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500 years ago, Martin Luther challenged the authority of the Pope with a radical new vision of what Christianity could be. The revolution he set in motion has toppled governments, upended social norms, and transformed millions of people’s understanding of their relationship with God. In his dazzling global history charting five centuries of innovation and change, Ryrie makes the case that the world we live in was indelibly shaped by Protestants.
What do we do when the going gets roughest, and what on earth can we say? Rev LT Col Feltham-White is an army chaplain who has dealt with the full psychological cost of war both on the frontline and behind it. Worden is a farmer and campaigner whose father made an attempt on his life after the family farm had to be sold. With wisdom, humour and insight, they talk about when and how to listen.
The Egyptian novelist discusses her writing and her heroic Palfest festival, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year with an anthology This Is Not a Border: Reportage and Reflection from the Palestine Festival of Literature. Soueif’s fiction includes In The Eye of the Sun and The Map of Love. Her non-fiction work includes Cairo: Memoir of a City Transformed.
This event will be recorded for broadcast on the BBC World News programme Talking Books
The Australian writer and thinker is often described as the world’s most influential living philosopher. He is known especially for his work on the ethics of our treatment of animals, for his controversial critique of the sanctity of life ethics in bioethics, and for his writing on the obligations of the affluent to aid those living in extreme poverty. His books include Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics, The Most Good You Can Do, The Life You Can Save, Famine, Affluence and Morality, and most recently Ethics in the Real World: 82 Brief Essays on Things That Matter. He talks to the Festival president.
The Director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton replays and updates his predecessor, Abraham Flexner’s classic 1939 treatise, which describes a great paradox of scientific research: the search for answers to deep questions, motivated solely by curiosity and without concern for applications, often leads not only to the greatest scientific discoveries but also to the most revolutionary technological breakthroughs.
The historian tells the story of the three-in-one great cities of Byzantium, Constantinople and Istanbul, which has long been the gateway between East and West. Archaeologists have measured 42 layers of human inhabitation here on the Bosphorus over the past 6,000 years. It has been the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman empires and, for many years, was known simply as The City.
Sands’s inquiry into the origins of 'genocide' and 'crimes against humanity' is also a personal quest for his family in the Ukrainian city of Lviv. It won this year’s Baillie Gifford Prize. Hay Festival-goers will have heard Sands explore many of the themes of the story here over the past decade. We revisit East West Street this year to honour one of the greatest works of literature of the festival’s lifetime; a book that might be read around Europe and around the world to inform the way contemporary history is developing.
Bellaigue tells the forgotten stories of key figures and reformers of Islam’s past 200 years in The Islamic Enlightenment: The Modern Struggle Between Faith and Reason; from Egypt’s visionary ruler Muhammad Ali to brave radicals such as Iran’s first feminist Qurrat al-Ayn. Terror in France: The Rise of Jihad in the West by Gilles Kepel is the explosive account of the radicalisation of a segment of Muslim youth that led to the 2016 atrocities at Bataclan and in Nice, and of the failure of governments in France and across Europe to address it.
The poignant story of Boabdil, the last Muslim king of Granada. Betrayed by his family and undermined by faction and internal conflict, Boabdil was defeated in 1492 by the forces of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of the newly united kingdoms of Castile and Aragon. The Christian victory marked the completion of the long Christian reconquest of Spain and ended seven centuries in which Christians, Muslims and Jews had, for the most part, lived peacefully and profitably together in La Convivencia.
A conversation about how their Quaker faith has informed the life and work of three writers: the actor Sheila Hancock’s books include the memoir Just Me and the novel Miss Carter’s War; award-winning poet Philip Gross’s collections include The Water Table, Deep Field and the forthcoming A Bright Acoustic; Tracy Chevalier’s novels include Girl With a Pearl Earring, At the Edge of the Orchard and now New Boy.
Whether the issue is violence, terrorism, women’s rights or slavery, Muslims are today expected to provide answers and to justify what Islam is – or is not. Here’s an introduction to the basics from the Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at St Antony’s College, Oxford. Chaired by Sarfraz Manzoor.
The new show from the star of Live At The Apollo, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, Have I Got News for You and Q.I. From Morris Dancing to Morrissey, Shappi is celebrating the fortieth anniversary of her arrival in Britain. She’s reclaiming patriotism and sending a love letter to her adopted land. The daughter of an exiled writer and comic from Iran, Shappi’s upbringing has been in no way conventional. From mental illness to opium dens, it’s all gone on in the Khorsandi household and now she recounts it all the only way she knows how, with wit, warmth and hilarity.
Sponsored by GL Events UK
In 1609, the entire Muslim population of Spain was given three days to leave Spanish territory or be killed. In a brutal and traumatic exodus, entire families were forced to abandon the homes and villages where they had lived for generations. An estimated 300,000 Muslims had been removed from Spanish territory, making it – then – the largest act of ethnic cleansing in European history. Chaired by Abdul-Rehman Malik.
Baroness Warsi’s book The Enemy Within identifies British Muslims as the latest in a long line of ‘others’ to be feared and demonised. The UK’s first Muslim cabinet minister explores questions of cultural difference, terrorism, surveillance, social justice, religious freedom, integration and the meaning of ‘British values’ with Helena Kennedy. She proffers necessary and inconvenient truths and proposes new ways forward for British Muslims, politicians and society.
A medieval centre of learning, Hay’s twin-town was home to tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts on subjects ranging from religion to poetry, law to history, pharmacology to astronomy. When al-Qaeda–linked jihadists surged across Mali in 2012, a remarkable thing happened: a team of librarians and archivists joined forces to spirit the manuscripts into hiding. This is their story. Chaired by Francine Stock.
Bragg’s novel is a hymn both to the landscape of Cumbria and to a disappearing farming world. Poetic, beautiful and tragic, it gives an account of the struggle to preserve traditions and beliefs in the face of change. It is a quietly bold indictment of the treatment of generations of British men, and an assertion of the power to be found in the rituals we pass down through our families. She talks to the poet, academic and former Archbishop of Canterbury.
A celebration of the enduring tales and myths of Northern and Mediterranean Europe that ask, brutally and beautifully – what it means to be human. Gaiman’s newly published Norse Mythology reaches back to the source stories that have inspired Tolkien, the Marvel comics and many others. His gods are irascible, visceral, playful, and passionate. The tales carry us from the beginning of everything, to Odin, Thor, Loki and Freya through to Ragnarok and the twilight of the gods. Fry is reimagining versions of the Greek myths with their contrary Olympian gods, tragic human heroes and ruinous family curses.
The historian conjures the supreme C16th monarchs whose empires and kingdoms shaped the modern world. He explores the schism in Christianity and the flowering of Islam in the Ottoman Empire. He shows with exquisite erudition how Henry VIII of England, Francis I of France, Charles V of Spain and Suleiman the Magnificent forged the politics, culture and religion of their time and ours.
Mixing extensive research and testimony from survivors with a searing analysis of the decision-making of the Nazi state, the distinguished film-maker and historian’s landmark work answers two of the most fundamental questions in history – how, and why, did the holocaust happen?
Who was Thomas More, the author of Utopia? The distinguished historian of Tudor England parses the propaganda and More’s writings to read behind the myth. He examines the ways in which More’s legacy has been contested or resisted. And he suggests which aspects of his thought are likely to continue to influence the world in the future.
Life is at once wonderful and appalling, beautiful and horrific. How can we live with this contradiction? And how can we believe in a just and loving God in the face of all the evils of the world? Lord Harries was Bishop of Oxford for 19 years.
Ever since Thomas More coined the term, ‘Utopia’, it has been constantly re-imagined and re-invented by new generations of writers and dreamers. Now a major new arts series for BBC Four examines the enduring appeal of utopias and asks what it is in the human condition that yearns for it. Richard Clay, professor of Digital Humanities at Newcastle University, talks about his experience of making the series, from being shouted at by guards at a Soviet nostalgia theme park in Lithuania to exploring the acid house scene of Chicago’s south side and experiencing a marathon Steve Reich minimalist music concert. The session will also feature exclusive preview clips and a Q&A.
Utopias is made by ClearStory for BBC Four and will broadcast this summer
The survival of Catholicism in Britain, in the face of persecution and institutionalised discrimination (‘the enemy within’ again…) is the triumph of more than simple faith. Hattersley argues that it is the victory of moral and spiritual unbending certainty. Catholicism survives because it does not compromise. It is a characteristic that excites admiration in even a hardened atheist.
Parks is a profoundly European writer, steeped in Italian culture as a travel writer and a translator. He is publishing an introduction to a selection of Montaigne’s essays: Drawn From Life, and his new novel In Extremis is one of the most implacable, but also one of the funniest novels about death and family you will ever read.
Julian of Norwich was the subject of medievalist and TV historian Janina Ramirez’s latest BBC Four documentary: In Search of the Lost Manuscript, Julian of Norwich. Drawing on the material in her latest book, Ramirez takes us further into the history of the Mother of English Literature, discussing what we know about Julian and why she deserves to be seen as a writer on an equal footing with Chaucer or Thomas More. Chaired by Peter Florence.
The author of the magnificent book The Silk Roads proposes a new way of understanding the past and of connecting context and ideas so that we might learn the lessons of history. Frankopan is Director of the Centre for Byzantine Research at Oxford University. Chaired by Peter Florence.
Many young British women are actively choosing to embrace Salafism’s (or Wahhabism’s) literalist beliefs and strict regulations, including heavy veiling, wifely obedience and seclusion from non-related men. How do these young women reconcile such demands with their desire for university education, fulfilling careers and loving relationships? Drawing on more than two years of ethnographic fieldwork in London, Inge examines the attractions of Salafism.
Mahfouz introduces her vibrant anthology with two of her star contributors. Hear from users of Islamic Tinder, a disenchanted Maulana working as a TV chat show host and a plastic surgeon blackmailed by MI6. Follow the career of an actress with Middle Eastern heritage whose dreams of playing a ghostbuster spiral into repeat castings as a jihadi bride. Among stories of honour killings and ill-fated love in besieged locations, we also find heart-warming connections and powerful challenges to the status quo.