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Discovery & Inspiration

Arts & Culture Podcasts

Discovery & Inspiration asks “What can we learn by talking to scholars about their research? What makes them so passionate about the subjects they study? What is it like to make a new discovery? To answer a confounding question?” For over 40 years the National Humanities Center has been a home away from home for scholars from around the world—historians and philosophers, scholars of literature and music and art and dozens of other fields. Join us as we sit down with scholars to discuss their work—to better understand the questions that intrigue and perplex them, the passion that drives them, and how their scholarship may change the ways we think about the world around us.

Discovery & Inspiration asks “What can we learn by talking to scholars about their research? What makes them so passionate about the subjects they study? What is it like to make a new discovery? To answer a confounding question?” For over 40 years the National Humanities Center has been a home away from home for scholars from around the world—historians and philosophers, scholars of literature and music and art and dozens of other fields. Join us as we sit down with scholars to discuss their work—to better understand the questions that intrigue and perplex them, the passion that drives them, and how their scholarship may change the ways we think about the world around us.

Location:

United States

Description:

Discovery & Inspiration asks “What can we learn by talking to scholars about their research? What makes them so passionate about the subjects they study? What is it like to make a new discovery? To answer a confounding question?” For over 40 years the National Humanities Center has been a home away from home for scholars from around the world—historians and philosophers, scholars of literature and music and art and dozens of other fields. Join us as we sit down with scholars to discuss their work—to better understand the questions that intrigue and perplex them, the passion that drives them, and how their scholarship may change the ways we think about the world around us.

Language:

English


Episodes

Katherine Mellen Charron, “Women, Rural Communities, and the Struggle for Black Freedom”

7/6/2020
When mapping the struggle for Black freedom and racial justice, historians have often emphasized the events and organizational efforts that occurred in urban areas, largely led by men. However, in order to take Black Power politics seriously in a more comprehensive fashion, we need to understand how they also emerged from and developed in rural American communities, where the voices and leadership of women were extremely influential. In this podcast episode, Katherine Mellen Charron,...

Duration:00:15:20

Jennifer D. Williams, “Black Women Writers and the Legacy of Segregated Urban Spaces”

6/26/2020
Between the 1930s and the 1970s, racialized legislation and subsequent migrations of Black Americans combined to drive explosive population growth in urban centers, which in turn gave rise to the creation of segregated districts and public housing projects. The experience of life in these spaces, which required residents to navigate precarious conditions where distinctions between public and private collapsed, was chronicled by Black women writers of the era. In this podcast, Jennifer D....

Duration:00:18:57

Dennis Trout, “Embedded Epigrams: Poetic Inscriptions of Ancient Rome”

6/18/2020
After the ancient Roman Empire embraced Christianity under Emperor Constantine in the fourth century A.D., the empire’s culture and politics were significantly transformed. Records of poetic inscriptions found throughout Rome can help us to understand how these public displays both recalled an earlier model of poetic discourse and established new forms of spiritual authority and civic instruction. In this podcast, Dennis Trout, professor of ancient Mediterranean studies at the University of...

Duration:00:15:26

Angela Stuesse, “Making the Story of American Immigration Come Alive”

6/12/2020
For the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States, the changing nature of American immigration law and policy is not merely an abstract concern. The rise in anti-immigrant sentiment has transformed the lives of young people, who must contend with the uncertainty of their own legal status even as they fear for the safety of their families. In this podcast episode, Angela Stuesse, associate professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,...

Duration:00:14:03

Marsha Gordon, “Narrating Modern Women’s Experiences: The Complex Legacy of Ursula Parrott”

6/5/2020
In the 1930s, the writer Ursula Parrott used her novels, short stories, and screenwriting ventures to portray independent women during a period of immense social change in America. Despite this, like many women writers, Parrott’s legacy has been all but erased from the popular imagination. In this podcast, Marsha Gordon, professor of film studies at North Carolina State University, delves into the way that Parrott’s independence and professional success existed in a complex relationship to...

Duration:00:20:20

Simon Middleton, “Changing Forms of Value: The Shift to Paper Money in Eighteenth-Century America”

5/29/2020
We tend to think of money as a familiar object that plays a role in our everyday lives. However, when we consider the changing nature of currency in colonial America, money appears differently—as a “social technology for the distribution of value.” Because money allows individuals to represent and share value in direct and visible ways, the transition to the use of paper money in the United States in the eighteenth century supplemented social connections derived from transactions and...

Duration:00:18:04

Christina Snyder, “Slavery After the Civil War: How Bondage Persisted in the US and its Territories”

5/22/2020
As commonly understood, slavery in the United States officially came to an end with the surrender of the Confederacy and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. Yet various forms of human bondage and forced labor continued across the United States and its territories long after the conclusion of the Civil War and into the twentieth century. In this podcast, historian Christina Snyder from The Pennsylvania State University discusses her work, examining why multiple forms of unfree labor and...

Duration:00:23:19

Ian Burney, “Presumed Innocent: The Legacy of Erle Stanley Gardner”

5/15/2020
Erle Stanley Gardner is best remembered as a best-selling author and the creator of the fictional lawyer Perry Mason, a hard-nosed criminal defense attorney with a penchant for taking on hopeless cases. Mason’s heroic efforts to establish the innocence of his clients—first in novels, then films, radio, and television—captured the imaginations of Americans for four decades. Gardner’s interest in highlighting and reversing miscarriages of justice, however, extended well beyond the realm of...

Duration:00:21:44

Emily Lutenski, “Love, Scandal, and the Legacies of Margery Latimer and Jean Toomer”

5/8/2020
After she tragically died in childbirth in 1932, acclaimed novelist and activist Margery Latimer became lost to history. While her work had drawn comparisons to Gertrude Stein and James Joyce, Latimer’s reputation as a writer was overshadowed by her interracial marriage with the poet and novelist Jean Toomer. In this podcast Emily Lutenski, associate professor of American studies at Saint Louis University, discusses Latimer and Toomer’s romantic relationship and intellectual partnership, the...

Duration:00:15:20

Yolonda Wilson, “Racial Bias, Mortality, and the Pursuit of Justice”

5/1/2020
Research indicates that African Americans are far more likely to get sick than their fellow citizens who are white. Regardless of their age, educational attainment, or socioeconomic circumstances, they are more likely to suffer from severe forms of illness and have shorter life expectancies. While a number of factors play a part in this sad statistical reality, a key underlying factor is the persistence of racial bias in America....

Duration:00:16:55

Sonja Drimmer, “Wars of the Roses and the Court of Public Opinion”

4/22/2020
The 15th-century Wars of the Roses between Yorkist and Lancastrian factions often summon images of royal intrigue and courtly splendor. Whether it is one of Shakespeare’s plays or a more scholarly account, histories of this struggle for the English throne tend to privilege the nobility. Art historian and NHC Fellow Sonja Drimmer offers a far different perspective of the era. By extending the political sphere beyond the royal court and into the court of public opinion, Drimmer explores how a...

Duration:00:20:17

Ann Wierda Rowland, “Reading the Readers: Books Clubs of the Past”

4/10/2020
When we think of the way in which past audiences encountered poems and novels, we often tend to imagine a silent and solitary process. But for many readers, engaging with fiction was a fundamentally collective endeavor, which often involved getting together with a group of friends to read aloud or visit locations depicted in the work of a favorite author. By acknowledging and engaging with these social habits of reading, we can begin to reconstruct the way in which diverse reading publics...

Duration:00:17:54

Joseph E. Taylor, III, “Conservation Controversies: Public Lands in the American West”

8/26/2019
Between 1891 and 1939 a substantial portion of the land area of states in the American West were set aside for management by the federal government. These so-called “public lands” have been a source of contention ever since, engendering conflict among an assortment of stakeholders looking to use the lands for a variety of purposes—from conservation and habitat protection to mining, grazing, and logging. NHC Fellow Joseph Taylor, professor of history at Simon Fraser University in British...

Duration:00:20:17

Lisa Earl Castillo, “Recovering the Story of Casa Branca and Afro-Brazilian Identity”

8/26/2019
Founded by freed slaves in the early nineteenth century, the candomblé temple Casa Branca in Salvador, Bahia, was the first Afro-Brazilian place of worship in Brazil. But despite its religious and historic significance, the story of Casa Branca’s origins has remained the stuff of oral traditions until the recent discovery of written documents by NHC Fellow Lisa Earl Castillo. Castillo is working on a new book which situates the temple and its founders within the greater social history of...

Duration:00:18:55

Mar Hicks, “The Meta-Narrative of the Machine: Computing and Social Inequalities in Great Britain”

8/26/2019
In the popular imagination, computers are not only superior to humans in speed and accuracy, but they do their work free from prejudice, treating users equally without regard to race or gender. NHC Fellow Mar Hicks, associate professor of history at Illinois Institute of Technology, is helping complicate our understanding of how computers shape our world as she works this year on a new book exploring how technological systems in Great Britain continue to perpetuate social inequalities. In...

Duration:00:19:09

Ted Underwood, “Distant Horizons: Reading in the Age of Algorithms”

8/26/2019
Proponents of distant reading practices in which computers are used to analyze vast quantities of textual material assert that their quantitative methods simultaneously complement and complicate traditional literary criticism. NHC Fellow Ted Underwood, professor of Information Sciences and of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and an innovative leader in the use of digital reading practices, is working on a new book that continues his research using algorithmic models to...

Duration:00:07:57

Rebecca Anne Goetz, “Native Enslavement in the Caribbean”

8/26/2019
When we think of slavery in the Americas, most of us generally think of people from Africa and their descendants who were enslaved and transported across the Atlantic to provide labor for the plantation economies of the New World. But recently, historians have begun to reassess the significance of other forms of slavery in the Americas—specifically the enslavement of millions of indigenous people in the Caribbean and beyond. NHC Fellow Rebecca Goetz, associate professor of history at New...

Duration:00:19:49

Matthew J. Smith, “Roots, Rock, Reggae: The Social & Political History of an Island’s Music”

8/26/2019
Since the 1950s, the sounds of Jamaican reggae have drawn global attention to the Caribbean island and its culture. Yet, few critics have examined reggae’s social origins or fully accounted for its phenomenal rise as the music of disaffected youth. Fellow Matthew Smith, professor of history at the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, is working to situate reggae within the larger social dynamics of post-World War II Jamaica. In this podcast, Smith provides an overview of the...

Duration:00:17:09

Robert Morrison, “Translating Shared Economies of Knowledge in the Renaissance”

8/26/2019
Traditionally, accounts of the scientific advances of the Renaissance have focused on the contributions of famous individuals like Copernicus whose theories about heavenly bodies radically altered how we understood the arrangement of the universe and our place in it. Increasingly, though, historians have noted striking parallels between the work of figures like Copernicus and their contemporaries in the Islamic world though they’ve not been able to fully explain how these similarities arose....

Duration:00:22:16

Alka Patel, “Architectural Matrices: Uncovering the History of the Ghurid Dynasty”

8/26/2019
Though it lasted for only a brief period, the Ghurid dynasty provides a fascinating lens through which to consider the religious and political forces that shaped Central Asia during the medieval period. NHC Fellow Alka Patel has spent years in the region examining architectural structures and archival materials to help better understand the Ghurids, situated as they were between the Persianate and Indic worlds, straddling and connecting the traditions of Islamic and Hindu cultures. Patel, an...

Duration:00:17:05