Episode 97: The Zionist Movement in Czechoslovakia

Host: Augusta Dell’Omo, Department of History, UT-Austin
Guest: Tatjana Lichtenstein, Professor, Department of History, and Director, Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies, UT-Austin

Lichtenstein book coverAfter World War 1, the Zionist movement – the Jewish nationalist movement that had the creation of a national homeland as its ultimate goal – took root in the new country of Czechoslovakia. However, through the mechanisms of the Zionist movement itself, Czechoslovak Jews realized their collective power as an organized group within their own country for the first time. What happened next was a struggle between the goals of international Zionism and the potential reality of what Czechoslovakian Jewry could attain through collective bargaining – until the rise of Hitler and WWII tipped the scales.

Guest Tatjana Lichtenstein has studied the Zionist movement in Czechoslovakia and gives us a glimpse into the interwar period when Czech Jewish leaders saw the possibility of being accepted into European society, ironically through the mechanisms of a movement that’s become associated with immigration to the Middle East.

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Episode 96: Louis XIV’s Absolutism and the “Affair of the Poisons”

Host: Christopher Rose, Department of History
Guest: Julia Gossard, Assistant Professor of History, Utah State University

Satanic masses. Child sacrifice. Renegade priests who deal in love potions and black magics. And a secret tribunal set up to weed out the unholy members of nobility who use them, all desperate to get close to an asbolute monarch who keeps the entire nation under his thumb. It’s not the subject of Dan Brown’s latest book, it’s something that really happened in 17th century France at the court of Louis XIV, “The Sun King.”

Julia Gossard, an alumna of UT’s History Program, now an Assistant Professor of French History at Utah State University, has read through the archives of the secret court and walks us through the connections between Louis XIV’s absolutist rule and a fantastic series of events that’s become known as “The Affair of the Poisons.”

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Episode 95: The Impossible Presidency

Host: Christopher Rose, Department of History
Guest: Jeremi Suri, Mack Brown Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs, LBJ School of Public Affairs and Professor, Department of History, University of Texas at Austin

Over the past two and a half centuries, the expectations placed upon the office of the President have changed and evolved with each individual charged with holding the position. From George Washington to Barack Obama, each occupant has left his mark on the office. However, since WWII, the occupant of America’s highest office has aspired to do more and more, but seems to have accomplished less and less. Have the expectations placed upon the office actually made the position less effective?

In his new book The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America’s Highest Office, returning guest Jeremi Suri (UT-Austin) takes a long historical look at what has made presidents successful in the role of chief executive, and asks whether the office has evolved to take on too much responsibility to govern effectively.

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Episode 94: Populism

Host: Henry Weincek, Institute for Historical Studies
Guest: Steven Hahn, New York University

1892populistposterPopulism seems to describe everything in America these days, from politics to styles of communication. Some might say that it’s used so often, and in so many context, that it’s lost most of its meaning. But populism, or the movement from which it gets its name, arose in a specific context in American history at the end of the 19th century, and revisiting the history of this specific movement can help us understand how and why the term is used the way it is in present day politics.

Our guest for this episode, Dr. Steven Hahn of New York University, literally wrote the book on populism and helps us turn this political buzzword into a historical phenomenon from a time period in American history that has a number of parallels with our own.

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Episode 93: Women and the Tamil Epics

Guest: Andrea Gutierrez, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Asian Studies
Host: Christopher Rose, Department of History

statue_of_kannagiMale-dominated narratives, male authors, and male-centered agency and priorities have been the norm throughout history, until the latter half of the 20th-century. So it’s no surprise that in ancient literature and epics, if you consider something like Homer’s Odyssey or other classics, even the Ramayana, the story of King Rama in early India, you see male authors telling the stories, adventures, and histories of men. In the Tamil literature of South India, however, we see something different.

Guest Andrea Gutierrez introduces us to epic South Asian poems from the beginning of the first millennium that past the Bechdel test, when women’s narrative critiqued, cajoled, narrated, and provided guidance for the devout.

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Episode 92: Disability History in the United States

Host: Augusta Dell’Omo, Graduate Student, Department of History
Guest: John Carranza, Graduate Student, Department of History

freakshow Americans with disabilities compose approximately 50 million people today, and yet remains largely removed from the historical record. The road to recognition has been long and varied; from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s use of a wheelchair while in office, to the popularity of “freak shows,” wherein physical ailments were put on display. How have organizations and activist groups groups dealt with stigma and asked for rights to be able to participate in the public sphere in the United States?

First year history graduate student John Carranza, specializing in disability history, sheds some light on historical representations of disability, and how modern understanding of disability is informed by the past.

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Episode 91: The History of the Family

Host: Joan Neuberger, Professor, Department of History
Guest: Steven Mintz, Professor, Department of History

9780674019980“Kids today.” Everyone says it, it seems, in reference to the idea that children today are spoiled, raised with poor values, and somehow have it worse than their parents generation. This notion dominates discussions from political debates to stand up comedy acts. But, what defines the stages of life and how people are supposed to act in each? Has it always been that way?

Steven Mintz has long been interested in the transformations of family life through the ages and, in this episode, talks about how nearly everything we think we know about family life would be unrecognizable even a century ago.

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Episode 90: Stokely Carmichael: A Life

Host: Joan Neuberger, Professor, Department of History, UT-Austin
Guest: Peniel E. Joseph, Barbara Jordan Chair in Ethics and Political Values, and Founding Director, Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, LBJ School of Public Affairs, and Professor, Department of History, UT-Austin

14894638Stokely Carmichael, the charismatic and controversial black activist, stepped onto the pages of history when he called for “Black Power” during a speech one Mississippi night in 1966. A firebrand who straddled both the American civil rights and Black Power movements, Carmichael would stand for the rest of his life at the center of the storm he had unleashed that night.

This week, preeminent civil rights scholar Peniel E. Joseph, author of Stokely: A Life, winner of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change National Book Award (2014), discusses Carmichael, using his life as a prism through which to view the transformative African American freedom struggles of the twentieth century.

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Episode 89: Seven Skeletons

Host: Christopher Rose, Department of History, University of Texas at Austin
Guest: Lydia Pine, Research Affiliate, Institute for Historical Studies, University of Texas at Austin

Seven Skeletons coverOver the last century, the search for human ancestors has spanned four continents and resulted in the discovery of hundreds of fossils. While most of these discoveries live quietly in museum collections, there are a few that have become world-renowned celebrity personas–ambassadors of science that speak to public audiences. But how does a fossil become a celebrity?

Lydia Pine, historian, author, and fellow of UT’s Institute for Historical Studies, has written a book about seven of the world’s most famous human fossils–appropriately titled Seven Skeletons. In this episode, she shares vivid examples of how human ancestors have been remembered, received, and immortalized.

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Episode 88: The Search for Family Lost in Slavery

Host: Joan Neuberger, Professor, Department of History
Guest: Heather Andrea Williams, Presidential Professor and Professor of Africana Studies, University of Pennsylvania

OHelp me to find my people coverne of the most callous and tragic aspects of slavery in the United States was the slave owners’ practice of dividing families: children were taken from parents, husbands and wives were separated, brothers and sisters too. Why was this practice initiated? How did it impact families? Did the slaveowners feel any responsibility or remorse? And, after the Civil War, how did families scattered across the south try to reconnect?

Our guest today, Heather Andrea Williams, Presidential Professor and Professor of Africana Studies, has written a moving book about on the subject, Help Me To Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery.

Editor’s note: this is a much longer episode than normal, however we have decided to leave the interview in its entirety. So, for this week, we are 50 Minute History!

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