Meetings Of Minds

New series that, through analysis and dramatisation, examines meetings that changed the world.

Writer and historian Frances Stonor Saunders tells the story of three conferences that profoundly influenced the shape of history and whose consequences still reverberate today.

Episodes

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01Fifth Pan-african Congress - Manchester October 19452006090320070725

New series that, through analysis and dramatisation, examines meetings that changed the world.

Writer and historian Frances Stonor Saunders tells the story of three conferences that profoundly influenced the shape of history and whose consequences still reverberate today.In 1945, African Independence wasn't yet a movement, but more of an idea.

This Manchester meeting changed that.

Attended by intellectuals and the future leaders of Kenya, Ghana and Malawi - Jomo Kenyatta, Kwame Nkrumah and Hastings Banda - as well as many who went on to become their key advisors, it uniquely brought together a cadre of revolutionaries who went on to change the world.

Frances discovers why this meeting is integral to the history of Africa and the British Empire.

02The Council Of Clermont And The Launch Of The First Crusade2006091020070726

In 1095, Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade, inspiring thousands of Christians to set out on an armed pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

The setting for this dramatic speech was the French town of Clermont, where Urban met with senior clergy for ten days of debate and decree as they struggled to resolve the problems besetting Christian Europe.

Frances travels to the Auvergne to explore this meeting of minds and the changing notions of violence, sin and salvation which led to the launch of the Crusade.

03Fourth International Congress Of Modern Architects - Marseilles And Athens 19332006091720070727

In July 1933, Le Corbusier and 90 other delegates boarded a boat in Marseilles.

Architects, engineers, writers and artists from 18 different countries spent the next 15 days, on board and in Athens, discussing ideas for the city of the future.

Though they didn't know it, but the delegates were creating a blueprint for the rebuilding of Europe's cities, about to be destroyed by the Second World War.

Today, many argue that the Utopian ideas that came to dominate architecture after the 1933 Congress have led to misery and social breakdown for the inhabitants of those new towns and buildings.

Frances explores how this meeting in 1933 changed the way we live today and how, as our cities continue to expand, it will go on to influence the way live in the future.

03 LASTIn Defence Of Culture20041128

Paris 1935.

A huge conference was convened: the First International Congress of Writers for the Defence of Culture.

It was attended by some of Europe's greatest literary figures: Boris Pasternak, Andre Malraux, EM Forster, Andre Gide, Aldous Huxley and Bertolt Brecht were amongst the 220 delegates from 40 countries.

The whole affair was a thinly veiled communist front - but it turned into the last great showcase of European literary culture before it was swept away by war.

They were plagued with the question of how to respond to the spectre of the new dictatorships and social chaos that was growing around them.

How should the world's great artists - apparently so important and so revered - confront the book burnings and propaganda? Frances Stonor Saunders brings back to life their speeches, arguments and protests.

Could these most politically engaged of writers work together when they were needed most?