Meet five New Generation Thinkers and hear their ideas on topics ranging from Sarah Scott and the dream of a female utopia to John Gower, the forgotten medieval poet.
New Generation Thinkers is a nationwide scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to find the brightest minds at the start of their careers with the potential to share their cutting-edge research through broadcasting.
Accessible to all, our Festival finale will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s The Essay from Monday 25 June to Friday 29 June at 10.45pm. It features five inspiring speakers, choral music by The 24 and a drinks reception. The 24 is conducted by Robert Hollingworth, founder and director of I Fagiolini, one of the UK’s top professional vocal groups.
The format of our Festival finale will be three speakers, followed by a drinks reception and music by The 24, then another two speakers and an opportunity for discussion.
Join in the discussion with our five dynamic speakers, John Gallagher, Joanna Cohen, Seb Falk, Lucy Powell and Sophie Coulombeau, then listen to BBC Radio 3's The Essay here.
The Jane Moody in Memoriam Lecture
Supported by Ron and Barbara Cooke and Dr Richard Shephard
John Gallagher of the University of Leeds will discuss the German Princess. Her real name was thought to be Mary Moders – but the world knew her as Mary Carleton, the German Princess. She became a media sensation in Restoration London, after her husband’s family, greedy for the riches they believed her to be concealing, accused her of bigamy and put her on trial for her life. She was the most famous impostor of her time. Her life, and what remains to us of it, forces us to ask hard questions of the sources from her time. Whose word do we trust?
Dr John Gallagher works on the histories of early modern Britain and Europe, with a particular interest in language, multilingualism, education, migration, travel, and identity. He is finishing his first book about learning languages in early modern England and has made Radio 3 programmes about swearing, and the foreign language phrase book, the etiquette of duelling, the travels of Fynes Morrison England’s First European?
Joanna Cohen of Queen Mary University of London looks back 170 years to when one woman launched the beginning of the modern woman’s rights movement in America. In the small town of Seneca Falls in upstate New York, Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote ‘The Declaration of Sentiments’, a manifesto that took one of the nation’s most revered founding documents, Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, and turned its condemnation of British tyranny into a blistering attack on the tyranny of American men. But why did Stanton choose to rebrand her claim for rights with the power of sentiment?
Dr Joanna Cohen is a Senior Lecturer in American History at Queen Mary University of London and the author of Luxurious Citizens: The Politics of Consumption in Nineteenth-Century America (2017).
The 14th century’s most eloquent pessimist, John Gower has forever been overshadowed by his funnier friend Chaucer. Yet his trilingual poetry is truly encyclopaedic, mixing social commentary, romance and even science. Seb Falk of the University of Cambridge will explain why this lawyer-turned-poet, whose response to political upheaval was to ‘shoot my arrows at the world’, is a voice for our turbulent times. Writing ‘somewhat of lust, somewhat of lore’, whether you want to be cured of lovesickness or learn the secrets of alchemy, John Gower has something to tell you.
Dr Seb Falk is a Fellow of Girton College, University of Cambridge who researches medieval science. When not peering into manuscripts he can sometimes be found trying to navigate a sailing boat using medieval instruments. He has broadcast on Radio 3 about how to count to 9,999 using your hands and medieval monasticism.
Sarah Scott’s first novel, published in 1750, was a conventional French-style romance, the fitting literary expression of a younger daughter of the lesser gentry. One year later, she had scandalously fled her husband’s house, and pooled finances and set up home with her life-long partner, Lady Barbara Montagu. Her fourth novel, Millenium Hall, described in practical detail the communal existence of a group of women who had taken refuge in each other’s company and created an all-female utopia in rural England. On Lady Bab’s death, in 1765, Scott would attempt to create this radical community in actuality. Lucy Powell will explore the life, work, and far-reaching influence of this extraordinary writer.
Dr Lucy Powell is a Lecturer in 18-century studies and Romanticism. She has taught at UCL, the University of Westminster, and Arcadia University. Her first monograph, Fashioning Freedom: British Prison Fictions, 1718-1780, looks at cultural expressions of the 18th-century prison. She has reported on Shakespeare in the West Bank and India, and has presented shows on a range of subjects, including a history of dreams from Homer to Freud, and the art and science of silence.
Sophie Coulombeau of Cardiff University will discuss John Trusler, aneccentric Anglican minister who was the quintessential 18th-century entrepreneur. He was a prolific author, an innovative publisher, a would-be inventor, and a ‘medical gentleman’ of dubious qualifications. Dismissed by many as a conman and scoundrel, today, few have heard of the man but his madcap schemes often succeeded, in different forms, a century or two later. In his efforts we can trace the ancestors of the thesaurus, the self-help book, Comic Sans, professional ghostwriting, the Society of Authors, and electrotherapy. Telling his story can help us to reinterpret and rehabilitate the very idea of 'failure'.
Dr Sophie Coulombeau is a Lecturer in English Literature at Cardiff University researching women's writing, especially that of Frances Burney and Hester Thrale Piozzi; onomastics and literary naming; the history of funding for the literary arts; creative-critical approaches to historical fiction. She is the author of a novel Rites (2012), and has made programmes for Radio 3 about choosing children’s names, marital naming, fiction for children and devised and recorded a series of podcasts for The New Statesman: ‘The Great Forgetting: Women Writers Before Austen’.
With a reputation forged under Professor William Brooks, The 24 is now conducted by Robert Hollingworth, founder/director of I Fagiolini, one of the UK’s top professional vocal groups.
New Generation Thinkers
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 can turn their research into radio programmes. The scheme has been running since 2011 and has led to many documentaries, Essays, Free Thinking discussions and broadcasts on BBC Radio 3, 4 and the World Service.