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In Our Time


Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the ideas, people and events that have shaped our world.


London, United Kingdom




Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the ideas, people and events that have shaped our world.



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Empress Dowager Cixi

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the woman who, for almost fifty years, was the most powerful figure in the Chinese court. Cixi (1835-1908) started out at court as one of the Emperor's many concubines, yet was the only one who gave him a son to succeed him and who also possessed great political skill and ambition. When their son became emperor he was still a young child and Cixi ruled first through him and then, following his death, through another child emperor. This was a time of rapid change in China, when western powers and Japan humiliated the forces of the Qing empire time after time, and Cixi had the chance to push forward the modernising reforms the country needed to thrive. However, when she found those reforms conflicted with her own interests or those of the Qing dynasty, she was arguably obstructive or too slow to act and she has been personally blamed for some of those many humiliations even when the fault lay elsewhere. With Yangwen Zheng Professor of Chinese History at the University of Manchester Rana Mitter The S.T. Lee Professor of US-Asia Relations at the Harvard Kennedy School And Ronald Po Associate Professor in the Department of International History at London School of Economics and Visiting Professor at Leiden University Producer: Simon Tillotson In Our Time is a BBC Studios Audio Production Reading list: Pearl S. Buck, Imperial Woman: The Story of the Last Empress of China (first published 1956; Open Road Media, 2013) Katharine A. Carl, With the Empress Dowager (first published 1906; General Books LLC, 2009) Jung Chang, Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China (Jonathan Cape, 2013) Princess Der Ling, Old Buddha (first published 1929; Kessinger Publishing, 2007) Joseph W. Esherick, The Origins of the Boxer Uprising (University of California Press, 1987) John K. Fairbank and Merle Goldman, China: A New History (Harvard University Press, 2006) Peter Gue Zarrow and Rebecca Karl (eds.), Rethinking the 1898 Reform Period: Political and Cultural Change in Late Qing China (Harvard University Press, 2002) Grant Hayter-Menzies, Imperial Masquerade: The Legend of Princess Der Ling (Hong Kong University Press, 2008) Keith Laidler, The Last Empress: The She-Dragon of China (Wiley, 2003) Keith McMahon, Celestial Women: Imperial Wives and Concubines in China from Song to Qing (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020) Anchee Min, The Last Empress (Bloomsbury, 2011) Ying-Chen Peng, Artful Subversion: Empress Dowager Cixi’s Image Making (Yale University Press, 2023). Sarah Pike Conger, Letters from China: with Particular Reference to the Empress Dowager and the Women of China (first published 1910; Forgotten Books, 2024) Stephen Platt, Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China's Last Golden Age (Atlantic Books, 2019) Liang Qichao (trans. Peter Zarrow), Thoughts From the Ice-Drinker's Studio: Essays on China and the World (Penguin Classics, 2023) Sterling Seagrave, Dragon Lady: The Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China (Vintage, 1993) Jonathan D. Spence, The Search for Modern China (first published 1991; W. W. Norton & Company, 2001) X. L. Woo, Empress Dowager Cixi: China's Last Dynasty and the Long Reign of a Formidable Concubine (Algora Publishing, 2003) Zheng Yangwen, Ten Lessons in Modern Chinese History (Manchester University Press, 2018)


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Philippa Foot

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the most significant philosophers of the twentieth century, Philippa Foot (1920 - 2010). Her central question was, “Why be moral?” Drawing on Aristotle and Aquinas, Foot spent her life working through her instinct that there was something lacking in the prevailing philosophy of the 1950s and 1960s which held that values could only be subjective. Could there really be no objective response to the horrors of the concentration camps that she had seen on newsreels, no way of saying that such acts were morally wrong? Foot developed an ethics based on virtues, in which humans needed virtues to flourish as surely as plants needed light and water. While working through her ideas she explored applied ethics and the difference between doing something and letting it happen, an idea she illustrated with what became The Trolley Problem. With Anil Gomes Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at Trinity College, University of Oxford Sophie Grace Chappell Professor of Philosophy at the Open University And Rachael Wiseman Reader in Philosophy at the University of Liverpool Producer: Simon Tillotson In Our Time is a BBC Studios Audio Production Reading list: Philippa Foot, Virtues and Vices (Oxford University Press, 1978) Philippa Foot, Moral Dilemmas (Oxford University Press, 2002) Philippa Foot, Natural Goodness (Oxford University Press, 2001) John Hacker-Wright, Philippa Foot's Moral Thought (Bloomsbury, 2013) Benjamin Lipscomb, The Women Are Up To Something (Oxford University Press, 2021) Clare Mac Cumhaill and Rachael Wiseman, Metaphysical Animals: How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life (Chatto, 2022) Dan Russell (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Virtue Ethics (Cambridge University Press), especially ‘Virtue Ethics in the Twentieth Century’ by Timothy (now Sophie Grace) Chappell


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Sir Thomas Wyatt

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss 'the greatest poet of his age', Thomas Wyatt (1503 -1542), who brought the poetry of the Italian Renaissance into the English Tudor world, especially the sonnet, so preparing the way for Shakespeare and Donne. As an ambassador to Henry VIII and, allegedly, too close to Anne Boleyn, he experienced great privilege under intense scrutiny. Some of Wyatt's poems, such as They Flee From Me That Sometime Did Me Seek, are astonishingly fresh and conversational and yet he wrote them under the tightest constraints, when a syllable out of place could have condemned him to the Tower. With Brian Cummings 50th Anniversary Professor of English at the University of York Susan Brigden Retired Fellow at Lincoln College, University of Oxford And Laura Ashe Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford Producer: Simon Tillotson In Our Time is a BBC Studios Audio Production Reading list: Thomas Betteridge and Suzannah Lipscomb (eds.), Henry VIII and the Court: Art, Politics and Performance (Routledge, 2016) Susan Brigden, Thomas Wyatt: The Heart’s Forest (Faber, 2012) Nicola Shulman, Graven with Diamonds: The Many Lives of Thomas Wyatt: Courtier, Poet, Assassin, Spy (Short Books, 2011) Chris Stamatakis, Sir Thomas Wyatt and the Rhetoric of Rewriting (Oxford University Press, 2012) Patricia Thomson (ed.), Thomas Wyatt: The Critical Heritage (Routledge, 1995) Greg Walker, Writing Under Tyranny: English Literature and the Henrician Reformation (Oxford University Press, 2005) Thomas Wyatt (ed. R. A. Rebholz), The Complete Poems (Penguin, 1978)


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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the planet which is closest to our Sun. We see it as an evening or a morning star, close to where the Sun has just set or is about to rise, and observations of Mercury helped Copernicus understand that Earth and the other planets orbit the Sun, so displacing Earth from the centre of our system. In the 20th century, further observations of Mercury helped Einstein prove his general theory of relativity. For the last 50 years we have been sending missions there to reveal something of Mercury's secrets and how those relate to the wider universe, and he latest, BepiColombo, is out there in space now. With Emma Bunce Professor of Planetary Plasma Physics and Director of the Institute for Space at the University of Leicester David Rothery Professor of Planetary Geosciences at the Open University And Carolin Crawford Emeritus Fellow of Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, and Emeritus Member of the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge Producer: Simon Tillotson In Our Time is a BBC Studios Audio production Reading list: Emma Bunce, ‘All (X-ray) eyes on Mercury’ (Astronomy & Geophysics, Volume 64, Issue 4, August 2023) Emma Bunce et al, ‘The BepiColombo Mercury Imaging X-Ray Spectrometer: Science Goals, Instrument Performance and Operations’ (Space Science Reviews: SpringerLink, volume 216, article number 126, Nov 2020) David A. Rothery, Planet Mercury: From Pale Pink Dot to Dynamic World (Springer, 2014)


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Bertolt Brecht

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the greatest European playwrights of the twentieth century. The aim of Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) was to make the familiar ‘strange’: with plays such as Mother Courage and The Caucasian Chalk Circle he wanted his audience not to sit back but to engage, observe and discover the contradictions in life, and act on what they learnt. He developed this approach in turbulent times, from Weimar Germany to the rise of the Nazis, to exile in Scandinavia and America and then post-war life in East Berlin, and he has since inspired dramatists around the world. With Laura Bradley Professor of German and Theatre at the University of Edinburgh David Barnett Professor of Theatre at the University of York And Tom Kuhn Professor of Twentieth Century German Literature, Emeritus Fellow of St Hugh's College, University of Oxford Producer: Simon Tillotson In Our Time is a BBC Studios Audio production Reading list: David Barnett, Brecht in Practice: Theatre, Theory and Performance (Bloomsbury, 2014) David Barnett, A History of the Berliner Ensemble (Cambridge University Press, 2015) Laura Bradley and Karen Leeder (eds.), Brecht and the GDR: Politics, Culture, Posterity (Camden House, 2015) Laura Bradley, ‘Training the Audience: Brecht and the Art of Spectatorship’ (The Modern Language Review, 111, 2016) Bertolt Brecht (ed. Marc Silberman, Tom Kuhn and Steve Giles), Brecht on Theatre (Bloomsbury, 2014) Bertolt Brecht (ed. Tom Kuhn, Steve Giles and Marc Silberman), Brecht on Performance (Bloomsbury, 2014) Bertolt Brecht (trans. Tom Kuhn and David Constantine), The Collected Poems of Bertolt Brecht (Norton Liveright, 2018) which includes the poem ‘Spring 1938’ read by Tom Kuhn in this programme Stephen Brockmann (ed.), Bertolt Brecht in Context (Cambridge University Press, 2021) Meg Mumford, Bertolt Brecht (Routledge, 2009) Stephen Parker, Bertolt Brecht: A Literary Life (Bloomsbury, 2014) Ronald Speirs, Brecht’s Poetry of Political Exile (Cambridge University Press, 2000) David Zoob, Brecht: A Practical Handbook (Nick Hern Books, 2018)


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Napoleon's Hundred Days

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Napoleon Bonaparte's temporary return to power in France in 1815, following his escape from exile on Elba . He arrived with fewer than a thousand men, yet three weeks later he had displaced Louis XVIII and taken charge of an army as large as any that the Allied Powers could muster individually. He saw that his best chance was to pick the Allies off one by one, starting with the Prussian and then the British/Allied armies in what is now Belgium. He appeared to be on the point of victory at Waterloo yet somehow it eluded him, and his plans were soon in tatters. His escape to America thwarted, he surrendered on 15th July and was exiled again but this time to Saint Helena. There he wrote his memoirs to help shape his legacy, while back in Europe there were still fears of his return. With Michael Rowe Reader in European History at Kings College London Katherine Astbury Professor of French Studies at the University of Warwick And Zack White Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at the University of Portsmouth Producer: Simon Tillotson In Our Time is a BBC Studios Audio production. Reading list: Katherine Astbury and Mark Philp (ed.), Napoleon's Hundred Days and the Politics of Legitimacy (Palgrave, 2018) Jeremy Black, The Battle of Waterloo: A New History (Icon Books, 2010) Michael Broers, Napoleon: The Decline and Fall of an Empire: 1811-1821 (Pegasus Books, 2022) Philip Dwyer, Citizen Emperor: Napoleon in power 1799-1815 (Bloomsbury, 2014) Charles J. Esdaile, Napoleon, France and Waterloo: The Eagle Rejected (Pen & Sword Military, 2016) Gareth Glover, Waterloo: Myth and Reality (Pen & Sword Military, 2014) Sudhir Hazareesingh, The Legend of Napoleon (Granta, 2014) John Hussey, Waterloo: The Campaign of 1815, Volume 1, From Elba to Ligny and Quatre Bras (Greenhill Books, 2017) Andrew Roberts, Napoleon the Great (Penguin Books, 2015) Brian Vick, The Congress of Vienna: Power and Politics after Napoleon (Harvard University Press, 2014) Zack White (ed.), The Sword and the Spirit: Proceedings of the first ‘War & Peace in the Age of Napoleon’ Conference (Helion and Company, 2021)


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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Aristophanes' comedy in which the women of Athens and Sparta, led by Lysistrata, secure peace in the long-running war between them by staging a sex strike. To the men in the audience in 411BC, the idea that peace in the Peloponnesian War could be won so easily was ridiculous and the thought that their wives could have so much power over them was even more so. However Aristophanes' comedy also has the women seizing the treasure in the Acropolis that was meant to fund more fighting in an emergency, a fund the Athenians had recently had to draw on. They were in a perilous position and, much as they might laugh at Aristophanes' jokes, they knew there were real concerns about the actual cost of the war in terms of wealth and manpower. With Paul Cartledge AG Leventis Senior Research Fellow of Clare College, University of Cambridge Sarah Miles Associate Professor in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at Durham University And James Robson Professor of Classical Studies at the Open University Producer: Simon Tillotson Reading list: Aristophanes (ed. Jeffrey Henderson), Lysistrata (Oxford University Press, 1987) Aristophanes (ed. Jeffrey Henderson), Three Plays by Aristophanes: Staging Women (Routledge, 2010) Aristophanes (ed. Jeffrey Henderson), Birds; Lysistrata; Women at the Thesmophoria (Loeb Classical Library series, Harvard University Press, 2014) Aristophanes (ed. Alan H. Sommerstein), Lysistrata and Other Plays: The Acharnians; The Clouds; Lysistrata (Penguin, 2002) Aristophanes (ed. Alan H. Sommerstein), Lysistrata (Aris & Phillips, 1998) Paul Cartledge, Aristophanes and his Theatre of the Absurd (Bristol Classical Press, 1999) Kenneth Dover, Aristophanic Comedy (University of California Press, 1972) Germaine Greer, Lysistrata: The Sex Strike: After Aristophanes (Aurora Metro Press, 2000) Tony Harrison, The Common Chorus: A Version of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata (Faber & Faber, 1992) Douglas M. MacDowell, Aristophanes and Athens: An Introduction to the Plays (Oxford University Press, 1995) S. Douglas Olson (ed.), Ancient Comedy and Reception: Essays in Honor of Jeffrey Henderson (De Gruyter, 2013), especially 'She (Don't) Gotta Have It: African-American reception of Lysistrata' by Kevin Wetmore James Robson, Aristophanes: Lysistrata, Bloomsbury ancient comedy companions (Bloomsbury, 2023) James Robson, Aristophanes: An Introduction (Duckworth, 2009) Ralph M. Rosen and Helene P. Foley (eds.), Aristophanes and Politics. New Studies (Brill, 2020) Donald Sells, Parody, Politics and the Populace in Greek Old Comedy (Bloomsbury, 2018) David Stuttard (ed.), Looking at Lysistrata: Eight Essays and a New Version of Aristophanes' Provocative Comedy (Bristol Classical Press, 2010)


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Nikola Tesla

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) and his role in the development of electrical systems towards the end of the nineteenth century. He made his name in New York in the contest over which current should flow into homes and factories in America. Some such as Edison backed direct current or DC while others such as Westinghouse backed alternating current or AC and Nikola Tesla’s invention of a motor that worked on AC swung it for the alternating system that went on to power the modern age. He ensured his reputation and ideas burnt brightly for the next decades, making him synonymous with the lone, genius inventor of the new science fiction. With Simon Schaffer Emeritus Fellow of Darwin College, University of Cambridge Jill Jonnes Historian and author of “Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse and the Race to Electrify the World” And Iwan Morus Professor of History at Aberystwyth University Producer: Simon Tillotson Reading list: W. Bernard Carlson, Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age (Princeton University Press, 2013) Margaret Cheney and Robert Uth, Tesla: Master of Lightning (Barnes & Noble Books, 1999) Thomas P. Hughes, Networks of Power: Electrification in Western Society, 1880-1930 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983) Carolyn Marvin, When Old Technologies Were New (Open University Press, 1988) Iwan Rhys Morus, Nikola Tesla and the Electrical Future (Icon Books, 2019) Iwan Rhys Morus, How The Victorians Took Us To The Moon (Icon, 2022) David E. Nye, Electrifying America: Social Meanings of a New Technology (MIT Press, 1991) John J. O’Neill, Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla (first published 1944; Cosimo Classics, 2006) Marc J. Seifer, Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla, Biography of a Genius (first published 1996; Citadel Press, 2016) Nikola Tesla, My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla (first published 1919; Martino Fine Books, 2011) Nikola Tesla, My Inventions and other Writings (Penguin, 2012) In Our Time is a BBC Studios Audio production


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The Kalevala

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Finnish epic poem that first appeared in print in 1835 in what was then the Grand Duchy of Finland, part of the Russian Empire and until recently part of Sweden. The compiler of this epic was a doctor, Elias Lönnrot (1802-1884), who had travelled the land to hear traditional poems about mythical heroes being sung in Finnish, the language of the peasantry, and writing them down in his own order to create this landmark work. In creating The Kalevala, Lönnrot helped the Finns realise they were a distinct people apart from Sweden and Russia, who deserved their own nation state and who came to demand independence, which they won in 1917. With Riitta Valijärvi Associate Professor in Finnish and Minority Languages at University College London Thomas Dubois The Halls-Bascom Professor of Scandinavian Folklore and Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison And Daniel Abondolo Formerly Reader in Hungarian at University College London Producer: Simon Tillotson Reading list: Nigel Fabb, What is Poetry? Language and Memory in the Poems of the World (Cambridge University Press, 2015) Frog, Satu Grünthal, Kati Kallio and Jarkko Niemi (eds), Versification: Metrics in Practice (Finnish Literature Society, 2021) Riho Grünthal et al., ‘Drastic demographic events triggered the Uralic spread’ (Diachronica, Volume 39, Issue 4, Aug 2022) Lauri Honko (ed.), The Kalevala and the World's Traditional Epics (Finnish Literature Society, 2002) The Kalevala Heritage: Archive Recordings of Ancient Finnish Songs. Online Catalogue no. ODE8492. Mauri Kunnas, The Canine Kalevala (Otava Publishing, 1992) Kuusi, Matti, et al. (eds.), Finnish Folk Poetry: Epic (Finnish Literature Society, 1977) Elias Lönnrot (trans. John Martin Crawford), Kalevala: The Epic Poem of Finland (first published 1887; CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017) Elias Lönnrot (trans. W. F. Kirby), Kalevala: The Land of the Heroes (first published by J.M. Dent & Sons, 1907, 2 vols.; ‎ Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd, 2000) Elias Lönnrot (trans. Francis Peabody Magoun Jr.), The Kalevala, or Poems of the Kaleva District (Harvard University Press, 1963) Elias Lönnrot (trans. Eino Friberg), The Kalevala: Epic of the Finnish People (Otava Publishing, 1988) Elias Lönnrot (trans. Keith Bosley), The Kalevala: An Epic Poem after Oral Tradition (Oxford University Press, 1989) Kirsti Mäkinen, Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin, Kaarina Brooks, An Illustrated Kalevala: Myths and Legends from Finland (Floris Books, 2020) Sami Makkonen, Kalevala: The Graphic Novel (Ablaze, 2024) Juha Y. Pentikäinen (trans. Ritva Poom), Kalevala Mythology, (Indiana University Press, 1999) Tina K. Ramnarine, Ilmatar’s Inspirations: Nationalism, Globalization and the Changing Soundscapes of Finnish Folk Music (University of Chicago Press, 2003) Jonathan Roper (ed.), Alliteration in Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), especially chapter 12 ‘Alliteration in (Balto-) Finnic Languages’ by Frog and Eila Stepanova Karl Spracklen, Metal Music and the Re-imagining of Masculinity, Place, Race and Nation (Emerald Publishing, 2020), especially the chapter ‘Finnish Folk Metal: Raising Drinking Horns in Mainstream Metal’ Leea Virtanen and Thomas A. DuBois, Finnish Folklore: Studia Fennica Folkloristica 9 (Finnish Literature Society, 2000)


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Julian the Apostate

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the last pagan ruler of the Roman Empire. Fifty years after Constantine the Great converted to Christianity and introduced a policy of tolerating the faith across the empire, Julian (c.331 - 363 AD) aimed to promote paganism instead, branding Constantine the worst of all his predecessors. Julian was a philosopher-emperor in the mould of Marcus Aurelius and was noted in his lifetime for his letters and his satires, and it was his surprising success as a general in his youth in Gaul that had propelled him to power barely twenty years after a rival had slaughtered his family. Julian's pagan mission and his life were brought to a sudden end while on campaign against the Sasanian Empire in the east, but he left so much written evidence of his ideas that he remains one of the most intriguing of all the Roman emperors and a hero to the humanists of the Enlightenment. With James Corke-Webster Reader in Classics, History and Liberal Arts at King’s College, London Lea Niccolai Assistant Professor in Classics at the University of Cambridge and Fellow and Director of Studies in Classics, Trinity College And Shaun Tougher Professor of Late Roman and Byzantine History at Cardiff University Producer: Simon Tillotson Reading list: Polymnia Athanassiadi, Julian: An Intellectual Biography (first published 1981; Routledge, 2014) Nicholas Baker-Brian and Shaun Tougher (eds.), Emperor and Author: The Writings of Julian the Apostate (Classical Press of Wales, 2012) Nicholas Baker-Brian and Shaun Tougher (eds.), The Sons of Constantine, AD 337-361: In the Shadows of Constantine and Julian, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) G.W. Bowersock, Julian the Apostate (first published 1978; Harvard University Press, 1997) Susanna Elm, Sons of Hellenism, Fathers of the Church: Emperor Julian, Gregory of Nazianzus, and the Vision of Rome (University of California Press, 2012) Ari Finkelstein, The Specter of the Jews: Emperor Julian and the Rhetoric of Ethnicity in Syrian Antioch (University of California Press, 2018) David Neal Greenwood, Julian and Christianity: Revisiting the Constantinian Revolution (Cornell University Press, 2021) Lea Niccolai, Christianity, Philosophy, and Roman Power: Constantine, Julian, and the Bishops on Exegesis and Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2023) Stefan Rebenich and Hans-Ulrich Wiemer (eds), A Companion to Julian the Apostate (Brill, 2020) Rowland Smith, Julian’s Gods: Religion and Philosophy in the Thought and Action of Julian the Apostate (Routledge, 1995) H.C. Teitler, The Last Pagan Emperor: Julian the Apostate and the War against Christianity (Oxford University Press, 2017) Shaun Tougher, Julian the Apostate (Edinburgh University Press, 2007) W. C. Wright, The Works of Emperor Julian of Rome (Loeb, 1913-23)


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The Waltz

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the dance which, from when it reached Britain in the early nineteenth century, revolutionised the relationship between music, literature and people here for the next hundred years. While it may seem formal now, it was the informality and daring that drove its popularity, with couples holding each other as they spun round a room to new lighter music popularised by Johann Strauss, father and son, such as The Blue Danube. Soon the Waltz expanded the creative world in poetry, ballet, novellas and music, from the Ballets Russes of Diaghilev to Moon River and Are You Lonesome Tonight. With Susan Jones Emeritus Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford Derek B. Scott Professor Emeritus of Music at the University of Leeds And Theresa Buckland Emeritus Professor of Dance History and Ethnography at the University of Roehampton Producer: Simon Tillotson Reading list: Egil Bakka, Theresa Jill Buckland, Helena Saarikoski, and Anne von Bibra Wharton (eds.), Waltzing Through Europe: Attitudes towards Couple Dances in the Long Nineteenth Century, (Open Book Publishers, 2020) Theresa Jill Buckland, ‘How the Waltz was Won: Transmutations and the Acquisition of Style in Early English Modern Ballroom Dancing. Part One: Waltzing Under Attack’ (Dance Research, 36/1, 2018); ‘Part Two: The Waltz Regained’ (Dance Research, 36/2, 2018) Theresa Jill Buckland, Society Dancing: Fashionable Bodies in England, 1870-1920 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) Erica Buurman, The Viennese Ballroom in the Age of Beethoven (Cambridge University Press, 2022) Paul Cooper, ‘The Waltz in England, c. 1790-1820’ (Paper presented at Early Dance Circle conference, 2018) Sherril Dodds and Susan Cook (eds.), Bodies of Sound: Studies Across Popular Dance and Music (Ashgate, 2013), especially ‘Dancing Out of Time: The Forgotten Boston of Edwardian England’ by Theresa Jill Buckland Zelda Fitzgerald, Save Me the Waltz (first published 1932; Vintage Classics, 2001) Hilary French, Ballroom: A People's History of Dancing (Reaktion Books, 2022) Susan Jones, Literature, Modernism, and Dance (Oxford University Press, 2013) Mark Knowles, The Wicked Waltz and Other Scandalous Dances: Outrage at Couple Dancing in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries (McFarland, 2009) Rosamond Lehmann, Invitation to the Waltz (first published 1932; Virago, 2006) Eric McKee, Decorum of the Minuet, Delirium of the Waltz: A Study of Dance-Music Relations in 3/4 Time (Indiana University Press, 2012) Eduard Reeser, The History of the Walz (Continental Book Co., 1949) Stanley Sadie (ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Vol. 27 (Macmillan, 2nd ed., 2000), especially ‘Waltz’ by Andrew Lamb Derek B. Scott, Sounds of the Metropolis: The 19th-Century Popular Music Revolution in London, New York, Paris and Vienna (Oxford University Press, 2008), especially the chapter ‘A Revolution on the Dance Floor, a Revolution in Musical Style: The Viennese Waltz’ Joseph Wechsberg, The Waltz Emperors: The Life and Times and Music of the Strauss Family (Putnam, 1973) Cheryl A. Wilson, Literature and Dance in Nineteenth-century Britain (Cambridge University Press, 2009) Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out (first published 1915; William Collins, 2013) Virginia Woolf, The Years (first published 1937; Vintage Classics, 2016) David Wyn Jones, The Strauss Dynasty and Habsburg Vienna (Cambridge University Press, 2023) Sevin H. Yaraman, Revolving Embrace: The Waltz as Sex, Steps, and Sound (Pendragon Press, 2002) Rishona Zimring, Social Dance and the Modernist Imagination in Interwar Britain (Ashgate Press, 2013)


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The Mokrani Revolt

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the revolt that broke out in 1871 in Algeria against French rule, spreading over hundreds of miles and countless towns and villages before being brutally suppressed. It began with the powerful Cheikh Mokrani and his family and was taken up by hundreds of thousands, becoming the last major revolt there before Algeria’s war of independence in 1954. In the wake of its swift suppression though came further waves of French migrants to settle on newly confiscated lands, themselves displaced by French defeat in Europe and the loss of Alsace-Lorraine, and their arrival only increased tensions. The Mokrani Revolt came to be seen as a watershed between earlier Ottoman rule and full national identity, an inspiration to nationalists in the 1950s. With Natalya Benkhaled-Vince Associate Professor of the History of Modern France and the Francophone World, Fellow of University College, University of Oxford Hannah-Louise Clark Senior Lecturer in Global Economic and Social History at the University of Glasgow And Jim House Senior Lecturer in French and Francophone History at the University of Leeds Producer: Simon Tillotson Reading list: Mahfoud Bennoune, The Making of Contemporary Algeria: 1830-1987 (Cambridge University Press, 1988) Julia Clancy-Smith, Rebel and Saint: Muslim Notables, Populist Protest, Colonial Encounters, Algeria and Tunisia 1800–1904 (University of California Press, 1994) Hannah-Louise Clark, ‘The Islamic Origins of the French Colonial Welfare State: Hospital Finance in Algeria’ (European Review of History, vol. 28, nos 5-6, 2021) Hannah-Louise Clark, ‘Of jinn theories and germ theories: translating microbes, bacteriological medicine, and Islamic law in Algeria’ (Osiris, vol. 36, 2021) Brock Cutler, Ecologies of Imperialism in Algeria (University of Nebraska Press, 2023) Didier Guignard, 1871: L’Algérie sous Séquestre (CNRS Éditions, 2023) Idir Hachi, ‘Histoire social de l’insurrection de 1871 et du procès de ses chefs (PhD diss., University of Aix-Marseille, 2017) Abdelhak Lahlou, Idir Hachi, Isabelle Guillaume, Amélie Gregório and Peter Dunwoodie, ‘L'insurrection kabyle de 1871’ (Etudes françaises volume 57, no 1, 2021) James McDougall, A History of Algeria (Cambridge University Press (2017) John Ruedy, Modern Algeria: The Origins and Development of a Nation (Indiana University Press, 2005, 2nd edition) Jennifer E Sessions, By Sword and Plow: France and the Conquest of Algeria (Cornell University Press, 2011) Samia Touati, ‘Lalla Fatma N’Soumer, 1830–1863: Spirituality, Resistance and Womanly Leadership in Colonial Algeria (Societies vol. 8, no. 4, 2018) Natalya Vince, Our Fighting Sisters: Nation, Memory and Gender in Algeria, 1954-2012 (Manchester University Press, 2015)


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Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the German physicist who, at the age of 23 and while still a student, effectively created quantum mechanics for which he later won the Nobel Prize. Werner Heisenberg made this breakthrough in a paper in 1925 when, rather than starting with an idea of where atomic particles were at any one time, he worked backwards from what he observed of atoms and their particles and the light they emitted, doing away with the idea of their continuous orbit of the nucleus and replacing this with equations. This was momentous and from this flowed what’s known as his Uncertainty Principle, the idea that, for example, you can accurately measure the position of an atomic particle or its momentum, but not both. With Fay Dowker Professor of Theoretical Physics at Imperial College London Harry Cliff Research Fellow in Particle Physics at the University of Cambridge And Frank Close Professor Emeritus of Theoretical Physics and Fellow Emeritus at Exeter College at the University of Oxford Producer: Simon Tillotson Reading list: Philip Ball, Beyond Weird: Why Everything You Thought You Knew about Quantum Physics Is Different (Vintage, 2018) John Bell, ‘Against 'measurement'’ (Physics World, Vol 3, No 8, 1990) Mara Beller, Quantum Dialogue: The Making of a Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 2001) David C. Cassidy, Beyond Uncertainty: Heisenberg, Quantum Physics, And The Bomb (Bellevue Literary Press, 2010) Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy (first published 1958; Penguin Classics, 2000) Carlo Rovelli, Helgoland: The Strange and Beautiful Story of Quantum Physics (Penguin, 2022)


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The Sack of Rome 1527

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the infamous assault of an army of the Holy Roman Emperor on the city of Rome in 1527. The troops soon broke through the walls of this holy city and, with their leader shot dead early on, they brought death and destruction to the city on an epic scale. Later writers compared it to the fall of Carthage or Jerusalem and soon the mass murder, torture, rape and looting were followed by disease which was worsened by starvation and opened graves. It has been called the end of the High Renaissance, a conflict between north and south, between Lutherans and Catholics, and a fulfilment of prophecy of divine vengeance and, perhaps more persuasively, a consequence of military leaders not feeding or paying their soldiers other than by looting. With Stephen Bowd Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Edinburgh Jessica Goethals Associate Professor of Italian at the University of Alabama And Catherine Fletcher Professor of History at Manchester Metropolitan University Producer: Simon Tillotson Reading list: Stephen Bowd, Renaissance Mass Murder: Civilians and Soldiers during the Italian Wars (Oxford University Press, 2018) Benvenuto Cellini, Autobiography (Penguin Classics, 1999) Benvenuto Cellini (trans. Julia Conaway Bondanella and Peter Bondanella), My Life (Oxford University Press, 2009) André Chastel (trans. Beth Archer), The Sack of Rome 1527 (Princeton University Press, 1983 Catherine Fletcher, The Beauty and the Terror: An Alternative History of the Italian Renaissance (Bodley Head, 2020) Kenneth Gouwens and Sheryl E. Reiss (eds), The Pontificate of Clement VII: History, Politics, Culture (Routledge, 2005) Francesco Guicciardini (trans. Sidney Alexander), The History of Italy (first published 1561; Princeton University Press, 2020) Luigi Guicciardini (trans. James H. McGregor), The Sack of Rome (first published 1537; Italica Press, 2008) Judith Hook, The Sack of Rome (2nd edition, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) Geoffrey Parker, Emperor: A New Life of Charles V (Yale University Press, 2019)


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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Lewis Carroll's book which first appeared in print in 1865 with illustrations by John Tenniel. It has since become one of the best known works in English, captivating readers who follow young Alice as she chases a white rabbit, pink eyed, in a waistcoat with pocket watch, down a rabbit hole that becomes a well and into wonderland. There she meets the Cheshire Cat, the Hatter, the March Hare, the Mock Turtle and more, all the while growing smaller and larger, finally outgrowing everyone at the trial of Who Stole the Tarts from the Queen of Hearts and exclaiming 'Who cares for you? You’re nothing but a pack of cards!' With Franziska Kohlt Leverhulme Research Fellow in the History of Science at the University of Leeds and the Inaugural Carrollian Fellow of the University of Southern California Kiera Vaclavik Professor of Children’s Literature and Childhood Culture at Queen Mary, University of London And Robert Douglas-Fairhurst Professor of English Literature at Magdalen College, University of Oxford Producer: Simon Tillotson Reading list: Kate Bailey and Simon Sladen (eds), Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser (V&A Publishing, 2021) Gillian Beer, Alice in Space: The Sideways Victorian World of Lewis Carroll (University of Chicago Press, 2016) Will Brooker, Alice's Adventures: Lewis Carroll and Alice in Popular Culture (Continuum, 2004) Humphrey Carpenter, Secret Gardens: A Study of the Golden Age of Children’s Literature (first published 1985; Faber and Faber, 2009) Lewis Carroll (introduced by Martin Gardner), The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition, (W. W. Norton & Company, 2000) Gavin Delahunty and Christoph Benjamin Schulz (eds), Alice in Wonderland Through the Visual Arts (Tate Publishing, 2011) Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland (Harvill Secker, 2015) Colleen Hill, Fairy Tale Fashion (Yale University Press, 2016) Franziska Kohlt, Alice through the Wonderglass: The Surprising Histories of a Children's Classic (Reaktion, forthcoming 2025) Franziska Kohlt and Justine Houyaux (eds.), Alice: Through the Looking-Glass: A Companion (Peter Lang, forthcoming 2024) Charlie Lovett, Lewis Carroll: Formed by Faith (University of Virginia Press, 2022) Elizabeth Sewell, The Field of Nonsense (first published 1952; Dalkey Archive Press, 2016) Kiera Vaclavik, 'Listening to the Alice books' (Journal of Victorian Culture, Volume 26, Issue 1, January 2021) Diane Waggoner, Lewis Carroll's Photography and Modern Childhood (Princeton University Press 2020) Edward Wakeling, The Man and his Circle (IB Tauris, 2014) Edward Wakeling, The Photographs of Lewis Carroll: A Catalogue Raisonné (University of Texas Press, 2015)


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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss some of the chemical signals coursing through our bodies throughout our lives, produced in separate areas and spreading via the bloodstream. We call these 'hormones' and we produce more than 80 of them of which the best known are arguably oestrogen, testosterone, adrenalin, insulin and cortisol. On the whole hormones operate without us being immediately conscious of them as their goal is homeostasis, maintaining the levels of everything in the body as required without us having to think about them first. Their actions are vital for our health and wellbeing and influence many different aspects of the way our bodies work. With Sadaf Farooqi Professor of Metabolism and Medicine at the University of Cambridge Rebecca Reynolds Professor of Metabolic Medicine at the University of Edinburgh And Andrew Bicknell Associate Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Reading Produced by Victoria Brignell Reading list: Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (first published 1962; Penguin Classics, 2000) Stephen Nussey and Saffron Whitehead, Endocrinology: An Integrated Approach (BIOS Scientific Publishers; 2001) Aylinr Y. Yilmaz, Comprehensive Introduction to Endocrinology for Novices (Independently published, 2023)


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The Hanseatic League

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Hanseatic League or Hansa which dominated North European trade in the medieval period. With a trading network that stretched from Iceland to Novgorod via London and Bruges, these German-speaking Hansa merchants benefitted from tax exemptions and monopolies. Over time, the Hansa became immensely influential as rulers felt the need to treat it well. Kings and princes sometimes relied on loans from the Hansa to finance their wars and an embargo by the Hansa could lead to famine. Eventually, though, the Hansa went into decline with the rise in the nation state’s power, greater competition from other merchants and the development of trade across the Atlantic. With Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz Associate Professor of Medieval History at the University of Amsterdam Georg Christ Senior Lecturer in Medieval and Early Modern History at the University of Manchester And Sheilagh Ogilvie Chichele Professor of Economic History at All Souls College, University of Oxford Producer: Victoria Brignell Reading list: James S. Amelang and Siegfried Beer, Public Power in Europe: Studies in Historical Transformations (Plus-Pisa University Press, 2006), especially `Trade and Politics in the Medieval Baltic: English Merchants and England’s Relations to the Hanseatic League 1370–1437` Nicholas R. Amor, Late Medieval Ipswich: Trade and Industry (Boydell & Brewer, 2011) B. Ayers, The German Ocean: Medieval Europe around the North Sea (Equinox, 2016) H. Brand and P. Brood, The German Hanse in Past & Present Europe: A medieval league as a model for modern interregional cooperation? (Castel International Publishers, 2007) Wendy R. Childs, The Trade and Shipping of Hull, 1300-1500 (East Yorkshire Local History Society, 1990) Alexander Cowan, Hanseatic League: Oxford Bibliographies (Oxford University Press, 2010) Philippe Dollinger, The German Hansa (Macmillan, 1970) John D. Fudge, Cargoes, Embargoes and Emissaries: The Commercial and Political Interaction of England and the German Hanse, 1450-1510 (University of Toronto Press, 1995) Donald J. Harreld, A Companion to the Hanseatic League (Brill, 2015) T.H. Lloyd, England and the German Hanse, 1157 – 1611: A Study of their Trade and Commercial Diplomacy (first published 1991; Cambridge University Press, 2002) Giampiero Nigro (ed.), Maritime networks as a factor in European integration (Fondazione Istituto Internazionale Di Storia Economica “F. Datini” Prato, University of Firenze, 2019), especially ‘Maritime Networks and Premodern Conflict Management on Multiple Levels. The Example of Danzig and the Giese Family’ by Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz Sheilagh Ogilvie, Institutions and European Trade: Merchant Guilds, 1000-1800 (Cambridge University Press, 2011) Paul Richards (ed.), Six Essays in Hanseatic History (Poppyland Publishing, 2017) Paul Richards, King’s Lynn and The German Hanse 1250-1550: A Study in Anglo-German Medieval Trade and Politics (Poppyland Publishing, 2022) Stephen H. Rigby, The Overseas Trade of Boston, 1279-1548 (Böhlau Verlag, 2023) Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz and Stuart Jenks (eds.), The Hanse in Medieval & Early Modern Europe (Brill, 2012) Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz, ‘The late medieval and early modern Hanse as an institution of conflict management’ (Continuity and Change 32/1, Cambridge University Press, 2017)


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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the idea that some kind of consciousness is present not just in our human brains but throughout the universe, right down to cells or even electrons. This is panpsychism and its proponents argue it offers a compelling alternative to those who say we are nothing but matter, like machines, and to those who say we are both matter and something else we might call soul. It is a third way. Critics argue panpsychism is implausible, an example of how not to approach this problem, yet interest has been growing widely in recent decades partly for the idea itself and partly in the broader context of understanding how consciousness arises. With Tim Crane Professor of Philosophy and Pro-Rector at the Central European University Director of Research, FWF Cluster of Excellence, Knowledge in Crisis Joanna Leidenhag, Associate Professor in Theology and Philosophy at the University of Leeds And Philip Goff Professor of Philosophy at Durham University Producer: Simon Tillotson Reading list: Anthony Freeman (ed.), Consciousness and Its Place in Nature: Does Physicalism Entail Panpsychism? (Imprint Academic, 2006), especially 'Realistic Monism' by Galen Strawson Philip Goff, Galileo's Error: Foundations for A New Science of Consciousness (Pantheon, 2019) Philip Goff, Why? The Purpose of the Universe (Oxford University Press, 2023) David Ray Griffin, Unsnarling the World-Knot: Consciousness, Freedom and the Mind-Body Problem (Wipf & Stock, 2008) Joanna Leidenhag, Minding Creation: Theological Panpsychism and the Doctrine of Creation (Bloomsbury, 2021) Joanna Leidenhag, ‘Panpsychism and God’ (Philosophy Compass Vol 17, Is 12, e12889) Hedda Hassel Mørch, Non-physicalist Theories of Consciousness (Cambridge University Press, 2024) Thomas Nagel, Mortal Questions (Cambridge University Press, 2012), especially the chapter 'Panpsychism' David Skrbina, Panpsychism in the West (MIT Press, 2007) James van Cleve, 'Mind-Dust or Magic? Panpsychism versus Emergence' (Philosophical Perspectives Vol. 4, Action Theory and Philosophy of Mind, Ridgeview Publishing Company, 1990)


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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the woman who inspired one of the best known artefacts from ancient Egypt. The Bust of Nefertiti is multicoloured and symmetrical, about 49cm/18" high and, despite the missing left eye, still holds the gaze of onlookers below its tall, blue, flat topped headdress. Its discovery in 1912 in Amarna was kept quiet at first but its display in Berlin in the 1920s caused a sensation, with replicas sent out across the world. Ever since, as with Tutankhamun perhaps, the concrete facts about Nefertiti herself have barely kept up with the theories, the legends and the speculation, reinvigorated with each new discovery. With Aidan Dodson Honorary Professor of Egyptology at the University of Bristol Joyce Tyldesley Professor of Egyptology at the University of Manchester And Kate Spence Senior Lecturer in Egyptian Archaeology at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Emmanuel College Producer: Simon Tillotson Reading list: Dorothea Arnold (ed.), The Royal Women of Amarna: Images of Beauty from Ancient Egypt (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1996) Norman de Garis Davies, The Rock Tombs of el-Amarna (6 vols. Egypt Exploration Society, 1903-1908) Aidan Dodson, Amarna Sunset: Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, Ay, Horemheb and the Egyptian Counter-reformation. (American University in Cairo Press, 2009 Aidan Dodson, Nefertiti, Queen and Pharaoh of Egypt: her life and afterlife (American University in Cairo Press, 2020) Aidan Dodson, Tutankhamun: King of Egypt: his life and afterlife (American University in Cairo Press, 2022) Barry Kemp, The City of Akhenaten and Nefertiti: Amarna and Its People (Thames and Hudson, 2012) Dominic Montserrat, Akhenaten: History, Fantasy and Ancient Egypt (Routledge, 2002) Friederike Seyfried (ed.), In the Light of Amarna: 100 Years of the Nefertiti Discovery (Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussamlung Staatlich Museen zu Berlin/ Michael Imhof Verlag, 2013) Joyce Tyldesley, Tutankhamun: Pharaoh, Icon, Enigma (Headline, 2022) Joyce Tyldesley, Nefertiti’s Face: The Creation of an Icon (Profile Books, 2018) Joyce Tyldesley, Nefertiti: Egypt’s Sun Queen (Viking, 1998)


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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Nicolas de Condorcet (1743-94), known as the Last of the Philosophes, the intellectuals in the French Enlightenment who sought to apply their learning to solving the problems of their world. He became a passionate believer in the progress of society, an advocate for equal rights for women and the abolition of the slave trade and for representative government. The French Revolution gave him a chance to advance those ideas and, while the Terror brought his life to an end, his wife Sophie de Grouchy 91764-1822) ensured his influence into the next century and beyond. With Rachel Hammersley Professor of Intellectual History at Newcastle University Richard Whatmore Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews and Co-Director of the St Andrews Institute of Intellectual History And Tom Hopkins Senior Teaching Associate in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Selwyn College Producer: Simon Tillotson Reading list: Keith Michael Baker, Condorcet: From Natural Philosophy to Social Mathematics (University of Chicago Press, 1974) Keith Michael Baker, ‘On Condorcet’s Sketch’ (Daedalus, summer 2004) Lorraine Daston, ‘Condorcet and the Meaning of Enlightenment’ (Proceedings of the British Academy, 2009) Dan Edelstein, The Enlightenment: A Genealogy (Chicago University Press, 2010) Mark Goldie and Robert Wokler (eds), The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Political Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2006), especially ‘Ideology and the Origins of Social Science’ by Robert Wokler Gary Kates, The Cercle Social, the Girondins, and the French Revolution (Princeton University Press, 1985) Steven Lukes and Nadia Urbinati (eds.), Condorcet: Political Writings (Cambridge University Press, 2009) Kathleen McCrudden Illert, A Republic of Sympathy: Sophie de Grouchy's Politics and Philosophy, 1785-1815 (Cambridge University Press, 2024) Iain McLean and Fiona Hewitt (eds.), Condorcet: Foundations of Social Choice and Political Theory (Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd, 1994) Emma Rothschild, Economic Sentiments: Adam Smith, Condorcet and the Enlightenment, (Harvard University Press, 2001) Richard Whatmore, The End of Enlightenment (Allen Lane, 2023) David Williams, Condorcet and Modernity (Cambridge University Press, 2004)