2014 Festival

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Free Thinking20141031

Karen Armstrong, one of the world's leading thinkers about religion, gives the Free Thinking Lecture, arguing that, in the current global situation, a recognition of how little we know is the only way to peace.

A former Roman Catholic nun, Armstrong has addressed members of the US congress. She was appointed by Kofi Annan to join the United Nations group 'The Alliance of Civilisation' and, in 2008, won the TED prize. She is the author of more than 20 books on faith, including The Case For God and Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence.

She talks to Rana Mitter and takes questions from the audience.

Recorded earlier this evening in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas 2014 from Sage Gateshead.

Producer: Fiona McLean.

Free Thinking20141104

Free Thinking2014110420150825 (R3)

Matthew Sweet explores the way digital media have transformed our cultural interests. Superfans can now bury themselves in online recommendations but are these helping us, or simply trapping us into consuming more of the same? Are we now risk averse?

Naomi Alderman is the author of novels including The Liars' Gospel, The Lessons and Disobedience and an online games creator of Zombies, Run!

Dave Hepworth is a music journalist who helped launch magazines including Empire, Q, Mojo, Heat and The Word.

Kei Miller is a poet whose collections include The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion, which has been nominated for this year's Forward Prize for Poetry

Serena Kutchinsky is Prospect Magazine's Digital Editor. Previously, she was the Assistant Digital Editor of The Sunday Times and helped launch their award-winning website and tablet edition.

Recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage, Gateshead

You can download this programme by searching in the Arts and Ideas podcasts for the broadcast date.

Free Thinking2014110420150825 (R3)

Matthew Sweet explores the way digital media have transformed our cultural interests. Superfans can now bury themselves in online recommendations but are these helping us, or simply trapping us into consuming more of the same? Are we now risk averse?

Naomi Alderman is the author of novels including The Liars' Gospel, The Lessons and Disobedience and an online games creator of Zombies, Run!

Dave Hepworth is a music journalist who helped launch magazines including Empire, Q, Mojo, Heat and The Word.

Kei Miller is a poet whose collections include The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion, which has been nominated for this year's Forward Prize for Poetry

Serena Kutchinsky is Prospect Magazine's Digital Editor. Previously, she was the Assistant Digital Editor of The Sunday Times and helped launch their award-winning website and tablet edition.

Recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage, Gateshead

You can download this programme by searching in the Arts and Ideas podcasts for the broadcast date.

Free Thinking20141110

Free Thinking2014111020150828 (R3)

Anne McElvoy explores whether it is worth getting hot under the collar about blue collar history with historian Alison Light, David Almond and Eliza Carthy. Once upon a time the working class were heroes; their close-knit communities were celebrated. Has this working class disappeared along with the great industries - steel, coal and ship-building - that brought them into being? Is the working class now a figment of other people's dreams or nightmares?

Alison Light is the author of Common People: The History of an English Family, and a Visiting Professor in the School of English at Newcastle University

David Almond's novels for children and teenagers include Skellig, A Song for Ella Gray and My Name is Mina. His new novel for adults is The Tightrope Walkers.

Eliza Carthy has performed as a singer/songwriter and fiddle player for 21 years, presenting a range of music including ballads relating folk history. She is the current Folkworks Artistic Associate at Sage.

The discussion was recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage Gateshead in 2014.

All the discussions and essays from the Free Thinking festival are available as Radio 3 Arts and Ideas downloads.

Free Thinking2014111020150828 (R3)

Anne McElvoy explores whether it is worth getting hot under the collar about blue collar history with historian Alison Light, David Almond and Eliza Carthy. Once upon a time the working class were heroes; their close-knit communities were celebrated. Has this working class disappeared along with the great industries - steel, coal and ship-building - that brought them into being? Is the working class now a figment of other people's dreams or nightmares?

Alison Light is the author of Common People: The History of an English Family, and a Visiting Professor in the School of English at Newcastle University

David Almond's novels for children and teenagers include Skellig, A Song for Ella Gray and My Name is Mina. His new novel for adults is The Tightrope Walkers.

Eliza Carthy has performed as a singer/songwriter and fiddle player for 21 years, presenting a range of music including ballads relating folk history. She is the current Folkworks Artistic Associate at Sage.

The discussion was recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage Gateshead in 2014.

All the discussions and essays from the Free Thinking festival are available as Radio 3 Arts and Ideas downloads.

Free Thinking20141110

Anne McElvoy explores whether it is worth getting hot under the collar about blue collar history with historian Alison Light, David Almond and Eliza Carthy. Once upon a time the working class were heroes; their close-knit communities were celebrated. Has this working class disappeared along with the great industries- steel -coal and ship building - that brought them into being? Is the working class now a figment of other people's dreams or nightmares?

Alison Light is the author of Common People: The History of an English Family and a Visiting Professor in the School of English at Newcastle University

David Almond's novels for children and teenagers include Skellig; A Song for Ella Gray; My Name is Mina and his new novel for adults is The Tightrope Walkers.

Eliza Carthy has performed as a singer songwriter and fiddle player for 21 years, presenting a range of music including ballads relating folk history. She is the current Folkworks Artistic Associate at Sage.

The discussion was recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage Gateshead.

All the discussions and essays from the Free Thinking festival are available as Radio 3 Arts and Ideas downloads.

Free Thinking20141111

Free Thinking2014111120150821 (R3)

Turkey's best selling female writer, Elif Shafak, has been published in more than 40 countries. Her books, including The Forty Rules of Love, The Bastard of Istanbul and Black Milk - her memoir of motherhood and depression, reflect her interest in building connections between Western and Eastern traditions. Her cosmopolitan voice is of particular importance in a year when the Middle East has been undergoing enormous shifts, and both nationalism and xenophobia are on the rise around the world.

She talks to Anne McElvoy about imagination and storytelling as she publishes her new novel The Architect's Apprentice.

The conversation was recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage Gateshead in 2014

All the discussions and essays from the Free Thinking festival are available as Radio 3 Arts and Ideas downloads.

Free Thinking2014111120150821 (R3)

Turkey's best selling female writer, Elif Shafak, has been published in more than 40 countries. Her books, including The Forty Rules of Love, The Bastard of Istanbul and Black Milk - her memoir of motherhood and depression, reflect her interest in building connections between Western and Eastern traditions. Her cosmopolitan voice is of particular importance in a year when the Middle East has been undergoing enormous shifts, and both nationalism and xenophobia are on the rise around the world.

She talks to Anne McElvoy about imagination and storytelling as she publishes her new novel The Architect's Apprentice.

The conversation was recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage Gateshead in 2014

All the discussions and essays from the Free Thinking festival are available as Radio 3 Arts and Ideas downloads.

Free Thinking20141113

Free Thinking2014111320150819 (R3)

50 years ago Jane Goodall got into trouble for suggesting chimps displayed personalities and moods. " Foul! " cried scientists, "that's Anthropomorphism!" Today, the fact that animals recognise individuals within their group, choose whom to copy, and whom to learn from - and that their populations have distinct social traditions and behaviours - suggests that culture is not an exclusively human attribute.

Rana Mitter talks to the primatologist, Andrew Whiten, Professor of Evolutionary and Development Psychology at St Andrews, to Dr Katie Slocombe of York University and to the social anthropologist, Professor Alex Bentley of Bristol University, about chimps and imitation, culture and evolution - from the deep past to our digital present.

Recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage Gateshead in 2014.

All the discussions and essays from the Free Thinking festival are available as Radio 3 Arts and Ideas downloads.

Free Thinking20141117

Free Thinking2014111720150818 (R3)

A hundred years ago, Ernest Shackleton set out on his Trans-Antarctic expedition which ended when his ship Endurance became trapped in packed ice. The lure of this polar region remains strong both in our imaginations and in terms of understanding what is happening to the planet. It is seen both as an untapped source of resources and as a pristine landscape which we need to preserve.

Rana Mitter is joined by four Antarctic addicts: writer Meredith Hooper, who has visited Antarctica under the auspices of three governments, Australia, UK and USA and is currently curating an exhibition about Shakleton and the Encyclopedia Britannica he took with him on Endurance. Polar explorer Ben Saunders has just completed the longest human-powered polar exploration in history to the South Pole and back, retracing Captain Scott's Terra Nova expedition. Architect Hugh Broughton is the designer behind Halley VI, the UK's scientific base on the Brent Ice Shelf and Jonathan Bamber is one of the world's leading experts on ice and uses satellite technology to monitor the mass of Antarctica's ice sheets; his work is central to predictions of ice melt and rising sea levels. He is head of the Bristol Glaciology Centre.

Recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage Gateshead in November 2014

All the discussions and essays from the Free Thinking festival are available as Radio 3 Arts and Ideas downloads.

Producer: Jacqueline Smith.

Free Thinking2014111720150818 (R3)

A hundred years ago, Ernest Shackleton set out on his Trans-Antarctic expedition which ended when his ship Endurance became trapped in packed ice. The lure of this polar region remains strong both in our imaginations and in terms of understanding what is happening to the planet. It is seen both as an untapped source of resources and as a pristine landscape which we need to preserve.

Rana Mitter is joined by four Antarctic addicts: writer Meredith Hooper, who has visited Antarctica under the auspices of three governments, Australia, UK and USA and is currently curating an exhibition about Shakleton and the Encyclopedia Britannica he took with him on Endurance. Polar explorer Ben Saunders has just completed the longest human-powered polar exploration in history to the South Pole and back, retracing Captain Scott's Terra Nova expedition. Architect Hugh Broughton is the designer behind Halley VI, the UK's scientific base on the Brent Ice Shelf and Jonathan Bamber is one of the world's leading experts on ice and uses satellite technology to monitor the mass of Antarctica's ice sheets; his work is central to predictions of ice melt and rising sea levels. He is head of the Bristol Glaciology Centre.

Recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage Gateshead in November 2014

All the discussions and essays from the Free Thinking festival are available as Radio 3 Arts and Ideas downloads.

Producer: Jacqueline Smith.

Free Thinking20141117

A hundred years ago, Ernest Shackleton set out on his Trans-Antarctic expedition which ended when his ship Endurance became trapped in packed ice. The lure of this polar region remains strong both in our imaginations and in terms of understanding what is happening to the planet. It is seen both as an untapped source of resources and as a pristine landscape which we need to preserve.

Rana Mitter is joined by four antarctic addicts: writer Meredith Hooper, who has visited Antarctica under the auspices of three governments, Australia, UK and USA and is currently curating an exhibition about Shackleton and the Encyclopedia Britannica he took with him on Endurance. Polar explorer Ben Saunders has just completed the longest human powered polar exploration in history to the South Pole and back, retracing Captain Scott's Terra Nova expedition. Architect Hugh Broughton is the designer behind Halley VI, the UK's scientific base on the Brent Ice Shelf and Jonathan Bamber is one of the world's leading experts on ice and uses satellite technology to monitor the mass of Antarctica's ice sheets; his work is central to predictions of ice melt and rising sea levels. He is head of the Bristol Glaciology Centre.

Recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage Gateshead

All the discussions and essays from the Free Thinking festival are available as Radio 3 Arts and Ideas downloads.

Producer: Jacqueline Smith.

Free Thinking20141118

Matthew Sweet talks to playwright David Greig and actor Siobhan Redmond about their approaches to drama. How much do you have to know about the characters and the story before you begin? How has theatre contributed to the recent discussions about Scottish identity ?

David Greig, the National Theatre of Scotland's first Dramaturg, is one of our leading playwrights whose work has been produced around the world, including Dunsinane, his sequel to Macbeth, The Events, written after the Breivik massacre in Norway; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and his Yes/No plays on Twitter before the Scottish referendum.

Siobhan Redmond has worked in theatre, television and radio including work for the RSC, National Theatre of Scotland and Renaissance

Theatre Company. She played the role of Gruach (Lady Macbeth) in Greig's Dunsinane.

Recorded in front of audiences at the BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage Gateshead. The festival theme this year is The Limits of Knowledge.

All the discussions and essays from the Free Thinking festival are available as Radio 3 Arts and Ideas downloads.

Producer: Fiona McLean.

Free Thinking20141119

Free Thinking2014111920150826 (R3)

How much self-knowledge do you need to be happy - and what are the limits to what you can achieve alone? Paul Dolan, Vincent Deary and Beatrix Campbell ask why everybody from governments to therapists want us to be happy. Chaired by Rana Mitter.

Paul Dolan is Professor of Behavioural Science at the London School of Economics, a government advisor on well being and author of Happiness by Design.

Dr Vincent Deary is a senior lecturer in health psychology at Northumbria University. The first book in his trilogy about how to live is called How We Are.

Beatrix Campbell received the OBE for 'services to equal opportunities'. Her most recent book is End of Equality.

Recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage Gateshead in 2014.

All the discussions and essays from the Free Thinking festival are available as Radio 3 Arts and Ideas downloads.

Free Thinking20141119

How much self-knowledge do you need to be happy - and what are the limits to what you can achieve alone? Paul Dolan, Vincent Deary and Beatrix Campbell ask why everybody from governments to therapists want us to be happy. Chaired by Rana Mitter.

Paul Dolan is Professor of Behavioural Science at the London School of Economics, a government advisor on well being and author of Happiness by Design.

Dr Vincent Deary is a senior lecturer in health psychology at Northumbria University. The first book in his trilogy about how to live is called How We Are.

Beatrix Campbell received the OBE for 'services to equal opportunities'. Her most recent book is End of Equality.

Recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage Gateshead.

All the discussions and essays from the Free Thinking festival are available as Radio 3 Arts and Ideas downloads.

Producer: Georgia Catt

Editor: Robyn Read.

Free Thinking20141120

Against a backdrop of perceived excess of intellectual property, and problems that require solving with a matter of urgency, Rana Mitter and his panel test the promises of the internet to spread ideas quickly and democratically.

Jodie Ginsburg is the Chief Executive of Index on Censorship and former London bureau chief for Reuters.

Dr Rufus Pollock is Founder and President of Open Knowledge, an international non profit organisation which promotes making data and information accessible.

Kenneth Cukier is Data Editor for The Economist magazine.

From advocates of open source who claim that information should be set free from to new economic models that purport to place cooperation over competition, the discussion looks at what these changes mean and how they ripple out to affect our behaviour offline as well as on - disrupting notions of ownership and originality.

Recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage Gateshead. The festival theme this year was the limits of knowledge.

All the discussions and essays from the Free Thinking festival are available as Radio 3 Arts and Ideas downloads.

Producer: Georgia Catt.

Free Thinking20141125

Naomi Alderman, Roger Luckhurst and BALTIC curator Alessandro Vincentelli join Matthew Sweet to discuss how science fiction and space travel change our view of this world and to discuss whether the limits of our knowledge about the future make us scared or optimistic? BALTIC's They Used To Call It The Moon brings together artworks to reflect the new space race. The BFI has curated a 3 month season of science fiction film screenings and events around the UK.

Professor Roger Luckhurst from Birkbeck College, University of London has written about J. G. Ballard, a cultural history of science fiction, and about the film Alien for the BFI Classic book series.

Naomi Alderman is a novelist and author of many short stories which consider the future. She is also co-creator of the online game Zombies, Run!

Alessandro Vincentelli is Curator of Exhibitions & Research at BALTIC and has curated the exhibition They Used to Call it the Moon which runs until January 11th.

The Star and Shadow cinema in Newcastle is running a series of science fiction film screenings and events.

Recorded in front of an audience at Sage, Gateshead as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas. Part of a series of programmes on BBC Radio 3 exploring science fiction.

All the discussions and essays from the Free Thinking festival are available as Radio 3 Arts and Ideas downloads.

01Free Thinking20141103

Do you yawn when someone else does? Or inadvertently mimic other people's accents?

Today's neuroscientists say 'mirror neurons' are to blame. But long before MRI scanners, Victorian psychologists also believed we were hard-wired to imitate. Tiffany Watt-Smith from Queen Mary, University of London unearths the 19th-century fascination with the 'Human Copying Machine', and discovers why men of science turned to the world of Victorian theatre to understand this strange phenomenon.

Recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage, Gateshead. New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the AHRC to find the brightest academic minds with the potential to turn their ideas into broadcasts.

Producer: Zahid Warley.

Anne McElvoy chairs a discussion exploring protest, foreign policy, intervention and peace-making.

Andrey Kurkov is the Ukrainian author of best-selling novels, including Death and the Penguin; he has recorded his experience of living through unpredictable times in his Ukraine Diaries.

Conflict resolution expert Gabrielle Rifkind is Director of the Middle East programme at Oxford Research Group and author of The Fog of Peace

Journalist John Kampfner is columnist for and former editor of the New Statesman magazine. He began his career as a foreign correspondent reporting on the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the collapse of Soviet communism. His books include Blair's Wars, Freedom For Sale and The Rich: From Slaves to Super-Yachts: A 2,000 Year History.

Recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage, Gateshead.

Producer: Harry Parker.

02Free Thinking20141104

Who censors what, how, and why? Is this a job for the government, or for journalists themselves?

As debates over media regulation continue to rage, Tom Charlton from the University of Stirling argues that both sides misunderstand and misrepresent the history of press freedoms in England. He argues that the execution of the printer John Twyn, in 1664, says much about the way censorship works.

Recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage, Gateshead

Producer: Harry Parker.

Matthew Sweet explores the way digital media have transformed our cultural interests. Superfans can now bury themselves in online recommendations but are these helping us, or simply trapping us into consuming more of the same? Are we now risk-averse?

Naomi Alderman is the author of novels including The Liars' Gospel, The Lessons and Disobedience and an online games creator of Zombies, Run!

Dave Hepworth is a music journalist who helped launch magazines including Empire, Q, Mojo, Heat and The Word.

Kei Miller is a poet whose collections include The Cartographer Tries To Map A Way To Zion, which has been nominated for this year's Forward Prize for Poetry

Serena Kutchinsky is Prospect Magazine's Digital Editor. Previously, she was the Assistant Digital Editor of The Sunday Times and helped launch their award-winning website and tablet edition.

Producer: Fiona McLean.

03Free Thinking20141105

Women are often urged to consider 'tradition' when deciding whether to take their husband's name, but where did that idea begin?

Sophie Coulombeau from Cardiff University explains the origins of the custom and recalls dissidents who bucked the trend, from Georgian women who went to extraordinary lengths to compel men to take their names, to the early twentieth-century feminist movement the 'Lucy Stoners', who used the slogan, 'My name is my identity and must not be lost'.

Recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage, Gateshead.

Producer Fiona McLean.

David Willetts MP and the writer and philosopher Roger Scruton discuss how useful knowledge is to today's politicians and what we can we learn from history and from traditions of political thought.

In an age when many politicians have never had other jobs, are we better off with representatives who are experts or outsiders who are prepared to learn as they go along?

Roger Scruton is the author of books including The Soul Of The World, The Palgrave MacMillan Dictionary of Political Thought and How to Be a Conservative.

The Rt Hon David Willetts MP was Minister for Universities and Science, attending Cabinet from 2010 to 2014. He has held various posts in the Shadow Cabinet and has worked at HM Treasury, and the Number 10 Policy Unit. He is a member of the Council of the Institute for Fiscal Studies and has written widely on economic and social policy including The Pinch: How the Baby Boomers Took Their Children's Future, and Why They Should Give it Back.

The discussion is chaired by Anne McElvoy and was recorded in front of an audience at the Free Thinking Festival at Sage, Gateshead.

04Free Thinking20141106

Daisy Hay from Exeter University explores the way in which Disraeli invented the modern politician as a man - or woman - of feeling, and asks whether the image he projected as an emotionally in-touch everyman stemmed from fact or fiction?

Politicians talking about their private lives are a commonplace of our age. However, long before it became obligatory for aspiring statesmen and women to be photographed unloading dishwashers and eating sandwiches, Benjamin Disraeli spun a public fantasy about his private life in order to win votes. What lessons does his story have for politicians today?

Recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage, Gateshead.

Producer: Harry Parker.

Which historical 'facts' should be burned on the fire? How do you comb ancient and recent times for evidence?

Rana Mitter is joined by Helen Castor and Laura Thompson to discuss the ways mythmaking can cloud history.

Laura Thompson's books include Life in a Cold Climate: Nancy Mitford - A Portrait of a Contradictory Woman, An English Mystery: A Life of Agatha Christie and A Different Class of Murder: The Mysterious Case of Lord Lucan.

Helen Castor is the author of Joan of Arc and writer and presenter of the TV series She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England and the book it was based upon.

05Free Thinking20141107

Jeremy Paxman made headlines when he grew a beard, taking his place alongside actors Jake Gyllenhaal and George Clooney, Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst, folk-rocker Marcus Mumford and hipster model Johnny Harrington.

Historian Alun Withey from Exeter University says beards can shed light on a whole range of things from medicine to the military. Pogonotomy - or the art of shaving - is about more than fashion.

Recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage, Gateshead. New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the AHRC to find the brightest academic minds with the potential to turn their ideas into broadcasts.

All the discussions and essays from the Free Thinking festival are available as Radio 3 Arts and Ideas downloads.

Producer: Georgia Catt.

06Free Thinking20141110

Is man the only political beast? Can other animals be regarded as members of our democratic communities, with rights to political consideration, representation or even participation? Alasdair Cochrane from Sheffield University believes that the exclusion of non-humans from civic institutions cannot be justified, and explores recent attempts to re-imagine a political world that takes animals seriously.

The Essay was recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage Gateshead

All the discussions and essays from the Free Thinking festival are available as Radio 3 Arts and Ideas downloads.

Producer: Jacqueline Smith.

07Free Thinking20141111

Where did language come from? It's often been described as the fundamental barrier between humans and animals. However, many scientists now believe speech evolved gradually from animal communication. Will Abberley from the University of Oxford argues that some of the most compelling efforts to picture this evolution have been in science fiction, and that these stories still impact on debates about language today.

Recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage Gateshead.

All the discussions and essays from the Free Thinking festival are available as Radio 3 Arts and Ideas downloads.

Producer: Jacqueline Smith.

Turkey's best selling female writer, Elif Shafak, has been published in more than 40 countries. Her books - including The Forty Rules of Love, The Bastard of Istanbul and Black Milk, her memoir of motherhood and depression - reflect her interest in building connections between western and eastern traditions. Her cosmopolitan voice is of particular importance in a year when the Middle East has been undergoing enormous shifts, and both nationalism and xenophobia are on the rise around the world.

She talks to Anne McElvoy about imagination and storytelling as she publishes her new novel The Architect's Apprentice.

The conversation was recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage Gateshead

Producer: Georgia Catt

Editor: Robyn Read.

08Free Thinking20141112

Women's Theatre Week in London in December 1913 marked the beginning of a project that the Actresses' Franchise League hoped would change their industry for the better. Naomi Paxton from the University of Manchester explores the international movement for a Women's Theatre from the 1890s to the start of the First World War, and considers how their ideas may have changed how theatre is experienced today.

Recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage Gateshead.

All the discussions and essays from the Free Thinking festival are available as Radio 3 Arts and Ideas downloads.

Producer: Fiona McLeaned.

John Lanchester explores the wealth gap in Britain with Matthew Sweet. From Dickens to the dead cat bounce, fairness and the role of the FSA to fat finger mistakes, bailouts and Bitcoin - how easy is it to understand the language of money?

John Lanchester is the author of the novel Capital and popular studies of the financial crisis Whoops! Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay and How To Speak Money

09Free Thinking20141113

India's new prime minister, Narendra Modi, makes public speeches in Hindi, continuing his party's long campaign to reduce the cultural significance of English. Opponents argue that Hindi is the language of the Hindu religion, while English, whatever its colonial associations, has crossed the nation's often violent religious and cultural divides. Drawing on Shakespeare's plays and Indian translations of them from recent times - and on writing by Saadat Hasan Manto and Rabindranath Tagore, the voices of partition and independence - Preti Taneja from Jesus College Cambridge explores the power of gibberish to upset fixed notions of language and identity.

Recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage Gateshead

All the discussions and essays from the Free Thinking festival are available as Radio 3 Arts and Ideas downloads.

Producer: Georgia Catt.

50 years ago Jane Goodall got into trouble for suggesting chimps displayed personalities and moods. " Foul! " cried scientists, "that's Anthropomorphism!" Today, the fact that animals recognise individuals within their group, choose whom to copy, and whom to learn from - and that their populations have distinct social traditions and behaviours - suggests that culture is not an exclusively human attribute.

Rana Mitter talks to the primatologist, Andrew Whiten, Professor of Evolutionary and Development Psychology at St Andrews, to Dr Katie Slocombe of York University and to the social anthropologist, Professor Alex Bentley of Bristol University, about chimps and imitation, culture and evolution - from the deep past to our digital present.

Producer: Jacqueline Smith.

10Free Thinking20141114

In the age of spin, few people believe that they can actually know, let alone trust, a politician. But such public cynicism was not always our default attitude. Embracing the emerging sciences of the age, 19th-century Americans thought they might be able to combine physiognomy (the science of reading faces) and the techniques of photography to uncover the true characters of leaders and statesmen. Joanna Cohen from Queen Mary, the University of London explores their efforts and the lessons for voters now.

Recorded in front of an audience at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at Sage Gateshead earlier this month. New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the AHRC to find the brightest academic minds with the potential to turn their ideas into broadcasts.

All the discussions and essays from the Free Thinking festival are available as Radio 3 Arts and Ideas downloads.

Producer: Zahid Warley.