The scheme has supported and nurtured some extraordinary academic talent, giving the broadcasters of tomorrow a platform through which to present their fascinating and thought-provoking research to our listeners, and I can’t wait to hear what ideas these ten exciting thinkers will bring to us in the coming year.Alan Davey, Controller, BBC Radio 3
Date: 21.02.2018 Last updated: 21.02.2018 at 18.30
BBC Radio 3, BBC Arts and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) have today announced 2018’s cohort of New Generation Thinkers; ten academics at the start of their careers who have a flair for communicating their research to the public. The scheme includes the opportunity to make radio and television programmes for the BBC.
The ten New Generation Thinkers were selected after a nationwide search for the best academic ideas with the potential to be shared through the media. They will now have the opportunity to make programmes for Radio 3 and other outlets, as well as contributing to wider media through the AHRC. In addition, the scheme partners with BBC Four, where some of the selected academics will be given the chance to present a programme for TV.
This year’s specialisms cover an eclectic spectrum of the arts and humanities; all with the potential to reach a broad public audience. Some academics are looking afresh at historical topics, with explorations into 18th-century masculinity and the medical history of George Orwell sitting alongside research into early 20th-century vegetarianism in Britain, and how the Ottoman Empire dealt with piracy.
Others in the new intake are exploring more contemporary issues, such as the way globalisation is impacting how films are made around the world, or how the ethics of commercial surrogacy in India can be understood.
The New Generation Thinkers were selected from hundreds of applications from academics at the start of their careers. They have all demonstrated a passion for communicating their work and a skill for making complex areas of study engaging, accessible, and enlightening.
The final ten were chosen after a four-month selection process, including a series of day-long workshops at the BBC in Salford and London. They have undergone training and development with the AHRC and will spend a year being mentored by producers from Radio 3’s Free Thinking programme.
The selected academics will be publicly unveiled at a free event recorded as part of BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead on Saturday 10 March and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Tuesday 3 April at 10pm. As with all Free Thinking programmes, the broadcast will also be on the BBC Radio 3 website and as an Arts and Ideas podcast. Further programmes focused on the NGT’s research will be aired throughout 2018.
Alan Davey, Controller, BBC Radio 3, says: “Radio 3’s mission is to connect our audiences with pioneering music and culture and since its launch in 2010, the New Generation Thinkers has been a central part of this. The scheme has supported and nurtured some extraordinary academic talent, giving the broadcasters of tomorrow a platform through which to present their fascinating and thought-provoking research to our listeners, and I can’t wait to hear what ideas these ten exciting thinkers will bring to us in the coming year.”
Robyn Read, Editor of Free Thinking, says: “I love discovering the academics’ fascinating research and am always looking for ways to integrate it into Free Thinking discussions, linking their findings with new exhibitions, books, plays, films, television and topical discussion we cover on the programme. Their insights give fresh perspectives to our cultural coverage, and I hope that the experience we can offer them of working with radio production is equally valuable to their academic careers.”
Professor Andrew Thompson, Chief Executive of the AHRC, says: “This scheme is all about helping the next generation of academics to find new and wider audiences for their research by giving them a platform to share their ideas and allowing them to have the space to challenge our thinking. The New Generation Thinkers scheme is also one of the AHRC’s major vehicles for engaging the public with the inspiring research taking place across the UK. More than ever we need the new insights and knowledge that come from arts and humanities researchers to help us navigate through the complexities of our globalised world and address the moral and ethical challenges of today and tomorrow.”
The 2018 New Generation Thinkers are:
Dr Ben Anderson
Lecturer in Twentieth-Century European History, School of Humanities, Keele University
Ben Anderson is an environmental historian, whose central curiosity lies in cultural uses of the natural world; something which might stem from a childhood spent in rural Derbyshire and Devon, or from his enthusiasm for rock climbing and outdoor sports. He completed his doctorate at Manchester in 2011, and has been a lecturer at Keele since 2012.
Ben’s current research spans the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with a focus on English- and German-speaking Europeans and the explosion in mountain leisure that occurred at that time. He is working on new projects that delve deeper into the history of our cultural perceptions, uses and transformations of the countryside and on ultraviolet light.
Dr Gulzaar Barn
University of Birmingham
Gulzaar Barn is a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Birmingham, where she is also a member of the Centre for Global Ethics. Her interests lie in moral, political, and feminist philosophy, and she is particularly concerned with exploring the ethical dimensions of contemporary practical issues.
Gulzaar’s doctoral research at the University of Oxford focused on the Indian commercial surrogacy industry, and its parallels with other instances of ‘embodied labour,’ such as kidney selling and paid participation in clinical trials. She explores the relationship between the body and the self as it plays out in transactions that involve the human body.
Dr Daisy Black
Lecturer, English Literature, University of Wolverhampton
Daisy is a lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton, who also works as a freelance theatre director, storyteller, writer and arts advisor. She completed her BA at the University of Cambridge and did her MA and PhD in medieval literature at the University of Manchester.
Daisy is currently writing a book on time and gender in late medieval religious drama. This argues that conflicts between men and women in biblical plays are debates about time. Her next project focuses on food in medieval performance, transgressive food, and eating. Other research interests include medieval depictions of Jews and Muslims; women in performance; spectatorship; women at sea; lay theology and medievalism in modern board game cultures.
Dr Dafydd Mills Daniel
McDonald Departmental Lecturer in Christian Ethics and Lecturer in Theology, Jesus College, University of Oxford
Before being awarded his doctorate at Oxford, he read Theology and Religious Studies at Cambridge, and completed a Masters in Philosophy of Religion at Yale, where he was a Marquand Scholar.
Dafydd’s research has three key strands: the interplay between religious, scientific and ethical ideas in the Enlightenment, with a particular focus on Isaac Newton, and his followers; the history and development of theories of conscience; current debates in sexual, medical, and political ethics, and the philosophy of education.
Dr Des Fitzgerald
Des Fitzgerald is a sociologist working at Cardiff university, where he teaches courses on the sociology of science and the sociology of health and illness. He is interested in how ideas and concepts from psychology and neuroscience get caught up in social and cultural life. In other work, he has looked at how neuroscientists work on autism and on the experimental production of daydreaming as a distinct phenomenon.
Des is currently researching the cultural idea that cities are psychologically bad for us, or that they are somehow unnatural, artificial spaces, not well adapted to human organisms.
Dr Sarah Goldsmith
Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Centre for Urban History and School of History, University of Leicester
Sarah Goldsmith is a social and cultural historian who works on the long eighteenth century and on the histories of masculinity, the body, travel, education, danger and emotion. She did her BA and MA at the University of Nottingham and worked for a short while in the museum industry.
Her AHRC-funded PhD was at the University of York, and examined how and why Grand Tourists willingly engaged with danger during travel. She now holds a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the University of Leicester, and is investigating the body’s importance to eighteenth-century masculinity.
Dr Lisa J Mullen
Steven Isenberg Junior Research Fellow, Worcester College, University of Oxford
Lisa Mullen is working on a book which takes a fresh look at the novels and journalism of George Orwell, through the lens of his painful and complicated medical history. The book argues that the very language that Orwell used to unpick the structures of poverty and power was deeply rooted in his many uncomfortable experiences of being a patient.
Lisa’s previous work has been on narratives of the uncanny in post-World War II literature and culture, and on the way medical objects and technologies read and write on the human body. She is currently a Junior Research Fellow at Worcester College, Oxford University, and before that she studied and worked at Birkbeck, University of London.
Dr Elsa Richardson
Chancellor’s Fellow, Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare, Strathclyde University, Glasgow
Elsa Richardson's research examines histories of nutrition, vegetarianism, other alternative dietary cultures, mental stress and gastric disorders in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Britain. She is currently working on a project looking at the life and influence of Eustace Hamilton Miles, the author and owner of several vegetarian and health food shops post-WW1.
Broadly, Elsa is interested in the relationships between medicine and the imagination, science and the supernatural, psychology and popular culture.
Dr Iain Smith
King’s College London
Iain Robert Smith’s research investigates the impact of globalisation on popular films made around the world. He has a particular interest in unlicensed remakes of Hollywood films such as a 1974 Turkish version of The Exorcist that replaced the Catholicism with Islam and a 2002 Bollywood musical based on Reservoir Dogs, arguing that they are essential to understanding the international impact of American popular culture and the complicated politics of globalisation.
Iain’s current project builds on this expertise in the murky, disreputable films at the margins of world cinema by focusing on South-Asian cult cinema. This has recently led to him investigating the largely forgotten moment when the British Board of Film Classification banned a Pakistani spy thriller for endorsing Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa against Salman Rushdie.
Dr Michael Talbot
Lecturer in the History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Middle East, Department of History, Politics and Social Sciences, University of Greenwich
Michael Talbot has been obsessed with history since a young age, and after studying the subject at the University of Cambridge and the School of Oriental and African Studies, has come to specialise in the Middle East, its past, present, and future.
Michael’s research explores the Ottoman Empire's interactions with other powers and peoples. His first book examined British-Ottoman relations in the 18th century, and his current work considers Ottoman attitudes towards the sea in the same period, how it might be controlled, and how to deal with piracy and its victims.