Podcasts

September 2019

The Sound of Anger

A series of 3 features, 2 dramas and a pair of pop-out interviews made for QMUL Centre for the History of Emotions, all about angry feelings. Is there such a thing as a basic emotion of anger? How does the body express it and is anger necessary for political action? 

Plus two dramas by Craig Baxter: Darwin Vexed and Seneca Annoyed.



March 2019

Living with Feeling shorts

A series of short pieces about emotions from the researchers at QMUL Centre for the History of Emotions: Anger, Anxiety, Compassion Disgust, Ecstasy, Grief, Gut Feeling and Love. There was supposed to be one about Prevarication but, sincerely, we never got round to it.




October 2017

A podcast made for QMUL Centre for the History of Emotions: Normal 2



"Death to all daft and emotional neurotypicals who love soap operas!"

Paul and Elizabeth Wady both have an autism diagnosis.

In his book, Guerilla Aspies, and show of the same name, Paul Wady offers a conversion course for neurotypicals, inviting them to join the "new normal".

In this podcast, one of a series of three about the idea of "normal" they talk to Natalie Steed about neurotypicals and neurodivergents, Blade Runner, religion and the tyranny of the normal.

This series of podcasts was inspired by The Museum of the Normal and event organised by QMUL Centre for the History of the Emotions for the 2016 Being Human Festival.








October 2017

A podcast made for QMUL's Centre for the History of Emotions: Normal 3



One evening in November 2016, as part of the Being Human Festival, David Saunders invited seventy-three individuals into a small room on the third floor of St Bartholomew’s Hospital. Once there, they disclosed their hopes, fears, and anxieties to a tape recorder...



An interview with David Saunders about the Psychic Driving experiments of Dr Donald Cameron in the 1950's.

Cameron believed that with the aid of a tape recorder he could change the way people thought. His work was taken up by the CIA and replicated by David Saunders at the Being Human Festival 2016 event, The Museum of the Normal, organised by QMUL Centre for the History of Emotions.





October 2017

A Pair of Beautiful Postcards from Shetland, by Jen Hadfield

I've been working with the Poetry Translation Centre lately and had a lovely day's recording with Jen Hadfield.

In the past, I have commissioned a pair of really beautiful seasonal reflections from her and I return to them at every mid-winter and mid-summer. 






June 2017

I made a series of three podcasts for The Guardian as part of Tom Chivers' Penned in the Margins, project, Fair Field. A multi-disciplinary, multi-media project about William Langland's long fourteenth-century poem Piers Plowman.

We tramped and dreamed in the Malvern Hills and recited the poem to the trees, investigated ideas of work and idleness, greed and truth. 

Fair Field: Dream

Welcome to a world where money matters. Where the gap between rich and poor has grown to a chasm. Where the moral certainties of the past are slipping away and the threat of apocalypse is never far from your mind. But this is not 2017. It is the world conjured by the 14h century poet William Langland in his surreal, hypnotic masterwork Piers Plowman.





Written almost 650 years ago, Piers Plowman enters the mind of a wanderer, Will, as he falls asleep in the Malvern Hills, dreams of a “fair field full of folk” and embarks on a quest to find Truth. This summer, a new site-specific theatrical production, Fair Field, reimagines this 7,000-line “poem of crisis” for the 21st century.

In the first of three original podcasts produced for the Guardian, Langland’s hallucinatory dreamscape is conjured through voices, texts and sounds that bring the modern and medieval together, revealing a society of inequality, political corruption and spiritual crisis that is uncannily like our own. 

Fair Field: WORK

In the second of three original podcasts for the Guardian, the dream-vision of Piers Plowman, is reflected against a contemporary backdrop of precarious labour and shifting working practices.



Piers the Plowman is an honest toiler who leads the dreamer on a pilgrimage to find Truth and recruits labourers to plough his half-acre of land. But when the workers revolt, Piers’s ideal community breaks down.
Written almost 650 years ago, Piers Plowman enters the mind of a wanderer, Will, as he falls asleep in the Malvern Hills and dreams of a “fair field full of folk”. This summer, a new site-specific theatrical production, Fair Field, reimagines this 7,000-line “poem of crisis” for the 21st century.


Fair Field: TRUTH

In the last of three original podcasts produced for the Guardian, neurotic dreamer Piers Plowman sets off to find essential Truth. But what can that mean in a society driven by division and competing viewpoints?


This medieval dream-vision comes to life through voices, sounds and music. What does the wish for Truth mean today? And what can dreams teach us about the nature of perception?


Written almost 650 years ago, Piers Plowman enters the mind of a wanderer, Will, as he falls asleep in the Malvern Hills, dreams of a “fair field full of folk” and embarks on a quest to find Truth. This summer a new site-specific theatrical production, Fair Field, reimagines this 7,000-line “poem of crisis” for the 21st century.

Contributors:

Beck Baker - Community and Conservation Officer @MalvHillsTrust
Tom Chivers, director Penned in the Margins and Artistic Director Fair Field
Jules Evans - The Art of Losing Control, Director of Policy, Centre for the History of Emotions, www.philosophyforlife.org,
Sophie Fenella - Poet in Residence, Fair Field @sophiefenella
Luke Smith @Accumul8_N8
Ross Sutherland writer - Fair Field @rossgsutherland
Michael Wagg - performer, Fair Field @michaelwagg
Lawrence Warner - Academic Consultant, Fair Field, Reader in Medieval English at King’s College London and Director of the International Piers Plowman Society @lawrencewarner
Jovan Washington @Accumul8_N8
Musicians:
Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments - @SSAI13, Clare Salaman, Leah Stuttard, Vivien Ellis
Music 'An Acre of Land is a version of an ancient riddle ballad popular in Yorkshire and widespread throughout England. Our version comes from the singing of John Hodson, recorded under the auspices of The Yorkshire Garland Group www.yorkshirefolksong.net/'


May 2017

"ANY weird sounds"

An absolutely glorious encounter with Clare Salaman from the Society of Strange and Ancient instruments. 



November 2014

There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –


Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference –
Where the Meanings, are –


None may teach it – Any –
'Tis the seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –


When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, 'tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –
Emily Dickinson



A podcast commissioned by Dr Thomas Dixon at QMUL Centre for the History of Emotions and Tilli Tansey, Professor of the History of Modern Medical Sciences at QMUL. The piece responds to the Witness Seminar, organised by Tilli Tansey, to mark the 30th anniversary of the first publication about Seasonal Affective Disorder: SAD.

I interviewed Norman Rosenthal the researcher who first wrote about the disorder as well as Jennifer Eastwood and Helen Hanson who are both sufferers of the disorder and who are involved in SADA.


July 2014

A podcast commissioned by the Kings College London / Exeter University Gossip and Nonsense Project which explores some of the themes of the project through audio as well as hearing directly from some of the artists and academics involved in the project.






May 2014

Tear Bottles
The first of three podcasts produced by Natalie Steed provoked by Clare Whistler’s Residency at the QMUL Centre for the History of the Emotions in 2013-14.



“I take things out of boxes, but need boxes to put them back in”





A light dabble with a search engine on the subject of “tear bottles” will lead you to a world of assertions, often by online shops, about the historical use of “tear bottles” in the mourning rituals of Romans, Greeks and Victorians with stories of how tears were collected in small, stoppered, glass bottles as a sign of respect and grief.


They’ve featured in opera designs and art installations and there are at least a couple of references to collected or collecting tears in the Bible including Psalm 56:8 where God is being addressed:


Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?


John Gill’s mid eighteenth century Exposition of Whole Bible unpicks this with another assertion about the “tear bottle” in the psalm being an allusion “to “lachrymatories”, or tear bottles, in which surviving relatives dropped their tears for their deceased friends, and buried them with their ashes, or in their urns; some of which tear bottles are still to be seen in the cabinets of the curious.”


In other translations and versions it’s not a bottle into which God’s collecting tears but a wineskin. In others he’s just writing them down on his scroll.


Nevertheless, the idea of the tear bottle remains a powerful one and a way of thinking about tears and emotion.


One aspect of Clare Whistler’s residency was her interviews with academics and others at QMUL about tear-bottles. She asked people to imagine a receptacle for their tears and also to collect their tears in a small book. She created poems from their answers and I have used some of these poems in the podcast. I wanted to show how Clare’s project mixed the professional investigation with the more personal reflection.


We also hear Jennifer Wallis, Chris Millard and Thomas Dixon, from the Centre for the History of Emotions talk about tears in their research: the internally liquefying inmates of a 19th Century Asylum; Neil Kessel’s social experiments in the 1960’s with sales of large quantities of aspirin to weeping women and Hogarth’s Enthusiasm Delineated. Alongside this, Paul Roberts, Head of the Roman Collections at the British Museum, shows me some beautiful, tear-shaped glass bottles from the British Museum’s stores and there are some specially commissioned musical tears created by the composer Jonathan Dove.


Stream
The second of three podcasts by Natalie Steed provoked by Clare Whistler’s Residency at the QMUL Centre for the History of the Emotions in 2013-14.

“Reverence. Root. River"



Inspired by the story she heard at a friend’s funeral, Clare Whistler and the artist Charlotte Still have been visiting tributary streams and sources of the Cuckmere River, East Sussex and recording their experiences and encounters in photographs, poems and maps.

In March 2014 Clare and Charlotte brought together a large number of people: artists, musicians, dancers, researchers and experts in Hailsham for Waterweek as part of their “Stream” project, including Hetta Howes, a PhD student at QMUL. Over a week they held a series of public events with performances, talks and discussions about water. There were walks, boat making, swimming and dance.


In this podcast Clare and Charlotte take me to one of their streams and Hetta Howes explains the associations between women and water in the medieval world, especially in the context of texts written by and for religious women.


With music by Katherine Gillham.


One Single Tear

The third of three podcasts by Natalie Steed provoked by Clare Whistler’s Residency at the QMUL Centre for the History of the Emotions in 2013-14. Clare made a film inspired by the Jewish Cemetery in the Mile End Campus and commissioned a new setting of a George Herbert text from Kerry Andrew.






In the middle of QMUL’s Mile End campus lies the remnants of the Novo Cemetery (Beth Chaim) which was awarded Grade II listed status in April 2014. The gravestones are laid flat in the Sephardic tradition to symbolise the equality of all in death.


The site is only part of a much larger cemetery, which was opened in 1733, that was redeveloped by QMUL during the 1970’s and 1980’s. What remains is part of an 1855 extension to the original site, with around 2000 graves of the original 9500. What


Near the middle of the cemetery there is a circular enclosure, surrounded by a low stone wall, which marks the place a number of graves were damaged during a bomb blast in the second world war.


Clare Whistler has worked with a dancer and filmmaker to create a short film inspired by the cemetery with the dancer acting as a “tear” finding her way to the central, circular enclosure.


Alongside this she commissioned a new setting of part of George Herbert’s poem Praise (III) from the composer and singer Kerry Andrew.


In this podcast Clare talks about making the film and we hear some of George Herbert’s poem, read by Peter Marinker, and the new piece of music.