The Divine Comedy - a screenbook read by Malcolm Hossick with backgrounds by Botticelli and William Blake. A long poem about an imaginary visit to Hell, Purgatory and Paradise, where people are believed to go after death and written around the year 1400 might seem an uphill struggle for anyone approaching it in the 21 st century over 600 years later. Yet the poem still intrigues people today as it has for many in the intervening centuries. Dante accepts without question the beliefs current in his time about the afterlife and the punishments and rewards after death meted out to people according to how well or badly people have lived their lives. His graphic and imaginative descriptions and most of all his natural responses to what he sees and what he hears from the sufferers, is what intrigues us most of all because we come to see that although we may have different views on the possibility of an afterlife for example, the ways of mankind have not really changed much over time. People fall in love, are jealous or kind, thoughtful or selfish, gentle or brutish and pursue all the possible foibles of humanity in pretty much the same ways. So apart from giving his own Italian language a boost because he wrote in the language of the people and not in scholarly Latin, what he wrote about and how he did it fascinates us just as it did the literate folk of his own day. It turns out that his idea of Paradise is to meet again the girl he once loved as a boy. Who can fault that? And the whole plan of the thing - it is so orderly, so cleverly arranged - 100 chapters - one third each to the three parts of the journey, Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise - a strict verse form which allows him to sugggest all kinds of extra meanings - it's not so surprising that it still fascinates people. Here it is all tooled up for your smart phone with backgrounds by Botticelli and Blake both of them fascinated by Dante - the words flowing along on the screen backed up by a voice helping to make sense of it all. Dante for the 21st century in a remarkable verse translation by the Englsh poet Laurence Binyon (1869 - 1943)! Well - it is over 18 hours long! 6 parts of over two hours each but chapter points help you to keep your place. There is a brief introduction to the whole thing, how he wrote it and so on. Each canto/chapter has a short explanatory piece. It will take a while but you will soon get a feeling for it. He never preaches and he is forever open to it all and full of wonder at the vagaries and delights of human existence. What honourable human being doesn't aspire to that?
About 15 million children or 21% of children in the United States live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level. Students between the ages of 16-24 from low income families are seven times more likely to drop out of school than those who come from families with higher incomes. 31% of the American population cannot read above the 4th grade level. Filmed on-location in communities across the country, this multi-part series is based on the award-winning book and television series hosted by Harvard Professor Robert Putnam.
A 2-part documentary by Malcolm Hossick. It's not too much to claim that the English playwright Shakespeare is the best known figure in world literature. His works have been translated into every known written language on earth. English for various reasons has become the language of business and international politics. It's the plots and the way he handles them that get people interested. Operas and films have been made of them. There is hardly a topic in human relations that he doesn't touch on and open up in ways that anyone anywhere can relate to. He makes people laugh out loud and clutches their hearts in sympathy. Ah yes we say. That's the way things are! The first part of this film explores how he got to where he did and in particular the remarkable society in which he found the space and tolerance to do it. Part two looks at a few of the plays in detail, the words, the images, the dramatic techniques he used. It's no use pretending that it is easy to get to grips with – the verse, the brilliant use of language and ideas - they are complicated and demanding. He writes words to be spoken on the stage and he lived long before the novel was established, the staple of popular culture today. His vocabulary is enormous and he was educated in the Roman and Greek classics which most people don't get these days. But most of us can better rise to challenges than we often think we can and plumbing the depths of Shakespeare is to get at the heart of what it is to be a confident human being. In the measure of our time on earth Shakespeare wrote only yesterday and the delights and travails he deals with are with us today as ever. This film might just be a way into the astonishing world of William Shakespeare.
This documentary profiles the astonishing life of Alexander Pope (1688-1744), a forgotten genius and a child prodigy akin to Mozart. He was the greatest poet of the 18th century and is the second most quoted writer in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations after Shakespeare.
In this program, five eminent psychologists describe their unusual and varied career paths that took them to where they are today. The psychologists featured are Barbara Fredrickson, Philip Zimbardo, Roy Baumeister, Chris Frith, and Diana Deutsch.
This program features five highly accomplished historians give us an inside view of what their day job is really like. The historians featured are Teofilo Ruiz, Miri Rubin, Darrin McMahon, Richard Janko, and Quentin Skinner.
This program features interviews with scholars of classical Greece. Josiah Ober focuses on the political thought in ancient Greece and how they were in tune with their audience as well as elitism; Susan Wolf considers Aristotle's endoxic method; Richard Janko discusses Athenian impieties and the turning point in the Peloponnesian War.
In this program, University of Cambridge political theorist John Dunn takes a provocative and stimulating look at democracy, examining its past, present, and future, while pointing out that much conventional wisdom about how we regard ourselves and our democratic traditions is actually very far from correct.
The development of the idea of democracy in ancient Greece and where it has got to in our own times. Democracy is the hottest topic on earth you might say. Nations which adopt it far oustrip any others in human development and success. But hereditary rulers are not democratic. Familiy sturctures are not democratic. Most educational institutions are not democratic. Religions are not democratic. Most companies are not democratic. So to make headway and to keep going democracies have a lot to push against. This film by Malcolm Hossick examines the astonishing roots of democracy in ancient Greece. The idea of equality for everyone under the law is so powerful that it has somehow sustained over the centuries and is now the major driving force for the development of humanity across the earth. Reactionary forces who see themselves losing power and wealth, and the massive destruction that humans have largely unwittingly brought upon the natural world we all inhabit mean that keeping things going, improving the lot of the individual is a massive task. The film explores how democracy has its effect and outlines the compromise and humility on the part of all of us humans needed to keep it going fruitfully forward.
The life and times of the 17th century English poet John Donne. John Donne was born into a fascinating and creative period of human history. He got the best education on offer in the England of Queen Elizabeth and hardly out of his teens he was recognised as a poet of astonishing ability. In a period when the pace was set by no less a mortal than Shakespeare Donne had a unique way with words and ideas which delighted and amazed his brightest contemporaries. But it was an age of terrible religious division and as a Roman Catholic by birth he was at once at odds with the prevailing Protestant faith. It was a problem that coloured his whole life and this film by Malcolm Hossick covers the course of his work and the struggles he had to make his way. It includes several of his delightful poems and we see how in spite of his travails Donne's positive spirit rose above them all.
In this program, Harvard historian David Armitage takes a look at the notion of civil war, tracing it from the ancient Romans through to the American Civil War and right up to modern insurgency movements, as per his book, Civil Wars: A History in Ideas.
The background, rise and importance of the enlightenment movement starting in the 18th century. Anyone with the slightest knowledge of politics in the UK and the US today knows that the partisan/party divide in their respective governments is complete and utterly destructive of good government. Enjoying the same language and many similar traditions both countries emerged from the last war with their governments intact. Other nations starting from scratch developed proportional voting in their elections while the two anglo saxon nations remained proudly stuck with their already outdated first past the post systems. As their societies through education became more and more sophisticated the election rules became more and more ineffective resulting in the current deadlocks. In the period known as the French enlightenment which led to the French revolution, educated ideas about government were developed which have been the bedrock of all democratic advance ever since. It is these early ideas and the consequences of recent mass education - another but welcome result of the last terrible world war, which are the subjects of this film. No topic could be of greater imprtance to these two nations and because of the peculiar position they occupy in the world at large, to all of humanity in this time of world wide pandemic. At the heart of democracy lies the idea of equality and the party political conflict which currently bedevils governments is anathema to honourable rule. The film tries to unravel the roots of this destructrive but fascinating problem and point ways to their resolution.
Poems on the death of his wife by Thomas Hardy in a Screenbook read by Malcolm Hossick. Thomas Hardy is well known for his novels like Tess of the D'Urbervilles or Far from the Madding Crowd. However he considered his best work to be his poetry. Here we have a few of the poems he wrote after the sudden and unexpected death of his first wife Emma. She had not been able to bear children, he saw his work as his main concern and they had drifted apart. On her death he was grief stricken and full of remorse for his neglect of her and he remembers their early happiness when they first met in Cornwall. Many folk approach poems with diffidence thinking them to be oblique and hard to understand. Hardy's poetry is clear and direct and these poems I find moving and astonishingly sensitive to the little details of ordinary life.
In this program, four experts — David Bellos, Michael Berry, Pankaj Mishra, Carol Padden — describe intriguing insights regarding the overlap of language and culture, from the global proliferation of sign languages to the idea of language as an expression of identity.
Matthew Bourne’s Romeo + Juliet is a passionate and contemporary re-imagining of Shakespeare’s classic story of love and conflict. Set in the not-too-distant future in ‘The Verona Institute’ and mysteriously confined against their will by a society that seeks to divide and crush their youthful spirits, our two young lovers must follow their hearts as they risk everything to be together. ‘A timeless story about repressed emotions and teenage discovery is no better told than by the young’, said Matthew Bourne. Inspired by this and as part of New Adventures’ ambition to support the next generation of on-stage talent, Romeo & Juliet featured the finest emerging male and female dancers from around the UK. Bursting with youth, vitality, and Bourne’s trademark storytelling, six young cast members were chosen following a nationwide audition tour and they performed alongside the New Adventures company at each theatre venue.
After causing an immediate sensation when it premiered at Sadler’s Wells in 1995, Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake returns with a fresh look for the 21st century. Still retaining the iconic elements of the original production loved by millions around the world, award-winning designers, Lez Brotherston and Paule Constable, alongside Bourne, have created an exciting re-imagining of the classic production. Thrilling, audacious, witty and emotive, this Swan Lake is perhaps still best known for replacing the female corps-de-ballet with a menacing male ensemble, which shattered conventions, turned tradition upside down and took the dance world by storm. Liam Mower’s prince is a heart-stopping tragic hero trapped in a joyless royal routine when he stumbles across a moonlit flock of swans, which leads to a dangerous and romantic duet with the lead dancer, Will Bozier.
The life and times of the Norwegian painter Munch and his importance in the development of art. Edvard Munch was born in 1863 not long after Darwin's celebrated work on the Origin of Spieces. If ever there was a painter reflecting a massive change in how human beings view the world about them it was surely Munch. In spite of virulent opposition from his peers he marched fearlessly into the new world view and flagged the rest of us well on our way.. He could hardly be more talented than he was. He could hardly have worked harder than he did. His massive output charms and disturbs us almost as much now as it did when he painted it and he died more than seventy years ago. What a subject for a film! There are no presenters; there is no lush music. Just Munch and his astonishing life and the paintings he made. You might well change your views on what art is about. It's quite likely that after viewing this film you will be making a beeline for the Munch Museum in Oslo at the first opportunity.
This documentary offers a unique and important window into core societal issues illuminated by the COVID-19 Pandemic. It was filmed remotely using local film crews during the Omicron variant outbreak and features short, thought-provoking clips of 32 leading experts in the fields of public health, psychology, sociology, philosophy, political theory, history, law, science, education, and medicine.
In this program, Nobel Laureate David Politzer, master violinmaker/acoustician Joseph Curtin, psychologist of music Diana Deutsch and neuroscientist Jennifer Groh give their different, yet reinforcing, perspectives on the science of sound and music. Among the topics they discuss are characterizing sound, measuring sound, and brain research on sound.
A selection of 25 sonnets from the 154 which Shakepeare wrote read by Malcolm Hossick. The sonnet form of 14 lines in a regular pattern is brilliantly exploited in these poems about love, it's transcience and frailty. Audiobooks as a source are one thing but here in Screenbooks where the printed word flows with the voice we can take advantage of the ease with which we can now all view such matter on our screens, large and small. It's possible to see the sonnets as a facile exercise in verse-making - he could do it- so he did it. But they are so stunning and delightful in their ingenuity and understanding that this selection can only whet the appetite for more.
UC San Diego psychologist Victor Ferreira describes how his detailed experiments in linguistics reveal key insights into how our use of language influences how we think and communicate with others. He discusses such topics as minimizing ambiguity, grammar, and language and thought.
Gitanjali – a collection of poems written in English by the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore in a Screenbook read by Malcolm Hossick. The langauge of Bengal is spoken by over 250 million people living in the north east of India and the state of Bangladesh. It has a vast and sopisticated written literary culture, stretching back a thousand years. In 1912 poems, 'Gitanjali - Song Offerings' - by the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore were published to great acclaim in a version by the poet himself in English, the language of the then rulers of India and now the language of most of the globally minded folk of our own day. Languages reflect the world as the speakers of the language see it and can be seen as barriers to understanding between nations. Tagore was driven throughout his life by the idea that all human societies, rich in their own bckgrounds and cultures, nevertheless had much more in common than divided them and it was ever his principle goal to do what he could to bridge the gaps. In these poems he adresses in a very charming and approachable way all the subtle matters of existence which make us human beings so interesting. By this means we learn much about how Tagore and his fellow Indians consider the world. Most remarkably he seems to be in perpetual conversation with - well - he never quite states who. But we know in our bones it is the idea of the source of wisdom and understanding in the world we all inhabit. Some folk need to call this idea out and give it a name - but he hardly does. It's a translation so we, who have it in English, have to make of it what we can. Of what there is, we can only say that to be a speaker of Bengali, must be quite something.
A selection of poems by the Irish poet W B Yeats in a screenbook read by Malcolm Hossick. W B Yeats had a natural talent for handling words and observing the intimate details of human existence and produced a wonderful range of verse over a long lifetime. Malcolm Hossick has chosen 41 poems which he feels reflect the poet's unique view of life and mark him out as one of the greatest writers of poetry in the English language. There are chapter points which help in locating the poems.