Main content

Oscar Nominations, Steve McQueen, Slavery Narratives

Matthew Sweet is joined by film director Steve McQueen, critic Ian Christie, poet Fred D'Aguiar, anthropologist Kit Davis and historian Madge Dresser to discuss slave narratives.

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.

Available now

45 minutes

Chapters

  • Oscar Nominations

    Ian Christie assesses this year's Oscar nominations.

    Duration: 09:07

  • Steve McQueen

    Interview with Steve McQueen about his film 12 Years A Slave.

    Duration: 09:20

  • Slavery Narratives

    Fred D'Aguiar, Madge Dresser and Kit Davis discuss slave narratives.

    Duration: 25:30

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

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Matthew Sweet
Interviewed Guest Steve McQueen
Interviewed Guest Ian Christie
Interviewed Guest Fred D'Aguiar
Interviewed Guest Kit Davis
Interviewed Guest Madge Dresser

Broadcast

Featured in...

The Arts & Ideas Podcast

The Arts & Ideas Podcast

You can download all the past episodes of Radio 3's Free Thinking

Discussions and talks from the Free Thinking Festival 2019

Discussions and talks from the Free Thinking Festival 2019

Angry politics, what we can’t say, being diplomatic, weeping, emotion in music, film & TV

Click to listen to discussions, talks and music as the Free Thinking Festival 2019 Gets Emotional

Click to listen to discussions, talks and music as the Free Thinking Festival 2019 Gets Emotional

Angry politics, what we can’t say, being diplomatic, weeping, emotion in music, film & TV

CLICK to LISTEN & SEE programmes from the Free Thinking Festival 2018: The One & the Many

CLICK to LISTEN & SEE programmes from the Free Thinking Festival 2018: The One & the Many

We examine the fast-changing relationship between the individual & the crowd

CLICK to LISTEN & SEE all programmes, images, clips & features from 2017's festival

CLICK to LISTEN & SEE all programmes, images, clips & features from 2017's festival

Free Thinking Festival 2017: The Speed of Life