The Free Thinking Essay

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01The Essay20180312

Hetta Howes looks at male fears + why Margery Kempe was criticised for crying and bleeding

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

Hetta Howes looks at male fears and why Margery Kempe was criticised for crying and bleeding

Medieval mystic Margery Kempe's excessive, noisy crying made her travelling companions so irritated that they wanted to throw her overboard, while others accused her of being possessed by the devil. But Kempe believed she was using her tears as a way to connect with God, turning the medieval connection between women and water into a form of bodily empowerment and a holy sign. New Generation Thinker Hetta Howes, from City, University of London, explores the connections between medieval women and water.

New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to select ten academics each year who can turn their research into radio.

Recorded at the 2018 Free Thinking Festival.

Producer: Luke Mulhall.

Hetta Howes looks at male fears + why Margery Kempe was criticised for crying and bleeding

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

02The Essay20180313

Daisy Fancourt's research shows the arts can improve health so should we prescribe them?

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

An apple a day is said to keep the doctor away but could a poem, painting or play have the same effect? Daisy Fancourt is a Wellcome Research Fellow at University College London. In her Essay, recorded with an audience at Sage Gateshead for the Free Thinking Festival, she looks at experiments with results which which prove that going to a museum is known to enhance neuronal structure in the brain and improve its functioning and people who play a musical instrument have a lower risk of developing dementia. What does this mean for our attitudes towards the arts and what impact are arts prescriptions having ?

Daisy Fancourt has published a book called Arts in Health: Designing and researching interventions.

New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to select ten academics each year who can turn their research into radio

Producer: Zahid Warley.

Daisy Fancourt's research shows the arts can improve health so should we prescribe them?

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

03The Essay20180314

Tom Simpson on a study of suspicion in a 1950s Italian village and community relations now

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

Tom Simpson looks at a study of suspicion in a 1950s Italian village and the lessons it has for community relations and social tribes now. Edward Banfield's book, The Moral Basis of a Backward Society, depicts a village where everyone is out for themselves. New Generation Thinker Tom Simpson is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford. He argues that we are losing the habits of trust that have made our prosperity possible. Unless we learn how to reinvigorate our cultures of trust, we ourselves have a future that is backwards.

New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to select ten academics each year who can turn their research into radio.

Producer: Luke Mulhall.

Tom Simpson on a study of suspicion in a 1950s Italian village and community relations now

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

04The Essay20180315

Eleanor Lybeck on the women campaigners satirised in an operetta by Gilbert and Sullivan.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

Gilbert and Sullivan gave university-educated women the English comic operetta treatment in their eighth collaboration, Princess Ida (1884) but why did the most famous musical duo of their day choose to make fun of them? To find out, New Generation Thinker Dr Eleanor Lybeck, from the University of Oxford, looks at protests, popular culture and a group of pioneering Victorian women who saw education as the first step towards emancipation. Recorded with an audience at Sage Gateshead as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival.

New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to select ten academics each year who can turn their research into radio

Producer: Zahid Warley.

Eleanor Lybeck on the women campaigners satirised in an operetta by Gilbert and Sullivan.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

05The Essay20180316

Alistair Fraser on teenagers, gangs and filling time.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

Alistair Fraser talks about teenagers, street life and filling time. Doing nothing has become the mantra of twenty-first century life. In an accelerated world, we yearn for a space where minds are emptied, iPhones left at the door. But doing nothing is not always a choice. For young people, bored on the streets, it's all there is. And for them doing nothing is always doing something. New Generation Thinker Alistair Fraser, from the University of Glasgow, has written books including Gangs and Crime: Critical Alternatives and Urban Legends: Gang Identity in the Post-Industrial City, which was awarded the British Society of Criminology Book Prize.

Recorded with an audience at Sage Gateshead as part of BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival.

New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to select ten academics each year who can turn their research into radio.

Producer: Jacqueline Smith.

Alistair Fraser on teenagers, gangs and filling time.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

06The Essay20180319

Christopher Bannister on the way a fashion show in Buenos Aires helped win World War II.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

A fashion show in Buenos Aires was put on for propaganda but football fixtures were deemed too risky. New Generation Thinker Dr Christopher Bannister, from the University of Manchester, looks at attempts to influence opinion about World War II in Latin America.
Although relatively untouched by violence, support in such a strategically important region was vital to the British war effort. Bombs and bullets were no use here, so fashion shows, book launches, soap operas and films became the British Ministry of Information's weapons of war as New Generation Thinker Dr Christopher Bannister, from the University of Manchester, explains.

Recorded with an audience at Sage Gateshead for BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival.

New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to select ten academics each year who can turn their research into radio.

Producer: Jacqueline Smith.

Christopher Bannister on the way a fashion show in Buenos Aires helped win World War II.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

07The Essay20180320

Islam Issa on arguments about Shakespeare in 1916 Egypt to Arabic pop in the 21st century.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

April 1916. By the Nile, the foremost poets of the Middle East are arguing about Shakespeare. In 2004, Egyptian singer Essam Karika released his urban song Oh Romeo.
Reflecting on his travels and encounters around the Arab world, Islam Issa, from Birmingham City University, discusses how canonical English writers (Shakespeare and Milton) creep into the popular culture of the region today. Recorded with an audience at Sage Gateshead as part of BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival.

Islam's Issa's book, Milton in the Arab-Muslim World, won the Milton Society of America's 'Outstanding First Book' award. His exhibition Stories of Sacrifice won the Muslim News Awards 'Excellence in Community Relations' prize.

New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to select ten academics each year who can turn their research into radio

Producer: Fiona McLean.

08The Essay20180321

Joanne Paul on satire, flattery and document leaks in the C16 and C17 centuries and now.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

From Monarchs to Presidents. Joanne Paul on satire, flattery and document leaks in the C16 and C17 centuries and the relevance of strategies for telling truth to those who hold power over us now.
Five hundred years ago a miscalculation on this front could leave you without a head. Today, the personal stakes may not be as high, but globally, we've never had so much to lose. Renaissance historian and New Generation Thinker Dr Joanne Paul, from the University of Sussex, takes us back to the 16th and 17th century techniques for challenging the establishment and the writings of Gegorge Puttenham, Thomas More and Sir Thomas Elyot and debates over the merits of flattery versus honesty, and whether it was better to lead or to compel.

Recorded with an audience at Sage Gateshead as part of BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival.

New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to select 10 academics each year who can turn their research into radio

Producer: Torquil MacLeod.

09The Essay20180322

Emma Butcher looks at the view of war in the childhood writings of the Bronte family.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

New Generation Thinker Emma Butcher looks at what we learn about war from the writing of child soldiers in The Battle of Trafalgar and the childhood writings of the Bronte family who were avid readers of newspaper accounts of battles and memoirs of soldiers. Does their fantasy fiction show an understanding of PTSD and the impact of battle on fighters before such conditions were diagnosed?

Dr Emma Butcher, literature historian at the University of Leicester, uncovers the history of Robert Sands, a powder monkey in the Battle of Trafalgar,. Does his experience muddy our sense of what childhood is ?

New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to select ten academics each year who can turn their research into radio

Producer: Torquil MacLeod.

10The Essay20180323

Simon Beard, from the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, on AI and Douglas Adams.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

New Generation Thinker Simon Beard, from the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, looks at AI and what the writing of Douglas Adams tells us about questions of morality and who should be in control. This year is the 40th anniversary of BBC Radio 4's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Recorded with an audience at Sage Gateshead as part of BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival.

New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to select ten academics each year who can turn their research into radio.

Producer: Fiona McLean.