Cambridge academic Preti Taneja is named as one of the AHRC/BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Thinkers.

I’m very excited to have been chosen. It means that I’m going to join a group of people who really care about ideas and about communicating them to the wider public, and that’s why I wanted to be an academic.

Preti Taneja

Postdoctoral research associate Preti Taneja has been chosen as one of ten winners in a prestigious competition to find the talented academic broadcasters of the future, run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Taneja was selected from a strong field of over 600 early career academics, who were invited to pitch an idea for a radio programme that would bring their research to life for a diverse audience. Taneja made the grade for her work looking at intercultural and inter-disciplinary re-interpretations of Shakespeare.

“I’m very excited to have been chosen. It means that I’m going to join a group of people who really care about ideas and about communicating them to the wider public, and that’s why I wanted to be an academic,” she said.

The New Generation Thinkers will spend a year working with presenters and producers from Radio 3 to develop their ideas into programmes, as well as appearing at the station’s Free Thinking Festival of Ideas in November at Sage, Gateshead, and even having the chance to  develop their ideas for television, making short films for BBC Arts Online.  

Taneja is currently a Leverhulme Postdoctoral Research Associate at Jesus College, working with Professor Juliet Mitchell, a leading authority on psychoanalysis and gender studies. Prof Mitchell is currently writing on psychoanalysis and sibling rivalry, using Shakespeare’s plays as a metaphor to illustrate the theory, and Taneja’s expertise and critical understanding of contemporary Shakespearean studies is invaluable.  

“Literature has often been used as metaphor to talk about psychoanalytic theory - take the Oedipus complex, based on Greek myth, and Freud’s love of Shakespeare. Working with Professor Mitchell has brought home to me again just how radical a writer Shakespeare was. If you take Twelfth Night or As You Like It, they show an astonishing level of understanding of fundamental aspects of sexuality and bisexuality, “ said Taneja.

She recently completed her PhD at Royal Holloway, which focused on King Lear as a cultural force in India, looking at how the play was used by different thinkers over time to construct identity. The play came to India as part of the colonial project of imperial cultural domination, but was quickly appropriated and adapted, becoming on the one hand a marker of being civilised and ‘pleasing the colonial master’, and on the other a way to subvert the master’s power.

“The great thing about this scheme is that it allows you to pitch lots of different ideas. Even the selection process itself was invaluable, as the applicants were all of such a high calibre and so passionate about their subjects. The spoken word content on BBC Radio 3 is inspiring because it goes into such depth, and I am looking forward to this exhilarating opportunity to draw out different aspects of my research in ways that will appeal to a variety of audiences.”


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