Aural History Productions
based at the University at Albany, State University of New York, is a production,
distribution, and instructional center for all forms of "aural"
history. Our mission is to provide teachers, students, researchers and the
general public with as broad and outstanding a collection of audio documentaries,
speeches, debates, oral histories, conference sessions, commentaries, archival
audio sources, and other aural history resources as is available anywhere.
We hope to expand our understanding of history by exploring the audio dimensions
of our past, and we hope to enlarge the tools and venues of historical research
and publication by promoting production of radio documentaries and other
forms of aural history. In addition to our weekly radio program, we are
engaged in numerous educational efforts, from running and sponsoring workshops
to offering full-semester courses on radio production and oral history.
Some of the most talented radio producers and engineers currently working
in public and non-commercial radio now contribute to Talking Historyboth
to our programming and to our educational efforts through production workshops.
Here, you'll also find digital archives of their enormously creative and
captivating works. Our
weekly broadcast/internet radio program, Talking History,
focuses on all aspects of history. Follow the link to the left, "The Radio
Show," for more information on the program and to access the live WWW broadcast.
Below you will
find our latest archived shows; use the drop-down
menu to the left to access to our full radio archive.
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February 25, 2014
Segment 1 | "Backstory: Outed ~ A History of Sexual Identity in America" (2014).
"As the Winter Olympics in Sochi approach, countries around the world have expressed concerns over Russian legislation outlawing LGBTQ 'propaganda.' The Obama administration called the law offensive, and the president pointedly chose several openly gay athletes for the US Olympic delegation. But recent Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage have highlighted our own internal debate on sexuality and its expression in the public sphere. So in this episode, we explore the often hidden stories of sexuality in American history.
We ask how and why Americans have distinguished between 'normal' and 'deviant' sexual behavior, and look at changes in those distinctions through the centuries. How have those categories been policed -- and challenged? When and why did Americans begin to think of homosexuality and heterosexuality as distinct identities? And how do historians reconstruct histories that were often purposely kept secret? From colonial courts to 19th Century 'intimate friendships,' to a federal government crackdown on gay and lesbian life in the mid-20th Century, we explore the many ways that Americans have understood -- and broken -- the sexual status quo."
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Petronius's Satyricon" (Original, 1st century A.D.; contemporary LibiVox reading).
Here is a reading (from LibriVox) of a short segment from Gaius Petronius' fragmentary comic novel, Satyricon, an early Roman work from the 1st century A.D. that blends prose and poetry. The Satyricon -- particulary the portion that has survived (discovered in the 17th century) offers a satirical view of Rome's emergent economic elite and deals explicitly with early Roman sexual practices. It is the tale of Encolpius and his sixteen-year old boy lover; the young man, apparently, is always lured into sexual liasons with others. For a short introduction to Petronius and his Satyricon, see: http://community.middlebury.edu/~harris/LatinAuthors/Petronius.html.
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February 18, 2014
Segment 1 | "Against the Grain: Adam Hochschild on the Spanish Civil War and George Orwell" (2014).
From our friends at AGAINST THE GRAIN (ATG), we bring you this conversation between ATG host C. S. Soong and Adam Hochschild focusing on the Spanish Civil War and George Orwell's involvement in that conflict. Hochschild is the author of King Leopold's Ghost, To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918, Bury the Chains, The Mirror at Midnight, and The Unquiet Ghost. Hochschild is currently working on a book focusing on the Spanish Civil War. The two explore: "Was what happened in Spain beginning in 1936 a civil war or a workers' revolution? It's called the Spanish Civil War, and it did pit Francisco Franco's forces against a democratically elected government, but what George Orwell discovered when he arrived in Spain was 'a revolution in full swing'. Adam Hochschild talks about the conflicts, their international context, and Orwell's Homage to Catalonia."
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Robert Capa on The Falling Soldier" (1947).
This is a short edited selection from "Robert Capa Tells of Photographic Experiences Abroad" -- a radio interview originally broadcast on October 20, 1947 on the early morning radio show Hi! Jinx that focused on the life and work of one of the most famous photojournalists of the 20th century. The edited section of the interview we feature here deals with the background behind Capa's iconic photograph, "The Falling Soldier," probably one fo the best recognized photos that came out of the Spanish Civil War. For the full recording and more information on Capa, go to: http://www.icp.org/robert-capa-100.
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February 11, 2014
Segment 1 | "Backstory: Border Crossings ~ A History of US-Mexico Relations" (2014).
From Backstory and the American History Guys: "Twenty years ago, NAFTA — the North American Free Trade Agreement — removed barriers to trade between the United States and Mexico, marking a more cooperative phase in what has often been a contentious relationship over the centuries. In this episode, Peter, Ed, and Brian delve into the complexities of that relationship and offer a broader take on American history that looks beyond our national boundaries.
In terms of national identity, territory, and citizenship, the United States has often defined itself in opposition to its southern neighbor. But the Guys uncover moments of convergence too: like the twin crises in 1861 – Confederate secession in the US and European invasion in Mexico – which sparked talk of American “sister republics,” united in opposition to despotism. So how have these two countries shaped each other – whether in conflict and cooperation? What kinds of borders – political, cultural, or economic — have been built and dismantled and rebuilt over the years? And where does the US-Mexico relationship stand today?" For more on Backstory, go to: http://backstoryradio.org.
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Selection from Viva Zapata!" (1952).
Here is a selection (audio only) from the 1952 film, Viva Zapata! -- a fictionalized account of the life and struggles of Emiliano Zapata (1879-1919), the famed Mexican revolutionary who took on the Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz and struggled on behalf of Mexican peasants for radical land reforms. Marlon Brando played the title role of Emiliano Zapata. The film was directed by Elia Kazan and the screenplay was written by John Steinbeck. Anthony Quinn won an Oscar for his portrayal of Zapata's brother. For more information on Zapata, see: http://www.pbs.org/itvs/storm-that-swept-mexico/the-revolution/faces-revolution/emiliano-zapata/.
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February 4, 2014
Segment 1 | "Pete Seeger: How Can I Keep From Singing, Part 1 ~ Origins" (2008; Re-broadcast).
Producer and Seeger biographer, David Dunaway (Across the Tracks: A Route 66 Story; Writing the Southwest), produced this acclaimed documentary, Pete Seeger: How Can I Keep From Singing?, in 2008. We bring it back to the air this year -- at least the first of the original three hours -- in paying tribute to the Seeger who died last week. Dunaway tackles the question of "How did a Harvard-educated boy become a radical, hitchhiking, banjo-playing, political activist? This proram explores Seeger's youth and America's folk revival of the 1930s and '40s. For more on Seeger and his legacy, see the New York Times obituary at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/29/arts/music/pete-seeger-songwriter-and-champion-of-folk-music-dies-at-94.html?_r=0.
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Pete Seeger at Camp Woodland" (1948).
In 1939, progressive educator Norman Studer along with Rose Sydney, Regine Dicker (Ferber), Sara Abelson (Abramson), and Hannah Studer, founded Camp Woodland in Phoenicia, New York, located in the heart of the Catskill Mountains. According to Dale Johnson, "Camp Woodland strove to create a democratic environment where children of varying religions, socioeconomic, and ethnic backgrounds from the New York City area could steep in the rich ecology of the Catskill region for two months each summer.
The curriculum and experience of Camp Woodland were deeply rooted in the folklore and folk culture of the Catskill Mountains. Throughout his career as an educator and administrator, Studer championed cultural and racial integration in the educational environment." Pete seeger was a frequent visitor, performer, and music teacher at Camp Woodland. Here we present an excerpt from one of his many camp performances, recorded on August 21, 1948, at the 8th Annual Folk Festival (an annual festival at Camp Woodland). The recording comes from the Norman Studer collection, now housed at the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives at the University of Albany, SUNY. For more information on the collection, which contains more than 200 rare recording from the camp, see: http://library.albany.edu/speccoll/findaids/apap116.htm For more information about Camp woodland, see Dale W. Johnson's article on the camp in Voices, the journal of hte New Yokr Florlore Society: http://www.nyfolklore.org/pubs/voicjl28-1-2/campwood.html.
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January 28, 2014
Segment 1 | "Backstory: Heaven on Earth: A History of American Utopias" (2014).
In this episode from BACKSTORY with the American History Guys, " Ed, Brian, and Peter discover the utopian yearnings in the American past, and the ways they still resonate today. Whether based in religious conviction or a secular vision of social progress, attempts to build model communities have been a recurring feature in American life. What allows some utopian communities to endure for decades, while others collapse within months? How have mainstream Americans viewed their utopian-minded brethren? And is America itself a utopian project?
Carl Guarneri, St. Mary's College, on the French proto-Socialist thinker Charles Fourier, the young American who popularized his ideas, and the efforts to implement them across the United States;
Richard Francis, independent scholar, on how tensions over the nature of family life ultimately sank the Transcendental community “Fruitlands”; and
Jane Baxter, DePaul University, on one of the first company towns – Pullman – and the search for a capitalist utopia in the late 19th Century." For more on Backstory, go to: http://backstoryradio.org.
Segment 2 | From the Archives: "The Republic of Plato (a LibriVox reading" | 380 BC original text).
Written some time around 380 B.C., Plato's Republic presents what many consider the first expression of a utopian society in literature. Though hardly the utopia that most contemporary cititizens would yearn for, Plato's hierarchical, aristocratic ideal state places truth and reason at the center of an ideal society. In Plato's rendition of an ideal state, individuals are ranked and assigned social, political, and economic roles based on an evaluation of their suitability for these roles (through a process of examination). The ideal society for Plato is an "aristocracy" -- a polis ruled by the "best") -- and not a democracy.
Here we present a LibriVox reading of the beginning of Book 4 of the Republic. Book 4 deals with an exploration of "Justice" and happiness, and especially as they appy to the guardians -- the philosopher-kings, or rulers -- of Kallipolis, the Greek name of Plato's ideal state. For the full text of The Republic, see: http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.html.
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January 21, 2014 [NEW SCHEDULE BEGINS; NOW EVERY TUESDAY MORNING]
Segment 1 | "State of the Reunion - Rewriting Black History" (2013).
State of the Reunion host Al Letson examines the state of Black History today: "During a month selected to celebrate 'history,' we certainly are treated to a lot of the same familiar stories: the battles won for Civil Rights, the glory of Martin Luther King Jr's words, the hardships endured by slaves. And as important as those narratives are for us to collectively remember, many others get lost in trumpeting the same heroic tales. In this hour, State of the Reunion zeroes in some of those alternate narratives, ones edited out of the mainstream imagining of Black History, deconstructing the popular perception of certain celebrated moments. From a more complicated understanding of the impact of the Civil Rights Act of '64 on Jackson, Mississippi . . . to a city in Oklahoma still trying to figure out how to tell the history of one particular race riot . . . to one woman's wrangling with her own personal racial history."
Segment 2 | From the Archives: The Quest of the Silver Fleece (LibriVox reading | 1911 novel).
W. E. B. Du Bois explored the systemic and personal dimensions of the cotton industry in his first novel, published in 1911. The novel offers a range of sociological and economic critiques as it weaves together the lives of Blessed "Bles" Alwyn, a young man seeking to better himself in the post-Reconstruction era through education, and Zora, a strong and independent woman who lives in a mysterious Alabama swamp. Exploring themes of racial equality, economic speculation and exploitation, political power, and love -- Du Bois brings to his novel many of his observations about American society previously published in his nonfiction works, like The Souls of Black Folk. For more about the book, including links to reviews and the the complete text, see: http://www.webdubois.org/wdb-quest.html.
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January 16, 2014
Segment 1 | "Backstory: Wall of Separation: Church and State in America" (2013).
In this episode of BackStory, the American History Guys delve into the history of the relationship of church and state in America. The explore "the meaning of 'freedom of religion' and find out why Baptists in 1802 actually pleaded for Thomas Jefferson's 'wall of separation.' We'll learn why the dramatic wartime deaths of three ministers -- each of different faiths -- shaped public ideas about American religion during the 1940s and 50s. And we'll explore how legal decisions about the relationship of church and state have shaped how Americans understand faith and what it means to have 'a religion.'
David Sehat, Georgia State University, on the ways liberals and conservatives look to the Founders to bolster their arguments about religious freedom in America, and how both sides get it wrong;
Adam Jortner, Auburn University, on the election of 1832 and one of the first religious 'wedge issues' -- as presidential aspirants sparred over whether the government should intervene in a cholera epidemic…with prayer;
Sarah Barringer Gordon, University of Pennsylvania Law School, on the 19th Century showdown over the meaning of marriage and the scope of religious 'free exercise' -- when Mormons took their case for polygamy to the Supreme Court; Tisa Wenger, Yale University, on the Pueblo Indian dance controversy of the 1920s, and how church-state jurisprudence shaped the ways Pueblos thought about their own forms of worship;
Kevin Schultz, University of Illinois at Chicago, on the cross-faith coalitions that emerged in the mid-20th Century, and how they inadvertently helped to foster the spread of secularism." For more on Backstory, go to: http://backstoryradio.org.
Segment 2 | From the Archives: Abington v. Schempp (Oyez audio selection, 1962)
In June 1963, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that organized Bible reading and prayer recitation in public schools was a violation of the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The decision was based on two suits that had worked themselves up to the nation's highest court, one from Baltimore, Maryland (Murray v. Curlett), and the second from Abington, Pennsylvania (Abington v. Schempp). The audio selection we present here comes from Abington v. Schempp; the original recording comes from Record Group 267: Records of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1772 - 1990, available at the National Archives' Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Records LICON, Special Media Archives Services Division, College Park, MD. Digital recordings of this and many other Supreme Court cases can be accessed through the The Oyez Project at www.oyez.org. For recordings and transcripts of the entire Abington case, see http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1962/1962_142.
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January 9, 2014
Segment 1 | "Backstory: Grassy Knolls ~ Conspiracy Thinking in American History" (2013).
Here's another production from Backstory (http://backstoryradio.org) and the American History Guys: "This episode of BackStory explores why alternative theories for the Kennedy assassination have proven so resilient over the years, and finds a long tradition of American conspiracy thinking -- stretching all the way back to the Founding. From a political party formed to combat the secretive power of Freemasons, to whispers of a "slave power" conspiracy in the 19th Century, to an outcry over a criminal network fostering "white slavery" in the early 20th Century, and, of course, an abundance of Communist conspiracies during the Cold War -- the Guys and their guests discover that while conspiracy theorists might sometimes be on the fringes of American society, conspiracy thinking has always been mainstream.
Jefferson Morley, journalist and founder of the website JFKfacts.org, on the conspiracy theories that still swirl around the Kennedy assassination; Ron Formisano, University of Kentucky, on the perceived power of Freemasons in the early Republic, and the political backlash it inspired; Jesse Walker, journalist and author of The United States of Paranoia (2013), on the "slave power conspiracy" of the 19th Century, and its alleged links to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln; Mara Keire, University of Oxford, on the "white slavery" panic of the early 20th Century – and the criminal conspiracy that supposedly lay behind it;
Andrew Case, Lyman Briggs College, Michigan State University, on the supposed Communist conspiracy that lay behind the fluoridation of water in the mid-20th Century."
Segment 2 | Conspiracies in Cold War Era Films: "The Manchurian Candidate." (Audio selection, 1962)
Here's a short audio track selection from a classic Cold-War era "conspiracy film" based on the 1959 novel by Richard Condon: The Manchurian Candidate. The film, released in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, was directed by John Frankenheimer and featured Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, Angela Lansbury, Henry Silva, and James Gregory. The core plot of the film and novel focuses on the communist brainwashing during the Korean War of the stepson of a prominent right-wing senator (a fictive mirror of Joseph McCarthy), who is psychologically transformed into a political assassin. For more information on the film, see: http://www.filmsite.org/manc.html. For a brief examination of other Cold-War era films, see: http://www.jacknilan.com/senatorjoe/index.html.
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December 26, 1913 - January 2, 2014
Vacation break. Check out our previous broadcasts available here and through the drop-down menu on the upper left of this page.
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December 19, 2013
Segment 1 | "Backstory: Shocked and Appalled ~ A History of Scandal" (2013).
From Backstory (http://backstoryradio.org) and the American History Guys: "the Guys and their guests rediscover some of the scandals that captured earlier generations' 'imaginations - like a lurid tale of adultery and infanticide at a 1790s Virginia plantation called (no joke) 'Bizarre." Or the 19th century Beecher-Tilton trial, in which a celebrity preacher was accused of seducing his best friend's wife. And in more recent years, the serious congressman whose affair with an exotic dancer helped end his career, and helped change Washington too. Along the way, they consider what has constituted a scandal in American history and how public attitudes toward them have evolved.
Julian Zelizer, Princeton University, on the sex scandal that brought down Wilbur Mills -- one of the most powerful congressman of the 1970s -- and how it changed the Congress for good;
Debby Applegate, independent scholar, on the adultery trial of famous 19th Century preacher Henry Ward Beecher, and the fears of a wider societal breakdown it generated;
Christopher Doyle, Watkinson School, Hartford, CT, on the alleged murder of an illegitimate baby that scandalized Virginia high society in the early Republic; and John Hellerman, crisis communications specialist, whotakes a look back on some historical scandals and gives those involved a little retrospective advice (pro bono, of course)."
Segment 2 | "An Avoided Scandal: Strom Thurmond and Essie Mae Washington." (Interview, 1978)
Here's a short selection from an oral history interview with former South Carolina senator and Dixicrat presidential candidate Strom Thurmond conducted in 1978. It comes to us from the Southern Oral History Program Collection at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The full interview is available on line at: http://docsouth.unc.edu/sohp/A-0334/menu.html. Thurmond, an avid supporter of racial segregation and states' rights for much of his political life, nonetheless -- while a young man -- had a sexual relationship with his family's black 16-year-old maid and fathered a mixed-race daughter, Essie Mae Washington-Williams. This part of his scandalous past was the subject of rumour during his life but never publicly acknowledged or revealed -- at least not until his death in 2003. Essie Mae Washington-Williams recalled in her autobiography: "In a way, my life began at 78, at least my life as who I really was." For more on Thurmond and Essie Mae Washington-Williams' relationship in the years after her birth, see: Essie Mae Washington-Williams and William Stadiem, Dear Senator: A Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond (Regan Books, 2005) and http://www.cbsnews.com/news/essie-mae-on-strom-thurmond/.
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December 12, 2013
Segment 1 | "The Mandela Tapes" (2013).
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's radio program, IDEAS, was given full access to a remarkable set of recordings of Nelson Mandela: "The man chosen to record Mandela's life story was Rick Stengel, a young reporter working in South Africa for Rolling Stone magazine. From 1992 to 1996, Stengel shadowed Mandela, using his small cassette machine to record the stories which would help in the writing of Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. The two other key voices in the documentary are the current managing editor of Time Magazine, Rick Stengel, and freelance radio producer Robin Benger.
This was first broadcast on CBC Radio in May 2013. It was updated for the death of Nelson Mandela. For more information about The Mandela Tapes, see: http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/themandelatapes/. For more information about Mandela, see: http://www.nelsonmandela.org/content/page/biography.
Segment 2 | "Don Pinnock interview of Joe Slovo [UWC/Robben Island Mayibuye Archive] (1992).
Here's a short excerpt from an interview conducted by Don Pinnock in 1992 with Joe Slovo, former head of the South African Comunist Party. The recording is part of a series carried out at Grahamstown University. and held at the UWC/Robben Island Mayibuye Archive. Much of the interview focuses on Ruth First, Slovo's first wife who -- like Slovo -- was an active South African member of the militant anti-Apartheid movement in exile. First was a journalist, Communist, and scholar; she was killed in 1982 by a parcel bomb in Mozambique -- planted by the South African police. For the full interview, go to: http://www.ruthfirstpapers.org.uk/content/407. For a short summary of Ruth First's life, see: http://www.sahistory.org.za/people/ruth-herloise-first; on Joe Slovo: http://www.sacp.org.za/main.php?ID=2310. For an excellent book on Joe Slovo and Ruth First, see Alan Wieder, Ruth First and Joe Slovo in the War against Apartheid (Monthly Review Press, 2013) [http://monthlyreview.org/press/books/pb3560/].
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December 5, 2013
Segment 1 | "Trey Kay's The Long Game: Texas' Ongoing Battle for the Direction of the Classroom" (2013).
In 2011, Trey Kay won the prestigeous duPont-Columbia Award radio journalism for his eploration of a 1974 conflict in West Virginia over multiculturalism and textbooks. This year, he completed another excellent piece on cultural war in education. Our show today showcases that piece:
"For more than a half a century, citizens of the Lone Star State have had intense, emotional battles over what children should and shouldn’t be taught in public school classrooms. While there have been fights over just about every academic subject, debates over history, evolution, God and country generate the most heat. In many ways, Texans are stuck. Some believe teachers should lay out relevant facts before students and have them draw their own conclusions. Others believe there should be particular values —perhaps absolute values— added into the mix to help guide students.
For “Long Game,” Trey Kay (producer of the Peabody, Murrow and DuPont honored “Great Textbook War”) spent nearly two years gathering interviews and acquiring archival audio in Texas. During this process, he was present to capture a new controversy that erupted over a Texas-generated curriculum system known as CSCOPE. Tea Party parents were outraged when they discovered there were CSCOPE lessons that equated Boston Tea Party participants to terrorists and encouraged students to design a flag for a new communist country. These parents were also troubled by lessons that taught the fundamental principals of Islam. When they asked to see more of their children’s lessons, they were told that CSCOPE material was protected by a non-disclosure agreement and that parents couldn’t have access. The controversy reached critical mass after conservative talk show host Glenn Beck began speaking to his national audience about CSCOPE as a form of leftist indoctrination that was running rampant in Texas and could potentially appear in public schools in other states. After about six months of intense media and political pressure, the lesson plan wing of CSCOPE – used in over 70% of Texas schools – was disbanded. Kay’s report also examines Texas’ perennial battle over science standards and in particular, how the state chooses to teach all things related to the origins of the universe and theory of evolution. This fall (2013), the Texas Board of Education is selecting biology textbooks for use by high school students over the next decade. The panel responsible for reviewing submissions from publishers has stirred controversy because a number of its members do not accept evolution and climate change as scientific truth."
Segment 2 | "A Banned Book: D. H. Lawrence's The Rainbow".
D.H. Lawrence's The Rainbow, was published in 1915 and almost immediately censored for its sexual content. The book is a family chronicle -- tracing three generations of the Brangwen family living near Marsh Farm in the East Midlands of England near Nottingham. The novel explores the impact of power, repression, and desire on several members of the family: [From Wikipedia: "The book spans a period of roughly 65 years from the 1840s to 1905, and shows how the love relationships of the Brangwens change against the backdrop of the increasing industrialisation of Britain. The first central character, Tom Brangwen, is a labourer whose experience of the world does not stretch beyond Nottinghamshire; while the last, Ursula, his granddaughter, studies at University and becomes a teacher in the progressively urbanised, capitalist and industrial world that would become our modern experience.
The book starts with a description of the Brangwen dynasty, then deals with how Tom Brangwen, one of several brothers, fell in love with a Polish refugee, Lydia. The next part of the book deals with Lydia's daughter by her first husband, Anna, and her destructive, battle-riven relationship with her husband, Will, the son of one of Tom's brothers. The last and most extended part of the book, and also probably the most famous, then deals with Will and Anna's daughter, Ursula, and her struggle to find fulfilment for her passionate, spiritual and sensual nature against the confines of the increasingly materialist and conformist society around her. She experiences a lesbian relationship with a teacher, and a passionate but ultimately doomed love affair with Anton Skrebensky, a British soldier of Polish ancestry. At the end of the book, having failed to find her fulfilment in Skrebensky, she has a vision of a rainbow towering over the Earth, promising a new dawn for humanity:
"She saw in the rainbow the earth's new architecture, the old, brittle corruption of houses and factories swept away, the world built up in a living fabric of Truth, fitting to the over-arching heaven.] The book is available on line at: https://archive.org/details/rainbowlawrence00lawrrich.
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November 28, 2013
No broadcast today. Check out our previous broadcasts available here and through the drop-down menu on the upper left of this page.
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November 21, 2013
Segment 1 | "Backstory: Talk of the Nation ~ Oratory in America" (2013).
In this episode of BackStory (http://backstoryradio.org), the American History Guys examine the importance of public discourse in American history: "From the fiery sermons of traveling preachers in the 18th century to the teleprompted prime-time addresses of presidents today, this episode of BackStory explores the changing nature of American oratory. It looks look at how audiences’ expectations of orators have shifted, and asks why some speeches loom so much larger — or smaller — in our memory than they did in their own times.
Harold Holzer, scholar and chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, on the delivery of the Gettysburg Address in 1863;
Gordon Stewart, former speechwriter to President Jimmy Carter, on the “crisis of confidence” or “malaise” speech of 1979;
Lisa Tetrault, Carnegie Mellon University, on the rise of women orators in the Lyceum movement of the late 19th Century;
Carolyn Eastman, Virginia Commonwealth University, on the emphasis placed upon Native American speeches in the early Republic, and the search for a corpus of truly “American” oratory."
Segment 2 | "Thucydides: Pericles' Funeral Oration" (LibriVox Reading).
Pericles' Funeral Oration, delivered during the first year of the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC) and paraphrased in Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, is one of the most famous orations in history; it shaped public pronouncements at public war memorials for millennia to come. It even influencing the structure of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, according to Garry Wills in Lincoln at Gettysburg (1992). Pericles, as one of Athens' most prominent politicians, was called upon to deliver the oration during the annual public funeral for the city's war dead. For the full text, as paraphrased by Thucydides, can be found in this on-line version of abou the oration, see Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War at: http://classics.mit.edu/Thucydides/pelopwar.html.
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November 14, 2013
Segment 1 | "Hindsight: Return to Inexpressible Island" (2013).
Here's a piece from ABC/Radio National's Hindsight: "The Antarctic Winter of 1912 has become known as one of the worst on record.
It was the winter that Robert Falcon Scott's Polar expedition perished after having being beaten to the South Pole by Roald Amundsen; and it was the same winter that a lesser known group, the Northern Party, was stranded on a desolate snow drift. Tony Fleming, grandson of the youngest member of Scott's Northern Party, retraces the group's incredible journey." For more, see: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/hindsight/return-to-inexpressible-island/5020014
Segment 2 | "Frances Flaherty on Robert Flaherty and His Docuentary Films" (1960).
Back in 1960, Robert Gardner, then from Harvard's Peabody's Museum, interviewed the widow of documentary filmmaking pioneer Robert Flaherty about her husband's -- and Frances Flaherty's -- approach to documentary filmmaking (Frances worked closely with her husband). Here we present an edited excerpt from that interview. You can view the video interview here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mvzxu3syq_A. Flaherty's classic, Nanook of the North, is also available on line. here's the link to it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6PNSf1XJbw.
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November 7, 2013
Segment 1 | "Action Speaks! - "Betting on Hedonism" ~ The Birth of Las Vegas in 1941 (2013).
Here's a piece that comes to us from Providence, Rhode Island and "Action Speaks Radio" [http://actionspeaksradio.org]. This taped panel discussion focuses on the birth of the Las Vegas ‘Strip’ when the first casino/hotel, "El Rancho Vegas" opened in 1941. Panelists include Larry Gragg, author of Bright Light City: Las Vegas in Popular Culture, Larry Gragg; Natasha Schüll, cultural anthropologis and Associate Professor of Science & Technology at MIT -- and author of Addiction By Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas; and David Konstan, classics professor at NYU whose research focuses on beauty and materialism.
Segment 2 | "Fyodor Dostoevsky and The Gambler" (1867 / LibriVox reading).
Here's a selection from a reading of one of Fyodor Dostoevsky's early novella's, The Gambler. It's a novel about gambling addiction, a problem that Doestoevsky was very familiar with -- since he suffered from it for many years. For the text of the entire novel, see: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2197. For the full audio reading of the novel, see: http://librivox.org/the-gambler-by-fyodor-dostoyevsky/.
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October 31, 2013
Segment 1 | "Backstory: Splintered Parties ~ A History of Political Factions" (2013).
"In this episode of BackStory, Peter, Ed, and Brian peer into the parties themselves, and explore some of the influential factions that have left a mark on the American political landscape – from the Radical Republicans after the Civil War, to the Dixiecrats after World War II. Plus, they look back to the early Republic and a time before the formation of parties, when 'faction' was the only game in town.
Joanne Freeman, Yale University, on factional strife in the Early Republic, and why parties themselves were universally despised;
Annette Gordon-Reed, Harvard University, on the Republican Party’s own civil war over radicalism and Reconstruction;
Joseph Crespino, Emory University, on the Democratic conflict that led to the Dixiecrat Bolt of 1948 and its lasting legacy in American politics." Backstory segment page: http://backstoryradio.org/?p=11300.
Segment 2 | "James Madison and Federalist #10" (1787 ~ LibriVox reading).
During the debates over the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton wrote a series of supportive essays that collectively came to be known as the "Federalist Papers." Federalist No. 10 is perhaps one of the best known and regarded of the Federalist essays. Written by Madison, it deals with the issue of political factions. Madison felt that factions are better controlled in larger political units than in smaller ones. Here we present a LibriVox reading of Madison's famous essay (see: http://librivox.org/the-federalist-papers-by-alexander-hamilton-john-jay-and-james-madison/ for readings of ALL of the Federalist Papers).
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October 24, 2013
Segment 1 | "Against the Grain: What Missionaries Provoked" (2013).
This week we air a recent segment from Against the Grain -- a conversation with Heather Sharkey, Associate Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC) at the University of Pennsylvania. Sharkey is the editor of Cultural Conversions: Unexpected Consequences of Christian Missionary Encounters in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (Syracuse U. Press, 2013) and the author of
American Evangelicals in Egypt: Missionary Encounters in an Age of Empire (Princeton U. Press, 2008). Summary: "Christian missionaries operating in foreign lands did convert many people, but their activities, asserts Heather Sharkey, were also intrinsically political. Sharkey describes how missionaries provoked local resistance and galvanized nationalist and ethnic (including Islamic) sentiment and organizing."
Segment 2 | "The Book of Mormon (selection from The Book of Enos)"
One of the most active missionary groups today is The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints (LDS) -- the Mormons. The Book of Mormon offers many stories that encourage Church members to spread their faith among unbelievers. See the Book of Enos, part of the Book of Mormon, for examples. SOURCE: http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/enos/1?lang=eng
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October 17, 2013
Segment 1 | "Backstory: 1492 ~ The Discover of America and the Memory of Columbus (2013).
Backstory: . This episode of BackStory looks into the contested memory of Columbus and his significance: "Christopher Columbus remains a central figure in American history: his name has been worked into numerous cities across the United States, ships, universities – even a space shuttle. And from an early age, schoolchildren learn about the voyages of the Niña, Pinta, and Santa María. But many Americans have also questioned Columbus’ legacy - should we venerate a man who symbolizes European colonization, and began the decimation of native American populations that would continue for centuries? With another Columbus Day upon us, this episode of BackStory looks back at the controversial Columbian legacy. When and why did Americans begin to revere the Italian explorer? Who has seized on his legacy, and who has contested it?
Tony Horwitz, author, A Voyage Long and Strange (2008), on his search for the “real” Christopher Columbus;
Rolena Adorno, Yale University, on Washington Irving’s massive biography of Columbus, published in 1828, and its role in creating the heroic Columbus myth.
Joanne Mancini, NUI Maynooth, on an alternative 'discovery' story promoted by Norwegian-Americans in the 19th Century, and the battle for 'Leif Erikson Day.'
Ellen Berg, University of Maryland, on the symbolic figure of 'Columbia' and her popularity in American history. See www.backstoryradio.org for more details on this and other programs produced by Backstory.
Segment 2 | "Declaring Thanksgiving: George Washington's Declaration of Thanksgiving as a National Day of Celebration" (1789; modern LibriVox reading)
President George Washington proclaimed the creation of the first national Thanksgiving Day on October 3rd, 1789, Here we present a LibriVox reading of Washington;s's proclamation. For more information on the origins of Thanksgiving, see: http://www.randomhistory.com/2008/10/23_thanksgiving.html. For the LibriVox source, see: http://librivox.org/short-nonfiction-collection-vol-015/.
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