300 episodes

Leading artists, writers, thinkers discuss the ideas shaping our lives & links between past & present and new academic research.

Arts & Ideas BBC

    • Places & Travel
    • 4.7 • 7 Ratings

Leading artists, writers, thinkers discuss the ideas shaping our lives & links between past & present and new academic research.

    Witchcraft, Werewolves, and Writing The Devil

    Witchcraft, Werewolves, and Writing The Devil

    The devil's daughter features in a new novel from Jenni Fagan; Salena Godden's debut novel imagines Mrs Death. To discuss conjuring fear, they join Shahidha Bari alongside a pair of historians - Tabitha Stanmore, who researches magic from early modern royal courts to village life, and Daniel Ogden, who has looked at werewolf tales in ancient Greece and Rome.

    Jenni Fagan's latest novel is called Luckenbooth, and her first book, The Panopticon, has been filmed. Fagan was listed by Granta as one of the 2013 Granta Best of Young British Novelists. There is more information about her drama and poetry collection, There’s A Witch In The Word Machine, on her website - https://jennifagan.com/

    Salena Godden's novel is Mrs Death Misses Death, published on 28 January 2021, and she's been made a new Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. You can find more about her poetry and her radio show, Roaring 20s, on her website - http://www.salenagodden.co.uk/

    Tabitha Stanmore is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Bristol, working on witchcraft.

    Daniel Ogden is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Exeter. His book is called The Werewolf In The Ancient World.

    You might be interested in other episodes looking at witchcraft:

    Author Marie Dariessecq - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0000qkl

    The relevance of magic in the contemporary world - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000kvss

    Historians Marina Warner and Susannah Lipscomb look at Witchfinding - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06kckxk

    Novelists Zoe Gilbert, Madeline Miller and Kirsty Logan compare notes on Charms - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b1q0xc

    Producer: Emma Wallace

    • 45 min
    New Thinking: Women and Slavery

    New Thinking: Women and Slavery

    New research on female slave owners in Britain, women on Caribbean plantations, and the daughter of a prominent slave trader. Christienna Fryar talks to researchers Katie Donnington, Meleisa Ono-George, and Hannah Young.

    We hear about the daughter of Thomas Hibbert - one of the most prominent slave traders in Kingston, Jamaica - and the revelation that before she died she had intended to ask her mother to free the enslaved people she held; the risks taken by women who had children with their owners and who fought for the rights of those children; and female absentee slave owners in Britain.

    Katie Donnington lectures in history at London South Bank University. She has published a book called The Bonds Of Family: Slavery, Commerce And Culture In The British Atlantic World. She was an historical advisor for the BBC2 documentary Britain’s Forgotten Slave-Owners (2015), and co-curated Slavery, Culture, and Collecting at the Museum of London Docklands (2018-2019).

    Dr Meleisa Ono-George is at the University of Warwick. She has researched the ways in which women of African descent in Jamaica were discussed in relation to prostitution, concubinage, and other forms of sexual-economic exchange in legal, political, and cultural discourses in nineteenth century Jamaica and Britain.

    Hannah Young is at the University of Southampton, where she focuses on late eighteenth and early 19th century Britain, with a particular interest in exploring the relationship between Britain and empire and absentee slave ownership.

    This episode was made in partnership with the AHRC, part of UKRI. You can find more about New Research in a playlist on the Free Thinking programme website - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03zws90 - where you’ll find other episodes in the New Thinking strand showcasing academic research.

    You might also be interested in this conversation featuring Katie and Christienna and a novelist and dramatist who have considered slavery history: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000f7d5

    This episode looks at the law on modern slavery: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000jnmc

    Producer: Emma Wallace

    • 43 min
    Autism, film and patterns

    Autism, film and patterns

    If, and, then are the 3 words which underpin Simon Baron-Cohen's exploration of how humans reason and develop solutions to problems in his latest book The Pattern Seekers. He joins author Michelle Gallen, film historian Andrew Roberts and Bonnie Evans whose research includes the history of childhood and developmental science in a discussion about how we understand autism presented by Matthew Sweet.

    Michelle Gallen's novel Big Girl, Small Town is available now.
    Simon Baron-Cohen is clinical psychologist and professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Cambridge where he runs the Autism Research Centre. His book is called The Pattern Seekers - A New Theory of Human Invention.
    Bonnie Evans has written The Metamorphosis of Autism: A History of Child Development in Britain and is Senior Researcher at Queen Mary, University of London on the collaborative Wellcome Trust project https://www.autism-through-cinema.org.uk/
    You might be interested that the winner of the Royal Society Science Books Prize 2020 was Camilla Pang's memoir Explaining Humans: What Science Can Teach Us about Life, Love and Relationships

    Producer: Torquil MacLeod

    • 45 min
    New Thinking: Aphra Behn

    New Thinking: Aphra Behn

    From spy to one of the first professional woman writers in Britain - Aphra Behn was a prolific playwright, poet, translator and fiction writer in the Restoration period. Claire Bowditch has spent years comparing different printed versions of her dramas to work out what were printer errors and how involved was Aphra Behn in the printing process. Annalisa Nicholson is researching a French salon in London created by the French noblewoman Hortense Mancini - whom Behn dedicated a play to. Is this evidence of a relationship between them? Tom Charlton looks at the politics of the period and Behn's loyalty to the Stuart crown. John Gallagher hosts the conversation.

    Claire Bowditch is an AHRC Post-Doctoral Research Associate at Loughborough University working on this project https://www.aphrabehn.online/front-page/
    Tom Charlton is a New Generation Thinker, and a Stirling Research Fellow, working at Dr Williams's Library and one of the editorial team for the Oxford University Press edition of the Reliquiae Baxterianae https://dwl.ac.uk and http://www.baxterianae.com/home.html
    AnnaLisa Nicholson is working on her PDH at the University of Cambridge https://profiles.ahrcdtp.csah.cam.ac.uk/directory/anna-lisa-nicholson

    John Gallagher is a New Generation Thinker who lecture in Early Modern History at the University of Leeds https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/history/staff/774/dr-john-gallagher

    This episode was made in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, part of UKRI. You can find a playlist focused on New Research on the Free Thinking programme website https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03zws90
    or sign up for the Arts & Ideas podcast and look out for New Thinking episodes https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02nrvk3/episodes/downloads

    Producer: Ruth Watts

    • 44 min


    From exile in Siberia to the novels which set a template - Rana Mitter and his guests Alex Christofi, Muireann Maguire, Claire Whiteheadand Viv Groskop look at the life and writing of Fyodor Dostoevsky (11 November 1821 – 27 January 1881).

    Crime and Punishment published in 1886 was the second novel following Dostoevsky's return from ten years of exile in Siberia. It examined ideas about rationality, morality and individualism which Dostoevsky also examined in Notes from the Underground in 1864 - sometimes called the first existentialist novel. In his career he published 12 novels, four novellas, 16 short stories, and numerous other pieces of writing.

    Alex Christofi's new biography out at the end of January is called Dostoevsky in Love: An Intimate Life
    Dr Muireann Maguire is Senior Lecturer in Russian at the University of Exeter. She has published a collection of Russian 20th-century ghost stories, Red Spectres and Stalin's Ghosts: Gothic Themes in early Soviet literature and is working on a project called RusTRANS: The Dark Side of Translation: 20th and 21st Century Translation from Russian as a Political Phenomenon in the UK, Ireland, and the USA
    Claire Whitehead is a Reader in Russian Literature at the University of St Andrews and has written The Poetics of Early Russian Crime Fiction, 1860-1917: Deciphering Tales of Detection and is working on a project with an author illustrator https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~lostdetectives/
    Viv Groskop is a comedian and writer whose 2018 book The Anna Karenina Fix is a bestseller in Russia

    In the Free Thinking archives you can find conversations about
    Russia and Fear https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0006fl6
    Soviet history featuring the authors Svetlana Alexievich and Stephen Kotkin https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09d3q93
    Tarkovsky's 1979 film Stalker hears research into tourism in Chernobyl https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0775023
    Cundill Prize winning historian Daniel Beer, Masha Gessen and Mary Dejevsky consider Totalitarianism and Punishment

    Producer: Luke Mulhall

    • 44 min
    Mildred Pierce

    Mildred Pierce

    Mildred Pierce, James M Cain's 1941 novel was turned into a noir film starring Joan Crawford which earnt her an Academy Award. Matthew Sweet and his guests crime writers Denise Mina & Laura Lippman + academics Sarah Churchwell & Lizzie Mackarel have been re-watching the film and comparing it with the novel as they consider how the social realism and depiction of suburban female life differs from his other books which became hit films The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity.

    Laura Lippman's novels include the PI Tess Monaghan series and stand alone titles such as Lady in the Lake, Sunburn and After I'm Gone.
    Denise Mina's crime novels have won many prizes and her latest The Less Dead has been shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award.
    Sarah Churchwell is Professor of American Literature and Public Understanding of the Humanities at the University of London and the author of books including The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe and Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of The Great Gatsby

    You can find other Free Thinking discussions of film and the relationship between novels and film on the programme website including
    Jonathan Coe's recent novel looking at Billy Wilder and his late films https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000p1dx
    Michael Caine in the film Get Carter made by from Ted Lewis's 1970 novel Jack's Return Home https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000mt05
    Tarkovsky's Stalker https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0775023
    Rashomon and the writing of Akutagawa, which led to the film by Kurosawa https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b01vwk
    Marnie and Winston Graham's novel https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b098n4j4
    Many are in this playlist called Landmarks https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01jwn44

    Producer: Torquil MacLeod

    • 45 min

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