300 episodes

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of ideas

In Our Time BBC

    • History
    • 4.6 • 3.9K Ratings

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of ideas

    Herodotus

    Herodotus

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Greek writer known as the father of histories, dubbed by his detractors as the father of lies. Herodotus (c484 to 425 BC or later) was raised in Halicarnassus in modern Turkey when it was part of the Persian empire and, in the years after the Persian Wars, set about an inquiry into the deep background to those wars. He also aimed to preserve what he called the great and marvellous deeds of Greeks and non-Greeks, seeking out the best evidence for past events and presenting the range of evidence for readers to assess. Plutarch was to criticise Herodotus for using this to promote the least flattering accounts of his fellow Greeks, hence the 'father of lies', but the depth and breadth of his Histories have secured his reputation from his lifetime down to the present day.

    With

    Tom Harrison
    Professor of Ancient History at the University of St Andrews

    Esther Eidinow
    Professor of Ancient History at the University of Bristol

    And

    Paul Cartledge
    A. G. Leventis Senior Research Fellow at Clare College, University of Cambridge

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 52 min
    The Evolution of Crocodiles

    The Evolution of Crocodiles

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the remarkable diversity of the animals that dominated life on land in the Triassic, before the rise of the dinosaurs in the Jurassic, and whose descendants are often described wrongly as 'living fossils'. For tens of millions of years, the ancestors of alligators and Nile crocodiles included some as large as a bus, some running on two legs like a T Rex and some that lived like whales. They survived and rebounded from a series of extinction events but, while the range of habitats of the dinosaur descendants such as birds covers much of the globe, those of the crocodiles have contracted, even if the animals themselves continue to evolve today as quickly as they ever have.

    With

    Anjali Goswami
    Research Leader in Life Sciences and Dean of Postgraduate Education at the Natural History Museum

    Philip Mannion
    Lecturer in the Department of Earth Sciences at University College London

    And

    Steve Brusatte
    Professor of Palaeontology and Evolution at the University of Edinburgh

    Producer Simon Tillotson

    • 53 min
    Samuel Beckett (Summer Repeat)

    Samuel Beckett (Summer Repeat)

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Samuel Beckett (1906 - 1989), who lived in Paris and wrote his plays and novels in French, not because his French was better than his English, but because it was worse. In works such as Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Molloy and Malone Dies, he wanted to show the limitations of language, what words could not do, together with the absurdity and humour of the human condition. In part he was reacting to the verbal omnipotence of James Joyce, with whom he’d worked in Paris, and in part to his experience in the French Resistance during World War 2, when he used code, writing not to reveal meaning but to conceal it.

    With

    Steven Connor
    Professor of English at the University of Cambridge

    Laura Salisbury
    Professor of Modern Literature at the University of Exeter

    And

    Mark Nixon
    Associate Professor in Modern Literature at the University of Reading and co-director of the Beckett International Foundation

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 49 min
    Bergson and Time (Summer Repeat)

    Bergson and Time (Summer Repeat)

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941) and his ideas about human experience of time passing and how that differs from a scientific measurement of time, set out in his thesis on 'Time and Free Will' in 1889. He became famous in France and abroad for decades, rivalled only by Einstein and, in the years after the Dreyfus Affair, was the first ever Jewish member of the Académie Française. It's thought his work influenced Proust and Woolf, and the Cubists. He died in 1941 from a cold which, reputedly, he caught while queuing to register as a Jew, refusing the Vichy government's offer of exemption.

    With

    Keith Ansell-Pearson
    Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick

    Emily Thomas
    Assistant Professor in Philosophy at Durham University

    And

    Mark Sinclair
    Reader in Philosophy at the University of Roehampton

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 51 min
    The Treaty of Limerick (Summer Repeat)

    The Treaty of Limerick (Summer Repeat)

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the 1691 peace treaty that ended the Williamite War in Ireland, between supporters of the deposed King James II and the forces of William III and his allies. It followed the battles at Aughrim and the Boyne and sieges at Limerick, and led to the disbanding of the Jacobite army in Ireland, with troops free to follow James to France for his Irish Brigade. The Catholic landed gentry were guaranteed rights on condition of swearing loyalty to William and Mary yet, while some Protestants thought the terms too lenient, it was said the victors broke those terms before the ink was dry.

    The image above is from British Battles on Land and Sea, Vol. I, by James Grant, 1880, and is meant to show Irish troops leaving Limerick as part of The Flight of the Wild Geese - a term used for soldiers joining continental European armies from C16th-C18th.

    With

    Jane Ohlmeyer
    Chair of the Irish Research Council and Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Modern History at Trinity College Dublin

    Dr Clare Jackson
    Senior Tutor, Trinity Hall, and Faculty of History, University of Cambridge

    and

    Thomas O'Connor
    Professor of History at Maynooth University

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 52 min
    Shakespeare's Sonnets

    Shakespeare's Sonnets

    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

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
3.9K Ratings

3.9K Ratings

The Independent Mind ,

Compact yet comprehensive

The subjects treated in these podcasts are compact, yet comprehensive. They cover the subject material in relative depth for the time allotted, and that is no small part to the brilliant hosting of Mr Bragg as he leads the scholars selected to participate in the program in discussion. Even on subjects where one may find undertones of disagreement from the presenters, there is never a feeling that nothing short of their own research is being presented. In the world of podcasts where rhetoric often overshadows facts, this podcast series is a breath of fresh air.

Plebianus ,

A Treasure Amongst Podcasts

Mr. Bragg and his team have assembled a AAA rated program which brings the best minds to bear their knowledge on interesting and worthwhile subjects. A true triumph for everyone at In Our Time. You guys keep it up. What a fantastic, fantastic production!

ancient history lover ,

Terrible Host

I’d listen again if they’d change the host. I just couldn’t stand anymore of his interrupting, arguing and demeaning the guests.

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