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From the Green Revolution to the arrival of Chinese food in Britain

Date: 24/05/2015

BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) today at Hay Festival unveiled the ten academics - and their research - who will be New Generation Thinkers 2015.  The scheme is a nationwide search for the brightest minds who have the potential to share their cutting edge academic ideas through radio and television.

Ideas from this year's selection of academics range from the history of tickling to the secret discovery hidden in a chair in Prague; how the lives of the disabled were portrayed in Victorian literature to the symbolism of power.

The ten New Generation Thinkers 2015 were selected from hundreds of applications from academics at the start of their careers, who demonstrated their passion to communicate modern scholarship to a wider audience. After a six-month selection process involving a series of day-long workshops at the BBC in Salford and London, the final ten were chosen by a panel of BBC Radio 3 and BBC Arts producers, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

As part of the BBC's ongoing arts partnership with the Hay Festival, the 2015 New Generation Thinkers were announced at an event during the annual literary and arts festival, in front of a gathered audience from the world of arts, media and academia.

The scheme has been a successful first step for many academics, with previous thinkers going on to appear across television and radio (see notes to editors).

The 2015 New Generation Thinkers are:

Catherine Fletcher, University of Sheffield

Catherine Fletcher is a historian of Renaissance and early modern Europe, specialising in cultures of politics and diplomacy. She's recently worked on the Medici and Tudor courts. Her research also explores history in popular culture: at heritage sites, in film and TV, and online.

Sam Goodman, Bournemouth University

Sam Goodman is engaged in research on medicine and British national identity from 1750 to the present day. He has written on topics including the connection between James Bond and the Cold War pharmaceutical industry, emergency nursing in the Indian Rebellion of 1857, and the popularity of medical-based literature, television and film in contemporary culture.

Daniel Lee, University of Oxford

Daniel Lee's research examines the experiences of Jews in France and in French North Africa during the Second World War. He will shortly begin a new project that explores Jewish pimping and prostitution in the Mediterranean, 1880-1940.

Peter Mackay, University of St Andrews

Peter Mackay is working on an anthology of transgressive Gaelic poetry over the last 500 years. His research interests include Scottish and Irish poetry of the 20th and 21st centuries and their place within 'English' literature.

Joe Moshenska, University of Cambridge

Joe Moshenska has worked on the importance of touch in religious and early scientific debates, the philosophical history of tickling and the reception of Chinese medicine in England. As a way of exploring the tastes, smells and textures of the period he is researching the 17th century figure of Sir Kenelm Digby, a traveller who collected recipes from around the world.

Nadine Muller, Liverpool John Moores University

Nadine Muller researches the widow in British literature and culture from the 19th century to the present day. She has worked on projects exploring the Victorians in the 21st century, and on women and belief.

Kylie Murray, University of Oxford

Kylie Murray explores pre-Reformation Scottish literature, books, and culture. She has recently discovered Scotland's oldest non-biblical manuscript, dating to the twelfth century, and fresh evidence which suggests that James I of Scotland was the author of Scotland's first dream-poem.

Sandeep Parmar, University of Liverpool

Sandeep Parmar is a poet and is currently writing a novel about the Green Revolution in India. Her research explores modernist women writers including Nancy Cunard, Hope Mirrlees and Mina Loy.

Danielle Thom, V&A

Danielle Thom researches connections between sculpture and print culture in 18th century Britain. She has recently explored the influence of Neoclassical nude figures on erotic prints, and is writing a book on the sculptor Joseph Nollekens.

Clare Walker Gore, University of Cambridge

Clare Walker Gore researches disability in Victorian literature, especially novels by Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Anthony Trollope and George Eliot, and the biographies of the period, exploring the ways in which the lives of disabled people were portrayed.

The 10 winners, the fifth group of New Generation Thinkers, will spend one year working with Radio 3 presenters and producers to develop their ideas into broadcasts. They will make their debut appearance on Radio 3's arts and ideas programme, Free Thinking, on successive editions beginning with a special edition of the programme recorded at Hay Festival and broadcast on Thursday 28 May featuring four of the winners. All of the New Generation Thinkers will be invited to make regular contributions to the network throughout the year.

Each New Generation Thinker will have an opportunity to develop their ideas for television, making short films for BBC Arts Online. A selection of short films made by the 2014 intake are available at bbc.co.uk/arts.

Alan Davey, Controller, BBC Radio 3, said: BBC Radio 3 is about pushing boundaries. We are dedicated to nurturing emerging talent across culture and music, and encouraging new ways of looking at things and surprising audiences. Our New Generation Thinker Partnership with the AHRC has given us access to fresh thinking and new approaches to ideas by scholars at the start of their careers. This helps us as a broadcaster to present fascinating and complex ideas in new ways, and I hope it will give our New Generation Thinkers a huge canvas to make a big impact with their work.

Matthew Dodd, Head of Speech programming, BBC Radio 3, said: Some of the very first graduates of the New Generation Thinkers Scheme are now experienced TV and radio broadcasters having first participated in the scheme; we're sure that this year's intake will prove just as insightful and enticing to our audience who are always thirsty for knowledge.

Professor Rick Rylance, Chief Executive Arts and Humanities Research Council, said: The resounding popularity of the New Generation Thinkers scheme demonstrates the enormous interest the arts and humanities research community has in sharing its knowledge and ideas with a wide audience. The announcement of these ten outstanding winners, with their diverse projects and expertise, illustrates the capacity for research to illuminate our lives and stimulate our curiosity. I am very much looking forward to hearing their contributions to BBC Radio 3 over the coming year.

Peter Florence, Director of Hay Festival, said: We are thrilled to be welcoming this cohort of New Generation Thinkers who imagine the world in ways that will enrich us all.

For enquiries regarding BBC Radio 3 please contact: Alexandra Heybourne, BBC Radio 3 Head of Communications Alexandra.heybourne@bbc.co.uk 0203 614 2630 / 07973 189 364

For enquiries regarding AHRC please contact: Alex Pryce, AHRC: 01793 41 6025 a.pryce@ahrc.ac.uk

For media enquiries relating to Hay Festival please contact: Chris Bone / Emily Banyard at hay@fmcm.co.uk / 07506 522540

Notes to Editors

  • New Generation Thinkers was launched in November 2010 at Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas. The New Generation Thinkers scheme invites applications from academics at an early stage of their career who are passionate about communicating modern scholarship to a wider audience.  Since 2010, 40 academics from across the UK have presented documentaries on Radio 3, taken part in discussion programmes and made taster films for BBC Arts Online.  Listeners can hear contributions from previous New Generation Thinkers on Radio 3's Free Thinking programme and via the Free Thinking website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0144txn.

    Previous New Generation Thinkers who have gone on to work across the media include Alexandra Harris who presented a BBC Four programme on Mrs Dalloway, a Radio 3 documentary on the artist Eric Ravilious and has appeared on Free Thinking. Christopher Harding, Gregory Tate, Fern Riddell and John Gallagher all presented Radio 3 Sunday Features on subjects linked to their research. Sarah Dillon has appeared several times on Free Thinking and now presents a ‘deep reading’ feature on Radio 4's Open Book. Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough recently presented a very well received Sunday Feature on the ‘Supernatural North’. Jules Evans has presented a programme for Radio 4's History of Ideas. Shahidha Bari has presented a documentary about the sari for Radio 4, reviews for Radio 4's Front Row and has hosted a Proms Extra Literary Event on Dylan Thomas. Emma Griffin has contributed to Radio 4's In Our Time and presented 'Voices from our Industrial Past' on Radio 4 and co-presented 'The Real Mill' with Tony Robinson on Channel 4. Laurence Scott has presented two Sunday Features, one on Merchant Ivory and one on G.W.M. Reynolds. Nandini Das presented a BBC4 programme on The Cabinet of Curiosities.
  • Radio 3 broadcasts high-quality, distinctive classical music and cultural programming, alongside regular arts and ideas programmes, jazz and world music. The station features more live classical music programming than any other and is the home of the BBC Proms - broadcasting every Prom live and more than 600 complete concerts a year - alongside daily speech programming, 90 full-length operas, over 25 drama commissions and over 20 new BBC music commissions a year. Radio 3 is the most significant commissioner of new musical works in the country and is committed to supporting new talent, from composers to writers and new young performers, through schemes such as New Generation Artists and New Generation Thinkers. www.bbc.co.uk/radio3
  • The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class research in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and many more. Each year the AHRC spends approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training often in collaboration with partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public fundsprovide considerable economic, social and cultural benefits to the UK. For further information on the AHRC, please go to: www.ahrc.ac.uk
  • BBC Arts: This announcement is part of the BBC's ongoing commitment to Arts programming, ‘the greatest commitment to arts for a generation’ as announced by the Director General in 2014. The BBC aims to provide the broadest range and depth of music and arts programmes across television, radio and online including landmark seasons in 2015 planned on dance, film, theatre and poetry. The BBC creates non-commercial partnerships with the arts sector that go beyond broadcast, from sharing expertise to widening public engagement in UK arts. In February, GET CREATIVE - a year-long celebration of British arts, culture and creativity designed to encourage participation in the arts was launched in partnership with cultural movement What Next? as well as a huge range of arts, cultural and voluntary organisations across the UK. The BBC aims to provide context through original, fresh discussion and perspectives and is the biggest investor and creator of original arts and music programming. http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts.
  • Hay Festival: For 28 years Hay Festival has brought together writers from around the world to debate and share stories at its festival in the staggering beauty of the Welsh Borders. Hay celebrates great writing from poets and scientists, lyricists and comedians, novelists and environmentalists, and the power of great ideas to transform our way of thinking. We believe the exchange of views and meeting of minds that our festivals create inspire revelations personal, political and educational. Hay is, in Bill Clinton's phrase, 'The Woodstock of the mind'.

    Founded around a kitchen table in 1987, the Festival continues to attract the most exciting writers, filmmakers, comedians, politicians and musicians to inspire, delight and entertain.www.hayfestival.com
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