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Not Suitable for Children

20 July 2016

On Air

A lecturer in English Literature who was selected to take part in a pioneering scheme to translate her research into broadcasting material will present and contribute to a series of programmes throughout the summer.

In a programme for BBC Radio 3 – Not Suitable for Children – Dr Sophie Coulombeau of the School of English, Communication and Philosophy explored some of the stories written for children and young adults that can get grown-ups worked up.

Encompassing tales of teenage sex, suicide and gay penguins, Dr Coulombeau discussed controversial narratives for the young over the last two centuries, asking what our longstanding urge to purge might say about how we see childhood, innocence and the act of reading.

In August, an essay by Dr Coulombeau on the naming of babies will feature in the BBC3 Freethinking series (14 August). Late summer usually sees the Office for National Statistics releasing the 100 most popular baby names in England and Wales – and a few contenders always raise eyebrows. But this is nothing new: as Dr Coulombeau explains, from Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy to Johnny Cash’s A Boy Named Sue, naming the baby has always acted as a site on which people work out anxieties about language, identity and parental responsibility.

And, later this summer, the lecturer will offer her quirky solution to a challenge of our age – surnames after marriage - in the popular podcast 'Sixty-second idea to change the world’ on the BBC World Service’s The Forum. In it, she will make the case for everyone to portmanteau, or blend surnames, if they marry.

Dr Coulombeau is one of a distinguished group of AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinkers, selected for their potential to turn their ground-breaking ideas into sensational broadcasting.

With research interests ranging from eighteenth-century women’s writing to the philosophy of naming, Dr Coulombeau made her broadcasting debut as a BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker in 2014, when she posed the question Is Marriage an Identity Crisis?

Dr Coulombeau said: "I'm very grateful for the opportunities that my selection as a New Generation Thinker has brought.

“I've learned a huge amount about how to work with producers and editors in radio, TV and online media and how to communicate my ideas to a public audience. The feedback I get from readers, listeners and viewers is invaluable, and often influences my academic work."

Not Suitable for Children was broadcast on 17 July 2016. Listen again to the programme here.