Oscar Nominations, Steve McQueen, Slavery Narratives

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On tonight's Freethinking, the opposite of freedom - and how to describe it. We're going to listen to the voices of slaves. We'll hear the recorded testimony of people who were once regarded as property. And we'll examine the slave autobiographies that became a vigorous literary genre in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. How reliable are they - and what are we relying upon them for?

Matthew Sweet talks to director Steve McQueen about his new film '12 Years A Slave' and assesses this year's Oscar nominations, among them Gravity starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, and The Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo Di Caprio and directed by Martin Scorsese.

The text from which 12 Years a Slave was created was a narrative of the same name written by Solomon Northup in 1853. There are hundreds of such narratives but who really wrote them, who were they for and what can we tell from the surviving copies? The poet and writer Fred D'Aguiar, the historian Dr Madge Dresser and the anthropologist Dr Kit Davis discuss the ghosts that rise up amongst us when studying such texts.

Release date:

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Thu 16 Jan 2014 22:00

Oscar Nominations

The Oscar Nominations were announced for earlier today, for a full list of the year’s nominees click here.

The winners will be announced on Sunday 2 March.  

12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen, is in cinemas nationwide now, certificate 15.

Slave Narratives

Some of the texts mentioned in the discussion: 

Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom by Ellen Craft and William Craft

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by himself

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano by himself.

(The image above is of Olaudah Equiano from the inside cover of this book).

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Nothup

The History of Mary Prince related by herself

Poems by Phillis Wheatley


Role Contributor
PresenterMatthew Sweet
Interviewed GuestSteve McQueen
Interviewed GuestIan Christie
Interviewed GuestFred D'Aguiar
Interviewed GuestKit Davis
Interviewed GuestMadge Dresser

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