With the BBC having announced a remake of Kenneth Clark's TV series Civilisation, and Melvyn Bragg’s intellectual cornucopia on Radio 4, In Our Time, now in its 17th year, we will be asking whether the mission of Lord Reith 'to educate, inform and entertain' is alive and well. Can Matthew Arnold, TS Eliot and FR Leavis sleep well in their graves? Has the era of dumbing down to ' widen access ' run its course? Why shouldn't ALL schoolchildren be asked to grapple with the 'difficult' texts, rich canvases or musical scores of our western inheritance? Why shouldn't everyone have the chance to join the 'elite'?
Sarah Churchwell is Professor of American Literature and Public Understanding of the Humanities at UEA. She is the author of Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and The Invention of The Great Gatsby, The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe, and her literary journalism has appeared in the Guardian, New Statesman, TLS, New York Times Book Review, and the Spectator, among others. She comments regularly on arts, culture, and politics for UK television and radio, has judged many literary prizes, including the Bailey’s (Orange) Prize for Fiction and the 2014 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and she is the 2015 Eccles Centre Writer in Residence at the British Library.
Jonty Claypole is Director of Arts at the BBC. He works across television, radio and online, ensuring the BBC succeeds in its mission of "Arts for Everyone". As a director then executive producer, he has made over 100 television documentaries for BBC Television, including landmark series like Seven Ages of Britain, A History of Art in Three Colours, A Very British Renaissance and Andrew Marr's Great Scotts. He has created strands like What Do Artists Do All Day, Secret Knowledge and In Their Own Words. He also runs BBC Television's in-house arts department with production teams right across the country.
Maya Jaggi is a cultural journalist and critic who has reported from five continents, and was contracted as one of Guardian Review’s leading profile writers for a decade.She has also written for the FT, Independent, Sunday Times Culture, Daily Telegraph, Economist and Newsweek; and was writer-presenter of the BBC4 TV documentary Isabel Allende: The Art of Reinvention. Her conversations with cultural theorist Stuart Hall were made into a four-hour film by Mike Dibb. She has judged literary awards including the Dublin Impac and Orange, and chaired the jury of the Man Asian in Hong Kong. Educated at Oxford and LSE, she was described as “one of Britain’s most respected arts journalists” by the Open University, which awarded her an honorary doctorate in 2012.
Frederic Raphael, a major scholar in classics at St John's College, Cambridge, has written over twenty-five novels and volumes of short stories, as well as essays, biographies, translations and many reviews. His most recent book on the ancient world is A Jew Among the Romans about Flavius Josephus. His second volume of autobiography, Going Up, will be published next year. So will his novel Private Views. Among his many film and television scripts are Darling, Two for the Road, the Glittering Prizes and Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut. His most recent script, This Man This Woman is due to be shot next year.
The LSE European Institute (@LSEEI) was established in 1991 as a dedicated centre for the interdisciplinary study of processes of integration and fragmentation within Europe. In the most recent national Research Assessment Exercise, the Institute was ranked first for research in European Studies in the United Kingdom. The LSE European Institute has been a Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence since 2009.
This event forms part of the LSE Space for Thought Literary Festival 2015, taking place from Monday 23 - Saturday 28 February 2015, with the theme 'Foundations'.
Podcast & Video
A podcast and video of this event is available to download from High Culture and the Western Canon: has the fightback begun?
Podcasts and videos of many LSE events can be found at the LSE Public Lectures and Events: podcasts and videos channel.