Smarty Pants

Smarty Pants

theamericanscholar.org/podcast
A podcast from The American Scholar magazine


#109: Live, Laugh, Love Ancient Philosophy
Oct 11 • 25 min
Despite the rampant success of books like Mari Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, intellectual circles tend to look down on anything that sells itself as self-help. And yet, in a certain light, the most original form of self-help might…
#107: The Banjo and the Ballot Box
Oct 4 • 21 min
Love it, hate it, or refuse to listen to anything released after 1980—however you feel about country music, you can’t drive across the United States without hearing it. Even people who don’t appreciate the genre have been thinking about it lately, as the…
#106: What Makes a Refugee?
Sep 27 • 24 min
The United States has an uneven record when it comes to refugees. It infamously refused to accept a boatload of Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust; at other times, it took in huge numbers of refugees from all over the world. As recently as 1980, we…
#105: Why Has American Classical Music Ignored Its Black Past?
Sep 13 • 31 min
More than a century ago, Antonín Dvořák prophesied that American music would be rooted in the black vernacular. It’s come true, to a certain extent: when we think of American music—jazz, blues, rock, hip hop, rap—we are thinking of music invented by black…
#104: Fashion Kills
Sep 6 • 31 min
To mark New York Fashion Week, longtime style reporter Dana Thomas is ripping the veil off the industry. Her new book, Fashionopolis, is an indictment of the true costs of fashion—like poisoned water, crushed workers, and overflowing landfills—that never…
#103: The Next Menu
Aug 30 • 21 min
This week, with the world’s forests burning from the Amazon to Indonesia, we’re revisiting a 2017 episode about the future of food—the production of which, whether beef or palm oil, has caused an unprecedented number of deliberate fires. Centuries of…
#102: One Job Should Be Enough
Aug 23 • 22 min
Steven Greenhouse was the labor and workplace reporter for The New York Times for 19 years. His last book, The Big Squeeze, is a detailed report on how American workers are being abused by corporations and bosses: freezing wages; replacing long-term…
#101: Bloodsuckers
Aug 16 • 23 min
Travel to any of the hundred-odd countries where malaria is endemic, and the mosquito is not merely a pest: it is a killer. Factor in the laundry list of other diseases that this insect can transmit—dengue fever, yellow fever, chikungunya, filiaraisis,…
#100: Junk Science
Aug 9 • 23 min
For our 100th episode, we welcome back science journalist Angela Saini, whose work deflates the myths we tell ourselves about science existing in an apolitical vacuum. With far-right nationalism and white supremacy on the rise around the world,…
#99: A Delicate Elephant Balance
Aug 2 • 22 min
There are 40,000 Asian elephants left in the world, tucked into the mountainous forests of the continent. They used to roam all over India and far up into China, almost as far north as Beijing—but as humans have expanded into their habitats, the elephants…
#98: You Never Step Into the Same Internet Twice
Jul 26 • 26 min
Did you notice when it suddenly became okay not to say goodbye at the end of a text message conversation? Have you responded to work emails solely using 😃? Is ~ this ~ your favorite punctuation mark for conveying exactly just how much you just don’t care…
#97: Aida’s Story
Jul 12 • 25 min
Aaron Bobrow-Strain is a politics professor at Whitman College with decades of history working on the U.S.-Mexico Border. His new book, The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez, mixes nonfiction and novel, ethnography and essay, to tell the tale of a single…
#96: How a Language Dies
Jun 28 • 26 min
The tiny village of Gapun in Papua New Guinea is home to an equally tiny language called Tayap. No more than a few hundred people have lived in Gapun, so no more than a few hundred people have ever spoken this isolate language, unrelated to any other on…
#95: Crimes Against Sexuality
Jun 21 • 21 min
On June 28, 1969, the patrons of the Stonewall Inn rebelled against a police raid and lit the spark for the gay liberation movement. Stonewall patrons were among the poorest and most marginalized people in society: the queens and queers who tended not to…
#94: Stick Shifts and Safety Belts
Jun 14 • 25 min
Americans love their cars. But why? When did cars become so wrapped up in the idea of American identity that we can’t pull ourselves away from them, knowing full well that they’re expensive, emissions-spewing death machines? Why are we so wedded to the…
#93: The Wine-Merchant’s Son’s Tale
Jun 7 • 25 min
Geoffrey Chaucer was born a wine-merchant’s son in 1340s London. He survived the plague, the Hundred Years’ War, the Great Rising, and an adolescence spent wearing tight pants in a rich woman’s house to become one of the most celebrated poets in English.…
#92: Meat Made
May 31 • 24 min
The production of beef requires 20 times more land and emits 20 times more greenhouse gas than the cultivation of beans, and seven times more than that of chicken. We’re not eating as much beef in America as we were in the 1970s, but we’ve held steady at…
#91: The Space Between Your Ears
May 17 • 24 min
The prevailing view on how we think is that we use language: through writing our thoughts down, or debating them with friends, or reading other people’s words in books. But might there be some concepts, some feelings, some images, that are beyond words?…
#90: Totes Adorbs
May 10 • 20 min
Between Hello Kitty, anthropomorphized Disney candlesticks, and the prevalence of doe-eyed sticker-comments on Facebook, it’s safe to say that cuteness has permeated everything. But what makes something “cute,” and how might there be something disquieting…
#89: Little Boxes, Big Ideas
May 3 • 28 min
The mythology of the 1950s American suburb—mom, dad, white picket fence, two-car garage, two-point-five kids—doesn’t align with the reality of who lives in suburbs today. Suburbs are bustling with multigenerational families, immigrants, and multiracial…
#88: “Making Books Is a Countercultural Act”
Apr 26 • 19 min
Restless Books devotes itself to publishing books you don’t usually find in English—from Cuban science fiction and illustrated retellings of the Ramayana to doorstopper Hungarian novels. Its catalog features classics, like Don Quixote and The Souls of…
#87: The Ten Commandments of Bible Translation
Apr 19 • 29 min
Few people have read the Hebrew Bible all the way through—maybe you memorized a portion for your bar or bat mitzvah, or read parts of it in Sunday school or a college course. But the whole thing? Hardly. Fewer people still have read it as a work of…
#86: Daughters of War
Apr 12 • 23 min
Women in wars on land and sea, whether queens or foot soldiers, rarely get their due—yet their lives are at least as interesting as their male counterparts’, not least because they had to leap through so many hoops to fight. Historian Pamela Toler wants…
#85: Not Ready to Make Nice
Apr 5 • 22 min
Lillian Smith was the most radical writer you’ve never heard of—a novelist, essayist, civil rights activist, and general bomb thrower, as Tracy Thompson describes her in “Southern Cassandra,” an essay from our Spring issue. Born in 1897, Smith grew up…
#84: The Man Who Changed the Face of Spring
Mar 29 • 20 min
Wild, blossoming cherries are native to many diverse lands, from the British Isles and Norway to Morocco and Tunisia. But they’re most associated with Japan, where the sakura is the national flower. These days, though, you’ll find blossoming cherries…
#83: White Like Me
Mar 22 • 23 min
This week, we’re exploring another overlooked angle of antebellum American history: how photography transformed the abolitionist movement—and in particular, how a photograph of one seven-year-old girl was used to gain a white audience’s sympathy. Jessie…
#82: A Woman’s Place
Mar 15 • 23 min
In her explosive new book, They Were Her Property, historian Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers corrects the record about white women slave owners in the American South, proving that slavery and its associated markets were far from the sole domain of men. Since…
#81: The Backdoor to Equality
Mar 8 • 20 min
The concept of equality has been with us since the founding of the United States, and it’s been revised and fought over and debated for about as long, from the Civil War and the Fourteenth Amendment to the culture wars and the legalization of same-sex…
#80: A Different Sort of Superhero
Mar 1 • 19 min
On Sunday, Black Panther made history as the first superhero movie with a Best Picture Oscar nomination. And though it didn’t win that one, the film did win the most Oscars in the history of superhero movies. Given those historic firsts, and the…
#79: The Gray Edges of Blackness
Feb 22 • 23 min
Emily Bernard has offered her essays to The American Scholar since 2005, when we published “Teaching the N-Word.” She’s written a lot of essays since then, essays that prove their etymology: the French word essayer—to try. She tries on different ways of…
#78: Postcolonial Punchlines
Feb 15 • 19 min
Alain Mabanckou is an award-winning Congolese essayist, novelist, and poet with a string of darkly funny books to his name. His work pokes at taboos and the borders between literary traditions with glee and irreverence—while subverting what it means to be…
#77: Heroin’s Long History
Feb 8 • 19 min
Opiates have gone by many names in their millennia-long entanglement with humans, in an ever-refined chain of pleasure: poppy tears, opium, heroin, morphine. With the advent of synthetic opiates like fentanyl, we’re seeing addiction and devastation on a…
#76: Searching for the Spirit of Acid House
Feb 1 • 19 min
In the past 30 years, electronic dance music (or EDM) has gone from underground culture to a global phenomenon. Journalist Matthew Collin drew on the British rave scene for his earlier work—a book called Altered State. But in the 20 years since that book…
#75: The Snow Maiden
Dec 21, 2018 • 16 min
The Snow Maiden—not to be confused with the Snow Queen, Snow White, or Frosty the Snow Man—is a popular Slavic folktale about an elderly couple and a miraculous child born from snow. In addition to being a charming story about the passing of seasons, it…
#74: The Microscopic House Guest
Dec 7, 2018 • 19 min
The modern American home is a wilderness: there are thousands of species of insects, bacteria, fungi, and plants that lurk in our floorboards, on our counters, and inside our kitchen cabinets—not to mention the microbes that flavor our food itself. The…
#73: Opera 101
Nov 30, 2018 • 47 min
Opera has a bad rap: it’s stuffy, long, convoluted, expensive, weird … and at the end of the day, who really understands sung Italian anyway? The barriers aren’t just financial: there are hundreds of years of musical history at work, along with dozens of…
#72: Through a Lens Darkly
Nov 16, 2018 • 19 min
You’ve probably seen the photographs that Lynsey Addario has taken, even if you don’t necessarily know her name. For more than 20 years, she’s covered life in conflict zones around the world, from Afghanistan under the Taliban and the U.S. invasion of…
#71: Too Much Future
Nov 9, 2018 • 19 min
When disaffected teens in East Berlin first heard the Sex Pistols on British military radio in 1977, they couldn’t have known that those radio waves would spark a revolution. In the DDR, or East Germany, everyday life was obsessively planned and…
#70: Bad Blood
Oct 31, 2018 • 19 min
You may have heard of them before: those pale creatures with suspiciously sharp canines that sleep in coffins during the day, hunt people at night, and occasionally transform into bats. Stories of bloodsucking monsters have haunted humanity for hundreds,…
#69: The Future Is Feminist Book Collecting
Oct 26, 2018 • 30 min
A. N. Devers is a writer and rare book dealer whose business, The Second Shelf, centers on all the women writers that time forgot. When she first entered the trade, she noticed that these writers were getting second shrift: sold for less money, not sold…
#68: Black Birds of the Tower
Oct 12, 2018 • 21 min
What’s spookier than the Tower of London, home to the ghosts of queens and the rest of Henry the VIII’s enemies? How about the half-dozen black ravens that inhabit it—without which, as legend has it, the Tower will crumble and the kingdom will fall? Since…
#67: Something Witchy This Way Comes
Oct 5, 2018 • 19 min
Not everyone believes in witches: in Siberia, after all, locals blame misdeeds on ghosts, and the Irish have fairies. But for those who do, witchcraft can be incredibly threatening—and an accusation of witchcraft can be a powerful tool to control people…
#66: Threepenny Thriller
Sep 28, 2018 • 27 min
Jordy Rosenberg is a transgender writer and scholar who focuses on 18th-century literature and queer/trans theory. His first novel, Confessions of the Fox, smashes those two disciplines together by retelling the story of two notorious thieves,…
#65: Shifting Sands
Sep 21, 2018 • 19 min
Someday soon, you might be finally able to count all the grains of sand on the beach, because there might be no beaches—and no sand—left. With the global population and its attendant consumption booming, we’re running out of sand in our quest to build…
#64: Weirdo Capital of the West
Sep 14, 2018 • 19 min
How much do you know about Oklahoma City? Probably you know about the bombing, the Dust Bowl, and the Trail of Tears. Maybe, if you’re a basketball fan, you know about the drama of their basketball team, the Thunder. A feeble history, then, of a flyover…
#63: Smell Ya Later
Sep 7, 2018 • 19 min
Why does New York City smell? Is its smell distinguishable from that of other large cities? Does that smell tell us something about the world that our other senses cannot? Last year we spoke to historian Melanie Kiechle, who has devoted a considerable…
#62: Long Live the Library
Aug 24, 2018 • 19 min
In case you missed it, last month Forbes published an op-ed that stoked so much public outrage that the editors felt compelled to delete it. Libraries, it argued, should be replaced by Amazon to save taxpayers money. Yet Panos Moudoukoutas’s piece was…
#61: Strange Fruit and Stolen Lives
Aug 17, 2018 • 25 min
Forsyth County, Georgia, is infamous for being—for a remarkably long stretch of the 20th century—one of the only all-white counties in America. This week, we’re revisiting our interview with Patrick Phillips, whose book Blood at the Root is both a history…
#60: Call of the Wild
Aug 10, 2018 • 26 min
Eighteen years ago, Isabella Tree and Charlie Burrell turned their 3,500-acre farm in West Sussex, England, into a massive outdoor laboratory. They decided to cede control of their land to nature and watched it slowly grow wild again. Now, at what they…
#59: Making the Most of #MeToo
Aug 3, 2018 • 19 min
In her summer cover story for the Scholar, “In the Labyrinth of #MeToo,” Sandra M. Gilbert looks at how far the newest feminist movement has come—and how far we have to go yet to achieve feminism’s goals. Her essay places the latest wave in the mythic…
#58: Wonderbrain
Jul 27, 2018 • 18 min
The most unusual brains are not the largest, nor the ones that can remember the most digits of the number pi. What fascinates Helen Thomson—a neuroscientist by training, a journalist by trade—are the brains that see auras, feel another’s pain, or play…
#57: No-No Novel
Jul 20, 2018 • 19 min
In 1956, John Okada wrote the first Japanese-American novel, No-No Boy, a story about a Nisei draft-resister who returns home to Seattle after years in prison. It should have been a sensation: American literature had seen nothing like it before. But the…
#56: Wimbledon Unwound
Jul 6, 2018 • 13 min
In case you missed it, the grassy courts of Wimbledon are open once again for the annual championship—the oldest tennis tournament in the world. Seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams is back in action, moving through the singles bracket and…
#55: A Whale of a Show
Jun 29, 2018 • 24 min
It’s hard to believe that one of the biggest and oldest creatures of the planet is also the most mysterious. But whales have been around for 50 million years, and in all that time, we still haven’t figured out how many species of whales have existed—let…
#54: Go Tell It On the Mountain
Jun 22, 2018 • 19 min
For more than 100 years now, we’ve been blessed with National Parks, beginning with Yellowstone in 1872; Pinnacles, created in 2013, is the 59th and most recent National Park to join the list. Other kinds of natural national treasures exist,…
#53: Letter From Underwater
Jun 14, 2018 • 19 min
So many tropical storms and hurricanes hit Louisiana’s Isle de Jean Charles that native residents talk about them as if they’re family members: “Who broke that window—Rita? Gustav? It wasn’t Katrina or Ike.” Rising sea levels and increasingly volatile…
#52: Lock Her Up
Jun 8, 2018 • 19 min
There’s a dark chapter in American history that gets left out of the history books: the American Plan, which detained tens, and possibly hundreds of thousands of women from the 1910s through the 1950s. Conceived in WWI to protect soldiers from…
#51: An Epirotic Odyssey
Jun 1, 2018 • 34 min
Imagine there’s a place where music exists as it was first created, thousands and thousands of years ago, a place where song and dance still glued communities together across generations. That place exists: Epirus, a little pocket of northwestern Greece…
#50: Revenge of the Nerds
May 25, 2018 • 19 min
Were you a geek? A nerd? Did you play Magic: The Gathering, paint Warhammer miniatures, learn to speak Klingon or Elvish, or memorize whole scenes from Star Trek? If so, then good news: it might have taken a few broken eyeglasses and shoves in high…
#49: Stitching History
May 11, 2018 • 19 min
Rachel May’s new book, An American Quilt, has an innocuous enough title, invoking an innocent American pastime. But sometimes ugly secrets can be hidden in the stitchwork—or even, as in the case of the quilt at the heart of May’s book, behind it. The…
#48: Get Rich or Die Trying
May 4, 2018 • 19 min
When there’s a gold rush on, the thing to do is not to dig. Instead, sell shovels to all the suckers who think they’ll get rich digging for gold. This is one of the lessons that investigative reporter Corey Pein learned when he moved to San Francisco at…
#47: When the Chicken Hits the Fan
Apr 27, 2018 • 17 min
Bobbie Ann Mason’s short story “Live-Hang,” from our Spring Issue, is the story of two friends who come from different worlds. Dave and Miguel meet in the gutting room of a chicken processing plant. Both are working class, but Dave and his wife, Trish,…
#46: The Floral Gospel
Apr 20, 2018 • 17 min
When we talk about climate change and conservation, animals tend to steal the show. Yet the organisms whose extinction would affect us the most are actually plants. Horticulturalist Carlos Magdalena has become known as the Plant Messiah for his work using…
#45: Voicing a Legend
Apr 13, 2018 • 19 min
Some of our best poets have the greatest range: think of Shakespeare, in all his wild permutations, or Edna St. Vincent Millay boomeranging from heartbreak to revelry. Or, quintessentially, T. S. Eliot, who captured our bruised souls in “The Wasteland,”…
#44: Go Fish
Apr 6, 2018 • 19 min
Journalist Anna Badkhen has immersed herself in the lives of Afghan carpet weavers, Fulani cow herders in Mali, and other people often ignored or forgotten—especially in the Global North. Yet our lives are entwined with others’ across the continents, and…
#43: Burmese Daze
Mar 30, 2018 • 30 min
Since August 2017, in the country’s latest wave of Buddhist-on-Muslim violence, over 647,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar due to systemic violence and ethnic cleansing that has killed more than 10,000 people. Why is a religion seen as so peaceful…
#42: To Infinity (and Beyond!)
Mar 23, 2018 • 19 min
We revisit an interview with Eugenia Cheng, the author of How to Bake Pi, who translates higher math using metaphors that even the most mathematically disinclined can comprehend: infinite layers of puff pastry, endless jars of marmalade, and deep-dish…
#41: The Killers’ Canon
Mar 16, 2018 • 19 min
There are a lot of very good, very long books out there: Middlemarch, War and Peace, Don Quixote, the Neopolitan Novels. And then there are the very long books you probably won’t ever want to read, like Leonid Brezhnev’s memoirs, Saddam Hussein’s…
#40: Top of the Tots
Mar 9, 2018 • 19 min
Americans love a child prodigy: Shirley Temple, Bobby Fischer, Henry Cowell … the list goes on. There’s just something about kid geniuses that enchants us—fascination at how differently they must see the world, and envy at how they’ve got it made. But in…
#39: Zombies and Plagues and Bombs, Oh My!
Feb 23, 2018 • 19 min
For decades, artists have been using horror to speak to our deepest societal fears, from the wilderness (werewolves) to the unknown (aliens). With zombies, that fear is infection: the outbreak of some terrible epidemic that sweeps the world, rendering us…
#38: Renaissance Rumor Mill
Feb 16, 2018 • 19 min
Giorgio Vasari has been variously called the father of art history, the inventor of artistic biography, and the author of “the Bible of the Italian Renaissance”—a little book called The Lives of the Artists. It’s a touchstone for scholars looking to get a…
#37: Reclaiming Craftiness
Feb 9, 2018 • 19 min
If you’re a creature of the 21st century, odds are you’ve stumbled upon the nascent DIY movement. From baking our bread to stitching our own clothes to raising back yard chickens and growing our own vegetables—even restoring our own furniture—the past few…
#36: A Revolutionary Change of Heart
Feb 2, 2018 • 19 min
Phil Klay joins us on the podcast to talk about his essay, “Tales of War and Redemption,” in our Winter issue. It’s an essay that starts on a humorous note, describing the horrible, ridiculously gory deaths of the Christian saints in The Big Book of…
#35: School’s Out for Segregation
Jan 26, 2018 • 19 min
School choice. A portfolio of options. Charters. Vouchers. Virtual classrooms. This is the vocabulary of the 21st-century American education system—and having more of these private options is exactly what policymakers, like Secretary of Education Betsy…
#34: Seeing Red
Jan 12, 2018 • 19 min
So much of the story we hear about China today is an economic one—how over the past few decades, it has risen from poverty and ruin to become a global economic powerhouse. But there’s a story beneath the surface, of the artistic avant-garde that resisted…
#33: CSI: Roman Empire
Dec 22, 2017 • 19 min
The Roman Empire’s reputation precedes it: a wingspan that stretched from Syria to Spain, and from the Nile to Scotland’s doorstep. Centuries of unbroken rule, a unified commonwealth, and at one point nearly a quarter of the world’s population. And then,…
#32: Brainwaves
Dec 15, 2017 • 19 min
This week, Anthony Brandt and David Eagleman talk about the science (and practice) of creating new things. We share a lot with the other sentient beings on this planet—love, hunger, death, joy, family, jealousy, rage. There’s one thing, though, we do that…
#31: Funny Business
Dec 8, 2017 • 19 min
This week, we talk to Cullen Murphy, the son of cartoonist John Cullen Murphy, about growing up during the funnies’ midcentury heyday. Cartoon County is part memoir, part history of the giants of the comics world, who drew Superman, Beetle Bailey, Hägar…
#30: Jane Austen and the Making of Desire
Nov 20, 2017 • 37 min
This week on the podcast, we’re talking about sublimated desires—and the repressed kind, too. William Deresiewicz expands on an essay he wrote for us about being a man in Jane Austen’s world—and how her novels are about so much more than Colin…
#29: The Three Percent
Nov 10, 2017 • 41 min
A measly three percent of books published in the United States are works in translation—so this week, we’re shining a spotlight on two books from dramatically different places. Naivo’s Beyond the Rice Fields is the first Malagasy novel ever translated…
#28: Witches Never Die
Oct 27, 2017 • 45 min
Our Halloween special covers two subjects perfect for your next macabre dinner party: how the witch gained her powers, and the myriad alternatives to a casket. Caitlin Doughty, the Internet’s favorite mortician, tells us about her world travels in search…
#27: Back in the USSR
Oct 13, 2017 • 39 min
Family drama, circa 1930: Yuri Slezkine tells the saga of the House of Government, a communal residence where top Soviet officials and their families lived, loved, died, and disappeared in the years after the Russian Revolution; Caroline Moorehead…
#26: Once and Future Food
Sep 29, 2017 • 38 min
This week, we look at how we have irrevocably shaped the planet through consumption: of fossil fuels, exotic foods, cups of tea. Erika Rappaport talks about how the drive for empire was spurred on by lust for a certain caffeinated plant, which fueled…
#25: Rhapsodies in Blue
Sep 14, 2017 • 45 min
What power do words have, and how do their meanings change across centuries—and continents? We talk to Andrew Motion, former Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, about how moving from Britain to Baltimore changed his work; Jennifer Choi unearths the cruel…
#24: Scientists and Saints
Sep 1, 2017 • 35 min
This week is for the ladies: we’ll be talking about women’s roles in two pretty different fields—science and religion—and how women have worked their way in from the fringes of both. Angela Saini unravels the pervasive idea that science is free from bias,…
#23: Lady Pirates and Oceans of Plastic
Aug 11, 2017 • 35 min
We hit the seven seas and the five gyres in our wettest podcast episode yet: Laura Sook Duncombe talks about the female swashbucklers forgotten by history—including a pirate who gave birth in the middle of a sea battle—and Marcus Eriksen talks about…
#22: What the Nose Knows
Jul 28, 2017 • 40 min
Melanie Kiechle introduces us to the 19th-century world of smell detectives, where the nose reigned supreme and cities mapped their stench patterns; Sam Kean tells how gases can have a profound effect on us—from knocking us out to making us laugh, and…
#21: Love Games and First Impressions
Jul 13, 2017 • 30 min
Psychologist Alexander Todorov tells us how we’ve got it all wrong on the science of first impressions—and warns of physiognomy’s dangerous return—while Elizabeth Wilson gives us a glimpse into the secret, sexy history of tennis, just in time for the…
#20: From Beer to Eternity
Jun 27, 2017 • 30 min
Meet the experimental archaeologist and the master brewer who are resurrecting beverages of the past. Dr. Patrick McGovern, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, and Sam Calagione, the founder of Dogfish Head Brewery, discuss what it takes…
#19: From the Horse’s Mouth
Jun 9, 2017 • 46 min
True tales of horse historians, mad bombers, and infinite jam jars Susanna Forrest takes us down the bridle path of our long relationship with horses; Michael Cannell tells the story of New York’s mad bomber and the invention of criminal profiling; and…
#18: Twin Peaks
May 16, 2017 • 34 min
Sarah Williams Goldhagen takes us on a tour of New York’s High Line—and the insides of our brains—and Judith Matloff talks about traveling 72,000 miles, across nearly a dozen mountain ranges, as she investigated why the world’s highlands harbor so much…
#17: The Fox in the Big House
Apr 20, 2017 • 39 min
Lee Alan Dugatkin on the world’s cutest science experiment, which transformed wild foxes into cuddlebugs; Ellen Lagemann makes the case for college in prisons; and an underground poetry reading promoting this weekend’s March for Science. Go beyond the…
#16: Out of the Closet and Into the Courts
Apr 7, 2017 • 40 min
Geoffrey R. Stone tells the epic story of how sex came to be legislated in America; Linda Heywood introduces us to an African queen cooler than Cleopatra; and John Dvorak gives us a lesson in the total eclipse of the heart. Er, sun. Mentioned in this…
#15: All the Rage
Mar 17, 2017 • 51 min
Pankaj Mishra goes back to the Enlightenment to explain our age of anger; Ronald Rael imagines how architecture might dismantle a wall rather than construct it; and our editors offer up their favorite tales from the Emerald Isle. Sláinte! Episode extras:…
#14: Unlikely Encounters
Mar 3, 2017 • 40 min
André Aciman gives us a primer on W. G. Sebald, who blurred the line between memory and fiction; Rowan Ricardo Phillips talks about the biomechanics of poetry; and Julian Gewirtz unveils the travel itinerary of the least likely visitor to communist China…
#13: From Côte d’Ivoire to the California Coast
Feb 10, 2017 • 33 min
Julia Lichtblau takes us to an elite secondary school in Abidjan that’s changing the lives of African girls; Steve Early shows how Richmond, California, became a progressive beacon; and Phillip Lopate tells us what he thinks about confiding your darkest…
#12: Portraits of a Movement
Jan 27, 2017 • 29 min
Amanda Kolson Hurley gives us a tour of the Trump Hotel; our editorial assistant Noelani Kirschner introduces the Scholar’s newest blog; and a chorus of voices tells us why they went to Washington for the Women’s March. Mentioned in this episode: • Amanda…
#11: Sounds Like a Revolution
Dec 16, 2016 • 45 min
Madeleine Thien talks about art and music under totalitarianism, along with her novel, Do Not Say We Have Nothing, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize; Scholar managing editor Sudip Bose explains how Neville Marriner, conductor of the now-ubiquitous…
#10: The Aftermath
Nov 22, 2016 • 41 min
Keramet Reiter talks about what happens to prisoners who spend decades in solitary confinement; Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilia-Whitaker offer some historical perspective on the crisis at Standing Rock; and Sandra Gilbert reflects on the importance of…
#9: Fighting the Zika Virus with John Wayne (and John Aubrey)
Nov 7, 2016 • 39 min
Harriet Washington discusses how our current Zika crisis fits into the (tragic) pattern of ignoring tropical diseases until they hit our shores; Brian Doyle tries to justify watching 50 John Wayne movies in a row; and Ruth Scurr tells funny stories about…
#8: High Art and Low Chairs
Oct 21, 2016 • 40 min
Take a crash course in Indie Publishing 101 with the founders of Restless Books; hear Scholar senior editor Bruce Falconer explain how John le Carré burned the bridge between genre and literary fiction; and learn from Witold Rybczynski how an iconic…
#7: Ku Klux Kounty
Oct 7, 2016 • 38 min
Patrick Phillips recounts the ugly history of a southern county that brutally expelled its African-American residents and remained entirely white for most of the 20th century; Ross King reveals some of Claude Monet’s more unusual painting habits,…
#6: Women v. ISIS
Aug 23, 2016 • 35 min
Meredith Tax explains how the Rojava Kurds—and their democratic, feminist, and environmentally conscious society—are fighting back against ISIS; Ed Yong takes us on a tour of the ecosystems lurking inside our bodies; and Amy Whitaker, alias “Agony Amy,”…
#5: A New Story for Black Americans
Aug 9, 2016 • 34 min
Charles Johnson questions the stories we tell ourselves about black America, eight years after President Obama’s election; Barry Goldstein gives us the inside story on covering the 2016 Republican and Democratic national conventions; and David Lehman…
#4: Go West, Young Scholar
Jul 25, 2016 • 38 min
Terry Tempest Williams talks America’s national parks and her new book, “The Hour of Land;” James Conaway explains how to survive a California wildfire while downing petit syrah; and Ted Levin sticks up for the beleaguered timber rattlesnake. Mentioned in…
#3: Reading Lolita in Maximum Security Prison
Jul 11, 2016 • 42 min
How do you run a literature course for convicts, and what do a headless chicken and Pinochet have in common? Mikita Brottman discusses her new book, The Maximum Security Book Club; Idra Novey reads a short story; and we venture underground to check out…
#2: Superheroes Are So Gay!
Jun 27, 2016 • 35 min
What do the X-Men have to do with feminism, and how did the Fantastic Four get caught up in the radical politics of the New Left? Learn about the queer history of superhero comics with Ramzi Fawaz, and check in on reporter Karen Coates’s documentary…
#1: Mary Roach and a Double Dose of Shakespeare
Jun 13, 2016 • 42 min
Hear about weird military science from Mary Roach, learn bizarre Elizabethan recipes, and catch an excerpt from a new book about Shakespeare’s strange appeal. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Smarty Pants #0: Trailer
Jun 9, 2016 • 1 min
Tune in every two weeks to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by…