300 episodes

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

In Our Time BBC Podcasts

    • History
    • 4.7 • 33 Ratings

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

    Shakespeare's Sonnets (Repeat)

    Shakespeare's Sonnets (Repeat)

    In a programme first broadcast in 2021, Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the collection of poems published in 1609 by Thomas Thorpe: Shakespeare’s Sonnets, “never before imprinted”. Yet, while some of Shakespeare's other poems and many of his plays were often reprinted in his lifetime, the Sonnets were not a publishing success. They had to make their own way, outside the main canon of Shakespeare’s work: wonderful, troubling, patchy, inspiring and baffling, and they have appealed in different ways to different times. Most are addressed to a man, something often overlooked and occasionally concealed; one early and notorious edition even changed some of the pronouns. With: Hannah Crawforth Senior Lecturer in Early Modern Literature at King’s College London Don Paterson Poet and Professor of Poetry at the University of St Andrews And Emma Smith Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Hertford College, Oxford Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 52 min
    Hegel's Philosophy of History

    Hegel's Philosophy of History

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss ideas of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770 - 1831) on history. Hegel, one of the most influential of the modern philosophers, described history as the progress in the consciousness of freedom, asking whether we enjoy more freedom now than those who came before us. To explore this, he looked into the past to identify periods when freedom was moving from the one to the few to the all, arguing that once we understand the true nature of freedom we reach an endpoint in understanding. That end of history, as it's known, describes an understanding of freedom so far progressed, so profound, that it cannot be extended or deepened even if it can be lost.

    With

    Sally Sedgwick
    Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Boston University

    Robert Stern
    Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield

    And

    Stephen Houlgate
    Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 52 min
    Comenius

    Comenius

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Czech educator Jan Amos Komenský (1592-1670) known throughout Europe in his lifetime under the Latin version of his name, Comenius. A Protestant and member of the Unity of Brethren, he lived much of his life in exile, expelled from his homeland under the Catholic Counter-Reformation, and he wanted to address the deep antagonisms underlying the wars that were devastating Europe especially The Thirty Years War (1618-1648). A major part of his plan was Universal Education, in which everyone could learn about everything, and better understand each other and so tolerate their religious differences and live side by side. His ideas were to have a lasting influence on education, even though the peace that followed the Thirty Years War only entrenched the changes in his homeland that made his life there impossible.

    The image above is from a portrait of Comenius by Jürgen Ovens, 1650 - 1670, painted while he was living in Amsterdam and held in the Rikjsmuseum

    With

    Vladimir Urbanek
    Senior Researcher in the Department of Comenius Studies and Early Modern Intellectual History at the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences

    Suzanna Ivanic
    Lecturer in Early Modern European History at the University of Kent

    And

    Howard Hotson
    Professor of Early Modern Intellectual History at the University of Oxford and Fellow of St Anne’s College

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 56 min
    Tang Era Poetry

    Tang Era Poetry

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss two of China’s greatest poets, Li Bai and Du Fu, who wrote in the 8th century in the Tang Era. Li Bai (701-762AD) is known for personal poems, many of them about drinking wine, and for finding the enjoyment in life. Du Fu (712-770AD), a few years younger, is more of an everyman, writing in the upheaval of the An Lushan Rebellion (755-763AD). Together they have been a central part of Chinese culture for over a millennium, reflecting the balance between the individual and the public life, and one sign of their enduring appeal is that there is rarely agreement on which of them is the greater.

    The image above is intended to depict Du Fu.

    With

    Tim Barrett
    Professor Emeritus of East Asian History at SOAS, University of London

    Tian Yuan Tan
    Shaw Professor of Chinese at the University of Oxford and Professorial Fellow at University College

    And

    Frances Wood
    Former Curator of the Chinese Collections at the British Library

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 46 min
    The Davidian Revolution

    The Davidian Revolution

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the impact of David I of Scotland (c1084-1153) on his kingdom and on neighbouring lands. The youngest son of Malcolm III, he was raised in exile in the Anglo-Norman court and became Earl of Huntingdon and Prince of Cumbria before claiming the throne in 1124. He introduced elements of what he had learned in England and, in the next decades, his kingdom saw new burghs, new monasteries, new ways of governing and the arrival of some very influential families, earning him the reputation of The Perfect King.

    With

    Richard Oram
    Professor of Medieval and Environmental History at the University of Stirling

    Alice Taylor
    Professor of Medieval History at King’s College London

    And

    Alex Woolf
    Senior Lecturer in History at the University of St Andrews

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 50 min
    Early Christian Martyrdom

    Early Christian Martyrdom

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the accounts by Eusebius of Caesarea (c260-339 AD) and others of the killings of Christians in the first three centuries after the crucifixion of Jesus. Eusebius was writing in a time of peace, after The Great Persecution that had started with Emperor Diocletian in 303 AD and lasted around eight years. Many died under Diocletian, and their names are not preserved, but those whose deaths are told by Eusebius became especially celebrated and their stories became influential. Through his writings, Eusebius shaped perceptions of what it meant to be a martyr in those years, and what it meant to be a Christian.

    The image above is of The Martyrdom of Saint Blandina (1886) at the Church of Saint-Blandine de Lyon, France

    With:

    Candida Moss
    Edward Cadbury Professor of Theology at the University of Birmingham

    Kate Cooper
    Professor of History at Royal Holloway, University of London

    And

    James Corke-Webster
    Senior Lecturer in Classics, History and Liberal Arts at King’s College London

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 53 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
33 Ratings

33 Ratings

Ian ME ,

Unmissable and educational

Required listening for me every week. I love learning about the most obscure and unexpected subjects.

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