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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




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

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...

Duration: 00:43:59

Testosterone. The grey zone. Indian science.

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.

Duration: 00:44:10

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

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...

Duration: 00:45:03

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

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...

Duration: 00:39:55

Free Thinking: Social Conservatism, Kathe Kollwitz and John Ashbery

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...

Duration: 00:45:29

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

Duration: 00:44:56

Radio 3 Proms Poetry Competition 2017

2017 Proms Poetry Competition: Ian McMillan is joined by fellow judges, Jason Polley (Poet & winner of 2017 TS Elliot Award) & Judith Palmer (Poetry Society), Actress Imogen Stubbs reads the poems of winners Meredith Andrea & Emily Breeds & runners-up.

Duration: 00:43:16

Proms Extra: Alan Hollinghurst

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

Duration: 00:19:38

Proms Extra: Lenin

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

Duration: 00:40:36

Proms Extra: Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

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.

Duration: 00:27:08

Proms Extra: Ancient Rome

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

Duration: 00:39:55

Proms Extra: Unfinished Art and Literature

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...

Duration: 00:32:12

Proms Extra: Djinn

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...

Duration: 00:31:39

Proms Extra: Sleep and Insomnia

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.

Duration: 00:22:25

Proms Extra: Cuneiform 07082017

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.

Duration: 00:40:56

Proms Extra: Ella Fitzgerald

Kevin LeGendre and Claire Martin discuss Ella Fitzgerald

Duration: 00:21:06

Proms Extra: Sentimentality

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?

Duration: 00:20:35

Proms Extra: Happiness

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.

Duration: 00:20:27

Proms Extra: Sea Journeys and Voyages

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

Duration: 00:21:02

Proms Extra: Europe in Writing

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.

Duration: 00:21:39

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