Scott visit at the London Design Biennale as they consider the role of Design in the week the V&A opens a new museum in Dundee. New Generation Thinker Kylie Murray talks about her discoveries of scribblings in the margins of books and what they tell us about Dundee's connections with France in late medieval times. Plus film critic Peter Biskind explores the effect of superhero and zombie...more

  • Proms Plus: Sex and Death in Literature

    Sep 03 2018

    The Booker long-listed crime writer, Belinda Bauer and the novelist, Patricia Duncker, join Matthew Sweet to discuss sex and death in literature. Embracing everything from Emily Bronte to Margaret Atwood they consider the challenges and the pitfalls posed by both subjects and whether they’re easier to approach now than they were in the past. Producer: Zahid Warley

  • Proms Plus: Northern Lights

    Aug 29 2018

    The appearance of the aurora borealis has entranced and intrigued people from cultures across the world, inspiring art, music and stories, including tonight's Proms world premiere of Iain Bell's Aurora. But what creates it? Why is it green? Physicists Melanie Windridge, author of Aurora: In Search of the Northern Lights, and Nathan Case of Aurorawatch UK discuss the science that lies behind the Northern Lights. BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinker Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough is the author of Beyo...more

  • Proms Plus: W. H. Auden's The Age of Anxiety

    Aug 29 2018

    W H Auden called his longest poem, The Age of Anxiety a baroque eclogue - a description which hints at its rich complexity. Its account of a meeting between four strangers in a New York bar inspired Leonard Bernstein’s second symphony and was much admired by T S Eliot. The writers Glyn Maxwell and Polly Clark explore some of the intricacies of the poem with Matthew Sweet and explain how Auden has influenced their poetry and prose. Producer: Zahid Warley

  • Prom Plus: Gypsy, Roma & Traveller Culture

    Aug 23 2018

    Novelist Louise Doughty, author of Apple Tree Yard and Stone Cradle, talks to writer Damian Le Bas, author of The Stopping Places, about their shared Romany heritage and the culture of the wider Romany diaspora. Presenter: Sophie Coulombeau

  • Proms Plus: FAIRY TALES

    Aug 21 2018

    Fairy tales are not just familiar stories told to children but are also a means of conveying dark truths about morality and behaviour to adults. There are similarities between stories shared in different cultures . Composer Kerry Andrew has published her first novel Swansong and she performs many traditional songs. She talks to writer Katherine Langrish, author of Seven Miles of Steel Thistles and a “Troll Trilogy” about the cultural legacy of fairy tales and the lessons we can learn from them ...more

  • Landmark Jaws: Sharks and Whales

    Aug 20 2018

    Novelist Will Self, shark expert Gareth Fraser and film expert Ian Hunter join Matthew Sweet for a discussion about sharks, whales and the impact of the book and film Jaws. Jaws started out as a novel which reads as a sociological study of a small American coastal resort full of rather unlikeable characters. It ended up as an iconic film whose heroes engage in a fight to the death with a Great White Man-Eating Machine. Matthew Sweet discusses how the shark came to fill the space once hel...more

  • Proms Plus: Ecstatic States

    Aug 14 2018

    Christopher Harding talked to the philosopher Mark Vernon and New Generation Thinker Hetta Howes about figures from the past and present who have searched for a sense of transcendence and experienced ecstatic states.

  • Proms Plus: Sinking of the Lusitania

    Aug 12 2018

    Historians Laura Rowe and Saul David discuss the controversy surrounding the 1915 German torpedo attack that sank the RMS Lusitania, killing 1198 passengers and crew. Presented by Anindya Raychaudhuri.

  • Proms Plus:The Weeping Prophet and Visions of Chaos

    Aug 10 2018

    The Bible has provided much fruitful inspiration to poets, novelists and composers over the past two thousand years. BBC New Generation Thinker Dr Joe Moshenska teaches Milton at the University of Cambridge. He discusses ideas of doom, chaos and Biblical themes with the novelist Salley Vickers, whose novel Mr Golightly’s Holiday features God as protagonist. They look at the “weeping prophet” Jeremiah, Job, Cassandra and Tiresias and discuss whether creation is impossible without chaos with Nan...more

  • Proms Plus: Re-working a Classic in Poetry

    Aug 06 2018

    A series of classical tales, from the Iliad to the Inferno have been recast by modern poets. Sean O’Brien has written a version of Dante’s Inferno, and, for the stage, Aristophanes’ The Birds; he is Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University. Sandeep Parmar’s poetry includes Eidolon, the classical rewrite Helen of Troy in America, and she is a Professor of English Literature at the University of Liverpool. Catherine Fletcher invites them to reflect on how to find the right word...more

  • Proms Plus: Folklore of Britain and Ireland

    Aug 06 2018

    Poets Gillian Clarke and Peter Mackay discuss the rich seam of folklore that has influenced their work and the danger of losing our connection to these tales. Gillian is a former National Poet of Wales and winner of the Queen’s Medal for Poetry. Peter is a New Generation Thinker, originally from Lewis, and an expert in Scots and Irish poetry.

  • Proms Plus: London in Fact & Fiction

    Jul 31 2018

    Novelists John Lanchester and Diana Evans, both chroniclers of contemporary London, discuss the many and diverse communities and villages that make up the UK capital, exploring the differences between north and south, east and west, the suburbs and the inner city. John Lanchester’s novel Capital, set in London prior to and during the 2008 financial crisis, was dramatised for BBC Television in 2015, while Diana Evans’ most recent novel Ordinary People offers a portrait of contemporary London and ...more

  • Proms Plus: Mountains

    Jul 30 2018

    The Alps have loomed large in the artistic imagination since the Romantic poets explored them in search of ‘the sublime’. Historian Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough talks to writer Abbie Garrington and climber Dan Richards. His book Climbing Days tells the life of his Great-Great Aunt, Dorothy Pilley, a pioneering woman climber, and reflects on the appeal of the mountains and how the landscape can be a force for creativity, in music and literature. Abbie Garrington, from Durham University, has a Lev...more

  • Proms Plus: Funny Fiction

    Jul 28 2018

    Inspired by Beethoven's penchant for musical jokes, Sahidha Bari is joined by writer Meg Rosoff for a selection of readings of comic fiction from Kingsley Amis to Paul Beatty. The reader is Carl Prekopp.

  • Proms Plus: British Countryside real & imagined

    Jul 27 2018

    Ever since the ancient Greeks, writers have waxed lyrical about rural life, associating it with beauty, innocence and goodness. Will Abberley, BBC New Generation Thinker and senior lecturer in English at the University of Sussex is joined by writer Melissa Harrison & archaeologist and sheep farmer Francis Pryor to discuss the British countryside real and imagined. Producer: Luke Mulhall

  • Proms Plus: Birds and Humans

    Jul 27 2018

    Helen Macdonald, author of H Is For Hawk and Tim Birkhead, Professor of Behaviour and Evolution at the University of Sheffield and author of Bird Sense, share their experiences of observing birds closely and their pick of writing inspired by real and fictional birds. Professor Birkhead’s recent research has been into the adaptive significance of egg shape in birds and Helen Macdonald won the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize and Costa Book Award for her writing about the year she spent training a goshaw...more

  • Proms Plus: The Wanderer

    Jul 25 2018

    Lauren Elkin, author of 'Flaneuse' and BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinker Seán Williams talk to Rana Mitter about the joys of a wandering life and the inspiration that walking brought to writers from the 18th century to the present day. Producer: Zahid Warley

  • Proms Plus – exploring the narrative voice in literature

    Jul 21 2018

    Sarah Dillon and novelist Richard Beard on narrative voices in literature

  • Proms Plus: Daphnis & Chloe

    Jul 17 2018

    Longus’s charming pastoral novel Daphnis and Chloe about teenage love and pirates was written in the second century AD. Tim Whitmarsh, AG Leventis Professor of Greek Culture at Cambridge, discusses his work, alongside that of other early Greek writers and Judith Mackrell, dance critic for The Guardian talks about how the text was used by Diaghilev to create the iconic ballet for the Ballet Russes. Presenter: Shahidha Bari. Producer: Torquil MacLeod

  • Howard Jacobson

    Jul 12 2018

    Why We Need the Novel Now. Man Booker Prize winner Howard Jacobson delivers a keynote lecture and talks to presenter Shahidha Bari and an audience at the Southbank Centre in London as part of the Man Booker 50 Festival. In the age of Twitter and no-platforming, Jacobson argues that the novel has never been more necessary. Howard Jacobson won the Man Booker Prize in 2010 for The Finkler Question and was shortlisted for J in 2014 Producer: Zahid Warley

  • Helaine Blumenfeld, Dale Harding; Stella Tillyard

    Jul 12 2018

    Helaine Blumenfeld is a sculptor who divides her time between her family in England and her work-family in Italy. As an exhibition featuring much new work opens in Ely Cathedral, she talks to Anne McElvoy about expressing her thoughts in marble, the importance of risk to the artist and why total immersion without distraction produces her best work. As the Liverpool Biennial gets under way Dale Harding, an Australian artist and descendant of the Bidjara, Ghungalu and Garingbal peoples of Central ...more

  • Philosophical tennis, hidden beaches and Eleanor Marx.

    Jul 10 2018

    At the height of summer, Matthew Sweet and guests turn their minds to tennis, beaches and walking. As Wimbledon continues, Benjamin Markovits and William Skidelsky consider the philosophy of tennis; New Generation Thinker Des Fitzgerald explores the geography of a little known beach in Cardiff city centre; Rachel Holmes goes on a walking tour of Eleanor Marx's Sydenham in south London. A Weekend in New York is by Benjamin Markovits Federer and Me: A Story of Obsession is by William Skid...more

  • From C18 automata to Superheroes and Digital Living

    Jul 06 2018

    Playwright Charlotte Jones, author Laurence Scott, New Generation Thinkers Lisa Mullen and Iain Smith join Matthew Sweet. Charlotte Jones discusses her new play set in a Quaker community during the Napoleonic Wars. Matthew Sweet visits Compton Verney Art Gallery with Lisa Mullen to see the exhibition, 'Marvellous Mechanical Museum' which re-imagines the spectacular automata exhibitions of the 18th century. Laurence Scott talks about the ideas in his book, 'Picnic Comma Lightning' which explor...more

  • Renzo Piano

    Jul 04 2018

    The Italian architect and engineer, Renzo Piano, talks to Philip Dodd about his career from the Pompidou in Paris (with Richard Rogers) to the Shard in London and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. 50 years of his work are being marked in an exhibition at London's Royal Academy of Arts from the 15th of September to the 20th of January 2019. Producer: Craig Templeton Smith.

  • What do you call a stranger? The Caine Prize. NHS ideals.

    Jul 04 2018

    Nandini Das and John Gallagher look at words for strangers in Tudor and Stuart England and ideas about civility. Plus Shahidha Bari talks to Makena Onjerika the winner of the 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing. And, as the NHS approaches its 70th anniversary, we discuss the relationship between care, institutions, and the concept of medicine with novelist and former nurse Christie Watson, and historian of the NHS Roberta Bivins. Nandini Das is working on the Tide Project http://www.tidep...more

  • Fun Home, Olivia Laing, Oscar Wilde, The Deer Hunter

    Jun 28 2018

    Alison Bechdel's graphic memoir 'Fun Home' on stage at the Young Vic in London reviewed by Jen Harvie from Queens Mary University of London, a novel inspired by Kathy Acker from Olivia Laing, Film historian and broadcaster Ian Christie on the 40th anniversary of Michael Cimino's film, 'The Deerhunter' and a new biography by Michèle Mendelssohn on Oscar Wilde's time in America. Mathew Sweet presents. Fun Home - which explores family, memory and sexuality, runs at the Young Vic in London from ...more

  • The body, past and present

    Jun 28 2018

    Can beauty be an ethical ideal? What did being handsome mean in C18 England? How do we look at images by Egon Schiele and Francesca Woodman or a Renaissance nude and is that affected by changing attitudes towards the body now? Anne McElvoy talks to the painter, Chantal Joffe, the philosopher, Heather Widdows, the writer, performer and activist Penny Pepper and the New Generation Thinkers Catherine Fletcher and Sarah Goldsmith. Chantal Joffe's solo show - Personal Feeling is the Main thing - ...more

  • The Working Lunch and Food in History

    Jun 27 2018

    Rana Mitter discusses food in history. James C Scott on the role of grain and coercion in the development of the first settled societies, and how the Victorians changed lunch, with New Generation Thinkers Elsa Richardson and Chris Kissane. Plus, following the death of American philosopher Stanley Cavell last week, Rana discusses his work and legacy with Stephen Mulhall and Alice Crary. New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by the BBC and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to select ten...more

  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Woman’s Rights

    Jun 22 2018

    170 years ago one woman launched the beginning of the modern women’s rights movement in America. New Generation Thinker Joanna Cohen of Queen Mary University of London looks back at her story and what lessons it has for politics now. In the small town of Seneca Falls in upstate New York, Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote The Declaration of Sentiments, a manifesto that took one of the nation’s most revered founding documents, Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, and turned its condemnation of Br...more

  • John Gower, the Forgotten Medieval Poet

    Jun 22 2018

    The lawyer turned poet whose response to political upheaval has lessons for our time - explored by New Generation Thinker Seb Falk with an audience at the York Festival of Ideas The 14th century’s most eloquent pessimist, John Gower has forever been overshadowed by his funnier friend Chaucer. Yet his trilingual poetry is truly encyclopedic, mixing social commentary, romance and even science. Writing ‘somewhat of lust, somewhat of lore’, Gower's response to political upheaval was to ‘shoot my a...more

  • Sarah Scott and the Dream of a Female Utopia

    Jun 22 2018

    A radical community of women set up in 1760s rural England is explored in an essay from New Generation Thinker Lucy Powell, recorded with an audience at the 2018 York Festival of Ideas. Sarah Scott’s first novel, published in 1750, was a conventional French-style romance, the fitting literary expression of a younger daughter of the lesser gentry. One year later, she had scandalously fled her husband’s house, and pooled finances and set up home with her life-long partner, Lady Barbara Montagu....more

  • The Forgotten German Princess

    Jun 22 2018

    The most famous imposter of the seventeenth century - Mary Carleton. John Gallagher, of the University of Leeds, argues that the story of the "German Princess" raises questions about what evidence we believe and the currency of shame. Her real name was thought to be Mary Moders and she became a media sensation in Restoration London, after her husband’s family, greedy for the riches they believed her to be concealing, accused her of bigamy and put her on trial for her life. Her life, and what r...more

  • Rehabilitating the Rev John Trusler

    Jun 22 2018

    Sophie Coulombeau tells the story of John Trusler, an eccentric Anglican minister who was the quintessential 18th-century entrepreneur. He was a prolific author, an innovative publisher, a would-be inventor, and a ‘medical gentleman’ of dubious qualifications. Dismissed by many as a conman and scoundrel, today, few have heard of the man but his madcap schemes often succeeded, in different forms, a century or two later. In his efforts we can trace the ancestors of the thesaurus, the self-help boo...more

  • Oliver Rackham and Wildwood Ideas

    Jun 21 2018

    Our romantic attachment to the idea of wildwood, the impossibility of ever getting back to some primeval grove, and the possibilities opening up about the health and wellbeing of future forests, are debated by Rana Mitter with ecologist and conservationist, Keith Kirby, who knew and worked with Rackham, botanist Fraser Mitchell whose work with pollen is helping to uncover the deep history of trees and environmental archaeologist, Suzi Richer, who is assembling oral histories of woodcraftship and...more

  • Windrush. Forests in Art. South African Jazz

    Jun 21 2018

    Colin Grant, Hannah Lowe and Jay Bernard discuss writing about Windrush 70 years on with Shahidha Bari. Plus Alexandra Harris looks at trees in art as part of Radio 3's Into the Forest season of programmes and Jonathan Eato and Nduduzo Makhintini discuss their research into South African jazz -- one of the subjects in the British Academy Summer Showcase. Colin Grant has written books including Bageye at the Wheel, A Smell of Burning, I & I Natural Mystics and Negro with a Hat. Hannah Lowe'...more

  • The Word For World Is Forest

    Jun 19 2018

    Ursula Le Guin's idea of the forest is explored by philosopher and Green party politician Rupert Read and novelist Zen Cho. Plus Matthew Sweet talks to Ian Hislop about this year's winner of the Paul Foot Award for Investigative Journalism, and for Radio 3's 'Into the Forest' we ask whether, if a tree falls in the wood and nobody is around, it makes a sound. Usula Le Guin (1929 - 2018) published her science fiction novella The Word for World Is Forest in 1972. In midsummer week, Radio 3 en...more

  • The Piano and Love

    Jun 14 2018

    Historian Fern Riddell and composer Debbie Wiseman on why the piano is essentially erotic while psychologist Frank Tallis and Tiffany Watt Smith explore obsessive love with presenter Matthew Sweet. Plus Grainne Sweeney curator of an exhibition which looks at the way inventors from the North East of England have shaped the world we live in today. Dr Frank Tallis is a writer and clinical psychologist and author of The Incurable Romantic: and Other Unsettling Revelations as well as a series of ...more

  • Inside the 'Intellectual Dark Web'

    Jun 13 2018

    Commentator Douglas Murray, journalist Bari Weiss and writer Ed Husain join Philip Dodd to explore the 'Intellectual Dark Web'. Their YouTube videos and podcasts receive millions of views and downloads. They sell out theatres across the US. But these aren't rock stars or the latest pop sensation. They are a collection of public intellectuals, scientists, political columnists, and stand up-comedians who are at the front line of the raging 'culture wars'. As two of its leading figures, neurosc...more

  • Mark Lilla. Owen Hatherley. Gulzaar Barn.

    Jun 12 2018

    Mark Lilla could be called the conscience of liberal America. He talks to Anne McElvoy about life after identity politics. 2018 New Generation Thinker Gulzaar Barn discusses whether paying people for taking part in medical trials is different from other forms of "labour". Plus Owen Hatherley's latest book is called Trans-Europe Express: Tours of a Lost Continent. He discusses what makes a European city and who should take responsibility for shaping our urban environment whether its Hull or Thess...more

  • The Man Who Convinced Jimmy Carter to Run for President

    Jun 07 2018

    Matthew Sweet meets with physician, anthropologist, author and Jimmy Carter's former 'drugs czar', Peter Bourne. Comparing his life to the title character in the film Forrest Gump, the trained psychiatrist and Vietnam veteran looks back on an eclectic career spanning six decades. He talks about his involvement in the civil rights movement, his close relationship with Jimmy Carter (and how he convinced him to run for president), serving as an Assistant Secretary-General at the UN, and his awk...more

  • Bernard-Henri Lévy, Edith Hall and Simon Critchley

    Jun 07 2018

    From people-watching with Aristotle in a London park, to meeting in a luxury hotel at midnight to discuss the fate of a continent, to using a lunchtime five-a-side game as the starting point for a meditation on the human condition, this programme treats 'philosophy' as a verb rather than a noun. Bernard-Henri Lévy is in London to perform a one-man play on Brexit. Simon Critchley's new book is What We Think About When We Think About Football, and Edith Hall's is Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdo...more

  • The rise of translation and the death of foreign language learning

    Jun 06 2018

    Arundhati Roy, Meena Kandasamy and Preti Taneja share thoughts about translation. Plus Anne McElvoy will be joined by Professor Nichola McLelland and Vicky Gough of the British Councl to examine why, in UK schools and universities, the number of students learning a second language is collapsing - whilst the number of languages spoken in Britain is rising and translated fiction is becoming more available and popular. The Booker prize winner Arundhati Roy is giving the W G Sebald lecture at th...more

  • American slavery, the occult and modern politics, jobs for psychopaths.

    Jun 01 2018

    Iraq vet and novelist Kevin Powers, the careers picked by psychopaths, and American writer Gary Lachman join Matthew Sweet. Kevin Powers' prize winning novel The Yellow Birds explored the experience of soldiers and their lack of control. His new novel A Shout in the Ruins looks at the long shadows cast by the American Civil War and slavery. Gary Lachman discusses non-rational or pre-Enlightenment thinking in contemporary politics and culture as he publishes his latest book called Dark Star...more

  • Rowan Williams and Simon Armitage

    May 30 2018

    Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has written about Auden, Dostoevsky and tragedy. At Hay Festival he talks to poet Simon Armitage about the imprint of landscapes in Yorkshire, West Wales, and the Middle East, the use of dialect words and reinterpreting myths. Chaired by Rana Mitter. Books by Rowan Williams include Dostoevsky: Language, Faith and Fiction and The Tragic Imagination. He is Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge. Books by Simon Armitage include The Unaccompanied, ...more

  • Elif Shafak, Juan Gabriel Vásquez and Javier Cercas

    May 29 2018

    The lure of conspiracy theories, the power of fiction to translate history and the public role of writer are debated as Shahidha Bari chairs a discussion recorded with the Colombian writer Juan Gabriel Vásquez, the Spanish writer Javier Cercas and the Turkish author Elif Shafak - recorded with an audience at the Hay Festival. Javier Cercas' latest novel is The Impostor and his essay about fiction is called The Blind Spot. Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s new novel is called The Shape of the Ruins. ...more

  • Tacita Dean; Mountains, John Tyndall

    May 24 2018

    Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough meets the British artist Tacita Dean. ‘Tacita Dean: Landscape’ has just opened at the Royal Academy in London and features vast chalk mountains and cloudscapes and a film made in Cornwall, Yellowstone and Wyoming. And what does an artist do when she travels hundreds of miles to film a total eclipse of the sun… and finds there’s no film in the camera. Then focus on mountains and those who climb them. New Generation Thinker Ben Anderson reflects on an interplay be...more

  • The 2018 Wolfson History Prize Debate

    May 23 2018

    This year's authors are: Robert Bickers for Out of China: How the Chinese Ended the Era of Western Domination Lindsey Fitzharris for The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine Tim Grady for A Deadly Legacy: German Jews and the Great War Miranda Kaufmann for Black Tudors: The Untold Story Peter Marshall for Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation Jan Rüger for Heligoland: Britain, Germany and the Struggle for the...more

  • In Conversation: Philip Roth (1933 - 2018)

    May 23 2018

    From BBC Radio 3's archive, another opportunity to hear an interview with Philip Roth (1933 - 2018), author of books including Portnoy's Complaint & American Pastoral. Recorded in New York in 2008, Philip Roth talked to Philip Dodd about his life and work and about his 29th book Indignation. The Pulitzer Prize winning Roth has been called provocative, playful and angry and many of his themes remained consistent since he began writing in the late 1950’s. He and his fictional alter ego, Na...more

  • Motherhood in fiction, memoir and on the analyst's couch

    May 22 2018

    Writers Sheila Heti, Jessie Greengrass and Jacqueline Rose compare notes on motherhood & presenter Anne McElvoy looks at depictions of Mrs Noah with New Generation Thinker Daisy Black. Jacqueline Rose has written Mothers: An Essay on Love and Cruelty. Her previous books include Women in Dark Times Sheila Heti's latest book is called Motherhood. Her previous books include How Should a Person Be? and Women in Clothes. Jessie Greengrass' novel, Sight, has been shortlisted for the Women's...more

  • Jordan B Peterson

    May 17 2018

    Self help, identity politics and the influence of postmodernists are on the agenda as Philip Dodd meets the YouTube star and Canadian clinical psychologist, Jordan B. Peterson. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson is out now. Producer: Craig Templeton Smith

  • Designing the future

    May 17 2018

    Shahidha Bari looks at British design pioneers Enid Marx, Edward Bawden and Charles Rennie Mackintosh with curators Alan Powers and James Russell and design historian Eleanor Herring. 2018 New Generation Thinker Lisa Mullen visits The Future Starts Here at the V&A. Alan Powers is the author of a new book Enid Marx:The Pleasures of Pattern and is curating an exhibition at the House of Illustration in London Print, Pattern and Popular Art which runs from May 25th to September 23rd 2018 James...more

  • John Gray, Atheism and Post-structuralism

    May 16 2018

    The relationship between intellectuals, nations and spies debated by Agnes Poirier, Maria Dimitrova, and Jefferson Morley. Plus philosopher John Gray explores atheism and doubt with Matthew Sweet. Seven Types of Atheism by John Gray is out now. Producer: Luke Mulhall

  • What is Speech?

    May 10 2018

    Matthew Sweet discusses talking, speech and having a voice, with Trevor Cox, Professor of Acoustic Engineering at the University of Salford; Rebecca Roache, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Royal Holloway, University of London; actress and impressionist Jessica Martin; and Maurice McLeod, social commentator, director of Media Diversified, and Labour councillor for Queenstown Battersea. Trevor Cox has written Now You're Talking: The Story of Human Conversation from Neanderthals to Artificial ...more

  • Charms: Madeline Miller; Zoe Gilbert; Kirsty Logan

    May 09 2018

    Each generation creates its own myths and in Free Thinking, Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough talks to three writers whose novels and stories spring bright and fresh from a compost of classical legend and British folk stories. Madeline Miller, the American writer who re-created Achilles for the 21st century, now turns her attention to Circe, nymph, lowest-of-the-low goddess or witch, who possesses a unique sympathy for humanity. Zoe Gilbert's obsession with folk stories where strange things happen an...more

  • Out of Control?

    May 08 2018

    Former army officer Dr Mike Martin on Why We Fight. Historian Priya Satia argues that guns were the drivers behind the industrial revolution. The mob as a political entity and the Massacre of St George's Fields of 10 May 1768 is considered in an opinion piece from 2018 New Generation Thinker Dafydd Mills Daniel. We also look at night time - curator Anna Sparham selects some nocturnal views of the capital from a photography exhibition at the Museum of London, while Dr Gavin Francis explains how b...more

  • Disrupted Childhood. Turkish Star Wars

    May 04 2018

    Pauline Dakin spent her childhood on the run. Sally Bayley grew up in a house where men were forbidden and a charismatic leader ruled. They compare notes with presenter Matthew Sweet. New Generation Thinker Iain Smith discusses his research into the history of a film known as the Turkish Star Wars. Plus Canadian poet Gary Geddes on his poem sequence The Terracotta Army. And the pioneering Hungarian photographer László Moholy-Nagy and the birds eye view images which he created. Sarah Allen, co-cu...more

  • Marxism

    May 02 2018

    Anne Applebaum, Gregory Claeys, Jane Humprhies and Richard Seymour join Rana Mitter to assess the legacy of Marx 200 years after his birth. Do his ideas have currency and if so where is he an influence in the world? Academic Emile Chabal reports on researching Marxism in India and Brazil. Gregory Claeys is the author of Marx and Marxism Richard Seymour has written Corbyn - The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics Anne Applebaum's latest book is called Red Famine: Stalin's War on Ukrain...more

  • America: Inequality & Race

    May 01 2018

    Jesmyn Ward - author of Sing, Unburied Sing talks to Christopher Harding about editing a collection of essays called The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race and about the depictions of family life and poverty and the influence of Greek drama on her prize winning novels. Sarah Churchwell traces the history of the use and meaning of the phrases 'the American Dream' and 'America First'. John Edgar Wideman explains what he was seeking to do by blurring fact and fiction in his new shor...more

  • Tokyo Idols and Urban life.

    Apr 26 2018

    Tokyo used to be presented as the ultimate hyper-modern city. But after years of economic recession the Tokyo of today has another side. A site of alienation and loneliness, anxiety about conformity and identity, it is a place where self-professed 'geeks' (or 'otaku'), mostly single middle-aged men, congregate in districts like Akibahara to pursue fanatical interests outside mainstream society, including cult-like followings of teenage girl singers known as Tokyo Idols. Novelist Tomouki Hosh...more

  • Landmark: Rashōmon

    Apr 25 2018

    David Peace, Natasha Pulley, Yuna Tasaka and Jasper Sharp join Rana Mitter. Ryūnosuke Akutagawa's short story 'In a Grove', published in 1922, became the basis for the 1950 film from Akira Kurosawa 'Rashōmon', one of the first Japanese films to gain worldwide critical acclaim. 'The Rashōmon Effect' has become a byword for the literary technique where the same event is presented via the different and incompatible testimonies from the characters involved. David Peace's new book 'Patient X' is ...more

  • Japan and Nature

    Apr 25 2018

    Photographer Mika Ninagawa talks to Christopher Harding about the artificiality of her images of cherry blossoms. A plane crash in the mountains is explored in the new novel Seventeen from Hideo Yokoyama, translated by Louise Heal Kawai. And presenter Anne McElvoy is also joined by Eiko Honda from the University of Oxford and Professor Stephen Dodd from SOAS, the University of London for an exploration of the way nature has been depicted across the decades in Japanese writing and political thoug...more

  • Learning from Sweden

    Apr 19 2018

    What do meatballs, The Square and Henning Mankell have in common? The answer is Sweden as you’ve no doubt guessed. As ABBA’s Cold War musical, Chess, is poised to return to the British stage Matthew Sweet considers what Sweden’s taught us – whether in films such as I am Curious Yellow or in the aisles at IKEA - and what the Swedes might have gained from their brushes with Britain. His guests include Anders Sandberg from the Future of Humanity Institute in Oxford, the Swedish cultural attache, Pi...more

  • Shakespeare, Creativity and the Role of the Writer

    Apr 18 2018

    The real Cleopatra examined by New Generation Thinker Islam Issa plus Ros Barber on Warwickshire words in Shakespeare's verse, two leading neurologists, Suzanne O'Sullivan and Jules Montague explore the intricacies of the brain and the infinite capacity for experience and imagination, the playwright Ella Hickson on her new production in which she explores the personal cost of creative gain and Philip Horne on the notebooks left behind when the novelist Henry James died. Anne McElvoy presents. ...more

  • The Politics of Fashion and Drag

    Apr 18 2018

    Scrumbly Koldewyn remembers the '60s San Francisco theatre scene; Jenny Gilbert & Shahdiha Bari debate environmentalism and fashion at the V&A and Clare Lilley Director of Programmes at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park looks at the use of thread and textiles in art. Plus drag at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern in London with performers Lavinia Co-op and Rhys Hollis, plus Ben Walters who is researching this history. The environmental impact of fashion over more than 400 years is examined in the first UK...more

  • Marilynne Robinson

    Apr 12 2018

    When President Obama met the American essayist and fiction writer Marilynne Robinson they discussed shared values, citiizenship and Christianity. She talks to Rana Mitter about her definition of Puritanism, the radical history of the mid west states, the use of religion in current American political rhetoric and the biblical cadences of her fiction. Marilynne Robinson is the author of novels including Gilead, Lila, Home and her new collection of Essays is called What Are We Doing Here ? ...more

  • Macbeth and Things Fall Apart

    Apr 11 2018

    Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø on his novel based on Macbeth; playwright Mark Ravenhill on why the play rarely works on stage, James Shapiro on the contemporary events which shaped it and Emma Whipday on the elements that Shakespeare borrowed from 16th century domestic dramas. Plus Ellah Wakatama Allfrey on rereading Chinua Achebe's 1958 novel and the echoes of Macbeth she found there. Presented by Shahidha Bari A 60th anniversary reading of Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe and abridged b...more

  • British New Wave Films of the '60s

    Apr 10 2018

    Matthew Sweet talks to the painter, Maggi Hambling about Cedric Morris one of British art's lost masters and with Joely Richardson and Melanie Williams, evaluates the impact and legacy of Woodfall Flims - the company that gave Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay and Rita Tushingham their first breaks and introduced us to films such as Look Back in Anger, A Taste of Honey and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. To round things off he'll also be talking to Daniel Kalder about his fascination with...more

  • Death Comes to Us All

    Apr 05 2018

    Former Bishop Richard Holloway, author of My Father’s Wake Kevin Toolis and palliative care consultant Kathryn Mannix join Philip Dodd to consider mortality. “In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes” Benjamin Franklin once wrote, but as we face the final curtain what can death teach us about ourselves and the ones we love? Richard Holloway is a writer, broadcaster and cleric, formerly Bishop of Edinburgh. His books include A Little History of Religion and Leavin...more

  • What Do We Mean by "Working Class Writing"?

    Apr 04 2018

    Kit de Waal, Darren McGarvey, Adelle Stripe and Michael Chaplin join Shahidha Bari to examine what we mean by ‘working class writing’. Crowd funding has helped bring a new generation of authors into print but is this because mainstream publishing has neglected diverse voices? What experiences do we want to see on the page and stage? Recorded at Sage Gateshead. Kit de Waal’s short stories include “Crushing Big”, “I am the Painter's Daughter” and “The Beautiful Thing” - which was broadcast on B...more

  • Introducing the New Generation Thinkers 2018

    Apr 03 2018

    The New Generation Thinkers is an annual competition run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. In this event, recorded with an audience at Sage Gateshead, the 2018 selection make their first public appearance together. Hosted by Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough of the University of Durham and a New Generation Thinker class of 2013. This year’s specialisms include explorations into 18th-century masculinity and the medical history of George Orwell, early 20th-century vegetari...more

  • Building Bridges and Other Megastructures

    Mar 29 2018

    In a space of less than a mile, seven bridges link Newcastle with Gateshead including the distinctive shape of the Tyne Bridge. But what kind of human endeavour goes into imagining and realising such man-made wonders? Newcastle University’s Sean Wilkinson, Erica Wagner author of Chief Engineer, and architect Simon Roberts look at the bond between the visionaries and the grafters with Rana Mitter and an audience at Sage Gateshead. Erica Wagner is the author of Chief Engineer: The Man Who Buil...more

  • #Speaking Up

    Mar 28 2018

    Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Afua Hirsch and Tarjinder Gill debate activism, social change and identity with Philip Dodd. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is a journalist and broadcaster who regularly comments on immigration, diversity, and multiculturalism. She’s a founding member of British Muslims for Secular Democracy and the author of books including, Exotic England: The Making of A Curious Nation and Refusing The Veil. Afua Hirsch is a writer and broadcaster. She has worked as a barrister, as the West...more

  • Mass Hysterics

    Mar 27 2018

    Comedians Alexei Sayle, Jen Brister and Sanjeev Kohli join Matthew Sweet to offer a masterclass in making the many laugh. Recorded with an audience at Sage Gateshead. Jen Brister is a stand-up comedian, writer and actor. She is a regular performer on the UK and international comedy circuits. She has written for BBC Scotland, presented for BBC 6 Music and Juice FM, and has been a regular contributor to magazines and online sites including Diva and The Huffington Post. Sanjeev Kohli is a co...more

  • Can There Be Multiple Versions of Me?

    Mar 26 2018

    Anne McElvoy enlists the help of Diversify author June Sarpong, doctor and medical historian Gavin Francis, performer and transgender activist Emma Frankland and philosopher Julian Baggini to tackle contemporary ideas about the ever changing notions of the self. Recorded with an audience at Sage Gateshead. June Sarpong is the author of Diversify, a celebration of those who are often marginalised in our society including women, those living with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community. A succes...more

  • Free Thinking Essay: What Do You Do If You Are a Manically Depressed Robot?

    Mar 23 2018

    New Generation Thinker Simon Beard, from the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, looks at AI and what the writing of Douglas Adams tells us about questions of morality and who should be in control. This year is the 40th anniversary of BBC Radio 4’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. 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 ...more

  • Rethinking Civilisations

    Mar 22 2018

    As the BBC screens its new arts series, Civilisations, one of the presenters, David Olusoga, joins presenter Philip Dodd, anthropologist Kit Davis and the historian Kenan Malik to consider our different notions of world history from the dawn of human civilisation to the present day. David Olusoga is a historian, writer and broadcaster who has presented several TV documentaries including A House Through Time; The World's War: Forgotten Soldiers of Empire and the BAFTA award-winning Britain’s ...more

  • Free Thinking Essay: Kids With Guns

    Mar 22 2018

    New Generation Thinker Emma Butcher looks at what we learn about war from the writing of child soldiers in The Battle of Trafalgar and the childhood writings of the Bronte family who were avid readers of newspaper accounts of battles and memoirs of soldiers. Does their fantasy fiction show an understanding of PTSD and the impact of battle on fighters before such conditions were diagnosed? Dr Emma Butcher, literature historian at the University of Leicester, uncovers the history of Robert San...more

  • Gangs, the Usual Suspects

    Mar 21 2018

    From Brighton Rock and Goodfellas to the streets of Glasgow, London’s East End and Chicago, what’s it really like to be part of a gang and do gangs lead to organised crime? Matthew Sweet calls a meeting with Criminologist Alistair Fraser, journalist Symeon Brown and James Docherty of Scotland's Violent Reduction Unit Symeon Brown describes himself as an ’activist/writer on youth, justice and urbanism’ and is a journalist for Channel 4 News. He was senior researcher for The Guardian’s investi...more

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

    Mar 21 2018

    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 a...more

  • Power to the People?

    Mar 21 2018

    Anne McElvoy hosts Rod Liddle, associate editor of The Spectator; David Runciman, author of How Democracy Ends; Caroline MacFarland, the head of a think tank promoting the interests of ‘millennials’ and geographer Danny Dorling in an assessment of the influence of people power. Democracy was the most successful political idea of the last century but can it survive the digital age? Recorded with an audience at Sage Gateshead. David Runciman is Professor of Politics at Cambridge University cur...more

  • Free Thinking Essay: When Shakespeare Travelled With Me

    Mar 20 2018

    April 1916. By the Nile, the foremost poets of the Middle East are arguing about Shakespeare. In 2004, Egyptian singer Essam Karika released his urban song Oh Romeo. Reflecting on his travels and encounters around the Arab world, Islam Issa, from Birmingham City University, discusses how canonical English writers (Shakespeare and Milton) creep into the popular culture of the region today. Recorded with an audience at Sage Gateshead as part of BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival. Islam’s...more

  • Are We Afraid of Being Alone?

    Mar 20 2018

    Author of A Book of Silence Sara Maitland, medievalist John-Henry Clay, and writer Lionel Shriver face the crowd to contemplate the many sides to solitude. Chaired by Rana Mitter with an audience at the Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead. “If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company”. Was Jean Paul Sartre right or are we just hot-wired to prefer the company of others? Is it even possible - as the famous hermit St Cuthbert once did - to experience true seclusion in our age...more

  • Free Thinking Essay: A War of Words

    Mar 19 2018

    A fashion show in Buenos Aires was put on for propaganda but football fixtures were deemed too risky. New Generation Thinker Dr Christopher Bannister, from the University of Manchester, looks at attempts to influence opinion about World War II in Latin America. Although relatively untouched by violence, support in such a strategically important region was vital to the British war effort. Bombs and bullets were no use here, so fashion shows, book launches, soap operas and films became the Briti...more

  • Free Thinking Essay: Doing Nothing

    Mar 16 2018

    Alastair Fraser talks about teenagers, street life and filling time. Doing nothing has become the mantra of twenty-first century life. In an accelerated world, we yearn for a space where minds are emptied, iPhones left at the door. But doing nothing is not always a choice. For young people, bored on the streets, it’s all there is. And for them doing nothing is always doing something. New Generation Thinker Alastair Fraser, from the University of Glasgow, has written books including Gangs and Cri...more

  • Has Social Media Cracked the Code to the Crowd?

    Mar 15 2018

    Author of Fully Connected Julia Hobsbawm, Social Media director at DEMOS Jamie Bartlett, writer Laurence Scott and tech blogger Abeba Birhane switch off their phones to focus on the impact of tech on the way we behave. Social media has allowed us to express our individuality and at the same time to interact like never before. But as the forces behind our digital lives become more sophisticated and powerful, are we in danger of succumbing to mass manipulation? Presented by Anne McElvoy with an au...more

  • Free Thinking Essay: Educating Ida

    Mar 15 2018

    Gilbert and Sullivan gave university-educated women the English comic operetta treatment in their eighth collaboration, Princess Ida (1884) but why did the most famous musical duo of their day choose to make fun of them? To find out, New Generation Thinker Dr Eleanor Lybeck, from the University of Oxford, looks at protests, popular culture and a group of pioneering Victorian women who saw education as the first step towards emancipation. Recorded with an audience at Sage Gateshead as part of Rad...more

  • Podcast: There Is No I in Team

    Mar 15 2018

    Army captain turned MP Johnny Mercer, Theatre Director Elizabeth Newman and former footballer Paul Fletcher compare notes on leadership and teamwork - presented by Rana Mitter with an audience at Sage Gateshead. There is no I in Team .. but there's a ME if you look hard enough”, joked David Brent in the BBC sitcom, The Office. But for individuals with a proven track record in leadership, how do you get the best from your group while handling the demands of the individual? Johnny Mercer serve...more

  • Free Thinking Essay: Does Trusting People Need a Leap of Faith?

    Mar 15 2018

    Tom Simpson looks at a study of suspicion in a 1950s Italian village and the lessons it has for community relations and social tribes now. Edward Banfield's book, The Moral Basis of a Backward Society, depicts a village where everyone is out for themselves. New Generation Thinker Tom Simpson is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford. He argues that we are losing the habits of trust that have made our prosperity possible. Un...more

  • Free Thinking Essay:Art for Health's Sake

    Mar 14 2018

    An apple a day is said to keep the doctor away but could a poem, painting or play have the same effect? Daisy Fancourt is a Wellcome Research Fellow at University College London. In her Essay, recorded with an audience at Sage Gateshead for the Free Thinking Festival, she looks at experiments with results which which prove that going to a museum is known to enhance neuronal structure in the brain and improve its functioning and people who play a musical instrument have a lower risk of developing...more

  • The Dance of Nature

    Mar 14 2018

    From schools of fish to starlings to atomic particles. what does group behaviour look like in nature? Rana Mitter is joined by BBC Radio 4’s presenter of The Life Scientific Jim Al-Khalili, Melissa Bateson, Andrew McBain and Richard Bevan. Recorded with an audience at Sage Gateshead for the 2018 Free Thinking Festival. Jim Al-Khalili is Professor of Physics at the University of Surrey and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s The Life Scientific and TV documentaries including Gravity and Me: The Force ...more

  • Free Thinking Essay: Welling Up: Women & Water in the Middle Ages

    Mar 13 2018

    Hetta Howes looks at male fears and why Margery Kempe was criticised for crying and bleeding Medieval mystic Margery Kempe's excessive, noisy crying made her travelling companions so irritated that they wanted to throw her overboard, while others accused her of being possessed by the devil. But Kempe believed she was using her tears as a way to connect with God, turning the medieval connection between women and water into a form of bodily empowerment and a holy sign. New Generation Thinker He...more

  • The Population Bomb

    Mar 12 2018

    The geographer Danny Dorling; Lionel Shriver, the author and patron of Population Matters; and Stephen Emmott, author of 10 Billion, join Matthew Sweet and an audience at Sage Gateshead to debate whether we should have fewer children. In 1968 a Stanford university professor, Dr Paul E. Ehrlich, published The Population Bomb. This call to arms became a global bestseller, influenced public policy and made its author a celebrity. It predicted mass starvation in the US and an England underwater ...more

  • The Free Thinking Lecture: Linda Yueh on Globalisation

    Mar 09 2018

    Leading economic expert, Linda Yueh, delivers her vision for restoring faith in the free market to an audience at Sage Gateshead. Chaired by Philip Dodd. We live in a world where experts of all stripes are struggling to win over the confidence of the general population. Last year, the Bank of England said it was stepping up its efforts to minimise a ‘twin deficit’ of public understanding and trust in an area that has come under particular fire recently: economics. In a timely defence of her ...more

  • New Research into the UK Women's Suffrage Movement.

    Mar 08 2018

    How did interior design help gain women the vote? Were arson attacks justified? Who took part in a six-week march? What role did an Indian princess play? Helen Pankhurst, Jane Robinson, Fern Ridell, Shahida Rahman and Miranda Garrett discuss the history of women's suffrage with Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough in this centenary year of the Bill which gave some women the right to vote. Fern Riddell is the author of Death in 10 Minutes - Kitty Marion: Activist, Arsonist, Suffragette Helen Pankhu...more

  • The Golden Notebook

    Mar 07 2018

    How self-revealing and frank should a writer be? Lara Feigel, David Aaronovitch, Melissa Benn and Xiaolu Guo join Matthew Sweet to look at the life of Doris Lessing and her 1962 novel in which she explores difficult love, life, war, politics and dreams. Inspired by her re-reading of Doris Lessing, Lara Feigel has written a revealing book which is part memoir part biography called "Free Woman: Life, Liberation and Doris Lessing". Melissa Benn's books include Mother and Child, One of Us an...more

  • A Sentimental Journey

    Mar 01 2018

    Laurence Sterne's subjective travel book was published in 1768. Mary Newbould and Duncan Large discuss its influence. Plus novelist Philip Hensher on his new book The Friendly Ones and writing fiction about neighbourliness, families and the Bangladesh Liberation War. Walker Nick Hunt discusses his journeys following the pathways taken by European winds such as the Mistral and the Foehn and the conversations he had about nationalism, immigration and myths. Presented by New Generation Thinker Seán...more

  • What Lies Beneath; Neanderthal Cave Art to Fatbergs

    Feb 28 2018

    The archaeologist Francis Pryor tells Shahidha Bari about a lifetime of building vistas of our history and prehistory through the evidence of pottery shards, holes in the mud and broken bones and palaeo-archaeologist Paul Pettitt who co-discovered Britain's first cave art explains why darkness informed a critical component in the development of the human brain and archaeologist Ruth Whitehouse reflects on the use of caves for ritual. They are joined by Sharon Robinson-Calver who has been tasked ...more

  • The Joy of Bureaucracy

    Feb 22 2018

    Red tape or accountability? Matthew Sweet is joined by Lord Robin Butler, former head of the home Civil Service, writer and lecturer Eliane Glaser and Professor André Spicer whose recent book looks at meaningless management speak. Deborah McAndrew talks about her stage adaptation of Charles Dickens' Hard Times which examines the results of purely utilitarian education. And journalist Richard Lloyd Parry's new book is an account of the tsunami of 2011 - Japan's biggest loss of life since the bomb...more

  • Steven Pinker on Progress

    Feb 22 2018

    We should ignore newspaper headlines, believe that things are getting better and defend Enlightenment values. That's the message from Steven Pinker, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He debates his defence of progress and his optimistic outlook with Philip Dodd. Plus culture wars in Britain. Are the divisions we are seeing today different to previous culture wars? Eliza Filby, Alex Massie & Tarjinder Gill debate. Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Pro...more

  • Napoleon in Fact & Fiction

    Feb 21 2018

    From Napoleon impersonators, his image in caricature and ballads, to a play which asks what if he didn't die in exile - presenter Anne McElvoy is joined by actor and director Kathryn Hunter, biographer Michael Broers, historians Oskar Cox Jensen and Laura O'Brien and journalist Nabila Ramdani who looks at how Napoleon is viewed in 21st century France. Napoleon Disrobed - a play performed by Told By an Idiot which is based on the novel The Death of Napoleon by Simon Leys - is on tour visiting ...more

  • Reflecting Rural Life

    Feb 15 2018

    Film maker Clio Barnard and novelist Amanda Craig on rural life. Matthew Sweet presents.

  • Free Thinking: Mark Dion; Colour, Insects, Virginia Woolf

    Feb 14 2018

    American artist, Mark Dion has a new exhibition on in London: Theatre of the Natural World . Dion is exhilarated by the natural world but tells Anne McElvoy why his art is about how we classify it and what that says about us. Virginia Woolf: An Exhibition Inspired by her Writings opens at Tate St Ives so Anne McElvoy finds out how questions about colour perception and insect behaviour in turn inspired the writer. Literary scholars Claudia Tobin and Rachel Murray discuss. Evolutionary biologis...more

  • How Big Should the State Be?

    Feb 14 2018

    David Willetts, Polly Toynbee, Baroness Simone Finn, Julia Black and Adrian Wooldridge join Anne McElvoy for a debate recorded with an audience at the LSE Festival Beveridge 2.0

  • Michael Ignatieff and Central Europe

    Feb 13 2018

    Philip Dodd talks to Michael Ignatieff about the political landscape of central Europe.

  • Tariq Ali

    Feb 08 2018

    1968 was one of the most seismic years in recent history -- Vietnam, the Prague spring, Black Power at the Olympics and protests on the streets of Paris and London so this evening's programme -- Rana Mitter's extended interview with Tariq Ali -- is part commemoration, part reassessment. What remains of that turbulent time and where can we discern its features in our political landscape today? Rana takes Tariq back to his life as a boy in Lahore - a city where his radical parents regularly hosted...more

  • Celebrating Buchi Emecheta

    Feb 08 2018

    Buchi Emecheta explored child slavery, motherhood, female independence and freedom through education in over 20 books. Born in 1944 in an Ibusa village, she lost her father aged eight, travelled to London and made a career as a writer whilst bringing up five children on her own, working by day and studying at night for a degree. Shahidha Bari talks to her son Sylvester Onwordi, to New Generation Thinker Louisa Egbunike, to publisher Margaret Busby and magazine editor Kadija George. We also hear ...more

  • Trade, Davos, Ocean travel and Mermaids

    Feb 02 2018

    Anne McElvoy looks at trade past and present as she discusses a book questioning economists' reliance on GDP with its author, David Pilling, and reports on debates from the world economic forum annual meeting at Davos with American reporter Rob Cox. She also looks at a new novel depicting a "mermaid" displayed as a visitor attraction by an 18th century London-based merchant, and is shown around an exhibition exploring the design and impact of ocean liners with one of its curators, Ghislaine Wood...more

  • The Working Class in Culture

    Feb 01 2018

    Writer Bea Campbell, artist Scottee, historian Emma Griffin, journalist Simon Jenkins & economist Guy Standing join Philip Dodd to consider the working class in culture. The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class by Guy Standing is available now Scottee's Working Class Dinner Party is at Camden People's Theatre on 28 April as part of the Common People Festival from 17 to 28 April and his show Bravado continues to tour in April End of Equality by Beatrix Campbell is available now Emma Griffin'...more

  • Landmark: Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries

    Jan 30 2018

    Matthew Sweet discusses Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries with the writer Colm Toibin, the film critic Larushka Ivan-Zadeh and the Swedish Cultural Attaché Ellen Wettmark. Released in 1957 and inspired by Bergman's own memories of childhood holidays in a summerhouse in the north of Sweden, Wild Strawberries tells the story of elderly professor Isak Borg, who travels from his home in Stockholm to receive an honorary doctorate. On the way, he's visited by childhood memories. The film stars ve...more

  • Burns the Radical; Exploration

    Jan 25 2018

    From Ecuador to the Scottish borders: Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough meets Maren Meinhardt and Graham Robb who explore the land on their doorsteps and also follow in the footsteps of others from Humboldt the naturalist and explorer to the forgotten territory of the Debatable Land. They'll be joined by novelist Natasha Pulley whose fascination with Victorian exploration and empire building is reflected in her latest novel The Bedlam Stacks which took her to Peru. Another Burns night and Eleanor ...more

  • Royalty, art and patronage.

    Jan 24 2018

    Craig Brown, Afua Hirsch, Robert Jobson, A. N. Wilson and New Generation Thinker Joe Moshenska discuss the monarchy as the Royal Academy and the Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace stage exhibitions exploring the painting collections of Charles I and II. How has patronage changed and, in this year of another Royal Wedding, what impact are depictions in TV dramas such as The Crown and biographies including Craig Brown's Ma'am Darling having on our view of royalty? Philip Dodd presents. Charles...more

  • Oscar Contenders, Movie Moguls and Silent Film Stars

    Jan 23 2018

    Matthew Sweet is joined by critics Ryan Gilbey and Ellen E Jones to look at the films nominated for this year's Academy Awards and the tradition of films with a campaigning message. Film historian Vanda Krefft charts the complicated life of William Fox, the man who founded the Fox Film Corporation. Comedian Lucy Porter and author Steve Massa celebrate the women of the silent era who starred alongside the likes of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. The Man Who Made the Movies: The Meteoric Ri...more

  • Frankenstein and AI now.

    Jan 18 2018

    Fiona Sampson, Daisy Hay, Christopher Frayling and David H. Guston join Matthew Sweet to discuss Mary Shelley's story in film, fiction and the view of AI scientists now. In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein by the poet and writer Fiona Sampson is out now. Christopher Frayling has published Frankenstein: The First Two Hundred Years Dr Daisy Hay is Senior Lecturer, English Literature and Archival Studies at the University of Exeter and a BBC Radio 3 and AHRC New Gene...more

  • French writing and politics

    Jan 17 2018

    Leïla Slimani, President Macron's champion of French culture and language, is interviewed by presenter Shahidha Bari about her new role and her novel Lullaby which won the 2016 Prix Goncourt Plus Emile Chabal from the University of Edinburgh discusses Savages: The Wedding by Sabri Louatah - a novel imagining the first Arab candidate for President is shot. The TV rights for the quartet of books have been sold and the first book is winning prizes and comparisons with the Neopolitan novels of Elen...more

  • Australian novelist Peter Carey.

    Jan 16 2018

    A car race around Australia is fictionalised in Peter Carey's latest novel. He talks to Rana Mitter about depicting race and racing. Josephine Quinn questions whether the Phoenicians existed as she looks at the way ancient texts and artworks helped construct an identity for the ancient civilization on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, stretching through what is now Syria, Lebanon and northern Israel. Classicist and novelist Natalie Haynes discusses Ovid's tales and Rana Mitter speaks to this y...more

  • Counterculture and Protest

    Jan 11 2018

    Matthew Sweet discusses protests like the 1968 uprising at Columbia University, 1985's Battle of the Beanfield and the acid house movement with guests Paul Hartnoll of Orbital, novelist Tony White, editor Paul Cronin and writer Tessa DeCarlo. The Fountain in the Forest by Tony White is available now A Time To Stir: Columbia '68 edited by Paul Cronin is out now Producer: Debbie Kilbride

  • The In Between

    Jan 10 2018

    Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough explores the uncanny possibilities of the In Between with the neuroscientist Dean Burnett, award-winning poet Vahni Capildeo, artist Alexandra Carr, writer and walker of London and other wastelands, Iain Sinclair, and the philosopher, Emily Thomas. How do our brains and bodies react in the In Between spaces of the airport lounge or the station platform where we're waiting to move on but temporarily in stasis and why have so many artists, writers and poets used thes...more

  • Landmark: The Odyssey

    Jan 09 2018

    Amit Chaudhuri, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Daniel Mendelsohn and Emily Wilson join Philip Dodd to explore translating, rewriting and using Homer's epic work to frame a memoir. Emily Wilson has published a new translation of The Odyssey Daniel Mendelsohn has written An Odyssey: A Father, A Son and An Epic Karen McCarthy Woolf wrote Nightshift as part of a BBC Radio 4's Odyssey Project which commissioned ten writers to create a contemporary response. Her most recent collection is called Seasona...more

  • Diving Deep

    Jan 04 2018

    Diving from Tudor times through the Brooklyn Naval Yard in the Second World War to present day deep water sculpture parks and swimming with whales. Rana Mitter talks to prize-winning writer Jennifer Egan about the Sea as metaphor and how the research for her latest novel, Manhattan Beach, was the inspiration for its time-shifting, punky, award-laden predecessor, The Goon Squad. He hears from historian Miranda Kaufmann about the existence of a black population of skilled workers in Tudor Englan...more

  • The Invention of the Circus Ring

    Jan 03 2018

    When Philip Astley and his trick riders performed in 1768 in a circle not a straight line in a field behind where Waterloo station is now, the idea of the circus ring was born. Matthew Sweet looks at the career of the impresario, his 42 foot diameter ring which is still the big top template and 250 years of circus with historian Vanessa Toulmin, performer Andrew Van Buren whose family have worked for 35 years to bring Astley's name to greater public attention, writer Naomi Frisby whose research...more

  • Rethinking Tradition

    Jan 02 2018

    Philip Dodd is joined by Roger Scruton, Haroon Mirza, Kevin Davey and Kirsty Gunn to explore writing, modernism and experiment from T. S. Eliot onwards. Roger Scruton's books include 'How to be a Conservative' and 'England: An Elegy'. His most recent is 'Where We Are'. Kevin Davey's novel 'Playing Possum' was shortlisted for the 2017 Goldsmiths Prize - a prize for writing which embodies the spirit of invention Kirsty Gunn is the author of novels including 'The Big Music' and 'The Boy...more

  • A Literary Salon.

    Dec 14 2017

    No need to RSVP just turn up and tune in to Free Thinking's end of year salon. Matthew Sweet is our host and he's promising wit and wisdom as well as a host of guests: Jake Arnott, Malika Booker, Neil Brand, David Aaronovitch and Katherine Cooper. Malika Booker co-founded Malika’s Poetry Kitchen in 2001 to create a nourishing and encouraging community of writers dedicated to the development of their writing. She is currently the Douglas Caster Cultural Fellow at the University of Leeds. Her ...more

  • Should We Keep Pets?

    Dec 13 2017

    Are pets theraputic? Is it moral to domesticate animals? Anne McElvoy explores the history of our relationship with pets with John Bradshaw author of Cat Sense and Dog Sense, Philip Howell who has researched the role of the domestic dog in Victorian Britain, bioethicist and writer Jessica Pierce who questions whether we should keep pets at all and novelist Laura Purcell. John Bradshaw has written The Animals Among Us: The New Science of Anthrozoology; Cat Sense: The Feline Enigma Revealed an...more

  • Landmark - This Sporting Life

    Dec 12 2017

    Philip Dodd discusses the significance of David Storey's groundbreaking 1960 novel with social historian Juliet Gardiner, journalist Rod Liddle, writer Anthony Clavane and the author's daughter Kate Storey.

  • Many faces of Eve?

    Dec 07 2017

    Catherine Fletcher talks to Professor Stephen Greenblatt about the Adam and Eve story in the Christian tradition; to Islam Issa about Islam's version which tells a rather more gender-equality story of the original first couple. Jennifer Evans and Sara Read reveal how the story impacted on mothers and would-be mothers over centuries through their reading of 16th and 17th century medical textbooks. Garlic was one interesting diagnostic of pregnancy while menstrual periods played their part in mur...more

  • The Joy of Bad Films

    Dec 06 2017

    Matthew Sweet debates the merits of bad films with critics Larushka Ivan-Zadeh and Tim Robey as The Disaster Artist, James Franco's film inspired by cult classic The Room opens in UK cinemas. Plus the power of underground protest, of art and of the mind as we hear from psychologist Tali Sharot, from Jonathan Lerner on his time in the Weathermen, an organisation dedicated to the violent overthrowing of the United States government during the Vietnam era and from Lubaina Himid winner of this year'...more

  • Russia: Totalitarianism and Punishment

    Dec 05 2017

    Masha Gessen has traced the lives of 4 Russians born as the Soviet Union crumbled. Daniel Beer won the Cundill History Prize for his history of punishment in Tsarist times. Mary Dejevsky writes and reports on Russian politics now. Philip Dodd presents. Masha Gessen's book is called The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia. Daniel Beer's prize winning book is The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile under the Tsars

  • Ken Burns – Flash photography - Joy

    Nov 30 2017

    Matthew Sweet discusses the Vietnam War with the film maker Ken Burns who has spent the last decade making a monumental documentary about America's ill fated war in South East Asia. The award winninng poet, Sasha Dugdale, reads from her latest collection, Joy; and Kate Flint traces the history of flash photography from its origins in the nineteenth century to Weegee and Gordon Parks in the twentieth and Hiroshi Sugimoto and Martin Parr today The Vietnam War - a film by Ken Burns and Lynn No...more

  • Gentrification

    Nov 30 2017

    New Yorker essayist Adam Gopnik talks to Shahidha Bari about city living. Plus artist Lucinda Rogers on depicting changes to a London market, a new report into prosperity and New Generation Thinker Alastair Fraser from the University of Glasgow shares his research . At the Stranger's Gate by Adam Gopnik, a staff writer for the New Yorker, is a memoir recalling 1980s New York and the early years of his marriage. Lucinda Rogers: On Gentrification Drawings from Ridley Road Market is on disp...more

  • Free Thinking – David Willetts plus does scandal drive social change?

    Nov 28 2017

    The Rt Hon Lord David Willetts talks to Philip Dodd about universities. The UK Minister for Universities and Science from 2010 to 2014, his new book considers both the history and the global role they now play. Plus a discussion about scandal old and new - is it a driving force for social change or once the outrage has passed does everything revert to the status quo. Historian and New Generation Thinker Tom Charlton, journalist Michael White and biographer Frances Wilson, author of lives of Thom...more

  • Free Thinking – Religious Belief

    Nov 23 2017

    Philip Dodd looks at 2000 years of Arab Christians, at the modern rise of Pentecostalism and a novel depicting a man who decides to build a new church. Laura Premack from Lancaster University researches pentecostalism in Brazil, Nigeria and the USA. Neil Griffiths is author of a novel called As a God Might Be. Aurélie Clemente-Ruiz is Director of Exhibitions Department at the Institut du monde arabe in Paris where Eastern Christians: 2000 Years of History is on until January 14th 2018. It then...more

  • Improving or Ruining the Future? Kevin Rudd. Finland 100.

    Nov 22 2017

    Kelly and Zach Weinersmith share visions of the future with Rana Mitter. Plus former Australian PM Kevin Rudd on power and what images does Finland conjure 100 years after independence? We hear from Pauliina Stahlberg, Director of the Finnish Institute and Anne Robbins, curator of Lake Keitele: A Vision of Finland which runs at the National Gallery in London until 4 February 2018. Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith is out no...more

  • Free Thinking – Being Human: Lost and Found in the Archives

    Nov 21 2017

    New Generation Thinkers Shahidha Bari & Laurence Scott consider how archives come to life with events from the Being Human Festival including klezmer music, stories from conflict in Northern Ireland and voices from marginalised communities.

  • Being Human: The Lost Luggage Office, Ghosts and Warrior Poets.

    Nov 17 2017

    Stories of objects, ghosts and histories lost and found recorded on location in Portsmouth's most haunted house, the site of a sacrifice in Canterbury and at the TfL Lost Luggage Office. Presenter Matthew Sweet meets academics taking part in Being Human which showcases research from universities around the UK. How can the reflections of a warrior-poet from the distant past and the adventures of an Iron Age tribesman from the far future help us rethink our relationship with a city centre in th...more

  • Network, Jaron Lanier, Reputations.

    Nov 15 2017

    BBC Head of News, James Harding, offers his verdict of a new stage version of Network, starring Bryan Cranston. Philosopher, Gloria Origgi, considers the importance of reputation in the digital age. Plus, presenter Rana Mitter meets with the 'father of Virtual Reality', Jaron Lanier. Jaron Lanier's books include You Are Not a Gadget, Who Owns the Future, and Dawn of the New Everything. Network scripted by Lee Hall and directed by Ivo van Hove, based on the Paddy Chayefsky film, runs at t...more

  • Free Thinking: Poetry and Protest Newcastle

    Nov 15 2017

    ‘There are three urgent and indeed great problems that we face today… that is the problem of racism, the problem of poverty and the problem of war.’ The words of Martin Luther King in 1967 when he visited Newcastle upon Tyne to receive an honorary degree. Words that underlie a discussion about poetry and protest which features in the festival marking the 50th anniversary of that visit. The poets Jackie Kay, Fred D’Aguiar and Major Jackson join Shahidha Bari and an audience at Newcastle Univer...more

  • Russian Art and Exile. Part of Breaking Free: A Century of Russian Culture

    Nov 13 2017

    Author Boris Akunin and broadcaster and writer Zinovy Zinik in conversation with Anne McElvoy, recorded with an audience at Pushkin House. Pushkin House has commissioned a pavilion on Bloomsbury Square in London from the architect and artist Alexander Brodsky, titled '101st km - Further and Everywhere', as part of the Bloomsbury Festival. Anne visits this with Pushkin House Director Clem Cecil. Boris Akunin is the pen name of Grigory Chkhartishvili, who was born in Georgia in 1956. An essa...more

  • Landmark – Man with a Movie Camera

    Nov 09 2017

    "The greatest documentary of all time"? Michael Nyman, Alexei Popogrebsky, Ian Christie and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh join Matthew Sweet to discuss Dziga Vertov's 1929 film, Man with a Movie Camera, which was voted top of a poll conducted by Sight and Sound Magazine. Vertov's film is a kind of cinematic symphony of urban life in the Soviet Union. It fizzes with ideas and is the embodiment of the notion that cinema can promote revolutionary consciousness. For some its an achievement to set along s...more

  • Free Thinking: Soviet Histories: Part of Breaking Free: A Century of Russian Culture

    Nov 08 2017

    Nobel prize winner Svetlana Alexeivich on the Soviet Woman's Stories of World War II and why they did not want them published; Stephen Kotkin with Volume II of his biograph of Joseph Stalin explores the bloody creation of a Soviet State capable of standing up to hostile global countries. Ran Mitter talks to them about their top down/bottom up histories of Soviet Culture and also hears from Juliane Fürst about Soviet hipsters and hippies who challenged the system in ways that required no words. ...more

  • The pros and cons of Swearing.

    Nov 03 2017

    Comedian Janey Godley, historian John Gallagher, poet and journalist Bridget Minamore and author and science writer Dr Emma Byrne discuss with Matthew Sweet swearing on stage, in pain and protest and when new terms entered our language. Swearing Is Good For You by Emma Byrne is out now. Please note this programme may contain strong language. Producer: Debbie Kilbride

  • Benjamin Britten and Radio

    Nov 01 2017

    David Hendy, Glyn Maxwell, Kate Kennedy and Lucy Walker with Philip Dodd and an audience at Aldeburgh in a discussion exploring Britten’s relationship with radio in Britain and in America, with his subjects as varied as mountaineering (with words from Christopher Isherwood), a dramatisation of Homer’s Odyssey and short stories by D.H. Lawrence (with a young W.H. Auden). But why was Britten so reluctant to accept a job at the BBC’s Music department in the 1930s? David Hendy is a historian of ...more

  • Jonathan Swift at 350. Black and White Art. History of British nature writing.

    Oct 31 2017

    What does Gulliver's Travels say to us now? Satirical cartoonist Martin Rowson and Daniel Cook from the University of Dundee assess the legacy of Swift's best-known work. And Monochrome exhibition co-curator Jennifer Sliwka and photographer Sarah Pickering discuss exhibits ranging from black and white art on glass, vellum, ceramic, silk, wood, and canvas from Leonardo da Vinci to Gerhard Richter to a room filled with yellow light by the artist Olafur Eliasson, who created the Sun installation at...more

  • Forgotten authors, cult fiction and The Prisoner

    Oct 26 2017

    Alex Cox discusses surveillance, mind bending and the power of the individual versus the collective in the 1967 cult TV series The Prisoner. Plus Christopher Fowler, Clare Walker Gore and Lynda Nead look back at bestsellers from the past which deserve re-reading and the way movies and fiction of the 1950s reflected both the smog and fashions of post-war British culture. Christopher Fowler's The Book of Forgotten Authors catalogues 99 writers whom he thinks should be better known. The Pri...more

  • Free Thinking: Young Marx, Yanis Varoufakis and Ruth Lea and Tara Bergin

    Oct 26 2017

    Yanis Varoufakis discusses economics and Marxist analysis with Philip Dodd and Ruth Lea. Plus the new play from Richard Bean and Clive Coleman - the team behind One Man, Two Guvnors. which stars Rory Kinnear stars as the 32-year-old Karl Marx hiding out in Dean Street, Soho. And poet Tara Bergin on her version of Eleanor Marx. Young Marx by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman opens Nicholas Hytner's new London base The Bridge Theatre running until December 31st. It will be streamed in cinemas...more

  • Harry Potter. Tim O'Reilly. Tove Jansson.

    Oct 25 2017

    Web guru Tim O'Reilly on algorithm regulation and the magical worlds of Harry Potter, Philip Pullman and Tove Jansson with guests Aisha Bushby, young adult author, and New Generation Thinkers Hetta Howes and Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough.

  • Free Thinking: Landmark: Marnie

    Oct 18 2017

    Matthew Sweet discusses memory and Marnie with novelist and Freud scholar Lisa Appignanesi, Andrew Graham - son of the novelist Winston Graham who wrote the 1961 novel which Alfred Hitchcock turned into a film in 1964, Gwyneth Hughes - who wrote the screenplay of 'The Girl', an exploration of Hitchcock’s relationship with Tippi Hedren, and Hitchcock and Marnie scholar Murray Pomerance. plus the audience at Wellcome Collection in London. Recorded as part of BBC Radio 3's series of programmes ...more

  • The Man Booker Prize. Mike Bartlett. Is Small Beautiful?

    Oct 17 2017

    Dr Foster writer Mike Bartlett on his new play Albion. Alex Clark reports from the Man Booker prize ceremony. And former SNP MP George Kerevan, David Goodhart and Marián Arribas-Tomé from UEA discuss whether the 21st century is set to be a century of small nations. The Man Booker Prize shortlist 2017 is : 4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund Exit West by Mohsin Hamid Elmet by Fiona Mozley Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders Autumn by Ali Smith Mike Ba...more

  • Pacific Rim politics; Ronan Bennett; Sjon

    Oct 12 2017

    The Gunpowder Plot in a new tv dramatisation by Ronan Bennett plus presenter Rana Mitter explores anti-Catholic prejudice in Britain today with Catherine Pepinster and Tim Stanley, and historians Richard McGregor and Hans van de Ven discuss relations between Japan, US and China. And the Icelandic poet and songwriter Sjón on hisrole in Poetry International as it celebrates its 50th anniversary since it was founded in 1967 by former poet laureate Ted Hughes. Richard McGregor is former Beijing bure...more

  • Jewish history, jokes and contemporary identity. Michael Longley

    Oct 11 2017

    Simon Schama and Devorah Baum join Philip Dodd for a conversation ranging from the expulsion of Jewish people from Spain in 1492 to Jewish jokes today. Plus, poet Michael Longley considers his preoccupations with The Great War, The Troubles and the natural world. Belonging: The Story of the Jews 1492-1900 is the title of Simon Schama's latest book. Devorah Baum teaches at the University of Southampton and has written Feeling Jewish (A Book for Just About Anyone) and The Jewish Joke. ...more

  • Salman Rushdie. Uncertainty

    Oct 10 2017

    Novelists Salman Rushdie and Lionel Shriver join science writer Marcus Chown and historian Rachel Hewitt to discuss fiction, US politics, living in uncertain times and the new West End play from Simon Stephens Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle. Presented Shahidha Bari.

  • Free Thinking - Blade Runner. Ghost Stories

    Oct 05 2017

    Matthew Sweet goes on a ghost hunt in Portsmouth with Karl Bell and is joined by Susan Owens and Stuart Evers to look at hauntings and what they tell us about our fears through the ages. James Burton from Goldsmiths and New Generation Thinker Sarah Dillon watch a vision of Los Angeles in 2049 in the Blade Runner sequel.

  • Free Thinking - Alan Hollinghurst

    Oct 04 2017

    Alan Hollinghurst talks to Anne McElvoy and a Proms Extra audience about his new novel The Sparsholt Affair, which traces a family and changing attitudes to sexuality across generations. It's the sixth novel from the author whose Booker Prize winning The Line of Beauty was dramatised for TV and who began his literary career with The Swimming Pool Library published in 1988. Recorded last month as a Proms Extra event with an audience at Imperial College. Producer: Zahid Warley

  • Free Thinking: The importance of networks; the art of dance.

    Oct 03 2017

    Niall Ferguson talks to Philip Dodd about a less hierarchical history. Jane Munro looks at Degas's depictions of the human body. Sarah Lamb describes dancing MacMillan's ballets. The Square and the Tower: Networks, hierarchies and the struggle for global power by Niall Ferguson is out now. Degas - A Passion for Perfection runs at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge until January 14th 2018. Jane Munro has edited a catalogue containing essays to mark the centenary of Degas's death which is p...more

  • Landmark: Andrew Marvell's To His Coy Mistress

    Sep 28 2017

    Poets Michael Symmons Roberts and Helen Mort and academic Stewart Mottram join Matthew Sweet in Hull to discuss the language of love and the politics underpinning Marvell's poem in a special recording for National Poetry Day. Readings are performed by Matt Sutton. Published posthumously in 1861, the poem has been seen as following traditions of carpe diem love poetry exhorting the female reader to seize the day and respond more quickly to the poet/lover but it has also been argued that the metap...more

  • Simon Heffer. Social Conservatism. Sibelius. D'Oyly Carte.

    Sep 28 2017

    Philip Blond, Eliza Filby, Tom Simpson and Simon Heffer join Rana Mitter to look back to Edwardian England and at conservative thinking now. New Generation Thinkers Eleanor Lybeck and Leah Broad share their research into touring opera and the links between Sibelius's music for theatre and his symphonies. Simon Heffer's latest book is called The Age of Decadence: Britain 1880-1914 Opera: Passion, Power and Politics opens at the Victoria and Albert Museum on September 30th. Tickets cost £19 and BB...more

  • Kamila Shamsie: John Kasmin. Dido

    Sep 26 2017

    Family ties and radicalisation in Kamila Shamsie's novel Home Fire; images of beggars and slaughterhouses in the old postcards collected by John Kasmin, the art dealer who promoted abstract artists including Anthony Caro and Gillian Ayres. Plus Dido, Queen of Carthage - from Virgil and Christopher Marlowe to Purcell and TS Eliot - classicist Natalie Haynes and theatre director Rebecca McCutcheon discuss the different interpretations. Kamila Shamsie's novels include Burnt Shadows which links even...more

  • Free Thinking. Bernard MacLaverty. Immigration. Christian destruction of Classical World

    Sep 21 2017

    The Northern Irish author of Cal and Grace Notes, Bernard MacLaverty talks to Anne McElvoy about his novel Midwinter Break plus Clair Wills on her research into post war immigration to Britain and the differing expectations and experience of migrants and European refugees. The daughter of Irish immigrants - she now teaches at Princeton University in USA. Joining in the discussion Will Jones, who researches the politics of migration and is working on developing the idea of matching markets which ...more

  • Testosterone. The grey zone. Indian science.

    Sep 20 2017

    Cordelia Fine debates the effects of testosterone. Adrian Owen explores the “grey zone” of consciousness. Curator Matt Kimberley and Jahnavi Phalkey discuss scientific discoveries made in India and how they should be displayed at the London Science Museum. Plus Chair of the Judges for the Royal Society Science Book Prize Richard Fortey joins in the round table with presenter Matthew Sweet exploring whether it’s good to personalise science stories.

  • Diplomacy: Sir John Jenkins, Gabrielle Rifkind, Michael Burleigh, Dr Beyza Unal.

    Sep 20 2017

    Philip Dodd and guests explore the art of negotiation and discuss JT Rogers' play Oslo which opens at the National Theatre this week. It draws on the experiences of Norwegian diplomat Mona Juul and her husband, social scientist Terje Rød-Larsen who fixed secret meetings between the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Sir John Jenkins is a former diplomat and Executive Director of The International Institute for Strategic Studies - Middle East. He's been HM Consul-General i...more

  • Free Thinking: Russian Nationalism. Scythians. Hull and Port Talbot on stage.

    Sep 15 2017

    Anne Applebaum talks to Anne McElvoy about Russian nationalism and Ukrainian history in a programme exploring the importance of borders and the way identities are bound up with a sense of place. Nick Tandavanitj and Rhiannon White discuss creating drama out of the specific histories of Hull and Port Talbot. St John Simpson, curator of a British Museum exhibition devoted to a nomadic culture of antiquity, explains the ethos of the Scythians. Anne Applebaum is a Professor at LSE and a column...more

  • Free Thinking: Social Conservatism, Kathe Kollwitz and John Ashbery

    Sep 14 2017

    Philip Dodd and Joanna Kavenna discuss the challenges of art in an age of irony as the work of Käthe Kollwitz goes on display in Birmingham at the Ikon Gallery. Lawrence Norfolk pays tribute to the work of the great American poet, John Ashbery, who died last week. Plus a discussion of social conservatism in the USA, Europe and the UK with Sophie Gaston from the think tank, Demos and the political commentators, Tim Stanley and Charlie Wolf. Kollwitz was born in Königsberg in East Prussia in 1...more

  • Free Thinking: Washing in public. Sir Peter Hall (1930 - 2017)

    Sep 12 2017

    Public pools, the "steamie" and the Turkish bath; debates about hygiene and the role and revival of these public spaces are explored by Matthew Sweet and guests as Scottish theatres host a 30th anniversary tour of Tony Roper's play depicting 1950s Glasgow women washing their clothes in a public washhouse. Joining Matthew will be Chris Renwick, author of 'Bread for All: The Origins of the Welfare State', and Claire Launchbury, who has studied women's use of public baths in Middle Eastern citi...more

  • Proms Extra: Alan Hollinghurst

    Sep 04 2017

    The Booker Prize winning novelist, Alan Hollinghurst, talks to Anne McElvoy about the art of fiction and his new book, The Sparsholt Affair Producer: Zahid Warley

  • Proms Extra: Lenin

    Sep 01 2017

    Anne McElvoy is joined by historians Helen Rappaport and Victor Sebestyen to consider the figure of Lenin, as the Proms marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Victor Sebestyen, author of Lenin the Dictator: An Intimate Portrait And Helen Rappaport, author of Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd 1917

  • Proms Extra: Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

    Aug 29 2017

    Professor Kathleen Burk, University College London, reflects on Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address with BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinker Joanna Cohen. Event hosted by Rana Mitter.

  • Proms Extra: Ancient Rome

    Aug 29 2017

    Matthew Sweet talks to the classicist, writer and stand- up comedian, Natalie Haynes, about the glory that was Rome -with readings by the actor, Peter Marinker,from Virgil, Sulpicia, Gibbon and Dickens. Producer: Zahid Warley

  • Proms Extra: Unfinished Art and Literature

    Aug 23 2017

    Michelangelo and Coleridge, Dickens and the Impressionists, all left work that they or others deemed unfinished, interrupted or incomplete. In front of a BBC R3 Proms audience at Imperial Collge in London, the poet and broadcaster, Ian McMillan is joined by the writer Meg Rosoff who completed the novel ‘Beck’ for her friend, the late Mal Peet, and art historian and curator, Karen Serres from the Courtauld Gallery to talk about what is meant by unfinished art and literature and why it disturbs, ...more

  • Proms Extra: Djinn

    Aug 18 2017

    Ian McMillan and a pre-Proms audience at Imperial College London have the smoky essence of Djinn conjured for them by literary scholar and New Generation Thinker Shahidha Bari and novelist Elif Shafak whose books are full of djinn. Shafak reads from her novel The Bastard of Istanbul and reflects on her grandmothers' very different versions of personal genie while Shahidha explores the idea that djinn and their abilities to fly and build huge castles in one night are part of the human drive to t...more

  • Proms Extra: Sleep and Insomnia

    Aug 16 2017

    Nick Littlehales, sports sleep coach and chair of the British Sleep Council, talks with novelist A. L. Kennedy about sleep and insomnia. The event is hosted by Rana Mitter.

  • Proms Extra: Cuneiform 07082017

    Aug 08 2017

    A pre-Prom audience at Imperial College in London listens in as Shaidha Bari talks to Assyriologist Irving Finkel about cuneiform; how the script survived, what it tells us about life in the cities of Ur, Ninevah and Babylon and the way some of the most memorable stories ever told travelled from culture to culture. On the fare demonic puns, a four thousand year old joke, why the Ark might have been round and just how painful life was for Sumerian school chidren.

  • Proms Extra: Ella Fitzgerald

    Aug 07 2017

    Kevin LeGendre and Claire Martin discuss Ella Fitzgerald

  • Proms Extra: Sentimentality

    Aug 03 2017

    Anne McElvoy is joined by New Generation Thinker Seán Williams and writer Rachel Hewitt to consider Friedrich Schiller’s essay On Naïve and Sentimental Poetry and what it means to be sentimental in that period?

  • Proms Extra: Happiness

    Aug 02 2017

    Will Abberley asks novelist Charlotte Mendelson why writers seem reluctant to engage with happiness and why so much literature is full of unhappy people; they are joined by psychologist and broadcaster Claudia Hammond.

  • Proms Extra: Sea Journeys and Voyages

    Aug 01 2017

    Rana Mitter is joined by Sir Barry Cunliffe and Professor Edith Hall to consider epic sea journeys in history.

  • Proms Extra: Europe in Writing

    Aug 01 2017

    Novelist Lawrence Norfolk makes a selection of European writers who have considered the idea of ‘Europe’, with readings performed by Peter Marinker. Hosted by New Generation Thinker Nandini Das.

  • Proms Extra: Opium and Creativity in the 19th c.

    Jul 24 2017

    From Thomas De Quincy via Coleridge to Berlioz, a second-generation opium addict, Daisy Hay and Richard Davenport-Hines discuss why drugs were thought integral to creativity first in England and later in France. They tell Matthew Sweet and an audience at Imperial College London about opium as pain relief and creator of dreams and constipation, why arsenic was the Viagra of its day, and why it's just possible that Paris was as revolutionary as it was in the 19th century because it was full of dr...more

  • Proms Extra: Music and Moods

    Jul 18 2017

    Thomas Dixon, Director of the Centre for the History of Emotions, and musicologist Wiebke Thormählen look at mood: how composers and writers have engaged with themes of sentimentality, happiness and sorrow in their work, presented by Matthew Sweet. Producer: Fiona McLean

  • Proms Extra - Deep Time

    Jul 17 2017

    Rana Mitter talks to geologist Iain Stewart and geographer Nicholas Crane about the concept of "Deep Time".

  • Free Thinking: Landmark: Matthew Arnold's Culture and Anarchy

    Jul 13 2017

    Simon Heffer, novelist and co-director of the Fun Palaces campaign Stella Duffy, New Generation Thinker Will Abberley and the writer and sociologist Tiffany Jenkins join Matthew Sweet and an audience at the University of Sussex to debate the ideas explored by Matthew Arnold and their resonance today. The series of periodical essays were first published in Cornhill Magazine, 1867-68, and subsequently published as a book in 1869. Arnold argued that modern life was producing a society of 'Philis...more

  • Free Thinking: Art in the Age of Black Power; History of Racist Ideas in US

    Jul 12 2017

    Tate Modern offers a retrospective on the Art of the Black Power Movement in America and explores how 'Black Art' was defined by artists across the United States and its interplay with the civil rights movement. Rana Mitter is joined by Gaylene Gould, writer and artist and Head of Cinema and Events at the BFI, who reviews the 'Soul of A Nation' exhibition. Rana is also joined by the reggae poet and recording artist, Linton Kwesi Johnson "Writing was a political act and poetry was a cultural wea...more

  • Free Thinking - Queer Icons: Plato's Symposium. Part of Gay Britannia.

    Jul 11 2017

    Shahidha Bari discusses LGBTQ in the history of philosophy.As part of the BBC's Queer Icons series Philosopher Sophie-Grace Chappell discusses Plato's Symposium, and novelist Adam Mars-Jones talks about Bruce Bagemihl's book Biological Exuberance which explored homosexuality in the animal kingdom. Plus, we hear from the winner of this year's Caine Prize for African Writing. Queer Icons is a project to mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in which 50 leading...more

  • Free Thinking – Writing Love: Jonathan Dollimore, Heer Ranjha. Queer Icons: Sappho. Part of Gay Britannia

    Jul 06 2017

    The Punjabi "Romeo and Juliet" is explored at Bradford Lit Fest plus New Generation Thinker Catherine Fletcher talks to Jonathan Dollimore about his memoir and the influence of the Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence which he set up at Sussex University. The Greek poet Sappho is championed by Professor Margaret Reynolds as part of Queer Icons - a project to mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in which 50 leading figures choose an LGBT artwork that is special...more

  • Free Thinking – Philip Hoare and Elizabeth Jane Burnett on wild swimming. Jake Arnott on Joe Orton

    Jul 05 2017

    Matthew Sweet talks to Philip Hoare about literary history and the ocean. Poet Elizabeth Jane Burnett performs snippets from her collection, Swims. Writer Jake Arnott reassesses the film Prick Up Your Ears as it's re-released in cinemas. Continuing the 'Queer Icon' series, Philip Hoare plumps for Cecil Beaton's image of Stephen Tennant. Philip Hoare's new book is called RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR Queer Icons is a project to mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in...more

  • Free Thinking: Food

    Jul 04 2017

    Can going out for a meal really be an aesthetic experience, like going to a gallery or a theatre? What kind of statement are we making when we say we don’t like beetroot? And what can the great thinkers of history – the philosopher David Hume, the anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss – tell us about table manners? And which thousand islands are we talking about when we talk about a thousand island dressing? Matthew Sweet explores the joys of food with philosopher Barry Smith, restaurant critic...more

  • Free Thinking: Canada 150: Sydney Newman and British TV; Vahni Capildeo; Shubbak Festival 2017

    Jun 29 2017

    Matthew Sweet looks at the Canadian influence on British TV drama in the early 1960s, with director Alvin Rakoff, Sydney Newman biographer, Ryan Danes, and Graeme Burk, contributor to the publication of Newman's memoirs. Newman was instrumental in setting up Armchair Theatre, The Avengers and Doctor Who and The Wednesday Play at a time when broadcasting was in an excitingly fluid state. The British-Trinidadian poet Vahni Capildeo on her Forward Prize winning collection Measures of Expatriati...more

  • Free Thinking: Canada 150: Identity Robbie Richardson, Alison MacLeod, Deborah Pearson + Rupi Kaur and Kevan Funk.

    Jun 29 2017

    Shahidha Bari and Laurence Scott look at images of Canada from First Nations art through Anne of Green Gables on TV to poems and art posted on Instagram and Twitter by Rupi Kaur. Their studio guests are author Alison MacLeod, Robbie Richardson and Deborah Pearson. Plus film maker Kevan Funk. Rupi Kaur has published a book called Milk and Honey and you can find images of her art via her website https://www.rupikaur.com/ Robbie Richardson from the University of Kent is writing a book about ...more

  • Free Thinking - Canada 150: Robert Lepage, Katherine Ryan.

    Jun 27 2017

    Philip Dodd explores the influence of Canadian history and the difference between stand up and performing a one man show. Katherine Ryan is based in the UK and about to perform at summer festivals and in an autumn tour. The French Canadian playwright, performer and opera director Robert Lepage recently staged his autobiographical "memory play", 887, at the Barbican in London. He has directed a ring cycle for the Metropolitan Opera which was featured in a 2012 documentary Wagner's Dream and produ...more

  • Free Thinking - Man and Machine: Garry Kasparov, Wyndham Lewis. 2017 New Generation Thinker Simon Beard

    Jun 22 2017

    Garry Kasparov talks to Philip Dodd about being defeated by a supercomputer in the chess match he played in 1997 and how this affected his view of AI. 100 years ago, Wyndham Lewis was first commissioned as a war artist; Richard Slocombe, curator of a new exhibition and art historian Anna Grueztner Robins discuss his art with John Keane who was a war artist in the Gulf War. 2017 New Generation Thinker Simon Beard outlines his research into overpopulation and our attitude towards death. Garry ...more

  • Free Thinking - Terrorism: Richard English, Baroness Warsi, 2017 New Generation Thinker Thomas Simpson.

    Jun 22 2017

    Rana Mitter goes to a drama which asks the audience to play jury in a trial following the hijacking of a plane. He's joined by Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, whose book 'The Enemy Within' looks at attitudes towards the Islamic community in Britain, Richard English author of 'Does Terrorism Work?: A History', Faisal Devji, author of several studies of political Islam and the ideology of Jihad, and 2017 New Generation Thinker Thomas Simpson. 'Terror' by Ferdinand von Schirach in a translation by Davi...more

  • Free Thinking: Tom McCarthy. Jacobitism; Satirical Indexes; A Museum of Modern Nature

    Jun 20 2017

    Essayist Tom McCarthy joins presenter Anne McElvoy, academics Dennis Duncan + Peter Mackay and the curator of A Museum of Modern Nature. As a new exhibition opens in Edinburgh, 'Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites', poet and New Generation Thinker Peter Mackay explores the hundreds of artefacts gathered from home and abroad and gives us his reflections on the old old story of the Kings over the Water. Dennis Duncan from The Bodleian Centre for the Study of the Book brings a tale of h...more

  • Free Thinking: Churchill, Pocahontas and The Idiot

    Jun 15 2017

    Anne McElvoy is joined by screenwriter Alex von Tunzelmann who discusses her new film, Churchill. New Generation Thinker Christopher Bannister, an expert on the propaganda unit The Ministry of Information, reveals the influence it still wields today. Academic Nandini Das and Stephanie Pratt, an art historian with Native American heritage, consider the complicated legacy of Pocahontas 400 years after her death. Plus, writer Elif Batuman offers a linguistic guide to the nuisances of the Turkish ...more

  • Free Thinking: Narcissism

    Jun 14 2017

    Shahidha Bari and Laurence Scott explore our obsession with the self. Take a look in the mirror with author and photographer Will Storr, the novelist, Olivia Sudjic, Tom Jackson, creator of Postcard from the Past and the neuroscientist, Sophie Scott. Producer: Zahid Warley Will Storr's book Selfie is published by Picador Olivia Sudjic's novel, Sympathy is published by One - the Pushkin Press imprint Tom Jackson's Postcard from the Past is published by Fourth Estate and @PastPostcard Sophi...more

  • Free Thinking: Will Self, R. D. Laing and Mandy.

    Jun 13 2017

    Will Self joins Matthew Sweet to discuss the mind, consciousness, ADHD, Alzheimer’s and PTSD - all woven together in his new novel Phone. Mad to be Normal director, Robert Mullan, talks about the man at the centre of his film, controversial psychiatrist R. D. Laing. Critic Melanie Williams considers Mandy, Alexander Mackendrick's 1952 film about a deaf child learning to find her way in post-war Britain. Mandy was played by the child actress Mandy Miller who recalls her starring role from sixty f...more

  • Free Thinking: Political Sketch Writing. Enclosure Acts. 2017. Branwell Bronte. Pushkin House Book Prize 2017

    Jun 08 2017

    Anne McElvoy looks at the style of the election campaign and how it's been reflected by political sketch writers with John Crace and Quentin Letts. As Common by DC Moore opens at London's National Theatre, Simon Jenkins and Jonathan Healey discuss the impact of the Enclosure Acts. New Generation Thinker Emma Butcher from the University of Hull marks 200 years since Branwell Brontë was born. The winner of this year's Pushkin House Russian Book Prize - Rosalind Blakesley - talks to Anne along with...more

  • Free Thinking - Revenge: My Cousin Rachel, Natalie Haynes, 2017 New Generation Thinker Islam Issa.

    Jun 07 2017

    Matthew Sweet sees a film version of Daphne Du Maurier's novel directed by Roger Michell and looks at revenge in Shakespeare and Greek drama with 2017 New Generation Thinker Islam Issa and classicist and author Natalie Haynes. Andrew O'Hagan discusses his new book of essays exploring his relationship with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and the Australian web developer who may or not be the inventor of the Bitcoin. Natalie Haynes new novel is called The Children of Jocasta. Andrew O'Hagan's...more

  • Free Thinking - Arundhati Roy

    Jun 06 2017

    Arundhati Roy, the Man Booker prize winning author and campaigner is in conversation with Philip Dodd as she publishes her second novel 20 years after The God of Small Things. Arundhati Roy's new novel is called The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. It is being read on BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime. Producer: Zahid Warley

  • Free Thinking - Hay 2017: Writing History with Sebastian Barry, Jake Arnott, Madeleine Thien.

    Jun 01 2017

    The authors of three historical novels discuss the way research and family history have informed their fiction in a discussion recorded at the Hay Festival chaired by New Generation Thinker Sarah Dillon from the University of Cambridge. Jake Arnott has set novels in the 1960s, the 1940s and the 1900s and in his latest novel The Fatal Tree he depicts the criminal world in 18th century London. Madeleine Thien’s novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing explores the impact of the Cultural Revolution o...more

  • Free Thinking: Ecstasy. Carpe Diem. 2017 New Generation Thinker Hetta Howes on medieval ecstasy.

    Jun 01 2017

    Why we need to seize the moment and lose control more often is discussed by philosophers Jules Evans and Roman Krznaric and Canon Angela Tilby. And presenter Rana Mitter is joined by 2017 New Generation Thinker Hetta Howes, whose research looks at medieval attitudes to ecstasy. 'Carpe Diem Regained: The Vanishing Art of Seizing the Day' by Roman Krznaric is out now www.carpediem.click Jules Evans is a 2013 New Generation Thinker who blogs at http://www.philosophyforlife.org/ His book The A...more

  • Free Thinking: Hay 2017: Women's Voices in the Classical World.

    May 30 2017

    Colm Toibin, Bettany Hughes and Paul Cartledge join New Generation Thinker Catherine Fletcher for a discussion recorded at Hay. Colm Toibin’s new novel House of Names explores the story of Clytemnestra and the murder of her husband Agamemnon. His other novels include The Testament of Mary, Brooklyn and Nora Webster. Paul Cartledge is A.G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture Emeritus at the University of Cambridge and the author of many books which look at the classical world including Ancie...more

  • Free Thinking: Artist Tom Phillips at 80; How do we save our plants?

    May 25 2017

    The artist Tom Phillips talks to Philip Dodd about his career as he marks his 80th birthday. His works range from sculptures, like a tennis ball with his own hair, to commissions for the Imperial War Museum and Peckham, and portraits of subjects including Sir Harrison Birtwistle and the Monty Python team. His interest in literature is seen in his version of Dante's Inferno and art made from reworking the text of a Victorian novel, in addition to his post card collection, photographic diaries and...more

  • Free Thinking - Japan and Korea. Hokusai

    May 24 2017

    Chris Harding discusses the work of Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai with Tim Clark, curator of a new exhibition at the British Museum and explores the relationship between Korea and Japan through the visual arts with art historian Angus Locker, Charlotte Horlyck, chair of the Centre for Korean Studies at the School of Oriental & African Studies, and Je Yun Moon, a curator at the Korean Cultural Centre UK overseeing a year-long festival of Korean arts. Plus Aidan Foster-Carter on the US involv...more

  • Free Thinking - Bella Bathurst. Mike Figgis. Birds in British literature. 2017 New Generation Thinker Daisy Fancourt.

    May 23 2017

    Author and photojournalist Bella Bathurst suddenly began to lose her hearing as an adult in 1997. Twelve years later, an operation enabled her to recover it. She has written a book about her experience, insights gained about listening and the science behind deafness. 2017 New Generation Thinker Daisy Fancourt researches the effect of the arts on immune response and public health. New Generation Thinker Will Abberley has curated an exhibition exploring birds in British literature. Dire...more

  • Free Thinking: Fiona Shaw and Mark Ravenhill on Brecht, John Knox, 2017 New Generation Thinker Joanne Paul.

    May 18 2017

    As dramas about John Knox and Galileo open at theatres in Edinburgh and London, Philip Dodd talks to Fiona Shaw and Mark Ravenhill about performing and staging Brecht and to Edinburgh Lyceum director David Greig. He's also joined by 2017 New Generation Thinker Joanne Paul, from the University of Sussex, who researches the idea of parrhesia or 'speaking truth to power'. And satirist Nev Fountain and stand-up comedian Simon Evans discuss whether comedy is still an effective weapon with which to a...more

  • Free Thinking: Rachel Seiffert. James Hawes,Richard Nelson. 2017 New Gen Thinker Alistair Fraser on gangs

    May 17 2017

    Anne McElvoy talks to the Tony award-winning playwright Richard Nelson about bringing his trilogy depicting a US family over the 2016 election year to the Brighton Festival. Novelist Rachel Seiffert was shortlisted for the Booker prize with her book The Dark Room. Her new novel is inspired by the arrival of the Nazis in a Ukrainian village. The political novelist, James Hawes, explains why a lack of a clear eastern border has informed German history for two thousand years. Plus the etymology ...more

  • Free Thinking - Artist Taryn Simon. Deglobalisation. 2017 New Generation Thinker Eleanor Lybeck on the circus.

    May 16 2017

    Artist Taryn Simon, Master of Photography at this year's Photo London Art Fair, speaks to Matthew Sweet about her work including her latest project Image Atlas inspired by the top image results for given search terms across local engines throughout the world. 2017 New Generation Thinker Eleanor Lybeck from the University of Oxford on the artist Edward Seago and running away to the circus. What if globalisation isn't as unstoppable as once thought? As manufacturing technology advances will...more

  • Free Thinking: Laurent Binet; the rise of blockchain tech.

    May 11 2017

    Anne McElvoy talks to the French novelist Laurent Binet about his playful novel The 7th Function of Language, inspired by the death of Roland Barthes which has won the Prix de la FNAC and Prix Interallié. Emile Chabal considers what's next for France and Europe after the election of Emmanuel Macron. Plus, why blockchains, the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, have the potential to revolutionize the world economy. Or do they? Three experts - Ajit Tripathi, Colin Platt and ...more

  • Free Thinking: Salomé, Angels in America, Queer British Art

    May 10 2017

    Playwright Mark Ravenhill and critic Matt Wolf debate desire and politics with Philip Dodd as Tony Kushner's Angels in America is revived at the National Theatre in London. Writer and theatre director Yaël Farber explains her vision of the story of Salomé as one set in an occupied desert country where a radical is on hunger strike and a girl's dance is at the centre of a revolution. Peggy Reynolds and Matt Cook discuss the exhibition Queer British Art 1861-9167. Salomé is at the National The...more

  • Free Thinking: The Wolfson Prize

    May 09 2017

    Rana Mitter is joined by the 6 shortlisted authors and an audience at the British Academy for a discussion about writing history. This is the first year that the Wolfson History Prize has announced a shortlist. The winner will be named on May 15th. Daniel Beer, THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD: SIBERIAN EXILE UNDER THE TSARS Chris Given-Wilson, HENRY IV Christopher de Hamel, MEETINGS WITH REMARKABLE MANUSCRIPTS Sasha Handley, SLEEP IN EARLY MODERN ENGLAND Lyndal Roper, MARTIN LUTHER: RENEGA...more

  • Free Thinking: Breaking Free: Landmark - Paradise Lost

    May 05 2017

    Professor John Carey joins New Generation Thinkers Islam Issa and Joe Moshenska and presenter Philip Dodd to discuss Milton's poem, the first version of which was published in 1667. The discussion explores the influence of Protestant thinking, the Reformation and the Renaissance on Milton's depiction of religious and political beliefs as part of Radio 3's Breaking Free series of programmes exploring the impact of Martin Luther's Revolution. Dr Islam Issa from Birmingham City University has wr...more

  • Free Thinking: Breaking Free - Martin Luther’s Revolution. New Research into the Reformation

    May 03 2017

    Rana Mitter looks at new research into the way daily life changed in Britain after the Reformation for Radio 3's series of programmes exploring Martin Luther's Revolution. His guests are: Alec Ryrie, Professor in Religion and Theology at the University of Durham and author of: Protestants: The Faith that Made the Modern World 201; Tom Charlton, New Generation Thinker is currently studying the history of Protestant nonconformity at Dr Williams's Library, London Elizabeth Goodwin from the Un...more

  • Free Thinking - Breaking Free: Martin Luther's Revolution

    May 02 2017

    Peter Stanford, Ulinka Rublack and Diarmaid MacCulloch join Anne McElvoy to explore the question Martin Luther - Fundamentalist, Reactionary or Enlightened Creator of the Modern World? The discussion was recorded in front of an audience at theLiterary Festival for Radio 3's Breaking Free series of programmes exploring Martin Luther's Revolution. 500 years ago Martin Luther launched the Protestant Reformation when he nailed a sheet of paper to the door of a church in a small university town in Ge...more

  • Free Thinking - Wellcome Book Prize, Civil Wars: Susan Buck-Morss and A.C. Grayling, Louisa Egbunike and Akachi Ezeigbo.

    Apr 27 2017

    A novel by Maylis de Kerangal which traces a heart transplant is the winner of this year's Wellcome Book Prize and the inspiration for a film out in the UK this week. Also, Anne McElvoy discusses nation states and war with US Professor of Political Philosophy Susan Buck-Morss and Professor AC Grayling. The 50th anniversary of the Biafran war and fictional representations of it are explored with New Generation Thinker Louisa Egbunike - organiser of the Igbo Conference at SOAS - and Professor Akac...more

  • Free Thinking - What now for environmentalism? With Paul Kingsnorth, James Thornton and Martin Goodman

    Apr 26 2017

    Paul Kingsnorth, former deputy-editor of The Ecologist, co-founder of the Dark Mountain Project and author of novels including The Wake and Beast, talks about his changing attitude to the environmental movement. Environmental lawyer James Thornton and writer Martin Goodman recount their travels from Poland to Ghana, Alaska to China, to see how citizens are using public interest law to protect their planet. Plus, critic Maria Delgado and biographer Adam Feinstein consider the lost poems of that C...more

  • Free Thinking - Smell: Michele Roberts, A history of dentistry

    Apr 25 2017

    Michèle Roberts' latest novel evokes Victorian London. Matthew Sweet asks how it smelt and what do museums do to create past smells. Plus a cultural history of dentistry with the medical historian Richard Barnett. The Walworth Beauty by Michèle Roberts is out now. The Smile Stealers: The Fine and Foul Art of Dentistry by Richard Barnett is out now. Producer: Fiona McLean.

  • Free Thinking - Landmark: Leaves of Grass

    Apr 23 2017

    The American poet Mark Doty, Professor Sarah Churchwell and the young British poet Andrew McMillan join Matthew Sweet for a programme dedicated to one of the classics of American poetry, Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Readings performed by William Hope. Producer: Fiona McLean. Originally broadcast on Thu 8 Oct 2015.

  • Free Thinking – John Irving

    Apr 22 2017

    Philip Dodd interviews John Irving - author of novels including The World According to Garp, The Cider House Rules, A Prayer for Owen Meany. His new book is called Avenue of Mysteries and imagines the life of a crippled street-child from Mexico, Juan Diego, and his sister Lupe, who can read minds. The action cuts between Diego's present as a globe trotting, best selling writer visiting the Philippines, and his memories of his childhood in Mexico and working at a circus. The Avenue of Mysteries b...more

  • Free Thinking - Writers Writing about Love

    Apr 21 2017

    Anne McElvoy invites three novelists into the studio to discuss Love - the theme of each of their latest novels. A L Kennedy's Serious Sweet examines love in later life, Tahmima Anam explores different aspects ofyoung love in The Bones of Grace and Alain de Botton says no-one lives happy ever after, we should talk a lot more about what comes next - hence the title of his book The Course of Love. Aside from whether Romanticism is plague or blessing, the writers also discuss whether writers themse...more

  • Free Thinking - Taking the Long View with the Animal Kingdom

    Apr 13 2017

    Tim Birkhead and Phyllis Lee explore long-lived animal species and their survival strategies. If the modern world is obsessed with short term success, could animals offer a better understanding of the long term state of our planet? Want to sample the health of our oceans? Ask a migratory bird. Or the advantage of becoming a mother later in life? Ask an elephant. Free Thinking presenter Rana Mitter hears how their lives have shaped the minds and emotions of the field scientists who study them...more

  • Free Thinking - My Body Clock is Broken

    Apr 12 2017

    Jay Griffiths, Vincent Deary, Louise Robinson and Matthew Smith discuss our mental health. How do depression and dementia affect our sense of time and the rhythms of daily life? Our body clocks have long been seen by scientists as integral to our physical and mental health – but what happens when mental illness disrupts or even stops that clock? Presenter Anne McElvoy is joined by those who have suffered depression and dementia and those who treat it – and they attempt to offer some solution...more

  • Free Thinking Festival: Time, Space and Science

    Apr 11 2017

    Carlos Frenk, Eugenia Cheng, Jim Al-Khalili and Louisa Preston debate time and space with presenter Rana Mitter and an audience at Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead. We can measure time passing but what actually is it? What do scientists mean when they suggest that time is an illusion. Can time exist in a black hole? Is everyone’s experience of time subjective? What is the connection between time and space? How does maths help us understand the universe? Professor Carlos F...more

  • Free Thinking Festival: Writing Life

    Apr 10 2017

    Poet Simon Armitage and writer Alexandra Harris explore time and place in modern Britain. Presented by Philip Dodd and recorded as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival in front of an audience at Sage Gateshead. Simon Armitage, Professor of Poetry at Oxford University, has been described as ‘the best poet of his generation’. His latest collection The Unaccompanied explores life against a backdrop of economic recession and social division where globalisation has made alienation a common ex...more

  • Free Thinking at Uproot Festival

    Apr 07 2017

    Island city mentality or gateway to the world? Hull-based crime writer and former journalist David Mark, poet Adelle Stripe and Slung Low artistic director Alan Lane join Matthew Sweet to debate Hull's links with the wider world, while playwright Esther Wilson suggest what residents can learn from another port city which has been City of Culture - Liverpool. Recorded with an audience at Hull Truck Theatre as part of Radio 3's Uproot festival for Hull 2017. Producer: Torquil MacLeod.

  • Free Thinking: An interview with Haemin Sunim

    Apr 05 2017

    ‘Is it the world that’s busy, or is it my mind?’ Haemin Sunim, the multi-million selling author of The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down, discusses East and West and calm in a fast-paced world with New Generation Thinker Christopher Harding and presenter Rana Mitter. Born to Korean-American parents and educated at Harvard, Haemin Sunim is known for books, podcasts and a popular YouTube series exploring Buddhism in the 21st century. He studied at UC Berkeley, Harvard and Princeto...more

  • Free Thinking Festival: New Generation Thinkers 2017

    Apr 04 2017

    An introduction to the academics whose ideas will be making radio waves across 2017. The New Generation Thinkers is an annual competition run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to select 10 researchers at the start of their careers who can turn their fascinating research into stimulating programmes. In this event, the 2017 selection make their first public appearance together: their topics include music and health and Shakespeare in Arabic. Hosted by Eleanor Rosa...more

  • Free Thinking Festival: Education Slow and Fast

    Apr 03 2017

    Tony Sewell and Mike Grenier discuss the challenges of education in the 21st century with Philip Dodd and an audience at Sage Gateshead as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival. Can idle curiosity, slow burning passion and a time for reflection be at the heart of our schools? Or does the increasingly rapid pace of technological change make that sort of teaching a luxury at best - or, at worst, an educational philosophy stuck in a time warp? Mike Grenier is a House Master at Eton College a...more

  • Free Thinking Essay: Killing Time in Imperial Japan

    Mar 31 2017

    Christopher Harding explores the Tokyo of a century ago, the bustling, cosmopolitan capital of a growing empire, where the meaning of ‘time’ was hotly contested. Critics attacked the relentless ‘clock time’ of new factories and businesses and the ‘leisure time’ of youngsters who favoured cafes or poetry rather than exerting themselves in empire-building. Buddhist thinkers and folklorists claimed that Japan must rediscover its natural sense of time as seasonal and cyclical, rather than mechanical...more

  • Free Thinking Festival: The Time of Your Life

    Mar 30 2017

    The former Health Minister, now broadcaster and writer, Edwina Currie; the journalist and broadcaster Miranda Sawyer; and the English teacher and columnist Lola Okolosie discuss the different times of our lives with Free Thinking presenter Anne McElvoy. Recent scientific research has found that women have the time of their lives at the age of 34. Later though, as they juggle parenthood and work they are at their most stressed. But, by the age of 58 they start to get their life-work balance so...more

  • The Essay - Creating Modern India

    Mar 30 2017

    New Generation Thinker Preti Taneja, Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at Warwick University, on the creation of modern India. How did a modernist style develop in India between the 1900s and the 1950s? Preti Taneja, who grew up in Letchworth Garden City, traces the way the Garden City Movement inspired the work of Edwin Lutyens in his reshaping of her parents’ New Delhi. The first generation of post-Independence architects built on this legacy, drawing also from Le Corbusier, who desi...more

  • Free Thinking Essay: England's First European

    Mar 29 2017

    John Gallagher, New Generation Thinker, marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of what might be the greatest, but littlest-known, book of travels of early modern England. Fynes Moryson was a young fellow of a Cambridge college when he left on a journey to Jerusalem and back. His monumental book 'An Itinerary' is a colourful, funny and touching account of one man's curious journey, meeting bandits in northern Germany, disguising himself as a Catholic Italian in order to see Rome and buryi...more