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The Reith Lectures

BBC

Series of annual radio lectures on significant contemporary issues, delivered by leading figures from the relevant fields

Series of annual radio lectures on significant contemporary issues, delivered by leading figures from the relevant fields
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Location:

London, United Kingdom

Networks:

BBC

Description:

Series of annual radio lectures on significant contemporary issues, delivered by leading figures from the relevant fields

Twitter:

@BBC_Reith

Language:

English


Episodes

Managing the Unmanageable

7/17/2018
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Historian Margaret MacMillan assesses how the law and international agreements have attempted to address conflict. Speaking to an audience at the Northern Irish Parliament Buildings at Stormont in Belfast, Professor MacMillan outlines how both states and the people have sought to justify warfare - from self-defence to civil war - focusing on examples from Irish and British history. The programme, including a question and answer session, is presented by Anita Anand. Producer: Jim Frank...

Duration:00:57:53

Civilians and War

7/10/2018
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Historian Margaret MacMillan dissects the relationship between war and the civilian. Speaking to an audience in Beirut, she looks back at the city's violent past and discusses the impact of conflict on noncombatants throughout the centuries. She explores how civilians have been deliberately targeted, used as slaves and why women are still often singled out in mass rapes. And she addresses the proposition that human beings are becoming less, not more violent. The programme is chaired by...

Duration:00:57:32

Fearing and Loving: Making Sense of the Warrior

7/3/2018
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Historian Margaret MacMillan asks why both men and women go to war. "We are both fascinated and repulsed by war and those who fight," she says. In this lecture, recorded at York University, she explores looks at the role of the warrior in history and culture and analyses how warriors are produced. And she interrogates the differences that gender plays in war. Anita Anand presents the programme recorded in front of an audience, including a question and answer session. Producer: Jim Frank...

Duration:00:57:27

War and Humanity

6/26/2018
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Is war an essential part of being human? Are we destined to fight? That is the central question that historian Professor Margaret Macmillan addresses in five lectures recorded in the UK, Lebanon and in Canada. In her series, called The Mark of Cain, she will explore the tangled history of war and society and our complicated feelings towards it and towards those who fight. She begins by asking when wars first broke out. Did they start with the appearance of homo sapiens, or when human...

Duration:00:42:30

Angela Stent on George Kennan

9/29/2017
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Significant international thinkers deliver the BBC's flagship annual lecture series

Duration:00:14:48

Brian Cox on Robert Oppenheimer

9/27/2017
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Significant international thinkers deliver the BBC's flagship annual lecture series

Duration:00:28:11

Anand Menon on Robert Birley

9/27/2017
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Significant international thinkers deliver the BBC's flagship annual lecture series

Duration:00:15:42

Michael Sandel on Bertrand Russell

9/27/2017
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Significant international thinkers deliver the BBC's flagship annual lecture series

Duration:00:21:29

Adaptation

7/11/2017
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Hilary Mantel on how fiction changes when adapted for stage or screen. Each medium, she says, draws a different potential from the original. She argues that fiction, if written well, doesn't betray history, but enhances it. When fiction is turned into theatre, or into a film or TV, the same applies - as long as we understand that adaptation is not a secondary process or a set of grudging compromises, but an act of creation in itself. And this matters. "Without art, what have you to inform...

Duration:00:57:26

Can These Bones Live?

7/4/2017
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Hilary Mantel analyses how historical fiction can make the past come to life. She says her task is to take history out of the archive and relocate it in a body. "It's the novelist's job: to put the reader in the moment, even if the moment is 500 years ago." She takes apart the practical job of "resurrection", and the process that gets historical fiction on to the page. "The historian will always wonder why you left certain things out, while the literary critic will wonder why you left them...

Duration:00:49:48

Silence Grips the Town

6/27/2017
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The story of how an obsessive relationship with history killed the young Polish writer Stanislawa Przybyszewska, told by best-selling author, Hilary Mantel. The brilliant Przybyszewska wrote gargantuan plays and novels about the French Revolution, in particular about the revolutionary leader Robespierre. She lived in self-willed poverty and isolation and died unknown in 1934. But her work, so painfully achieved, did survive her. Was her sacrifice worthwhile? "She embodied the past until...

Duration:00:49:51

The Iron Maiden

6/20/2017
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How do we construct our pictures of the past, including both truth and myth, asks best-selling author Hilary Mantel. Where do we get our evidence? She warns of two familiar errors: either romanticising the past, or seeing it as a gory horror-show. It is tempting, but often condescending, to seek modern parallels for historical events. "Are we looking into the past, or looking into a mirror?" she asks. "Dead strangers...did not live and die so we could draw lessons from them." Above all,...

Duration:00:49:46

The Day Is for the Living

6/13/2017
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Art can bring the dead back to life, argues the best-selling novelist Hilary Mantel, starting with the story of her own great-grandmother. "We sense the dead have a vital force still," she says. "They have something to tell us, something we need to understand. Using fiction and drama, we try to gain that understanding." She describes how and why she began to write fiction about the past, and how her view of her trade has evolved. We cannot hear or see the past, she says, but "we can listen...

Duration:00:50:05

Do black holes have no hair?

1/26/2016
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Professor Stephen Hawking delivers the first of his two BBC Reith Lectures on black holes. These collapsed stars challenge the very nature of space and time, as they contain a singularity - a phenomenon where the normal rules of the universe break down. They have held an enduring fascination for Professor Hawking throughout his life. Rather than see them as a scary, destructive and dark he says if properly understood, they could unlock the deepest secrets of the cosmos. Professor Hawking...

Duration:00:29:52

The Idea of Wellbeing

12/16/2014
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The surgeon and writer Atul Gawande calls for a new focus on medical systems to ensure doctors work more effectively, alongside far greater transparency about their performance. Speaking to an audience at the India International Centre in Delhi, he describes the story of medicine over the last century through the prism of his own family. From a grandmother who died in rural India from malaria - a preventable disease - to the high-tech medicine of today. He argues that despite its...

Duration:00:42:05

The Problem of Hubris

12/9/2014
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Surgeon and writer Atul Gawande calls for a new approach to the two great unfixable problems in life and healthcare - ageing and death. He tells the story of how his daughter's piano teacher faced up to terminal cancer and the crucial choices she made about how to spend her final days. He says the teacher was only able to do this because of an essential honesty from her physicians and the people around her. Dr. Gawande argues that the common reluctance of society and medical institutions...

Duration:00:41:49

The Century of the System

12/2/2014
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The surgeon and writer Atul Gawande argues that better systems can transform global healthcare by radically reducing the chance of mistakes and increasing the chance of successful outcomes. He tells the story of how a little-known hospital in Austria managed to develop a complex yet highly effective system for dealing with victims of drowning. He says that the lesson from this dramatic narrative is that effective systems can provide major improvements in success rates for surgery and other...

Duration:00:41:43

Why Do Doctors Fail?

11/25/2014
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Surgeon and writer Atul Gawande explores the nature of fallibility and suggests that preventing avoidable mistakes is a key challenge for the future of medicine. Through the story of a life-threatening condition which affected his own baby son, Dr. Gawande suggests that the medical profession needs to understand how best to deploy the enormous arsenal of knowledge which it has acquired. And his challenge for global health is to address the inequalities in access to resources and expertise...

Duration:00:41:50

I Found Myself in the Art World

11/5/2013
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In the last of his four Reith Lectures, recorded in front of an audience at Central St Martins School of Art in London, the artist Grayson Perry discusses his life in the art world; the journey from the unconscious child playing with paint, to the award-winning successful artist of today. He talks about being an outsider and how he struggles with keeping his integrity as an artist. Perry looks back and asks why men and women throughout history, despite all the various privations they...

Duration:00:41:51

Nice Rebellion, Welcome In!

10/29/2013
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In the third of four lectures, recorded in front of an audience at The Guildhall in Londonderry, the artist Grayson Perry asks if revolution is a defining idea in art, or has it met its end? Perry says the world of art seems to be strongly associated with novelty. He argues that the mainstream media seems particularly drawn to the idea of there being an avant-garde: work is always described as being "cutting edge," artists are "radical," shows are "mould-breaking," ideas are...

Duration:00:41:52