New Generation Thinkers 2017
School of Advanced Study, University of London
Christopher Bannister is a historian currently researching the activity of British Ministry of Information in Latin America during the Second World War, including the impact of a specially set up fashion show.
His research has also focused on the propaganda programmes of each side in the Spanish Civil War and the conspiracy theories in 20th century Europe, and, in particular, those with a transnational anti-Semitic focus.
University of Cambridge
Simon Beard is a philosopher at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, exploring the ethical challenge of ensuring the long-term future of humanity.
He has written on topics including population ethics, disability rights, assisted dying, imprisoned mothers, equal marriage, global justice and the meaning of life. He is currently fascinated by the question of when does morality require us to act straight away, and when are we justified in waiting until tomorrow.
Hear his Free Thinking essay ‘What Do You Do If You Are a Manically Depressed Robot?’ on the BBC Radio 3 iPlayer website.
University of Hull
Emma Butcher’s research investigates children’s experiences and responses to war in the nineteenth century, including the writings of the Brontës penning fantastical war stories to reanimate the war in a post-Waterloo age. With their own voices in journals and letters she will tell the stories of children through an original lens. Emma argues that we no longer have to imagine - the writings of children embroiled in global conflicts are integral to our understanding of the brutality of war.
Royal College of Music/Imperial College London
Daisy Fancourt’s research focuses on the effects of the arts on neuroendocrine and immune response and the use of the music within clinical settings, and the impact of arts and cultural engagement on public health. She also works with the NHS designing arts and clinical innovations programmes.
Her award-winning research is now involved in exploring how drumming can reduce anxiety, maternal singing can reduce postnatal depression, being in a choir can improve immune function in cancer patients and attending a concert can reduce stress hormones.
University of Glasgow
Alistair Fraser’s research is on issues of youth and crime in a global context and will focus on representations and realities of youth gangs in three very different cities: Glasgow, Chicago, and Hong Kong. He will probe the nature and impact of gang myths - in courtrooms, the media and the street - questioning the social and legal consequences of gang stereotypes for young people.
As well as his scholarly research, Alistair has carried out a long-term study of gangs in Glasgow working as a youth worker and high school tutor.
Queen Mary University of London
Hetta Howes’s research has explored the relationship between women and water, tracing misogynist rhetoric back to the Middle Ages. Her new project will examine the part that fluids play in medieval life and how this might connect to today. Hetta is interested in how women are treated or portrayed in medieval literature, and how women’s writing challenges or subverts various medieval female stereotypes as well as challenging our own modern preconceptions of women in that time.
Birmingham City University
Islam Issa’s research into John Milton’s work has explored how the writer may have drawn inspiration from the Koran and has subsequently influenced major Middle East events such as the Arab Spring and the Syrian uprising. His new research continues to look at how people read literature and focuses on how early modern English literature is read outside the English-speaking world, specifically in the Middle East. He is now working on a new book on Shakespeare in Arab popular culture and adapting Shakespeare plays to multicultural Britain.
University of Oxford
Eleanor Lybeck’s research is on the history and practice of popular performance from the turn of the 19th century, including the story of her great-grandfather who made his name as a stage clown and joined the D’Oyly Carte company performing around the world in comic operas.
When Eleanor’s father disappeared from her own life in 1993 he took with him the remnants of her great-grandfather’s career, which she has now recovered and stitched together to tell the tale of this once celebrated and now forgotten figure of the theatre.
She has explored how the circus has been a theme running through Irish culture. Her new project will explore how contemporary political rhetoric has, since Margaret Thatcher’s premiership, appealed to voters through literary and cultural allusion.
University of Sussex
Joanne Paul’s current research examines how ideas about political counsel shaped the culture and institutions of Renaissance England. Counsel occupied the greatest minds of the Renaissance, appearing in the works of prominent writers such as Thomas More, Machiavelli, Shakespeare, as well as statesmen of the Tudor age, such as William Cecil and Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth I’s right-hand men.
Joanne’s work will shed light on this secret political history, examining how changing ideas about counsel and advice-giving were crucial for the development of political institutions, such as parliamentary sovereignty. It also highlights techniques for speaking truth to power, and forms of resistance which are still used today, including political satire and the leaking of private documents.
Tom works on questions of trust; how it works, what its significance is in society and how cultures of trust can be restored. As a former officer with the Royal Marines Commandos he also works on the ethics of war, exploring the intersection of war and technology. This includes the ethics of lethal automated weapons, and of surveillance. This raises political questions far deeper than those considered in the public debate up to now, around the nature of liberty and why it matters.