Leading artists, writers, thinkers discuss the ideas shaping our lives & links between past & present and new academic research.
The Essay New Generation Thinkers Jean Rhys's Dress
Blousy chrysanthemums pattern the cotton dress, designed for wearing indoors, that a pregnant Sophie Oliver found herself owning. It helped her come to terms with motherhood. In this Essay, the New Generation Thinker reflects upon the daydreams of Jean Rhys, the way she tried to connect with her daughter Maryvonne through clothes and examples from her fiction where fashion allows dissatisfied female characters to express and transform themselves.
Producer: Ruth Watts
Dr Sophie Oliver lectures in English at the University of Liverpool and curated an exhibition at the British Library in 2016 - Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea and the Making of an Author. 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 use their research to make radio programmes.
You can find Sophie discussing a novel based on the actress Ingrid Bergman, and the writing of Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath in episodes of Free Thinking available on the programme website and BBC Sounds.
Maryse Condé's writing plus Suzanne O'Sullivan
Shahida Bari reads I Tituba, the story of the West Indian slave accused in Salem.
The Battle of Culloden, Outlander, Peter Watkins
16 April 1746, the Jacobite rising was quelled by the Duke of Cumberland's army at the Battle of Culloden. Marking this anniversary here's a chance to hear Matthew Sweet discussing portrayals of Scotland's Highlands in the Peter Watkins' film Culloden and in the Outlander series of books which have become a successful TV series. His guests in a conversation recorded at the Edinburgh Festival in 2014 are Outlander author Diana Gabaldon, historian Tom Devine and media expert John Cook.
They explore how Watkins's film Culloden was received in 1964 and the way it gave birth to the television form of docudrama and shaped the early development of Dr Who. They also ask why the emotional imagining of Culloden continues to be so strong - the TV series of Outlander is now in its seventh series and you can find a series of online events marking Culloden 275.
Producer: Jacqueline Smith
Jacques Tati's Trafic
Monsieur Hulot is a car designer who takes a chaotic journey to an auto-show in Amsterdam to show off his prototype in this comic film from 1971. It's the last of Jacques Tati's films to feature Hulot, whose name is said to be inspired in part by the French name for Charlie Chaplin's character in The Tramp - Charlot, and whom Rowan Atkinson has cited as an influence on his comic creation Mr Bean. Matthew Sweet discusses Jacques Tati with fellow film historians Adam Scovell, Muriel Zagha and Phuong Le.
Producer: Torquil MacLeod
In the Free Thinking archives you can find Matthew discussing other classics such as Charlie Chaplin's City Lights https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03vd853
the career of Billy Wilder and his film Fedora https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000p1dx
Laurel and Hardy's The Music Box https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0001xwd
A long interview with Kevin Brownlow about restoring silent film classics https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07z7bn4
Octavia Butler's Kindred
"A hermit in the middle of Los Angeles" is one way she described herself - born in 1947, Butler became a writer who wanted to "tell stories filled with facts. Make people touch and taste and know." Since her death in 2006, her writing has been widely taken up and praised for its foresight in suggesting developments such as big pharma and for its critique of American history. Shahidha Bari is joined by the author Irenosen Okojie and the scholar Gerry Canavan and Nisi Shawl, writer, editor, journalist – and long-time friend of Octavia Butler.
Irenosen Okojie's latest collection of short stories is called Nudibranch and she was winner of the 2020 AKO Caine Prize for Fiction for her story Grace Jones. You can hear her discussing her own writing life alongside Nadifa Mohamed in a previous Free Thinking episode https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000k8sz
Gerry Canavan is co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to American Science Fiction.
Nisi Shawl writes about books for The Seattle Times, and also contributes frequently to Ms. Magazine, The Cascadia Subduction Zone, The Washington Post.
Producer: Luke Mulhall
You might be interested in the Free Thinking episode Science fiction and ecological thinking https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000h6yw
and on Ursula Le Guin's The Word for World is Forest https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b6yb37
and a playlist exploring Landmarks of Culture including Frantz Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks and the writing of Audre Lorde, and of Wole Soyinka
Deleuze and Guattari, Capitalism and Schizophrenia
Capitalism and Schizophrenia is a major text of French poststructuralist thought by Giles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Made up of the two volumes Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus, it articulates a new way of doing both philosophy and psychoanalysis that insists on the concrete relevance and transformative potential of the disciplines for day-to-day life. Matthew Sweet is joined by Henry Somers-Hall, Reader in Philosophy at Royal Holloway, University of London and editor of A Thousand Plateaus and Philosophy; Claire Colebrook, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English, Philosophy, and Woman's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State University; and Ian Parker, practicing psychoanalyst and managing editor of the Annual Review f Critical Psychology.
Producer: Luke Mulhall
You can find a playlist exploring philosophy on the Free Thinking programme website with episodes looking at Michel Foucault, Derrida, the Vietnamese thinker Tran Duc Thao who influenced Derrida, as well as editions on Hegel and on the quartet of female philosophers who helped shaped British philosophy in the twentieth century https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07x0twx