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Ross King on the art of history

Ross King is one of the most popular historians Canada has ever produced. Yet originally, he wanted to be a novelist. And after researching his doctoral thesis on T. S. Eliot, he published his first book, which fictionalized the story of a castrato singer in 18th century London, as seen through the eyes of an aspiring painter. King says he discovered that it was more fun to write when you didn't need to "make up the facts."

Reporting from War

War reporter Janine di Giovanni approaches her work like an anthropologist by embedding herself in conflict zones. Her goal is to understand how war, disease, and poverty have impacted human lives in war torn communities. In the 2018 Peter Stursberg Foreign Correspondents Lecture, she details her experiences covering disease outbreaks, genocides and sieges in the Balkans, Africa and the Middle East.

Overlooked: Photography and the Smartphone

We've gone from capturing special moments on film, to snapping every aspect of our day on smartphones. What are the upsides and what are we losing? Photographers, curators and thinkers reflect on how this new image culture affects us, as well as its surprising links to earlier eras of photography.

The Case for Populism

Trump was just the tip of the iceberg. Since his election in 2016, populism has blazed a disquieting trail across Europe, North America and around the world. While many of these movements are marred by racist and nationalistic rhetoric, they also represent a grassroots effort to challenge the political status quo. In this public debate, presented by the Battle of Ideas festival in London, England, a panel argues over whether this new era of political disruption should be embraced, rather than feared.

Paul and Ed's Excellent Adventure

World-famous environmental photographer Edward Burtynsky and IDEAS host Paul Kennedy both grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario. In fact, their childhood homes were less than 300 metres apart, and paperboy Paul delivered a daily dose of newspaper comic strips to eventual visual artist Ed. They return to their old home town and revisit their roots, including the site of the now-dismantled GM Plant # 1, where both of their fathers worked; and the new subdivision that's recently replaced Meadowvale School, where they both started kindergarten, so many decades ago

Mythologizing Empire

For people of Shakespeare's time, the idea of "empire" was something new. As Britain’s power spread, the eternal questions remained: what makes a great empire successful, and what pitfalls need to be watched out for? No ancient empire offered more lessons than the Roman Empire — which had, of course, conquered Britain. In his plays set in the Roman Empire, Shakespeare explored themes of leadership, human frailty, political downfall, while at the same time mythologizing the birth of a new Rome in Britain.
IDEAS AFTERNOON

The Long Arm of Ayn Rand: Why she still matters, Part 2

The intelligentsia mocked her writings and lampooned her philosophy, which she called Objectivism. But Ayn Rand's books, especially her two major works, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, continue to sell millions of copies. There are Ayn Rand think tanks, academies, even dating sites. And her influence on politics and popular culture are stronger than ever. Contributor Sandy Bourque outlines Rand's improbable rise to fame and influence, and the surprising Canadian connection which helped secure her place in the history of ideas.

Internal Hard Drive: What's lost when we forget to remember

We rely on our handy smartphones to remember everything from phone numbers to our friend’s birthdays. Those sleek devices serve as a type of 'external hard drive' for our memory. Contributor Jess Shane explores what happens when the art of memorization is lost.

Utopian Dinner Table: How to feed the world in 100 years

One hundred years from now the planet will have 3-billion more people to feed. Global food security expert Evan Fraser considers possible solutions by contrasting two distinct visions of utopia -- one found through embracing science and technology, and the other arguing for overthrow of capitalism.

Is Neoliberalism destroying the world?

Deregulation. Infinite growth. Self-correcting markets. All are hallmarks of neoliberal thinking. But they're more than just assumptions about the economy. They undergird much of the most influential thinking about governance right now, and dominate political and economic thinking everywhere. The results, according to some, have been disastrous. Investigative journalist Bruce Livesey asks four experts about the rise and rule of neoliberal thought, and what it may mean for societies around the world.

Appropriation, Collaboration, and Representation: Telling Indigenous Stories

Theatre artist Jani Lauzon, documentary filmmaker James Cullingham, and CBC host and journalism teacher Duncan McCue discuss the realities of working in teams with Indigenous and non-Indigenous professionals, and how they view the idea of collaboration in telling Indigenous stories in their fields. This panel was recorded at Ryerson University's Centre for Free Expression in Toronto in late 2018, and is moderated by writer and broadcaster Rachel Giese.

The Enright Files on the role of poetry in the world today

It may well be that poetry has rarely had a lower profile than it does today. It may be that poetry is simply not all that relevant to a digitized, hyperconnected world in which we spend our reading hours churning through a blizzard of information. But if Robert Frost was right when he defined poetry as a “momentary stay against confusion,” perhaps we need poetry today more than ever. On this month's edition of The Enright Files, conversations with poets about the role of poetry in the world today and what poets have to say to the rest of us.
IDEAS AFTERNOON

The Long Arm of Ayn Rand: Why she still matters, Part 1

The intelligentsia mocked her writings and lampooned her philosophy, which she called Objectivism. But Ayn Rand's books, especially her two major works The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, continue to sell millions of copies. There are Ayn Rand think tanks, academies, even dating sites. And her influence on politics and popular culture are stronger than ever. Contributor Sandy Bourque outlines Rand's improbable rise to fame and influence, and the surprising Canadian connection, which helped secure her place in the history of ideas.

Most of what follows is true: Michael Crummey on writing and the relationship between fact and fiction

What does a novelist owe to the past? How does a writer walk the tightrope between telling a story and accurately reflecting history and geography? Acclaimed novelist Michael Crummey reflects on these questions in the annual Henry Kreisel Lecture in Edmonton, presented by the Canadian Literature Centre at the University of Alberta.

A Map of the Heart, Part 2: The Icelandic Sagas

More than a thousand years ago, rebel Vikings and other settlers fleeing from Norway settled on a craggy, uninhabited island in the north Atlantic: Iceland. There they built a new world pretty much from scratch, with a new legal system, a new social order and — eventually — a new language. They also created stories about who they were. Philip Coulter time-travels into the heart of the Icelandic sagas.

A Map of the Heart, Part 1: The Icelandic Sagas

More than a thousand years ago, rebel Vikings and other settlers fleeing from Norway settled on a craggy, uninhabited island in the north Atlantic: Iceland. There they built a new world pretty much from scratch, with a new legal system, a new social order and — eventually — a new language. They also created stories about who they were. Philip Coulter time-travels into the heart of the Icelandic Sagas.

IDEAS New Year's Day Levee

Our "almost-annual levee" commemorates a custom from New France, where the colonial governor opened the doors of his mansion every New Year's Day, to share some holiday cheer with the general population, and listen to their current concerns and their hopes for the future.

The verdict on Sir John A. Macdonald: Guilty or innocent?

Canada's first prime minister is either a hero, or a man ultimately responsible for mass murder. In Part 2 of the Trial of Sir John A. Macdonald, prosecutor Jean Teillet makes her case on the second count against Macdonald for crimes against humanity — intentional starvation and deaths of thousands of Indigenous people on the plains.

Revisiting Glenn Gould's revolutionary radio documentary, 'The Idea of North'

In his landmark documentary, "The Idea of North", Glenn Gould used a technique he called “contrapuntal radio.” Today, Mark Laurie reinterprets the technique to explore the landscape of the pianist’s life – and his ideas about music and radio.

It's Alive! Frankenstein at 200

In 1818 the world was introduced to an entirely new kind of monster when Mary Shelley published Frankenstein: or The Modern Prometheus. Tor two centuries, her creation has stalked the stage, then the screen, inspired art, and filled the pages of countless sequels and comic books. Frankenstein's creature has become the most famous monster of the modern era.

The 'trial' of Sir John A. Macdonald: Would he be guilty of war crimes today?

Last year Canada celebrated 150 years as a nation. But the controversy around the legacy of our first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald continues to build. This special episode of IDEAS puts Canada's first Prime Minister on trial for 'crimes against humanity.' Part 1 of 2-part series. Part 2 airs Friday, December 28.

How the Killam Family 'Invented' Canadian Culture

Once upon a time, Izaak Walton Killam was the richest man in Canada, although he guarded his privacy even more carefully than he stockpiled his profits. He died in 1955. His wife Dorothy was almost the opposite — an American, a bit of a social butterfly, and even more keen, in the decade after her husband's death, to expand the family wealth. In the end, the Killams basically bankrolled the Canada Council, and created the Killam Trusts. To this day, very few people know much about them, although their considerable fortune was fundamental for the mid-20th century flowering of the arts and sciences in this country.

Pushing the frontiers of knowledge: The 2018 Killam Prize

Each year, up to five Killam Prizes of $100,000 each are awarded to Canadian scholars who have made "substantial and significant" contribution to their field of studies in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences or engineering. This year's five recipients come from across Canada. Their areas of study include linguistics to physics, medicine to film. Meet the five brilliant Canadian thinkers who are setting the standard for their fields both in Canada and internationally.

Alcohol: Tonic or Toxin?

Now that cannabis is legal in Canada, we look at that other drug that many of us already have in our homes and use on a daily basis: alcohol. How did we start using it? How does it affect our health and society? And given the latest scientific research, should we still drink it?

Joseph Conrad, Prophet of a Global World

Seen from today, the novelist Joseph Conrad's early 20th century views on the world, particularly on race, can be offensive. But at the same time, his observations were deeply prescient of modern times. V.S. Naipaul, who was also a harsh critic, once about how Conrad managed, a hundred years ago, to "meditate on my world, a world I recognize today"? A feature interview with Harvard historian Maya Jasanoff, who tackles that question in her acclaimed biography of Conrad.
IDEAS AFTERNOON

The Long Arm of Ayn Rand: Why she still matters, Part 2

The intelligentsia mocked her writings and lampooned her philosophy, which she called Objectivism. But Ayn Rand's books, especially her two major works, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, continue to sell millions of copies. There are Ayn Rand think tanks, academies, even dating sites. And her influence on politics and popular culture are stronger than ever. Contributor Sandy Bourque outlines Rand's improbable rise to fame and influence, and the surprising Canadian connection which helped secure her place in the history of ideas.
IDEAS AFTERNOON

The Long Arm of Ayn Rand: Why she still matters, Part 1

The intelligentsia mocked her writings and lampooned her philosophy, which she called Objectivism. But Ayn Rand's books, especially her two major works The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, continue to sell millions of copies. There are Ayn Rand think tanks, academies, even dating sites. And her influence on politics and popular culture are stronger than ever. Contributor Sandy Bourque outlines Rand's improbable rise to fame and influence, and the surprising Canadian connection, which helped secure her place in the history of ideas.

Is Neoliberalism destroying the world?

Deregulation. Infinite growth. Self-correcting markets. All are hallmarks of neoliberal thinking. But they're more than just assumptions about the economy. They undergird much of the most influential thinking about governance right now, and dominate political and economic thinking everywhere. The results, according to some, have been disastrous. Investigative journalist Bruce Livesey asks four experts about the rise and rule of neoliberal thought, and what it may mean for societies around the world.

Internal Hard Drive: What's lost when we forget to remember

We rely on our handy smartphones to remember everything from phone numbers to our friend’s birthdays. Those sleek devices serve as a type of 'external hard drive' for our memory. Contributor Jess Shane explores what happens when the art of memorization is lost.

Is Neoliberalism destroying the world?

Deregulation. Infinite growth. Self-correcting markets. All are hallmarks of neoliberal thinking. But they're more than just assumptions about the economy. They undergird much of the most influential thinking about governance right now, and dominate political and economic thinking everywhere. The results, according to some, have been disastrous. Investigative journalist Bruce Livesey asks four experts about the rise and rule of neoliberal thought, and what it may mean for societies around the world.