13 episodes

Thoughtlines brings you the best academic thinking outside the box from CRASSH at the University of Cambridge. The podcast is presented by Catherine Galloway and produced by Carl Homer at Cambridge TV.
The Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) is an interdisciplinary research centre at the University of Cambridge.
Founded in 2001, CRASSH came into being as a way to create interdisciplinary dialogue across the University’s many faculties and departments in the arts, social sciences and humanities, as well as to build bridges with scientific subjects. It has now grown into one of the largest humanities institutes in the world and is a major presence in academic life in the UK. It serves at once to draw together disciplinary perspectives in Cambridge and to disseminate new ideas to audiences across Europe and beyond.

Thoughtlines Thoughtlines

    • Education
    • 5.0 • 4 Ratings

Thoughtlines brings you the best academic thinking outside the box from CRASSH at the University of Cambridge. The podcast is presented by Catherine Galloway and produced by Carl Homer at Cambridge TV.
The Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) is an interdisciplinary research centre at the University of Cambridge.
Founded in 2001, CRASSH came into being as a way to create interdisciplinary dialogue across the University’s many faculties and departments in the arts, social sciences and humanities, as well as to build bridges with scientific subjects. It has now grown into one of the largest humanities institutes in the world and is a major presence in academic life in the UK. It serves at once to draw together disciplinary perspectives in Cambridge and to disseminate new ideas to audiences across Europe and beyond.

    Episode 12 - We are what we do, with Professor Steven Connor

    Episode 12 - We are what we do, with Professor Steven Connor

    In this final episode of the CRASSH 20th anniversary year, we ask the centre’s Director, and Grace 2 Professor of English at Cambridge, Steven Connor, whether what we do for a living can ever, or should ever, be anything other than drudgery?

    Thousands of column inches in the past year have been devoted to ‘The Great Resignation’, or ‘The Big Quit’ – a mass rebellion by millions of disgruntled employees worldwide who decided their current work just isn’t working for them any longer.  Employment, then, is yet another thing to be re-worked by the COVID-19 pandemic, but less examined is why we even do it in the first place.

    Connor’s latest research project, the culmination of a 40-year academic career, aims to unpack our deeply, and sometimes unconsciously, held beliefs about what we ‘do’.

    He himself is never less than fully and happily occupied, but also shares his thoughts on what could, and should, constitute ‘serious’ academic work in the Humanities. And it starts by allowing ourselves to admit that, despite our very best efforts to conceal it, we are having an awful lot of fun.

    Find out more:


    The CRASSH website includes Q&As on Steven’s two recent books; one with Imke van Heerden in June 2019 (https://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/blog/the-madness-of-knowledge-5-questions-to-steven-connor/), on the strangeness of ‘the species that styles itself sapiens’, as discussed in his book The Madness of Knowledge (http://www.reaktionbooks.co.uk/display.asp?ISB=9781789140729), and the other, with Judith Weik in October 2019 (https://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/blog/giving-way-5-questions-to-steven-connor/) on the nastiness of the idea of agency and the associated ‘lexicon of the illimitable’ in Giving Way: Thoughts on Unappreciated Dispositions (https://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=31510).
     
    He discusses his writing and especially his more recent work, in the podcast Critical Attitudes, a conversation with Nathan Waddell in March 2021: https://anchor.fm/criticalattitudes/episodes/8--Steven-Connor-e17be4r.
     
    Thaumodynamics: Making a Living in Great Expectations, the Hilda Hulme Lecture given for the Institute of English Studies, London, in June 2021: http://stevenconnor.com/thaumodynamics.html

    Ceremonics (https://stevenconnor.com/ceremonics.html) is a brief prospectus for the sequence of books he has been writing since 2019 on social performativities. The sequence includes Giving Way: Thoughts on Unappreciated Dispositions (2019); A History of Asking (2022) and Seriously, Though (2022). Essays on crisis-behaviour, desperation styles, anger-management, wishing-rituals and faith-operations form part of this ongoing enquiry.
    http://stevenconnor.com/emergency.html
    http://stevenconnor.com/desperate-remedies.html
    http://stevenconnor.com/modernist-anger-management.html
    http://stevenconnor.com/best-wishes.html
    http://stevenconnor.com/religion-beyond-belief.html

    More of Steven Connor’s essays, broadcasts and works-in-progress can be read, heard or watched on his website stevenconnor.com.

    • 43 min
    Episode 11 - We are what we disrupt, with Trish Lorenz

    Episode 11 - We are what we disrupt, with Trish Lorenz

    In this episode we answer a $100,000 question.

    Writer and journalist Trish Lorenz won the global essay competition, The Nine Dots Prize, by turning anxiety about the world’s ageing population on its head and celebrating the game-changing power of Africa’s ‘youthquake’.

    Part of the prize is the chance to spend a term at CRASSH, and turn that initial 3,000 word entry into a book published by Cambridge University Press. But Trish took the long way round from her home in Berlin – arriving in Cambridge via Lagos and Abuja where she found and interviewed the young Africans who best represent the energy, the ingenuity, and the infectious generosity that she wanted to highlight.

    The ‘Soro Soke’ generation in Nigeria, and beyond, are outspoken, urban, tech savvy, globally connected, and unlike any demographic that has come before. So what happens when we start tuning in to what they have to say?

    Follow Trish Lorenz on Twitter here: @mstrishlorenz and on Instagram here: @mstrishlorenz

    Further examples of her journalism can be found here: https://www.clippings.me/users/trishlorenz

    When Trish misses Lagos, and the energy of the Soro Soke generation, she listens to this track by Wizkid (the most steamed Nigerian artist of all time): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7QiLceJSLQ

    Two albums that represent the sounds of contemporary Nigeria, both released in 2020, are WizKid's 'Made in Lagos' (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OJ_5aS-PdM) and Burna Boy's 'Twice as Tall' (https://open.spotify.com/album/218CJKDCszsQQj7Amk7vIu).

    More information on The Nine Dots Prize, including the publication announcement for Trish's book on the Soro Soke generation in Africa, appearing in May 2022, can be found here: https://ninedotsprize.org

    A recent UNICEF study on what it feels like to be young in today's world can be found here: https://changingchildhood.unicef.org
    And Africa's 'youthquake' is discussed here: https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/9781800241589?gC=5a105e8b&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI-v6zgof49AIVdIFQBh2_fwCdEAQYAyABEgKJB_D_BwE

    The story of how Jesus College, Cambridge, returned a Benin bronze to Nigeria, discussed in this episode, is here:
    https://www.jesus.cam.ac.uk/articles/jesus-college-returns-benin-bronze-world-first

    • 36 min
    Episode 10 - We are what we read, with Dr Charlotte Lee

    Episode 10 - We are what we read, with Dr Charlotte Lee

    In this episode we discover how words move us. Literally.

    Dr Charlotte Lee is a Senior Lecturer in German at the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages at the University of Cambridge, but just lately she’s stepped beyond her academic boundaries to ask everyone from neuroscientists, to dancers, to tiny children, more about the transporting power of poetry.

    Working in three languages, and across disciplines, her current research tries to discover how writers make us physically feel things that we only read about, and how our brain dances along to textual rhythms even when our bodies remain sitting still in a library chair.

    From the Ancient Greeks to nursery rhymes to hip hop, literature is always moving to the beat. But we’re only just discovering where it could take us.

    Learn more:

    Find out more about the New Hall Art Collection, the location for this episode, here https://www.murrayedwards.cam.ac.uk/about/new-hall-art-collection

    The 'Watching Dance' project (http://www.watchingdance.org/) is an excellent resource for understanding principles such as kinesis and kinaesthetic empathy as discussed in this episode.

    'Dance of the Muses' (http://www.danceofthemuses.org/) offers danced reconstructions of Ancient Greek choral poetry.

    At Cambridge, the Baby Rhythm Project of the Centre for Neuroscience in Education (https://www.cnebabylab.psychol.cam.ac.uk/) is elucidating the central role of rhythm in language acquisition in babies.

    Charlotte Lee's 2017 article on Klopstock and Goethe explores the relationship between poetry and movement (MOVEMENT AND EMBODIMENT IN KLOPSTOCK AND GOETHE - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/glal.12172)

    Her first book, also discussed in this episode, is a study of Goethe's last works and can be found here: (www.mhra.org.uk/publications/gl-5).

    • 39 min
    Episode 9 - We are what we question, with Dr Anna Alexandrova

    Episode 9 - We are what we question, with Dr Anna Alexandrova

    In this episode we ask an expert on expertise what she knows for sure.

    Dr Anna Alexandrova is a Reader in the Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge, and the principal investigator for the ‘Expertise Under Pressure’ group at CRASSH.

    Her latest research is co-authored with people currently in severe financial hardship, and combines their insights and lived experiences with conventional academic approaches to articulate a more authentic, democratic understanding of what it means to truly ‘flourish’ – work which could have significant impact on the government’s current wellbeing agenda.

    At a moment when expertise, globally, is under extreme pressure how can we make space for different ways of knowing? Is it reasonable to expect cast-iron certainty from our public experts? And what did Dr Alexandrova learn as a teenager that has shaped her whole career?

    Follow Anna Alexandrova and the Expertise Under Pressure team on Twitter via @ExpertiseUnder

    Anna’s writings can be found on her PhilPeople profile (https://philpeople.org/profiles/anna-alexandrova) and her webpage (https://sites.google.com/site/aaalexandrova/). Her 2017 book A Philosophy for the Science of Well-being is now available in paperback: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/a-philosophy-for-the-science-of-well-being-9780197598894

    You can find out about her ongoing work on responsible science of wellbeing (https://twitter.com/BennettInst/status/1409434292430770176) by following the Bennett Institute for Public Policy @BennettInst.

    Some recent articles include “Wellbeing and Pluralism”(https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10902-020-00323-8), “Happiness Economics as Technocracy” (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/behavioural-public-policy/article/abs/happiness-economics-as-technocracy/ED0C177E734BCAF9458CF4755775B603), “Mental Health Without Wellbeing” (https://philarchive.org/archive/WREMHWv1).

    And read more about national poverty charity Turn2Us and the co-production research work mentioned in this episode here:
    https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Working-With-Us/Co-production-and-involvement-at-Turn2Us

    • 41 min
    Episode 8 - We are what we feel, with Dr Emma Claussen

    Episode 8 - We are what we feel, with Dr Emma Claussen

    In this episode we take a long look at what the New York Times believes might be “the dominant emotion of 2021.” But what is languishing? And did we really just invent it?

    Dr Emma Claussen, a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in French at the University of Cambridge and research associate at Peterhouse College, thinks we certainly did not, and that writers and thinkers have been battling with how to ‘beat the blah’ (or at least learn to live with it) for centuries.

    So, what can voices from the Early Modern period tell us about living a ‘good’ life in uncertain times? How do the acts of reading and writing help us deal with loss, distance and disappointment? And what do you do when your meticulously documented research term suddenly becomes a media buzzword?

    Learn more:
    - Follow Emma Claussen on Twitter @eclaussen
    - Emma Claussen's new book, discussed in this episode, is available here and from all good bookshops: Politics and ‘Politiques' in Sixteenth-Century France(https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/politics-and-politiques-in-sixteenthcentury-france/1C233A43CF8B287AAB5AB12A2079DDB9)

    • 37 min
    Episode 7 - We are what we spend, with Dr Niamh Mulcahy

    Episode 7 - We are what we spend, with Dr Niamh Mulcahy

    In this episode we talk inequality, life chances, and the daily struggle to balance household budgets with Dr Niamh Mulcahy, economic sociologist at CRASSH and Alice Tong Sze Fellow at Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge.

    The financial crash of 2008, followed by the UK government's decade of austerity, and the Covid-19 pandemic has left millions of people in Britain facing a very uncertain future and holding increasingly unmanageable levels of personal debt.

    What set us on such a precarious path? How can we return to what Dr Mulcahy terms "steadiness"? And how is her college addressing these challenges in its own backyard?

    Learn More:

    Niamh Mulcahy's book, 'Class and Inequality in the Time of Finance', discussed in this episode is available for pre-order:
    https://www.routledge.com/Class-and-Inequality-in-the-Time-of-Finance-Subject-to-Terms-and-Conditions/Mulcahy/p/book/9780367530990#

    • 44 min

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