Episode 100: Extravaganza Spectacular!

We’ve made it to 100 episodes! Join co-hosts Joan Neuberger and Christopher Rose as they look back on the origins of 15 Minute History, relive the awkwardness of the first few outings in the studio, recap their favorite episodes, share embarrassing moments with impressive guests in the studio, ponder the phenomenon of being asked to entertain serious questions at weddings, and give short glimpses into those April Fools’ episodes that we never quite got around to recording.

Download podcast (mp3–right click to save)

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.”

Download audio (mp3–right click to save)

Continue reading

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.

Download Audio (mp3 – right click to download)

Continue reading

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.

Download podcast (mp3–right click to save)

Continue reading

Episode 85: Brexit

Host: Christopher Rose, Department of History
Guest: Philippa Levine, Mary Helen Thompson Centennial Professor in the Humanities; Co-Director, Program in British Studies

Brexit cartoonOn June 23, 2016, British voters stunned many political observers (if not themselves) by voting to leave the European Union. To many outside observers, the election result was unthinkable, provoking a major political shakeup in the UK as well as an identity crisis within the EU. The factors that led Britain’s electorate to reject the EU, however, are rooted in decades of uneasy alliance with former rivals and enemies in the European bloc.

Philippa Levine from UT’s Department of History and Program in British Studies walks us through the contemporary British politics and rocky history of Britain and the EU that contributed to this historic decision.

Download podcast (mp3—right click to save)

Continue reading

Episode 82: What Writing Can Tell Us About the Arabs before Islam

Host: Christopher Rose, Department of History, UT-Austin
Guest: Ahmad al-Jallad, University of Leiden

TaymaniticIn most world history survey courses, Arabia is introduced for the first time only as backstory to the rise of Islam. We’re told that there was a tradition of oral poetry in Arabic, a language native to central Arabia, and that the Qur’an was the zenith of this oral tradition. New evidence, however, suggests that Arabia was linguistically diverse, that the language we’ve come to know as Arabic originated in modern day Jordan, and that the looping cursive writing system that’s become the language’s hallmark wasn’t the original system used to write it. What to make of all this?

Guest Ahmad al-Jallad co-directs archaeological/epigraphic projects in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, uncovering new inscriptions thousands of years old, and shares his research that’s shedding new light on the writings of a complex civilization that lived in the Arabian peninsula for centuries before Islam arose.

Download podcast (mp3—right click to save)

Continue reading

Episode 79: Fishmeal—The Superfood That Never Was

Host: Christopher Rose, Center for Middle Eastern Studies
Guest: Kristin Wintersteen, Department of History, University of Houston

After World War II, governments and international aid agencies were looking for a way to ameliorate the widespread hunger and malnutrition that populations faced in areas devastated by war, poverty, and other ‘natural’ disasters. They found an unlikely suspect in fishmeal, and with it, lit up the economies of South America along the Humboldt Current. But the fish, as it turned out, had other ideas.

Guest Kristin Wintersteen has worked on the history of industry subject to the temperaments of on-again off-again current cycles in the Pacific, and how the boom and bust of one of the first superfoods has led to new discussions about global nutrition.

Download audio (mp3—right click to save)

Continue reading

Episode 76: The Trans-Pacific Slave Trade

Host: Christopher Rose, Doctoral Candidate, Department of History, UT-Austin
Guest: Kristie Flannery, Doctoral Candidate, Department of History

5632572_origAt the height of the Spanish Empire, the Manila Galleon – an annual flotilla between Manila and Acapulco – was considered the lifeline of Spain’s economy, bringing silver from the mines of New Spain to the markets of Asia. On the reverse trip, the galleons would be loaded with Asian luxury goods, such as spices, silks — and slaves. This episode presents a micro history of the Trans-Pacific slave trade through the lens of Diego de la Cruz, a chino slave who managed to escape and evade capture for three years in the highlands of Central America.

Guest Kristie Flannery found Diego’s story in the Spanish colonial archives, and narrates his tale in the broader context of the powerful political and economic forces at work in Spain’s global empire.

Download podcast (mp3—right click to save)

Continue reading

Episode 75: The Birmingham Qur’ān

Host: Samantha Rose Rubino, Doctoral Student, Department of History
Guest: Christopher Rose, Assistant Director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies

Birmingham Qur'an ManuscriptIn the summer of 2015, an obscure Qur’ān manuscript hidden in the far reaches of the Cadbury Research Library at the University of Birmingham grabbed attention worldwide when carbon dating revealed that the book was one of the oldest Qur’āns known to exist. In fact, it might have been written during the lifetime of the Prophet Muḥammad … or might it even have been written before Muḥammad’s lifetime?

Guest Christopher Rose (yes, our regular co-host) has been following the headlines and puts the discovery of the Birmingham Qur’ān within the larger field of Islamic and Qur’ānic Studies, and explains how the text might raise as many questions as it answers.

Download Podcast (mp3—right click to save)

Continue reading

Episode 74: The Changsha Rice Riots of 1910

Host: Christopher Rose, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, UT-Austin
Guest: James Joshua Hudson, Visiting Assistant Professor, Knox College

HIS_8In the waning days of China’s Qing Empire, a riot broke out in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province. After two years of flooding, a starving woman had drowned herself in desperation after an unscrupulous merchant refused to sell her food at a price she could afford. Three days of rioting followed during which symbols of Qing power were destroyed by an angry mob, which then turned its sights on Changsha’s Western compound. Historians have long assumed the mob was controlled by the landed gentry, but as nearly every dictator knows, a crowd has a mind of its own.

James Joshua Hudson, Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Knox College, describes the riots and some surprising finds he made conducting fieldwork in Hunan that offer a glimpse into the deeply layered tensions on the eve of the downfall of the Qing dynasty.

Download podcast (mp3—right click to save)

Continue reading