IDEAS is a deep-dive into contemporary thought and intellectual history. No topic is off-limits. In the age of clickbait and superficial headlines, it's for people who like to think.
The Middle English Dictionary was 71 years in the making. Eventually published by the University of Michigan in 2001, it featured 15,000 pages, 55,000 definitions, and had 900,000 examples of usage gleaned from 400 years of medieval texts. Join IDEAS on a romp through the Middle English Dictionary. *This episode was originally broadcast in 2004.
The BBC Reith Lectures return and this year’s theme is The Four Freedoms. In the first lecture, Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi-Aidichie analyzes the state of free speech today, including the phenomenon some call “cancel culture.” She argues that moral courage is required to resist threats to freedom of speech, be they political, legal or social.
About 2,500 years ago, Thucydides travelled ancient Greece, gathering stories about a brutal war that plunged the ancient world into chaos. He set high standards for accuracy, objectivity and thoroughness in his reporting. IDEAS producer Nicola Luksic explains why his account of the Peloponnesian War is relevant today. *This episode originally aired on Jan. 7, 2011.
Libraries are under literal attack in Ukraine, and ideological attack amid North America’s culture wars. Oxford librarian and author Richard Ovenden is not about to stay quiet about it. He argues that libraries defend our democratic freedoms, and deserve our defence in return.
When Europeans colonized North America, they brought very specific ideas about gender and sexuality. Following the 2022 CBC Massey Lectures, Tomson Highway joined panellists to discuss Indigenous sexuality in the aftermath of colonialism — from Cree mythology to the Vancouver dating scene. *This episode originally aired on Nov. 21, 2022.
Tomson Highway's final Massey lecture is an uplifting and joyous conclusion to his series — a message that the worldview of Indigenous people suggests ways of seeing and believing that make our journey on Earth joyous, hilariously funny and rich in diversity. *This episode aired on Nov. 18, 2022.
In his fourth Massey lecture, Tomson Highway explores some of the limits monotheism imposes our understanding of the human body and gender. In the world of Indigenous peoples, Highway writes, "the circle of pantheism has space for any number of genders" — an idea with fresh relevance for understanding our own times. *This episode originally aired on Nov. 17, 2022.
In his third CBC Massey lecture, Tomson Highway invites us into the Cree world of scatological, wild laughter. He invokes the Trickster — a central figure to mythologies of many Indigenous communities across Turtle Island. The audience is invited to experience the world through joy and laughter. *This episode originally aired on Nov. 16, 2022.
In his second CBC Massey lecture, Tomson Highway questions how the universe came to be. He explores ancient Greek and Christian beliefs and suggests the Indigenous worldview offers something else: "Those who lived in ages before us... who have died, our loved ones — they live here with us, still, today, in the very air we breathe." *This episode originally aired on Nov. 15, 2022.
In his 2022 CBC Massey Lectures, acclaimed Cree writer Tomson Highway explores fundamental questions of human existence through the lens of Indigenous mythologies, and contrasts them with the ideas from ancient Greece and Christianity. In the first lecture, Highway argues that language shapes the way we see the world. Without language, we are lost creatures in a meaningless existence — which is why we tell stories. *This episode originally aired on Nov. 14, 2022.
Dogs are lauded as 'man's best friend.' But PhD student Molly Labenski argues that, in America, the real picture is of a dysfunctional, toxic 'friendship' between the human and canine species. She points to a revealing source of cultural attitudes — the use of fictional dogs by authors of 20th-century literature. An episode from our series, IDEAS from the Trenches. *This episode originally aired on April 5, 2022.
Négritude was a Francophone movement to rethink what it meant to be Black and African. Scholar Merve Fejzula explores the dynamic debates happening in the early-to mid-20th century among Négritude thinkers, how they disseminated their ideas, and how all this changed what it meant to be part of a public.
The Globe and Mail's founder George McCullagh once had the ear of the entire nation —but despite his remarkable rise to power, few know his name. Historian Mark Bourrie traces his legacy in the book Big Men Fear Me. *Please be advised, this episode contains discussion of suicide.
Intense and controversial, the approach to acting known as the Method gave performers a new way into character psychology. It also gave audiences a more authentic view of being human. Author Isaac Butler describes its evolution and influence — from the Russian stage to Hollywood movies and beyond. *This episode originally aired on March 2, 2022.
Since its beginnings, Hollywood has portrayed African Americans in a variety of ways: as primitive beings in Birth of a Nation, as happy former slaves in Gone With the Wind, and as hypersexual heroes during the 1970s "blaxploitation" era. In this three-part series, IDEAS explores a century of racial politics in Hollywood. *This episode originally aired on March 19, 2021.
Since its beginnings, Hollywood has portrayed African Americans in a variety of ways: as primitive beings in Birth of a Nation, as happy former slaves in Gone With the Wind, and as hypersexual heroes during the 1970s "blaxploitation" era. In this three-part series, IDEAS explores a century of racial politics in Hollywood. *This episode originally aired on March 18, 2021.
Since its beginnings, Hollywood has portrayed African Americans in a variety of ways: as primitive beings in Birth of a Nation, as happy former slaves in Gone With the Wind, and as hypersexual heroes during the 1970s "blaxploitation" era. In this three-part series, IDEAS explores a century of racial politics in Hollywood. *This episode originally aired on March 17, 2021.