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The best of BBC Radio 3's flagship arts and ideas programme Free Thinking - featuring in-depth interviews with artists, scientists and public figures, vociferous debates, and reviews of the latest cultural events. Free Thinking is broadcast on BBC Radio 3 Tues – Thurs 10pm

The best of BBC Radio 3's flagship arts and ideas programme Free Thinking - featuring in-depth interviews with artists, scientists and public figures, vociferous debates, and reviews of the latest cultural events. Free Thinking is broadcast on BBC Radio 3 Tues – Thurs 10pm
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The best of BBC Radio 3's flagship arts and ideas programme Free Thinking - featuring in-depth interviews with artists, scientists and public figures, vociferous debates, and reviews of the latest cultural events. Free Thinking is broadcast on BBC Radio 3 Tues – Thurs 10pm




Why are we silent when conflict is loud?

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?...


Butterflies and Bloodstains: Fragments of the First World War

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...


Landmark: Journey to the End of the Night

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...


Wilfred Owen: Poetry and Peace.

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...


Re-thinking the Human Condition

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.

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...


The Memes that Make Us Laugh

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...


From the Gallows to the Holy Land: Medieval Pilgrimage

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...


The Dark and Political Messages of Kids Fiction.

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 Wheeler...


Mike Leigh

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...


Playing God

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...


Enchantment, Witches and Woodlands

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...


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

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...


Re-writing C20th British Philosophy

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...


Sinking Your Teeth Into Vampires

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...



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...


Greed and Landownership Past, Present, Future

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 Browse their A-Z of Isms


Drugs and Consciousness

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

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...


The Frieze Debate: Museums in the 21st Century

. 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 about the...