10 December 2019

In episode 62, we chat to Andrew Rudd from the University of Exeter about representations of charity and philanthropy in literature, and how literature and the humanities can inform practice. Including:

  • Which famous authors and poets have written about charity issues?
  • What are some of the main positive themes about charity and philanthropy that can we identify in literature?
  • What are some of the key critical themes about charity & philanthropy that can we identify in literature?
  • What have famous writers said about the distinction between charity and justice?
  • The tension between head and heart, between an emphasis on empathy and rationality, has long been a major source of debate within charity. What has literature had to say about it?
  • What was Dicken’s notion of “telescopic philanthropy” and why does it remain pertinent to debates about international aid today?
  • The idea of poorly-aimed, ‘indiscriminate’ charity that perpetuates poverty and reliance has been a huge source of concern for many throughout history. How is this reflected in literature?
  • Has any literature notably influenced public discourse, politics or the way charities operate? If so, how?
  • Does the study of literature and the humanities currently play a significant role within the wider academic study of philanthropy? If not, why not?
  • Can philanthropists and people who work in the charity/non-profit sector learn anything from literature? If so, what?
  • How can practitioners best find and make use of insights from literature?
  • Which current issues facing charities and philanthropy would most benefit from some literary insight?


charles dickens

Charles Dickens in his study at Gad's Hill Place.

Rhodri Davies

Rhodri Davies

Head of Policy

Rhodri leads Giving Thought, our in-house think tank focusing on current and future issues affecting philanthropy and civil society. Rhodri has spent nearly a decade specialising in public policy around philanthropy and the work of charities, and has researched, written and presented on a wide range of topics. He has a first-class degree in Mathematics and Philosophy from the University of Oxford.   Read more about Rhodri



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