10-Minute Talks podcast

The world’s leading professors explain the latest thinking in the humanities and social sciences in just 10 minutes. 

Poetry As Experience

28 Dec 2021 Professor Derek Attridge FBA

In this talk, Derek Attridge addresses the question: "What is a poem's mode of existence?" Using a poem by William Wordsworth as an example, he argues that poems are not fixed lines of words but human experiences of language and the power of language.


COVID-19 public enquiry – a case of when, not if?

Professor Conor Gearty FBA asks whether there will be a public inquiry for the way in which the virus has played out in Britain and if so, what shape it will take.

COVID-19 and inequalities

Professor Fiona Williams FBA discusses the ways in which COVID-19 has amplified existing inequalities and created new insecurities.

Domestic and sexual violence during COVID-19

Professor Joanna Bourke FBA outlines how the pandemic has exacerbated, not created, the problem of domestic and sexual violence in our society.

Dark data

Professor David Hand FBA explores dark data in the context of COVID-19, the many ways in which we can be blind to missing data and how that can lead us to conclusions and actions that are mistaken, dangerous, or even disastrous.


Paradoxes of the Roman Arena

Professor Kathleen Coleman FBA highlights certain paradoxes at the root of Roman civilisation, specifically those related to the staging of violent displays in the arena.

What the defenders of the slave trade have to teach us

Professor Alec Ryrie FBA discusses the 18th-century writers who tried to mount a principled defence of the slave trade and how the arguments they used are uncomfortably reflected in the present.

Religion and the history of terrorism

Professor Richard English FBA asks four questions about religion and terrorism.

War, revolution and pandemic 1918-19

In this talk, Hew Strachan discusses the challenges the flu epidemic presents for the modern historian and provides some context for our own predicament today.

Westminster Abbey – A Church in History

The President of the British Academy, Professor Sir David Cannadine, discusses Westminster Abbey’s unique place in history and its meaning, significance and impact within society both in Britain and beyond.

America first and American fascism

Professor Sarah Churchwell offers a brief history of “America First” and answers the perennial question of American fascism: can it happen here?

Early Medieval Wales – a matter of identity

Professor Nancy Edwards FBA considers some remarkable archaeological monuments and how people lived in early medieval Wales.

The Hitler Conspiracies – The Third Reich and the Paranoid Imagination

Sir Richard Evans FBA explains how conspiracy theories, such as how Adolf Hitler supposedly didn’t die in 1945 but survived and lived into old age in Argentina, are constructed, amplified, and justified.

Charles Darwin and ideas of evolution

Professor Peter Bowler FBA discusses Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection and how it suggests that there is no predetermined endpoint for humanity.

Climate and war

Professor David Livingstone FBA looks back in history, tracing links between earlier writings about climate and violence and contemporary thinking.

Saladin and the Crusades – medieval and modern perspectives

Professor Carole Hillenbrand FBA discusses the interest in discovering more about the phenomenon of the Crusades in the Middle Ages from Islamic perspectives.

Britain and Europe in a troubled world

Is Britain a part of Europe? To mark the publication of his book 'Britain and Europe in a Troubled World', Professor Vernon Bogdanor FBA untangles the history of Britain’s complex relationship with Europe.

The Spectre of War - International Communism and the Origins of World War II

Why was there no alliance to block Hitler from launching aggression in Europe? Professor Jonathan Haslam FBA argues that it was because Europe feared communism more than fascism.


The politics of humiliation

The modern history of humiliation is different from the history of public shaming; both share certain features and practices but differ as to intentions and goals.

Public finances and the Union since 1707

Professor Julian Hoppit FBA explores the geography of public finances in the United Kingdom over the last three centuries. Why do some places feel they pay too many taxes and get too little public expenditure?

How disabled people achieve good lives in three African countries

Professor Tom Shakespeare FBA discusses how people with a range of physical and sensory disabilities in Kenya, Uganda and Zambia have achieved educational, employment and family success.

Philosophy in prison

Professor M. M. McCabe FBA explain why, if a society is measured by how it treats its worst off, we have reason to think hard about how we manage the lives of those in prison. Philosophy – in particular, the collaborative doing of philosophy – has a role to play.


Professor Rajesh Chandy FBA discusses entrepreneurship and why it matters.

The crisis of the meritocracy – why Britain has needed more and more education

Professor Peter Mandler FBA talks about his new book "The Crisis of the Meritocracy" and Britain's transition to mass education from WWII onwards.

Why laughter matters

Cognitive neuroscientist Professor Sophie Scott FBA introduces her pioneering research into laughter.

The function of cynicism at the present time

Professor Helen Small FBA considers the characteristic features of cynicism, its origins and development as a philosophical branch and what role it has played in public moralism, from the 19th century onward.

China’s 14th Five Year Plan – the bold and the beautiful

Professor Vivienne Shue FBA discusses the formulation, substance and political timing of the recently approved 14th Five Year Plan from the Chinese Communist Party.

Parenting for a digital future

Professor Sonia Livingstone FBA dispels some popular myths about screen time and offers evidence-based suggestions to help maximise digital opportunities for children and minimise the risks.

The nature of friendship

In this talk, Professor Robin Dunbar FBA discusses what friendship is and why it is important for our psychological and physical health.

More than one language – why bilingualism matters

Professor Antonella Sorace FBA outlines how there are still misconceptions about multilingualism and how this contributes to a lack of language skills in countries.

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