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In Our Time

Podcast In Our Time
Podcast In Our Time

In Our Time

BBC Radio 4
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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the ideas, people and events that have shaped our world. More
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the ideas, people and events that have shaped our world. More

Available Episodes

5 of 300
  • The Shimabara Rebellion
    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Christian uprising in Japan and its profound and long-term consequences. In the 1630s, Japan was ruled by the Tokagawa Shoguns, a military dynasty who, 30 years earlier, had unified the country, ending around two centuries of civil war. In 1637 a rebellion broke out in the province of Shimabara, in the south of the country. It was a peasants’ revolt, following years of bad harvests in which the local lord had refused to lower taxes. Many of the rebels were Christians, and they fought under a Christian banner. The central government’s response was merciless. They met the rebels with an army of 150 000 men, possibly the largest force assembled anywhere in the world during the Early Modern period. Once the rebellion had been suppressed, the Shogun enforced a ban on Christianity and expelled nearly all foreigners from the country. Japan remained more or less completely sealed off from the rest of the world for the next 250 years. With Satona Suzuki Lecturer in Japanese and Modern Japanese History at SOAS, University of London Erica Baffelli Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Manchester and Christopher Harding Senior Lecturer in Asian History at the University of Edinburgh Producer Luke Mulhall
    08/06/2023
    48:03
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls
    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the revelatory collection of Biblical texts, legal documents, community rules and literary writings. In 1946 a Bedouin shepherd boy was looking for a goat he’d lost in the hills above the Dead Sea. He threw a rock into a cave and heard a hollow sound. He’d hit a ceramic jar containing an ancient manuscript. This was the first of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of about a thousand texts dating from around 250 BC to AD 68. It is the most substantial first hand evidence we have for the beliefs and practices of Judaism in and around the lifetime of Jesus. The Dead Sea Scrolls have transformed our understanding of how the texts that make up the Hebrew Bible were edited and collected. They also offer a tantalising window onto the world from which Christianity eventually emerged. With Sarah Pearce Ian Karten Professor of Jewish Studies and Head of the School of Humanities at the University of Southampton Charlotte Hempel Professor of Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism at the University of Birmingham and George Brooke Rylands Professor Emeritus of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of Manchester Producer Luke Mulhall
    01/06/2023
    48:07
  • Walt Whitman
    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the highly influential American poet Walt Whitman. In 1855 Whitman was working as a printer, journalist and property developer when he published his first collection of poetry. It began: I celebrate myself, And what I assume you shall assume For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. The book was called Leaves of Grass. In it, Whitman set out to break away from European literary forms and traditions. Using long lines written in free verse, he developed a poetry meant to express a distinctively American outlook. Leaves of Grass is full of verse that celebrates both the sovereign individual, and the deep fellowship between individuals. Its optimism about the American experience was challenged by the Civil War and its aftermath, but Whitman emerged as a celebrity and a key figure in the development of American culture. With Sarah Churchwell Professor of American Literature and the Public Understanding of the Humanities at the University of London Peter Riley Lecturer in 19th Century American Literature at the University of Exeter and Mark Ford Professor of English and American Literature at University College London Producer Luke Mulhall
    25/05/2023
    49:38
  • Linnaeus
    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life, ideas and legacy of the pioneering Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707 – 1778). The philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau once wrote: "Tell him I know no greater man on earth". The son of a parson, Linnaeus grew up in an impoverished part of Sweden but managed to gain a place at university. He went on to transform biology by making two major innovations. He devised a simpler method of naming species and he developed a new system for classifying plants and animals, a system that became known as the Linnaean hierarchy. He was also one of the first people to grow a banana in Europe. With Staffan Muller-Wille University Lecturer in History of Life, Human and Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge Stella Sandford Professor of Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University, London and Steve Jones Senior Research Fellow in Genetics at University College, London Producer Luke Mulhall
    18/05/2023
    50:19
  • The Battle of Crécy
    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the brutal events of 26 August 1346, when the armies of France and England met in a funnel-shaped valley outside the town of Crécy in northern France. Although the French, led by Philip VI, massively outnumbered the English, under the command of Edward III, the English won the battle, and French casualties were huge. The English victory is often attributed to the success of their longbowmen against the heavy cavalry of the French. The Battle of Crécy was the result of years of simmering tension between Edward III and Philip VI, and it led to decades of further conflict between England and France, a conflict that came to be known as the Hundred Years War. With Anne Curry Emeritus Professor of Medieval History at the University of Southampton Andrew Ayton Senior Research Fellow in History at Keele University and Erika Graham-Goering Lecturer in Late Medieval History at Durham University Producer Luke Mulhall
    11/05/2023
    50:49

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