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November 14, 2011 4:53 PM   Subscribe

This year the CBC Massey Lectures celebrates fifty years with bestselling author, essayist, cultural observer, and famed New Yorker contributor Adam Gopnik. His subject is winter - the season, the space, the cycle. Gopnik takes us on an intimate tour of the artists, poets, composers, writers, explorers, scientists, and thinkers, who helped shape a new and modern idea of winter. Listen to Winter: Five Windows on the Season Streaming files for this years lecture will be available until Friday, November 18.

However, this year, departing from recent years, the CBC is sharing far more than just the current lecture from this year...

The CBC has commissioned the annual Massey Lectures since 1961. They were unveiled in late February by the vice-president and general manager of English networks at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), H.G. Walker. "Each year," he said in the press release announcing the series, "the CBC will invite a noted scholar to undertake study or original research in his field and present the results in a series of half-hour radio broadcasts." He continued, saying that he hoped the lectures would "make significant contributions to public awareness and understanding and... further development of the art of broadcasting."

The lectures were named for Vincent Massey, who had recently completed a seven-year term as Governor General of Canada. Massey is notable as the first Canadian to hold the post, but it was work he did before becoming Governor General that inspired the CBC to name the new lecture series after him.

In 1949, Vincent Massey had been appointed by the government of Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent to head a royal commission mandated to carry out a sweeping study of "the entire field of letters, the arts and sciences within the jurisdiction of the federal state." Grandly named the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences, it came to be known more simply as the "Massey Commission." Its scope included science, literature, the arts, music, drama, film and broadcasting. The Commission held hearings across the country. It listened to testimony from more than a thousand witnesses and received 462 written submissions. It took two years to do its work and issued its final report in 1951
[Some express a desire to revisit the findings of the commission report].

Today, the CBC Massey Lectures are the product of a collaboration of three partners--CBC Radio, the House of Anansi Press, and Massey College in the University of Toronto. For most of their history, the Massey Lectures were recorded within the austere confines of a radio studio in Toronto. But since 2002, they have been delivered each fall before large audiences on university campuses in cities across Canada. The lectures are broadcast each November on CBC Radio One, are streamed worldwide on the internet and are available as podcasts and audio CDs. The lectures are published as a trade paperback that garners international attention and usually makes the best seller lists. The CBC Massey Lectures have established their place as a Canadian institution and an annual highlight of our national intellectual life.

The 2010 CBC Massey Lectures, "Player One: What is to Become of Us" -Coupland, Douglas
The 2009 CBC Massey Lectures, "The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World" -Davis, Wade
The 2008 CBC Massey Lectures, "Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth" -Atwood, Margaret
The 2007 CBC Massey Lectures, "The City of Words" -Manguel, Alberto
The 2006 CBC Massey Lectures, "The Ethical Imagination" -Somerville, Margaret
The 2005 CBC Massey Lectures, "Race Against Time" -Lewis, Stephen
The 2004 CBC Massey Lectures, "A Short History of Progress" -Wright, Ronald
The 2003 CBC Massey Lectures, "The Truth about Stories: A Native Narrative" -King, Thomas
The 2002 CBC Massey Lectures, "Beyond Fate" -Visser, Margaret
The 2001 CBC Massey Lectures, "The Cult of Efficiency" -Gross Stein, Janice
The 2000 CBC Massey Lectures, "The Rights Revolution" -Ignatieff, Michael
The 1999 CBC Massey Lectures, "The Triumph of Narrative - Storytelling in an Age of Mass Culture" -Fulford, Robert
The 1998 CBC Massey Lectures, "Becoming Human" -Vanier, Jean
The 1997 CBC Massey Lectures, "The Elsewhere Community" -Kenner, Hugh
The 1995 CBC Massey Lectures, "The Unconscious Civilization" -Ralston Saul, John
The 1994 CBC Massey Lectures, "On The Eve of the Millennium" -Cruise O'Brien, Conor
The 1993 CBC Massey Lectures, "Democracy on Trial" -Bethke Elshtain, Jean
The 1992 CBC Massey Lectures, "Twenty-First Century Capitalism" -Heilbroner, Robert
The 1991 CBC Massey Lectures, "The Malaise of Modernity" -Taylor, Charles (Related)
The 1990 CBC Massey Lectures, "Biology As Ideology"- Lewontin, Richard
The 1989 CBC Massey Lectures, "The Real World of Technology" -Franklin, Ursula M.
The 1988 CBC Massey Lectures, "Necessary Illlusions" -Chomsky, Noam
The 1987 CBC Massey Lectures, "Compassion and Solidarity" -Baum, Gregory
The 1985 CBC Massey Lectures, "Prisons We Choose to Live Inside" -Lessing, Doris
The 1984 CBC Massey Lectures, "Latin America: At War With The Past" -Fuentes, Carlos
The 1983 CBC Massey Lectures, "Globalism and The Nation State" -Kierans, Eric
The 1982 CBC Massey Lectures, "Indefensible Weapons" -Lifton, Robert Jay and Falk, Richard
The 1981 CBC Massey Lectures, "Dangers & Options: The Matter of World Survival" -Brandt, Willy
The 1979 CBC Massey Lectures, "Canadian Cities and Sovereignty Association" -Jacobs, Jane
The 1978 CBC Massey Lectures, "The Inadvertent Epic: From Uncle Tom to Roots -Fiedler, Leslie
The 1977 CBC Massey Lectures, "Myth and Meaning" -Lévi Strauss, Claude
The 1974 CBC Massey Lectures, "Nostalgia for the Absolute" -Steiner, George
The 1973 CBC Massey Lectures, "Designing Freedom" -Beer, Stafford
The 1972 CBC Massey Lectures, "Inscape and Landscape" -Dansereau, Pierre
The 1971 CBC Massey Lectures, "The Power of Law" -Corry, James
The 1969 CBC Massey Lectures, "Time As History" -Grant, George
The 1968 CBC Massey Lectures, "The Politics of Family" -Laing, R.D.
The 1967 CBC Massey Lectures, "Conscience for Change" -Luther King, Martin
The 1966 CBC Massey Lectures, "The Moral Ambiguity of America" -Goodman, Dr. Paul
The 1965 CBC Massey Lectures, "The Underdeveloped Country" -Kenneth Galbraith, John
The 1964 CBC Massey Lectures, "The Real World of Democracy" -Macpherson, C. B.
The 1963 CBC Massey Lectures, "The Image of Confederation" -Underhill, Frank
The 1962 CBC Massey Lectures, "The Educated Imagination" -Frye, Northrup
The 1961 CBC Massey Lectures, "The Rich Nations and The Poor Nations" -Ward, Barbara
posted by infinite intimation (11 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
As a Canadian may I say that these have been, in general, excellent. I found Atwood was a little grating a couple of years ago, but these are consistently a win.

Post-2004 available on iTunes, apparently.
posted by Decimask at 5:34 PM on November 14, 2011

Ursula Franklin (Massey 1989) was one of the first people I met in Canada. She is a wonderful person.
posted by scruss at 6:42 PM on November 14, 2011

Great post!
posted by troll on a pony at 6:51 PM on November 14, 2011

Of note, a book containing something of Gopnik's lecture notes from this series has already been published.
posted by sappidus at 7:00 PM on November 14, 2011

This is why I love Metafilter. Many thanks.
posted by incandissonance at 7:11 PM on November 14, 2011

The Massey Lectures are consistently excellent, and one of my favourite things on the CBC. Thanks for putting all these together.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:16 PM on November 14, 2011

I've downloaded an abridged version of Atwood's talk on debt, but I also borrowed the corresponding book from the library, and it's a brilliant read. So if Atwood's voice bugs you, her complete Massey Lecture is available in print and as an an eBook. Umm, maybe some of you will skip the audiobook.

(Atwood's voice used to drive me up the wall, but I now find it rather endearing. I think this interview with Carol Off on As It Happens, about life as a student in the sixties, was one of the things that got me feeling a little fuzzier about her.)
posted by maudlin at 7:24 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

You mistake me--I listened to the whole lecture and found it interesting. I just found as I listened that I could hear her grinning every last time she led up to a joke, occasionally almost laughing at her own jokes before she actually told him. Very annoying.

It was also 2 years ago, so I should revisit.
posted by Decimask at 7:47 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

What a fantastic post, thank you.
posted by jokeefe at 9:05 PM on November 14, 2011

The Stephen Lewis one (2005) is really terrific. He is one heck of a speaker. Great post!
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:04 AM on November 15, 2011

Oh wow! It's been a long time since I heard R.D. Laing's Massey lecture. Anybody who argues that mental inmates are right to smear the walls with their own feces is OK in my book. So thanks for the memories!
posted by Twang at 10:24 AM on November 15, 2011

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