New Generation Thinkers

Episodes

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20190630Short feature from one of the 2019 BBC New Generation Thinkers.
Of Dogs And Duchesses20191117Sometime in the late eighteenth century, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, sat in Chatsworth House penning a poem to her pooch. Although heartfelt, at first glance there is little to say about this doggerel verse. The rhymes are bad and it ends abruptly, we don't know the date, and we are none the wiser about the name of the canine companion in which Georgiana confided...

But if we look across Europe around this time, lap dogs and house dogs were being written about more than ever before. And - allegedly - picking up the pen themselves… they sent letters, not infrequently in French: Frederick the Great's princessly whippet replied to a little spaniel who solicited her affections; the flirtatious Madame Rococo sent a note to the 6th Duke of Devonshire's Mr Bony… and dogs took on leading roles in popular literature of the age, too.

Dr Seán Williams from University of Sheffield is curious about these scraps of cultural history. They tell us as much about humans, our ideals and fears, as they do about man's best friend. Seán visits the archives at Chatsworth, digs up readings from Germany, and talks to historian Ingrid Tague, an expert on pets in the eighteenth century. In that period, ideas of innate goodness and trained, proper sociability - the best version of humanity in a civilised world - were projected onto little dogs. But lapdogs in particular also characterised modern society's ills, sent up in satire to show the worst sides of their human owners.

Creative dogs that voice such cultural aspirations and anxieties are also common today - though they're more likely to be found on social media than as epistles penned by paws. So Seán visits a Pop-Up-Pug-Cafe - surely a first on BBC Radio 3 - where there are pugs a plenty - a dog breed that has been in Britain since the royal court of William and Mary, and mocked by none other than Jane Austen...
He meets 21st century canine characters, to get their own opinions, as well as those of their two-legged friends.

Dr Seán Williams is Lecturer in German and European Cultural History at the University of Sheffield, with a dogged devotion to the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He's a BBC New Generation Thinker.

Dr Ingrid Tague is Associate Professor of History at the University of Denver in the US. She's author of Animal Companions: Pets and Social Change in Eighteenth-Century Britain (2015, Penn State University Press).

Producer: Sara Jane Hall

Who knew the fluffy, furry lap dog had such depths.

Short feature from one of the 2019 BBC New Generation Thinkers.

Sometime in the late eighteenth century, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, sat at Chatsworth penning a poem to her pooch. Although heartfelt, at first glance there is little to say about this doggerel verse. Its bad rhymes end abruptly, we don't know the date, and we are none the wiser about the name of the canine companion in which Georgiana confided...

But if we look across Europe around this time, lap dogs and house dogs were being written about more than ever before. And — allegedly — they were picking up the pen themselves… they sent letters, not infrequently in French. Frederick the Great's princessly whippet replied to a little spaniel who solicited her affections. The flirtatious Madame Roccoco sent a note to the 6th Duke of Devonshire's Mr Bony… And dogs took on leading roles in popular literature of the age, too.

Dr Seán Williams from University of Sheffield is curious about these scraps of cultural history. They tell us as much about humans, our ideals and fears, as they do about man's best friend. Seán visits the archives at Chatsworth, digs up readings from Germany, and talks to historian Ingrid Tague, an expert on pets in the eighteenth century. In that period, ideas of innate goodness and trained, proper sociability — the best version of humanity in a civilised world — were projected onto little dogs. But lapdogs in particular also characterised modern society's ills, sent up in satire to show the worst sides of their human owners.

Creative dogs that voice such cultural aspirations and anxieties are also common today. Though they're more likely to be found on social media than as epistles penned by paws. So Seán visits a dog café where there are pugs a plenty — a little dog that has been in Britain since the royal court of William and Mary, and a breed mocked by none other than Jane Austen... He meets 21st canine characters, to get their own opinions, as well as those of their two-legged friends.

Who knew the fluffy, furry lap dog had such depths!

Sir Isaac Newton And The Philosopher's Stone20190630Dafydd Mills Daniel investigates Sir Isaac Newton's more obscure studies in alchemy, hoping to find out what they can tell us about modern notions of religion, science and reason.

Famous falling apple victim Sir Isaac Newton is known for his formation of the theories of gravity, calculus and motion. Yet while we celebrate Newton's scientific achievements to this day, other areas of his studies remain almost entirely unheard of; his theology, which was spurred on by his devout christian beliefs and his research into the occult world of Alchemy.

Much of Newton's writing details his search for the Philosopher's Stone, a rock made of the material God used to create the Universe. Theologian and former Religious Education teacher Dafydd Mills Daniel goes on a trail to discover what Newton the Alchemist can tell us about our world today. Is the way that Newton blurred the boundaries of faith, science and magic irrelevant in our modern, secular age? Or does his legacy live on?

Dafydd goes in search of answers from pagans, theoretical physicists and even the great natural philosopher himself.

Presented by Dafydd Mills Daniel and Produced by Sam Peach, with readings by Chris Pavlo.

Dafydd Mills Daniel investigates Newton's obscure studies of Alchemy for today's world.

Short feature from one of the 2019 BBC New Generation Thinkers.