Show cover of In Our Time

In Our Time

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the ideas, people and events that have shaped our world.

Titel

Panpsychism
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the idea that some kind of consciousness is present not just in our human brains but throughout the universe, right down to cells or even electrons. This is panpsychism and its proponents argue it offers a compelling alternative to those who say we are nothing but matter, like machines, and to those who say we are both matter and something else we might call soul. It is a third way. Critics argue panpsychism is implausible, an example of how not to approach this problem, yet interest has been growing widely in recent decades partly for the idea itself and partly in the broader context of understanding how consciousness arises.WithTim Crane Professor of Philosophy and Pro-Rector at the Central European University Director of Research, FWF Cluster of Excellence, Knowledge in CrisisJoanna Leidenhag, Associate Professor in Theology and Philosophy at the University of LeedsAnd Philip Goff Professor of Philosophy at Durham UniversityProducer: Simon TillotsonReading list:Anthony Freeman (ed.), Consciousness and Its Place in Nature: Does Physicalism Entail Panpsychism? (Imprint Academic, 2006), especially 'Realistic Monism' by Galen StrawsonPhilip Goff, Galileo's Error: Foundations for A New Science of Consciousness (Pantheon, 2019)Philip Goff, Why? The Purpose of the Universe (Oxford University Press, 2023) David Ray Griffin, Unsnarling the World-Knot: Consciousness, Freedom and the Mind-Body Problem (Wipf & Stock, 2008)Joanna Leidenhag, Minding Creation: Theological Panpsychism and the Doctrine of Creation (Bloomsbury, 2021)Joanna Leidenhag, ‘Panpsychism and God’ (Philosophy Compass Vol 17, Is 12, e12889) Hedda Hassel Mørch, Non-physicalist Theories of Consciousness (Cambridge University Press, 2024)Thomas Nagel, Mortal Questions (Cambridge University Press, 2012), especially the chapter 'Panpsychism'David Skrbina, Panpsychism in the West (MIT Press, 2007) James van Cleve, 'Mind-Dust or Magic? Panpsychism versus Emergence' (Philosophical Perspectives Vol. 4, Action Theory and Philosophy of Mind, Ridgeview Publishing Company, 1990)
53:59 22.02.24
Nefertiti
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the woman who inspired one of the best known artefacts from ancient Egypt. The Bust of Nefertiti is multicoloured and symmetrical, about 49cm/18" high and, despite the missing left eye, still holds the gaze of onlookers below its tall, blue, flat topped headdress. Its discovery in 1912 in Amarna was kept quiet at first but its display in Berlin in the 1920s caused a sensation, with replicas sent out across the world. Ever since, as with Tutankhamun perhaps, the concrete facts about Nefertiti herself have barely kept up with the theories, the legends and the speculation, reinvigorated with each new discovery. WithAidan Dodson Honorary Professor of Egyptology at the University of BristolJoyce Tyldesley Professor of Egyptology at the University of ManchesterAnd Kate Spence Senior Lecturer in Egyptian Archaeology at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Emmanuel CollegeProducer: Simon TillotsonReading list:Dorothea Arnold (ed.), The Royal Women of Amarna: Images of Beauty from Ancient Egypt (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1996) Norman de Garis Davies, The Rock Tombs of el-Amarna (6 vols. Egypt Exploration Society, 1903-1908) Aidan Dodson, Amarna Sunset: Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, Ay, Horemheb and the Egyptian Counter-reformation. (American University in Cairo Press, 2009 Aidan Dodson, Nefertiti, Queen and Pharaoh of Egypt: her life and afterlife (American University in Cairo Press, 2020)Aidan Dodson, Tutankhamun: King of Egypt: his life and afterlife (American University in Cairo Press, 2022)Barry Kemp, The City of Akhenaten and Nefertiti: Amarna and Its People (Thames and Hudson, 2012)Dominic Montserrat, Akhenaten: History, Fantasy and Ancient Egypt (Routledge, 2002)Friederike Seyfried (ed.), In the Light of Amarna: 100 Years of the Nefertiti Discovery (Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussamlung Staatlich Museen zu Berlin/ Michael Imhof Verlag, 2013)Joyce Tyldesley, Tutankhamun: Pharaoh, Icon, Enigma (Headline, 2022) Joyce Tyldesley, Nefertiti’s Face: The Creation of an Icon (Profile Books, 2018)Joyce Tyldesley, Nefertiti: Egypt’s Sun Queen (Viking, 1998)
49:50 15.02.24
Condorcet
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Nicolas de Condorcet (1743-94), known as the Last of the Philosophes, the intellectuals in the French Enlightenment who sought to apply their learning to solving the problems of their world. He became a passionate believer in the progress of society, an advocate for equal rights for women and the abolition of the slave trade and for representative government. The French Revolution gave him a chance to advance those ideas and, while the Terror brought his life to an end, his wife Sophie de Grouchy 91764-1822) ensured his influence into the next century and beyond. WithRachel Hammersley Professor of Intellectual History at Newcastle UniversityRichard Whatmore Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews and Co-Director of the St Andrews Institute of Intellectual HistoryAnd Tom Hopkins Senior Teaching Associate in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Selwyn CollegeProducer: Simon TillotsonReading list: Keith Michael Baker, Condorcet: From Natural Philosophy to Social Mathematics (University of Chicago Press, 1974)Keith Michael Baker, ‘On Condorcet’s Sketch’ (Daedalus, summer 2004)Lorraine Daston, ‘Condorcet and the Meaning of Enlightenment’ (Proceedings of the British Academy, 2009)Dan Edelstein, The Enlightenment: A Genealogy (Chicago University Press, 2010)Mark Goldie and Robert Wokler (eds), The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Political Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2006), especially ‘Ideology and the Origins of Social Science’ by Robert WoklerGary Kates, The Cercle Social, the Girondins, and the French Revolution (Princeton University Press, 1985)Steven Lukes and Nadia Urbinati (eds.), Condorcet: Political Writings (Cambridge University Press, 2009)Kathleen McCrudden Illert, A Republic of Sympathy: Sophie de Grouchy's Politics and Philosophy, 1785-1815 (Cambridge University Press, 2024)Iain McLean and Fiona Hewitt (eds.), Condorcet: Foundations of Social Choice and Political Theory (Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd, 1994)Emma Rothschild, Economic Sentiments: Adam Smith, Condorcet and the Enlightenment, (Harvard University Press, 2001)Richard Whatmore, The End of Enlightenment (Allen Lane, 2023)David Williams, Condorcet and Modernity (Cambridge University Press, 2004)
50:31 08.02.24
Twelfth Night, or What You Will
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of Shakespeare’s great comedies, which plays in the space between marriage, love and desire. By convention a wedding means a happy ending and here there are three, but neither Orsino nor Viola, Olivia nor Sebastian know much of each other’s true character and even the identities of the twins Viola and Sebastian have only just been revealed to their spouses to be. These twins gain some financial security but it is unclear what precisely the older Orsino and Olivia find enduringly attractive in the adolescent objects of their love. Meanwhile their hopes and illusions are framed by the fury of Malvolio, tricked into trusting his mistress Olivia loved him and who swears an undefined revenge on all those who mocked him.With Pascale Aebischer Professor of Shakespeare and Early Modern Performance Studies at the University of ExeterMichael Dobson Professor of Shakespeare Studies and Director of the Shakespeare Institute at the University of BirminghamAnd Emma Smith Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Hertford College, University of OxfordProduced by Simon Tillotson, Victoria Brignell and Luke MulhallReading list:C.L. Barber, Shakespeare’s Festive Comedies: A Study of Dramatic Form and Its Relation to Social Custom (first published 1959; Princeton University Press, 2011)Simone Chess, ‘Queer Residue: Boy Actors’ Adult Careers in Early Modern England’ (Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 19.4, 2020)Callan Davies, What is a Playhouse? England at Play, 1520-1620 (Routledge, 2023)Frances E. Dolan, Twelfth Night: Language and Writing (Bloomsbury, 2014)John Drakakis (ed.), Alternative Shakespeares (Psychology Press, 2002), especially ‘Disrupting Sexual Difference: Meaning and Gender in the Comedies’ by Catherine BelseyBart van Es, Shakespeare’s Comedies: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2016) Sonya Freeman Loftis, Mardy Philippian and Justin P. Shaw (eds.), Inclusive Shakespeares: Identity, Pedagogy, Performance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023), especially ‘”I am all the daughters of my father’s house, and all the brothers too”: Genderfluid Potentiality in As You Like It and Twelfth Night’ by Eric Brinkman Ezra Horbury, ‘Transgender Reassessments of the Cross-Dressed Page in Shakespeare, Philaster, and The Honest Man’s Fortune’ (Shakespeare Quarterly 73, 2022) Jean Howard, ‘Crossdressing, the theatre, and gender struggle in early modern England’ (Shakespeare Quarterly 39, 1988)Harry McCarthy, Boy Actors in Early Modern England: Skill and Stagecraft in the Theatre (Cambridge University Press, 2022)Stephen Orgel, Impersonations: The Performance of Gender in Shakespeare's England (Cambridge University Press, 1996)William Shakespeare (eds. Michael Dobson and Molly Mahood), Twelfth Night (Penguin, 2005)William Shakespeare (ed. Keir Elam), Twelfth Night (Arden Shakespeare, 2008)Emma Smith, This is Shakespeare: How to Read the World's Greatest Playwright (Pelican, 2019)Victoria Sparey, Shakespeare’s Adolescents: Age, Gender and the Body in Shakespearean Performance and Early Modern Culture (Manchester University Press, 2024)
53:53 25.01.24
Vincent van Gogh
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Dutch artist famous for starry nights and sunflowers, self portraits and simple chairs. These are images known the world over, and Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) painted them and around 900 others in the last decade of his short, brilliant life and, famously, in that lifetime he made only one recorded sale. Yet within a few decades after his death these extraordinary works, with all their colour and life, became the most desirable of all modern art, propelled in part by the story of Vincent van Gogh's struggle with mental health.With Christopher Riopelle The Neil Westreich Curator of Post 1800 Paintings at the National GalleryMartin Bailey A leading Van Gogh specialist and correspondent for The Art NewspaperAnd Frances Fowle Professor of Nineteenth Century Art at the University of Edinburgh and Senior Curator at National Galleries ScotlandProducer: Simon TillotsonReading list: Martin Bailey, Living with Vincent Van Gogh: The Homes and Landscapes that shared the Artist (White Lion Publishing, 2019)Martin Bailey, Studio of the South: Van Gogh in Provence (Frances Lincoln, 2021)Martin Bailey, Van Gogh’s Finale: Auvers and the Artist’s Rise to Fame (Frances Lincoln, 2021)Nienke Bakker and Ella Hendriks, Van Gogh and the Sunflowers: A Masterpiece Examined (Van Gogh Museum, 2019)Nienke Bakker, Emmanuel Coquery, Teio Meedendorp and Louis van Tilborgh (eds), Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise: His Final Months (Thames & Hudson, 2023)Frances Fowle, Van Gogh's Twin: The Scottish Art Dealer Alexander Reid, 1854-1928 (National Galleries of Scotland, 2010) Bregje Gerritse, The Potato Eaters: Van Gogh’s First Masterpiece (Van Gogh Museum, 2021)Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, Van Gogh: The Life (Random House, 2012)Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten and Nienke Bakker (eds), Vincent van Gogh: The Letters: The Complete Illustrated and Annotated Edition (Thames and Hudson Ltd, 2009)Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten and Nienke Bakker (eds), Vincent van Gogh, A Life in Letters (Thames and Hudson Ltd, 2020)Hans Luitjen, Jo van Gogh Bonger: The Woman who Made Vincent Famous Bloomsbury, 2022Louis van Tilborgh, Martin Bailey, Karen Serres (ed.), Van Gogh Self-Portraits (Courtauld Institute, 2022)Ingo F. Walther and Rainer Metzger, Van Gogh. The Complete Paintings (Taschen, 2022)
56:02 18.01.24
Tiberius
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Roman emperor Tiberius. When he was born in 42BC, there was little prospect of him ever becoming Emperor of Rome. Firstly, Rome was still a Republic and there had not yet been any Emperor so that had to change and, secondly, when his stepfather Augustus became Emperor there was no precedent for who should succeed him, if anyone. It somehow fell to Tiberius to develop this Roman imperial project and by some accounts he did this well, while to others his reign was marked by cruelty and paranoia inviting comparison with Nero.WithMatthew Nicholls Senior Tutor at St. John’s College, University of OxfordShushma Malik Assistant Professor of Classics and Onassis Classics Fellow at Newnham College at the University of CambridgeAnd Catherine Steel Professor of Classics at the University of GlasgowProducer: Simon TillotsonReading list:Edward Champlin, ‘Tiberius the Wise’ (Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, 57.4, 2008)Alison E. Cooley, ‘From the Augustan Principate to the invention of the Age of Augustus’ (Journal of Roman Studies 109, 2019)Alison E. Cooley, The Senatus Consultum de Cn. Pisone Patre: text, translation, and commentary (Cambridge University Press, 2023)Eleanor Cowan, ‘Tiberius and Augustus in Tiberian Sources’ (Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, 58.4, 2009)Cassius Dio (trans. C. T. Mallan), Roman History: Books 57 and 58: The Reign of Tiberius (Oxford University Press, 2020)Rebecca Edwards, ‘Tacitus, Tiberius and Capri’ (Latomus, 70.4, 2011)A. Gibson (ed.), The Julio-Claudian Succession: Reality and Perception of the Augustan Model (Brill, 2012), especially ‘Tiberius and the invention of succession’ by C. VoutJosephus (trans. E. Mary Smallwood and G. Williamson), The Jewish War (Penguin Classics, 1981)Barbara Levick, Tiberius the Politician (Routledge, 1999)E. O’Gorman, Tacitus’ History of Political Effective Speech: Truth to Power (Bloomsbury, 2019)Velleius Paterculus (trans. J. C. Yardley and Anthony A. Barrett), Roman History: From Romulus and the Foundation of Rome to the Reign of the Emperor Tiberius (Hackett Publishing, 2011)R. Seager, Tiberius (2nd ed., Wiley-Blackwell, 2005)David Shotter, Tiberius Caesar (Routledge, 2005) Suetonius (trans. Robert Graves), The Twelve Caesars (Penguin Classics, 2007)Tacitus (trans. Michael Grant), The Annals of Imperial Rome (Penguin Classics, 2003)
53:10 11.01.24
Karl Barth
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the most influential theologians of the twentieth century. Karl Barth (1886 - 1968) rejected the liberal theology of his time which, he argued, used the Bible and religion to help humans understand themselves rather than prepare them to open themselves to divine revelation. Barth's aim was to put God and especially Christ at the centre of Christianity. He was alarmed by what he saw as the dangers in a natural theology where God might be found in a rainbow or an opera by Wagner; for if you were open to finding God in German culture, you could also be open to accepting Hitler as God’s gift as many Germans did. Barth openly refused to accept Hitler's role in the Church in the 1930s on these theological grounds as well as moral, for which he was forced to leave Germany for his native Switzerland.WithStephen Plant Dean and Runcie Fellow at Trinity Hall, University of CambridgeChristiane Tietz Professor for Systematic Theology at the University of ZurichAnd Tom Greggs Marischal Professor of Divinity at the University of AberdeenProducer: Simon TillotsonReading list:Karl Barth, God Here and Now (Routledge, 2003)Karl Barth (trans. G. T. Thomson), Dogmatics in Outline (SCM Press, 1966)Eberhard Busch (trans. John Bowden), Karl Barth: His Life from Letters and Autobiographical Texts (Grand Rapids, 1994)George Hunsinger, How to Read Karl Barth: The Shape of His Theology (Oxford University Press, 1993)Joseph L. Mangina, Karl Barth: Theologian of Christian Witness (Routledge, 2004)Paul T. Nimmo, Karl Barth: A Guide for the Perplexed (Bloomsbury, 2013)Christiane Tietz, Karl Barth: A Life in Conflict (Oxford University Press, 2021)John Webster, Karl Barth: Outstanding Christian Thinkers (Continuum, 2004)
55:22 04.01.24
Edgar Allan Poe
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Poe (1809-1849), the American author who is famous for his Gothic tales of horror, madness and the dark interiors of the mind, such as The Fall of the House of Usher and The Tell-Tale Heart. As well as tapping at our deepest fears in poems such as The Raven, Poe pioneered detective fiction with his character C. Auguste Dupin in The Murders in the Rue Morgue. After his early death, a rival rushed out a biography to try to destroy Poe's reputation but he has only become more famous over the years as a cultural icon as well as an author.WithBridget Bennett Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of LeedsErin Forbes Senior Lecturer in 19th-century African American and US Literature at the University of BristolAndTom Wright Reader in Rhetoric at the University of SussexProducer: Simon TillotsonReading list: Peter Ackroyd, Poe: A Life Cut Short (Vintage, 2009)Amy Branam Armiento and Travis Montgomery (eds.), Poe and Women: Recognition and Revision (Lehigh University Press, 2023)Joan Dayan, Fables of Mind: An Inquiry into Poe's Fiction (Oxford University Press, 1987)Erin Forbes, ‘Edgar Allan Poe in the Great Dismal Swamp’ (Modern Philology, 2016)Kevin J. Hayes (ed.), Edgar Allan Poe in Context (Cambridge University Press, 2012) J. Gerald Kennedy and Scott Peeples (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Edgar Allan Poe (Oxford University Press, 2018)Jill Lepore, 'The Humbug: Poe and the Economy of Horror' (The New Yorker, April 20, 2009)Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark (Vintage, 1993)Scott Peeples and Michelle Van Parys, The Man of the Crowd: Edgar Allan Poe and the City (Princeton University Press, 2020)Edgar Allan Poe, The Portable Edgar Allan Poe (Penguin, 2006)Shawn Rosenhelm and Stephen Rachman (eds.), The American Face of Edgar Allan Poe (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995)
58:44 28.12.23
Marguerite de Navarre
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Marguerite, Queen of Navarre (1492 – 1549), author of the Heptaméron, a major literary landmark in the French Renaissance. Published after her death, The Heptaméron features 72 short stories, many of which explore relations between the sexes. However, Marguerite’s life was more eventful than that of many writers. Born into the French nobility, she found herself the sister of the French king when her brother Francis I came to the throne in 1515. At a time of growing religious change, Marguerite was a leading exponent of reform in the Catholic Church and translated an early work of Martin Luther into French. As the Reformation progressed, she was not afraid to take risks to protect other reformers.With Sara Barker Associate Professor of Early Modern History and Director of the Centre for the Comparative History of Print at the University of LeedsEmily Butterworth Professor of Early Modern French at King’s College LondonAnd Emma Herdman Lecturer in French at the University of St AndrewsProducer: Simon TillotsonReading list: Giovanni Boccaccio (trans. Wayne A. Rebhorn), The Decameron (Norton, 2013)Emily Butterworth, Marguerite de Navarre: A Critical Companion (Boydell &Brewer, 2022)Patricia Cholakian and Rouben Cholakian, Marguerite de Navarre: Mother of the Renaissance (Columbia University Press, 2006)Gary Ferguson, Mirroring Belief: Marguerite de Navarre’s Devotional Poetry (Edinburgh University Press, 1992)Gary Ferguson and Mary B. McKinley (eds.), A Companion to Marguerite de Navarre (Brill, 2013)Mark Greengrass, The French Reformation (John Wiley & Sons, 1987)R.J. Knecht, The Rise and Fall of Renaissance France (Fontana Press, 2008)R.J. Knecht, Renaissance Warrior and Patron: The Reign of Francis I (Cambridge University Press, 2008)John D. Lyons and Mary B. McKinley (eds.), Critical Tales: New Studies of the ‘Heptaméron’ and Early Modern Culture (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993)Marguerite de Navarre (trans. Paul Chilton), The Heptameron (Penguin, 2004)Marguerite de Navarre (trans. Rouben Cholakian and Mary Skemp), Selected Writings: A Bilingual Edition (University of Chicago Press, 2008) Marguerite de Navarre (trans. Hilda Dale), The Coach and The Triumph of the Lamb (Elm Press, 1999)Marguerite de Navarre (trans. Hilda Dale), The Prisons (Whiteknights, 1989)Marguerite de Navarre (ed. Gisèle Mathieu-Castellani), L’Heptaméron (Libraririe générale française, 1999)Jonathan A. Reid, King’s Sister – Queen of Dissent: Marguerite of Navarre (1492-1549) and her Evangelical Network (Brill, 2009)Paula Sommers, ‘The Mirror and its Reflections: Marguerite de Navarre’s Biblical Feminism’ (Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, 5, 1986)Kathleen Wellman, Queens and Mistresses of Renaissance France (Yale University Press, 2013)
46:12 21.12.23
The Theory of the Leisure Class
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the most influential work of Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929). In 1899, during America’s Gilded Age, Veblen wrote The Theory of the Leisure Class as a reminder that all that glisters is not gold. He picked on traits of the waning landed class of Americans and showed how the new moneyed class was adopting these in ways that led to greater waste throughout society. He called these conspicuous leisure and conspicuous consumption and he developed a critique of a system that favoured profits for owners without regard to social good. The Theory of the Leisure Class was a best seller and funded Veblen for the rest of his life, and his ideas influenced the New Deal of the 1930s. Since then, an item that becomes more desirable as it becomes more expensive is known as a Veblen good. With Matthew Watson Professor of Political Economy at the University of WarwickBill Waller Professor of Economics at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, New YorkAndMary Wrenn Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of the West of EnglandProducer: Simon TillotsonReading list:Charles Camic, Veblen: The Making of an Economist who Unmade Economics (Harvard University Press, 2021)John P. Diggins, Thorstein Veblen: Theorist of the Leisure Class (Princeton University Press, 1999)John P. Diggins, The Bard of Savagery: Thorstein Veblen and Modern Social Theory (Seabury Press, 1978)John Kenneth Galbraith, The Affluent Society (Penguin, 1999) Robert Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers (Penguin, 2000), particularly the chapter ‘The Savage Society of Thorstein Veblen’Ken McCormick, Veblen in Plain English: A Complete Introduction to Thorstein Veblen’s Economics (Cambria Press, 2006)Sidney Plotkin and Rick Tilman, The Political Ideas of Thorstein Veblen (Yale University Press, 2012)Juliet B. Schor, The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don't Need (William Morrow & Company, 1999)Juliet B. Schor, Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture (Simon & Schuster Ltd, 2005)Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class (first published 1899; Oxford University Press, 2009)Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of Business Enterprise (first published 1904; Legare Street Press, 2022)Thorstein Veblen, The Higher Learning in America (first published 2018; Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015) Thorstein Veblen, Absentee Ownership and Business Enterprise in Recent Times: The Case of America (first published 1923; Routledge, 2017)Thorstein Veblen, Conspicuous Consumption (Penguin, 2005)Thorstein Veblen, The Complete Works (Musaicum Books, 2017)Charles J. Whalen (ed.), Institutional Economics: Perspective and Methods in Pursuit of a Better World (Routledge, 2021)
55:32 14.12.23
The Barbary Corsairs
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the North African privateers who, until their demise in the nineteenth century, were a source of great pride and wealth in their home ports, where they sold the people and goods they’d seized from Christian European ships and coastal towns. Nominally, these corsairs were from Algiers, Tunis or Tripoli, outreaches of the Ottoman empire, or Salé in neighbouring Morocco, but often their Turkish or Arabic names concealed their European birth. Murad Reis the Younger, for example, who sacked Baltimore in 1631, was the Dutchman Jan Janszoon who also had a base on Lundy in the Bristol Channel. While the European crowns negotiated treaties to try to manage relations with the corsairs, they commonly viewed these sailors as pirates who were barely tolerated and, as soon as France, Britain, Spain and later America developed enough sea power, their ships and bases were destroyed. WithJoanna Nolan Research Associate at SOAS, University of LondonClaire Norton Former Associate Professor of History at St Mary’s University, TwickenhamAnd Michael Talbot Associate Professor in the History of the Ottoman Empire and the Modern Middle East at the University of GreenwichProducer: Simon Tillotson Reading list:Robert C. Davis, Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500-1800 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004)Peter Earle, Corsairs of Malta and Barbary (Sidgwick and Jackson, 1970) Des Ekin, The Stolen Village: Baltimore and the Barbary Pirates (O’Brien Press, 2008)Jacques Heers, The Barbary Corsairs: Warfare in the Mediterranean, 1450-1580 (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018)Colin Heywood, The Ottoman World: The Mediterranean and North Africa, 1660-1760 (Routledge, 2019)Alan Jamieson, Lords of the Sea: A History of the Barbary Corsairs (Reaktion Books, 2013)Julie Kalman, The Kings of Algiers: How Two Jewish Families Shaped the Mediterranean World during the Napoleonic Wars and Beyond (Princeton University Press, 2023)Stanley Lane-Poole, The Story of the Barbary Corsairs (T. Unwin, 1890)Sally Magnusson, The Sealwoman’s Gift (A novel - Two Roads, 2018)Philip Mansel, Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean (John Murray, 2010)Nabil Matar, Turks, Moors and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery (Columbia University Press, 1999)Nabil Matar, Britain and Barbary, 1589-1689 (University Press of Florida, 2005)Giles Milton, White Gold: The Extraordinary Story of Thomas Pellow and North Africa’s One Million European Slaves (Hodder and Stoughton, 2004)Claire Norton (ed.), Conversion and Islam in the Early Modern Mediterranean: The Lure of the Other (Routledge, 2017)Claire Norton, ‘Lust, Greed, Torture and Identity: Narrations of Conversion and the Creation of the Early Modern 'Renegade' (Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 29/2, 2009) Daniel Panzac, The Barbary Corsairs: The End of a Legend, 1800-1820 (Brill, 2005)Rafael Sabatini, The Sea Hawk (a novel - Vintage Books, 2011)Adrian Tinniswood, Pirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the 17th century (Vintage Books, 2010)D. Vitkus (ed.), Piracy, Slavery and Redemption: Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England (Columbia University Press, 2001)J. M. White, Piracy and Law in the Ottoman Mediterranean (Stanford University Press, 2018)
52:59 07.12.23
Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Aristotle's ideas on what happiness means and how to live a good life. Aristotle (384-322BC) explored these almost two and a half thousand years ago in what became known as his Nicomachean Ethics. His audience then were the elite in Athens as, he argued, if they knew how to live their lives well then they could better rule the lives of others. While circumstances and values have changed across the centuries, Aristotle's approach to answering those questions has fascinated philosophers ever since and continues to do so.With Angie Hobbs Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of SheffieldRoger Crisp Director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Professor of Moral Philosophy and Tutor in Philosophy at St Anne’s College, University of OxfordAnd Sophia Connell Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of LondonProducer: Simon TillotsonReading list:J.L. Ackrill, Aristotle the Philosopher (Oxford University Press, 1981)Aristotle (ed. and trans. Roger Crisp), Nicomachean Ethics (Cambridge University Press, 2000)Aristotle (trans. Terence Irwin), Nicomachean Ethics (Hackett Publishing Co., 2019) Aristotle (trans. H. Rackham), Nicomachean Ethics: Loeb Classical Library (William Heinemann Ltd, 1962)Jonathan Barnes, Aristotle: Past Masters series (Oxford University Press, 1982) Gerard J. Hughes, Routledge Guidebook to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics (Routledge, 2013)Richard Kraut (ed.), The Blackwell Guide to Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics (Wiley-Blackwell, 2005)Michael Pakaluk, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics: An Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2005)A. Rorty (ed.), Essays on Aristotle's Ethics (University of California Press, 1981) Nancy Sherman, The Fabric of Character: Aristotle's Theory of Virtue (Clarendon Press, 1989)J.O. Urmson, Aristotle’s Ethics (John Wiley & Sons, 1988)
52:01 30.11.23
Germinal
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Emile Zola's greatest literary success, his thirteenth novel in a series exploring the extended Rougon-Macquart family. The relative here is Etienne Lantier, already known to Zola’s readers as one of the blighted branch of the family tree and his story is set in Northern France. It opens with Etienne trudging towards a coalmine at night seeking work, and soon he is caught up in a bleak world in which starving families struggle and then strike, as they try to hold on to the last scraps of their humanity and the hope of change.WithSusan Harrow Ashley Watkins Chair of French at the University of BristolKate Griffiths Professor in French and Translation at Cardiff UniversityAndEdmund Birch Lecturer in French Literature and Director of Studies at Churchill College & Selwyn College, University of CambridgeProducer: Simon TillotsonReading list:David Baguley, Naturalist Fiction: The Entropic Vision (Cambridge University Press, 1990)William Burgwinkle, Nicholas Hammond and Emma Wilson (eds.), The Cambridge History of French Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2011), particularly ‘Naturalism’ by Nicholas WhiteKate Griffiths, Emile Zola and the Artistry of Adaptation (Legenda, 2009)Kate Griffiths and Andrew Watts, Adapting Nineteenth-Century France: Literature in Film, Theatre, Television, Radio, and Print (University of Wales Press, 2013) Anna Gural-Migdal and Robert Singer (eds.), Zola and Film: Essays in the Art of Adaptation (McFarland & Co., 2005)Susan Harrow, Zola, The Body Modern: Pressures and Prospects of Representation (Legenda, 2010)F. W. J. Hemmings, The Life and Times of Emile Zola (first published 1977; Bloomsbury, 2013)William Dean Howells, Emile Zola (The Floating Press, 2018)Lida Maxwell, Public Trials: Burke, Zola, Arendt, and the Politics of Lost Causes (Oxford University Press, 2014)Brian Nelson, Emile Zola: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2020)Brian Nelson (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Emile Zola (Cambridge University Press, 2007)Sandy Petrey, Realism and Revolution: Balzac, Stendhal, Zola, and the Performances of History (Cornell University Press, 1988)Arthur Rose, ‘Coal politics: receiving Emile Zola's Germinal’ (Modern & contemporary France, 2021, Vol.29, 2) Philip D. Walker, Emile Zola (Routledge, 1969)Emile Zola (trans. Peter Collier), Germinal (Oxford University Press, 1993)Emile Zola (trans. Roger Pearson), Germinal (Penguin Classics, 2004)
51:39 23.11.23
Julian of Norwich
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the anchoress and mystic who, in the late fourteenth century, wrote about her visions of Christ suffering, in a work since known as Revelations of Divine Love. She is probably the first named woman writer in English, even if questions about her name and life remain open. Her account is an exploration of the meaning of her visions and is vivid and bold, both in its imagery and theology. From her confined cell in a Norwich parish church, in a land beset with plague, she dealt with the nature of sin and with the feminine side of God, and shared the message she received that God is love and, famously, that all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.WithKatherine Lewis Professor of Medieval History at the University of HuddersfieldPhilip Sheldrake Professor of Christian Spirituality at the Oblate School of Theology, Texas and Senior Research Associate of the Von Hugel Institute, University of CambridgeAnd Laura Kalas Senior Lecturer in Medieval English Literature at Swansea UniversityProducer: Simon TillotsonReading list:John H. Arnold and Katherine Lewis (eds.), A Companion to the Book of Margery Kempe (D.S. Brewer, 2004)Ritamary Bradley, Julian’s Way: A Practical Commentary on Julian of Norwich (Harper Collins, 1992)E. Colledge and J. Walsh (eds.), Julian of Norwich: Showings (Classics of Western Spirituality series, Paulist Press, 1978)Liz Herbert McAvoy (ed.), A Companion to Julian of Norwich (D.S. Brewer, 2008) Liz Herbert McAvoy, Authority and the Female Body in the Writings of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe (D.S. Brewer, 2004)Grace Jantzen, Julian of Norwich: Mystic and Theologian (new edition, Paulist Press, 2010)Julian of Norwich (trans. Barry Windeatt), Revelations of Divine Love (Oxford World's Classics, 2015)Julian of Norwich (ed. Nicholas Watson and Jacqueline Jenkins), The Writings of Julian of Norwich: A Vision Showed to a Devout Woman and a Revelation of Love, (Brepols, 2006) Laura Kalas, Margery Kempe’s Spiritual Medicine: Suffering, Transformation and the Life-Course (D.S. Brewer, 2020)Laura Kalas and Laura Varnam (eds.), Encountering the Book of Margery Kempe (Manchester University Press, 2021)Laura Kalas and Roberta Magnani (eds.), Women in Christianity in the Medieval Age: 1000-1500 (Routledge, forthcoming 2024) Ken Leech and Benedicta Ward (ed.), Julian the Solitary (SLG, 1998)Denise Nowakowski Baker and Sarah Salih (ed.), Julian of Norwich’s Legacy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)Joan M. Nuth, Wisdom’s Daughter: The Theology of Julian of Norwich (Crossroad Publishing, 1999) Philip Sheldrake, Julian of Norwich: “In God’s Sight”: Her Theology in Context (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019)E. Spearing (ed.), Julian of Norwich: Revelations of Divine Love (Penguin Books, 1998)Denys Turner, Julian of Norwich, Theologian (Yale University Press, 2011) Wolfgang Riehle, The Secret Within: Hermits, Recluses and Spiritual Outsiders in Medieval England (Cornell University Press, 2014) Caroline Walker Bynum, Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages (University of California Press, 1982)Ann Warren, Anchorites and their Patrons in Medieval England (University of California Press, 1985)Hugh White (trans.), Ancrene Wisse: Guide for Anchoresses (Penguin Classics, 1993)
50:01 16.11.23
The Federalist Papers
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay's essays written in 1787/8 in support of the new US Constitution. They published these anonymously in New York as 'Publius' but, when it became known that Hamilton and Madison were the main authors, the essays took on a new significance for all states. As those two men played a major part in drafting the Constitution itself, their essays have since informed debate over what the authors of that Constitution truly intended. To some, the essays have proved to be America’s greatest contribution to political thought.WithFrank Cogliano Professor of American History at the University of Edinburgh and Interim Saunders Director of the International Centre for Jefferson Studies at MonticelloKathleen Burk Professor Emerita of Modern and Contemporary History at University College LondonAndNicholas Guyatt Professor of North American History at the University of CambridgeProducer: Simon TillotsonReading list: Bernard Bailyn, To Begin the World Anew: The Genius and Ambiguities of the American Founders (Knopf, 2003)Mary Sarah Bilder, Madison’s Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention (Harvard University Press, 2015)Noah Feldman, The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President (Random House, 2017)Jonathan Gienapp, The Second Creation: Fixing the American Constitution in the Founding Era (Harvard University Press, 2018)Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, James Madison (eds. George W. Carey and James McClellan), The Federalist: The Gideon Edition (Liberty Fund, 2001)Alison L. LaCroix, The Ideological Origins of American Federalism (Harvard University Press, 2010)James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, The Federalist Papers (Penguin, 1987)Pauline Maier, Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788 (Simon and Schuster, 2010)Michael I. Meyerson, Liberty's Blueprint: How Madison and Hamilton Wrote the Federalist Papers, Defined the Constitution, and Made Democracy Safe for the World (Basic Books, 2008)Jack Rakove, Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution (Knopf, 1996)Jack N. Rakove and Colleen A. Sheehan, The Cambridge Companion to The Federalist (Cambridge University Press, 2020)
50:41 09.11.23
Plankton
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the tiny drifting organisms in the oceans that sustain the food chain for all the lifeforms in the water and so for the billions of people who, in turn, depend on the seas for their diet. In Earth's development, the plant-like ones among them, the phytoplankton, produced so much oxygen through photosynthesis that around half the oxygen we breathe today originated there. And each day as the sun rises, the animal ones, the zooplankton, sink to the depths of the seas to avoid predators in such density that they appear on ship sonars like a new seabed, only to rise again at night in the largest migration of life on this planet.WithCarol Robinson Professor of Marine Sciences at the University of East AngliaAbigail McQuatters-Gollop Associate Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of PlymouthAndChristopher Lowe Lecturer in Marine Biology at Swansea UniversityProducer: Simon TillotsonReading list: Juli Berwald, Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone (Riverhead Books, 2018)Sir Alister Hardy, The Open Sea: The World of Plankton (first published 1959; Collins New Naturalist Library, 2009) Richard Kirby, Ocean Drifters: A Secret World Beneath the Waves (Studio Cactus Ltd, 2010)Robert Kunzig, Mapping the Deep: The Extraordinary Story of Ocean Science (Sort Of Books, 2000)Christian Sardet, Plankton: Wonders of the Drifting World (University of Chicago Press, 2015) Helen Scales, The Brilliant Abyss: True Tales of Exploring the Deep Sea, Discovering Hidden Life and Selling the Seabed (Bloomsbury Sigma, 2022)
48:41 02.11.23
The Economic Consequences of the Peace
In an extended version of the programme that was broadcast, Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the influential book John Maynard Keynes wrote in 1919 after he resigned in protest from his role at the Paris Peace Conference. There the victors of World War One were deciding the fate of the defeated, especially Germany and Austria-Hungary, and Keynes wanted the world to know his view that the economic consequences would be disastrous for all. Soon Germany used his book to support their claim that the Treaty was grossly unfair, a sentiment that fed into British appeasement in the 1930s and has since prompted debate over whether Keynes had only warned of disaster or somehow contributed to it.WithMargaret MacMillan Emeritus Professor of International History at the University of OxfordMichael Cox Emeritus Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Founding Director of LSE IDEASAnd Patricia Clavin Professor of Modern History at the University of OxfordProducer: Simon TillotsonReading list:Manfred F. Boemeke, Gerald D. Feldman and Elisabeth Glaser (eds.), The Treaty of Versailles: A Reassessment after 75 Years (Cambridge University Press, 1998)Zachary D. Carter, The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy and the Life of John Maynard Keynes (Random House, 2020) Peter Clarke, Keynes: The Twentieth Century’s Most Influential Economist (Bloomsbury, 2009) Patricia Clavin et al (eds.), Keynes’s Economic Consequences of the Peace after 100 Years: Polemics and Policy (Cambridge University Press, 2023) Patricia Clavin, ‘Britain and the Making of Global Order after 1919: The Ben Pimlott Memorial Lecture’ (Twentieth Century British History, Vol. 31:3, 2020)Richard Davenport-Hines, Universal Man; The Seven Lives of John Maynard Keynes (William Collins, 2015)R. F. Harrod, John Maynard Keynes (first published 1951; Pelican, 1972)Jens Holscher and Matthias Klaes (eds), Keynes’s Economic Consequences of the Peace: A Reappraisal (Pickering & Chatto, 2014)John Maynard Keynes (with an introduction by Michael Cox), The Economic Consequences of the Peace (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019)Margaret MacMillan, Peacemakers: Six Months that Changed the World (John Murray Publishers, 2001)Etienne Mantoux, The Carthaginian Peace or the Economic Consequences of Mr. Keynes (Oxford University Press, 1946) D. E. Moggridge, Maynard Keynes: An Economist’s Biography (Routledge, 1992) Alan Sharp, Versailles 1919: A Centennial Perspective (Haus Publishing Ltd, 2018)Robert Skidelsky, John Maynard Keynes, 1883-1946 (Pan Macmillan, 2004) Jürgen Tampke, A Perfidious Distortion of History: The Versailles Peace Treaty and the Success of the Nazis (Scribe UK, 2017) Adam Tooze, The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931 (Penguin Books, 2015)
66:09 26.10.23
The Seventh Seal
In the 1000th edition of In Our Time, Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss arguably the most celebrated film of the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007). It begins with an image that, once seen, stays with you for the rest of your life: the figure of Death playing chess with a Crusader on the rocky Swedish shore. The release of this film in 1957 brought Bergman fame around the world. We see Antonius Block, the Crusader, realising he can’t beat Death but wanting to prolong this final game for one last act, without yet knowing what that act might be. As he goes on a journey through a plague ridden world, his meeting with a family of jesters and their baby offers him some kind of epiphany. With Jan Holmberg Director of the Ingmar Bergman Foundation, StockholmClaire Thomson Professor of Cinema History and Director of the School of European Languages, Culture and Society at University College LondonAndLaura Hubner Professor of Film at the University of WinchesterProducer: Simon TillotsonReading list:Alexander Ahndoril (trans. Sarah Death), The Director (Granta, 2008) Ingmar Bergman (trans. Marianne Ruuth), Images: My Life in Film (Faber and Faber, 1995)Ingmar Bergman (trans. Joan Tate), The Magic Lantern: An Autobiography (Viking, 1988)Ingmar Bergman (trans. Joan Tate), The Best Intentions (Vintage, 2018)Ingmar Bergman (trans. Joan Tate), Sunday’s Children (Vintage, 2018)Ingmar Bergman (trans. Joan Tate), Private Confessions (Vintage, 2018)Stig Björkman, Torsten Manns and Jonas Sima (trans. Paul Britten Austin), Bergman on Bergman: Interviews with Ingmar Bergman (Da Capo Press, 1993)Melvyn Bragg, The Seventh Seal: BFI Film Classics (British Film Institute, 1993)Paul Duncan and Bengt Wanselius (eds.), The Ingmar Bergman Archives (Taschen/Max Ström, 2018)Erik Hedling (ed.), Ingmar Bergman: An Enduring Legacy (Lund University Press, 2021)Laura Hubner, The Films of Ingmar Bergman: Illusions of Light and Darkness (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)Daniel Humphrey, Queer Bergman: Sexuality, Gender, and the European Art Cinema (University of Texas Press, 2013) Maaret Koskinen (ed.), Bergman Revisited: Performance, Cinema, and the Arts (Wallflower Press, 2008) Selma Lagerlöf (trans. Peter Graves), The Phantom Carriage (Norvik Press, 2011)Mariah Larsson and Anders Marklund (eds.), Swedish Film: An Introduction and Reader (Nordic Academic Press, 2010)Paisley Livingston, Ingmar Bergman and the Rituals of Art (Cornell University Press, 2019)Birgitta Steene (ed.), Focus on The Seventh Seal (Prentice Hall, 1972)Birgitta Steene, Ingmar Bergman: A Reference Guide (Amsterdam University Press, 2014)
48:52 19.10.23
Melvyn Bragg talks to Mishal Husain
To mark his 1000th episode of In Our Time, Melvyn Bragg talks to Mishal Husain for Radio 4's Today programme.
11:13 19.10.23
Albert Einstein
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the man who, in 1905, produced several papers that were to change the world of physics and whose name went on to become a byword for genius. This was Albert Einstein, then still a technical expert at a Swiss patent office, and that year of 1905 became known as his annus mirabilis ('miraculous year'). While Einstein came from outside the academic world, some such as Max Planck championed his theory of special relativity, his principle of mass-energy equivalence that followed, and his explanations of Brownian Motion and the photoelectric effect. Yet it was not until 1919, when a solar eclipse proved his theory that gravity would bend light, that Einstein became an international celebrity and developed into an almost mythical figure.With Richard Staley Professor in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge and Professor in History of Science at the University of CopenhagenDiana Kormos Buchwald Robert M. Abbey Professor of History and Director and General Editor of The Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of TechnologyAndJohn Heilbron Professor Emeritus at the University of California, BerkeleyProducer: Simon TillotsonReading list: Ronald W. Clark, Einstein: The Life and Times (first published 1971; HarperPaperbacks, 2011)Albert Einstein (eds. Jurgen Renn and Hanoch Gutfreund), Relativity: The Special and the General Theory - 100th Anniversary Edition (Princeton University Press, 2019)Albert Einstein, Out of My Later Years (first published 1950; Citadel Press, 1974)Albert Einstein (ed. Paul A. Schilpp), Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist: The Library of Living Philosophers Volume VII (first published 1949; Open Court, 1970)Albert Einstein (eds. Otto Nathan and Heinz Norden), Einstein on Peace (first published 1981; Literary Licensing, 2011)Albrecht Folsing, Albert Einstein: A Biography (Viking, 1997)J. L. Heilbron, Niels Bohr: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2020)Walter Isaacson, Einstein: His Life and Universe (Simon & Schuster, 2008)Max Jammer, Einstein and Religion (Princeton University Press, 2002)Michel Janssen and Christoph Lehner (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Einstein (Cambridge University Press, 2014)Dennis Overbye, Einstein in Love: A Scientific Romance (Viking, 2000)Abraham Pais, Subtle Is the Lord: The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein (Oxford University Press, 1982)David E. Rowe and Robert Schulmann (eds.), Einstein on Politics: His Private Thoughts and Public Stands on Nationalism, Zionism, War, Peace, and the Bomb (Princeton University Press, 2007)Matthew Stanley, Einstein's War: How Relativity Triumphed Amid the Vicious Nationalism of World War I (Dutton, 2019)Fritz Stern, Einstein’s German World (Princeton University Press, 1999)A. Douglas Stone, Einstein and the Quantum: The Quest of the Valiant Swabian (Princeton University Press, 2013)Milena Wazeck (trans. Geoffrey S. Koby), Einstein's Opponents: The Public Controversy About the Theory of Relativity in the 1920s (Cambridge University Press, 2014)
49:29 12.10.23
Jupiter
Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system, and it’s hard to imagine a world more alien and different from Earth. It’s known as a Gas Giant, and its diameter is eleven times the size of Earth’s: our planet would fit inside it one thousand three hundred times. But its mass is only three hundred and twenty times greater, suggesting that although Jupiter is much bigger than Earth, the stuff it’s made of is much, much lighter. When you look at it through a powerful telescope you see a mass of colourful bands and stripes: these are the tops of ferocious weather systems that tear around the planet, including the great Red Spot, probably the longest-lasting storm in the solar system. Jupiter is so enormous that it’s thought to have played an essential role in the distribution of matter as the solar system formed – and it plays an important role in hoovering up astral debris that might otherwise rain down on Earth. It’s almost a mini solar system in its own right, with 95 moons orbiting around it. At least two of these are places life might possibly be found. WithMichele Dougherty, Professor of Space Physics and Head of the Department of Physics at Imperial College London, and principle investigator of the magnetometer instrument on the JUICE spacecraft (JUICE is the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, a mission launched by the European Space Agency in April 2023)Leigh Fletcher, Professor of Planetary Science at the University of Leicester, and interdisciplinary scientist for JUICECarolin Crawford, Emeritus Fellow of Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, and Emeritus Member of the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge
53:10 27.07.23
Elizabeth Anscombe
In 1956 Oxford University awarded an honorary degree to the former US president Harry S. Truman for his role in ending the Second World War. One philosopher, Elizabeth Anscombe (1919 – 2001), objected strongly. She argued that although dropping nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki may have ended the fighting, it amounted to the murder of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. It was therefore an irredeemably immoral act. And there was something fundamentally wrong with a moral philosophy that didn’t see that. This was the starting point for a body of work that changed the terms in which philosophers discussed moral and ethical questions in the second half of the twentieth century. A leading student of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, Anscombe combined his insights with rejuvenated interpretations of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas that made these ancient figures speak to modern issues and concerns. Anscombe was also instrumental in making action, and the question of what it means to intend to do something, a leading area of philosophical work. With Rachael Wiseman, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of LiverpoolConstantine Sandis, Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hertfordshire, and Director of Lex Academic Roger Teichmann, Lecturer in Philosophy at St Hilda’s College, University of OxfordProducer: Luke Mulhall
54:45 20.07.23
Death in Venice
Death in Venice is Thomas Mann’s most famous – and infamous - novella. Published in 1912, it’s about the fall of the repressed writer Gustav von Aschenbach, when his supposedly objective appreciation of a young boy’s beauty becomes sexual obsession. It explores the link between creativity and self-destruction, and by the end Aschenbach’s humiliation is complete, dying on a deckchair in the act of ogling. Aschenbach's stalking of the boy and dreaming of pederasty can appal modern readers, even more than Mann expected. With Karolina Watroba, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Modern Languages at All Souls College, University of OxfordErica Wickerson, a Former Research Fellow at St Johns College, University of CambridgeSean Williams, Senior Lecturer in German and European Cultural History at the University of Sheffield Sean Williams' series of Radio 3's The Essay, Death in Trieste, can be found here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001lzd4
48:37 13.07.23
Oedipus Rex
Sophocles’ play Oedipus Rex begins with a warning: the murderer of the old king of Thebes, Laius, has never been identified or caught, and he’s still at large in the city. Oedipus is the current king of Thebes, and he sets out to solve the crime. His investigations lead to a devastating conclusion. Not only is Oedipus himself the killer, but Laius was his father, and Laius’ wife Jocasta, who Oedipus has married, is his mother. Oedipus Rex was composed during the golden age of Athens, in the 5th century BC. Sophocles probably wrote it to explore the dynamics of power in an undemocratic society. It has unsettled audiences from the very start: it is the only one of Sophocles’ plays that didn’t win first prize at Athens’ annual drama festival. But it’s had exceptionally good write-ups from the critics: Aristotle called it the greatest example of the dramatic arts. Freud believed it laid bare the deepest structures of human desire. With: Nick Lowe, Reader in Classical Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London Fiona Macintosh, Professor of Classical Reception and Fellow of St Hilda’s College at the University of OxfordEdith Hall, Professor of Classics at Durham University
54:53 06.07.23
Mitochondria
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the power-packs within cells in all complex life on Earth. Inside each cell of every complex organism there are structures known as mitochondria. The 19th century scientists who first observed them thought they were bacteria which had somehow invaded the cells they were studying. We now understand that mitochondria take components from the food we eat and convert them into energy. Mitochondria are essential for complex life, but as the components that run our metabolisms they can also be responsible for a range of diseases – and they probably play a role in how we age. The DNA in mitochondria is only passed down the maternal line. This means it can be used to trace population movements deep into human history, even back to an ancestor we all share: mitochondrial Eve. With Mike Murphy Professor of Mitochondrial Redox Biology at the University of CambridgeFlorencia Camus NERC Independent Research Fellow at University College Londonand Nick Lane Professor of Evolutionary Biochemistry at University College LondonProducer Luke Mulhall
52:29 29.06.23
Louis XIV: The Sun King
In 1661 the 23 year-old French king Louis the XIV had been on the throne for 18 years when his chief minister, Cardinal Mazarin, died. Louis is reported to have said to his ministers, “It is now time that I govern my affairs myself. You will assist me with your counsels when I ask for them [but] I order you to seal no orders except by my command… I order you not to sign anything, not even a passport, without my command, and to render account to me personally each day”So began the personal rule of Louis XIV, which lasted a further 54 years until his death in 1715. From his newly-built palace at Versailles, Louis was able to project an image of himself as the centre of gravity around which all of France revolved: it’s no accident that he became known as the Sun King. He centralized power to the extent he was able to say ‘L’etat c’est moi’: I am the state. Under his rule France became the leading diplomatic, military and cultural power in Europe.WithCatriona Seth Marshal Foch Professor of French Literature at the University of OxfordGuy Rowlands Professor of Early Modern History at the University of St AndrewsandPenny Roberts Professor of Early Modern History at the University of WarwickProducer: Luke Mulhall
47:25 22.06.23
Virgil's Georgics
In the year 29 BC the great Roman poet Virgil published these lines: Blessed is he who has succeeded in learning the laws of nature’s working, has cast beneath his feet all fear and fate’s implacable decree, and the howl of insatiable Death. But happy too is he who knows the rural gods…They’re from his poem the Georgics, a detailed account of farming life in the Italy of the time. ‘Georgics’ means ‘agricultural things’, and it’s often been read as a farming manual. But it was written at a moment when the Roman world was emerging from a period of civil war, and questions of land ownership and management were heavily contested. It’s also a philosophical reflection on humanity’s relationship with the natural world, the ravages of time, and the politics of Virgil’s day. It’s exerted a profound influence on European writing about agriculture and rural life, and has much to offer environmental thinking today. With Katharine Earnshaw Senior Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Exeter; Neville Morley Professor of Classics and Ancient History at the University of ExeterandDiana Spencer Professor of Classics at the University of BirminghamProducer: Luke Mulhall
49:18 15.06.23
The Shimabara Rebellion
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Christian uprising in Japan and its profound and long-term consequences. In the 1630s, Japan was ruled by the Tokagawa Shoguns, a military dynasty who, 30 years earlier, had unified the country, ending around two centuries of civil war. In 1637 a rebellion broke out in the province of Shimabara, in the south of the country. It was a peasants’ revolt, following years of bad harvests in which the local lord had refused to lower taxes. Many of the rebels were Christians, and they fought under a Christian banner. The central government’s response was merciless. They met the rebels with an army of 150 000 men, possibly the largest force assembled anywhere in the world during the Early Modern period. Once the rebellion had been suppressed, the Shogun enforced a ban on Christianity and expelled nearly all foreigners from the country. Japan remained more or less completely sealed off from the rest of the world for the next 250 years. With Satona Suzuki Lecturer in Japanese and Modern Japanese History at SOAS, University of LondonErica Baffelli Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Manchester and Christopher Harding Senior Lecturer in Asian History at the University of EdinburghProducer Luke Mulhall
48:03 08.06.23
The Dead Sea Scrolls
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the revelatory collection of Biblical texts, legal documents, community rules and literary writings. In 1946 a Bedouin shepherd boy was looking for a goat he’d lost in the hills above the Dead Sea. He threw a rock into a cave and heard a hollow sound. He’d hit a ceramic jar containing an ancient manuscript. This was the first of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of about a thousand texts dating from around 250 BC to AD 68. It is the most substantial first hand evidence we have for the beliefs and practices of Judaism in and around the lifetime of Jesus. The Dead Sea Scrolls have transformed our understanding of how the texts that make up the Hebrew Bible were edited and collected. They also offer a tantalising window onto the world from which Christianity eventually emerged. With Sarah Pearce Ian Karten Professor of Jewish Studies and Head of the School of Humanities at the University of SouthamptonCharlotte Hempel Professor of Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism at the University of Birmingham and George Brooke Rylands Professor Emeritus of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of ManchesterProducer Luke Mulhall
48:07 01.06.23
Walt Whitman
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the highly influential American poet Walt Whitman. In 1855 Whitman was working as a printer, journalist and property developer when he published his first collection of poetry. It began:I celebrate myself, And what I assume you shall assume For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. The book was called Leaves of Grass. In it, Whitman set out to break away from European literary forms and traditions. Using long lines written in free verse, he developed a poetry meant to express a distinctively American outlook. Leaves of Grass is full of verse that celebrates both the sovereign individual, and the deep fellowship between individuals. Its optimism about the American experience was challenged by the Civil War and its aftermath, but Whitman emerged as a celebrity and a key figure in the development of American culture. With Sarah Churchwell Professor of American Literature and the Public Understanding of the Humanities at the University of LondonPeter Riley Lecturer in 19th Century American Literature at the University of Exeter and Mark Ford Professor of English and American Literature at University College LondonProducer Luke Mulhall
49:38 25.05.23

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