All posts by Keith

Episode #9 Digital History and the Civil War Governors Project with Patrick Lewis

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-5-55-06-amDo you get excited when you hear someone talking about digital history? Because I do. Those of us in the humanities with an eye to the future love this stuff. So I am particularly stoked to talk digital with Patrick Lewis,  author of For Slavery and Union: Benjamin Buckner and Kentucky Loyalties in the Civil War – and director of The Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Project. What Patrick is doing (take note…other state archivists) is some of the most innovative work in the digital humanities that I know of. And he gives us the full run down.

We discuss:

  • Digital history and how it is useful
  • A historical “social network”
  • The place in digital humanities for early career historians
  • How to use the documentary project’s user guides

Listen and learn – this is great stuff! Patrick and I talk also talk about Cohen Brothers movies, he gives some great advice for students of history, and notes the value of Mark Mazower’s Inside Hitler’s Greece: The Experience of Occupation, 1941-44. Nothing to so with the Civil War…but hey – it’s good to have a little variance in your life, yes? Make sure to check out Patrick on Twitter – Peace.

 

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Music by Advent Chamber Orchestra is licensed under Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/

Episode #8 Thomas Dixon: The Apostle of Hate with Lynn Lyerly

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-5-33-30-amMost of us are familiar with the controversial 1915 silent film, The Birth of a Nation, known especially for its depiction of the creation of the Reconstruction Era Ku Klux Klan. To make the film, director D. W. Griffith turned to a historical romance: Thomas Dixon’s The Clansman. Today we talk with historian Lynn Lyerly about Dixon, his particularly vehement racism, and the propaganda that served as the cornerstone for the modern incarnation of paramilitary hate groups. Lynn is the co-editor (with Bethany Jay) of Understanding and Teaching American Slavery, which is a must for any teacher of US History, and she is currently working on a book on Thomas Dixon: The Apostle of Hate. Today we look at the man himself…

We discuss

  • Why it is so important to understand Dixon’s racism
  • His significance in terms of literary culture
  • Racism and American heritage
  • His intentional work as a racial propagandist
  • Judging historical actors from a 21st century perspective

Lynn has a great movie recommendation that I have moved to the top of my list, and she offers excellent advice for students of history. I always ask my guests to suggest a must-read book. Lynn say to check out Ku-Klux: The Birth of the Klan During Reconstruction by Elaine Frantz Parsons…so you had better get to it! Lynn has lots to say on Twitter – so follow her there. Enjoy the show!

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Music by Advent Chamber Orchestra is licensed under Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/

Episode #7 Old-Time Banjo with Dusty Lee Elmer

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-3-03-41-pmHow cool is this? Super cool. Listen peeps – banjo music makes me smile. So I am really happy to have Dusty on my show. Dusty is a first-rate banjo player and a great guy too. And he knows his shit when it comes to history, too. We get down to business about some of the old stuff and have some laughs about a interpretive take on a modern song…

We discuss:

  • The origins of minstrel banjo style
  • Tracing the instrument back to Africa and its use by slaves on plantations
  • Changes in playing styles in the nineteenth century
  • Banjo music and national identity
  • The social media revolution

Dusty has some of his banjos on hand to offer a few musical selections, so you will want to have a listen and then follow him on Instagram, YouTube, and ReverbNation.

It turns out, Dusty is something of a Civil War guy – so we talked about one of our favorite films and a few important books: Company Aytch by Sam Watkins and Hardtack and Coffee by John D. Billings. What’s more – Dusty has some great advice for aspiring musicians out there…so you had better pay attention!

 


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Music by Advent Chamber Orchestra is licensed under Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/

Episode #6 Los Angeles History in Verse with Mike the PoeT

screen-shot-2016-10-23-at-6-41-17-pmI’m stoked because today I got to interview my old friend Mike Sonksen – well known to the world as Mike the PoeT. Mike is a third-generation Angeleno (a rarity in Los Angeles) and is dedicated – through his work as a historian, teacher, writer, and performer – to connecting the many dots that are LA. Mike has published two collections featuring his poetry and extended essays on geography and urban culture: I Am Alive in Los Angeles and most recently, Poetics of Location.  Being an Angeleno myself (sort of…I’ve been here since 1976) it was great to parse through some of these themes with an expert on the city.

We discuss

  • How the disciplines of English and History overlap with the arts
  • The inspiration behind one of Mike’s most well-known poems, I am Alive in Los Angeles
  • Significant changes in the urban landscape sine the 1920s
  • Racial, ethnic, and economic displacements and migrations within the city
  • The gulf between extreme wealth and abject poverty and the unique features of economic disparity in Los Angeles
  • Downtown LA and Hollywood “revitalization” movements

Mike has great advice for aspiring young writers and we talk about one of our favorite movies, Blade Runner. Of course, he had plenty of excellent books on his must read list, including: City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles by Mike Davis, anything by Carey McWilliams (Southern California: An Island on the Land is a good place to start here), and Always Running: La VIda Loca, Gang Days in LA by Luis J. Rodriguez. If you want to learn more about Mike the PoeT, tour the city, or attend a reading, you can find him HERE.

 

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Music by Advent Chamber Orchestra is licensed under Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/

Episode #5 Civil War Music with Christian McWhirter

screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-9-50-43-amHave you ever been standing in line at the grocery store and found yourself quietly humming the melody to John Brown’s Body? Or…maybe that’s just me. At any rate, as a Civil War historian the music of the era has always captured my attention – not just as a background to the action but as an important component of each national cause. As such I am really stoked to have Christian McWhirter, author of Battle Hymns: The Power and Popularity of Music in the Civil War, on the show. Christian agrees that music was central to the lives and causes of soldiers and civilians alike.

We discuss:

  • Alternate career paths for academic historians
  • The significance of music in the armies
  • The popularity of particular tunes
  • Music and nationalism
  • Battles of the bands – in history and mythology
  • Music and reconciliation

Christian has great advice to which any student of history should pay great attention, he talks about his blog: Civil War Pop, and he suggests we all read a classic: Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg! by George C. Rable

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Music by Advent Chamber Orchestra is licensed under Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/

Episode #4 The Non-Aligned World with Robert Rakove

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Joining me today is Robert Rakove, author of Kennedy, Johnson, and the Non-Aligned World

This episode is pretty much the straight dope on the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and their approach to those places in the world that did not choose sides in the Cold War.

And not for nothing…I throw Rob a couple of surprise questions…which he handles with unmatched skill!

We discuss:

  • What it means when we say “non-aligned”
  • The Eisenhower administration and the spread of communism
  • How Kennedy and his successor, Johnson changed course
  • The repercussions of their approach

Rob has some great advice for students of history, and makes a book rec that I think we all should jump on – Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin Boyle

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Music by Advent Chamber Orchestra is licensed under Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/

Episode #3 – Megan Kate Nelson on the Civil War in the Far West

3Guess what – there were Civil War battles way out west…I mean way out there – in the desert, west of Texas. If you did not now about this, it is most likely because your history teacher never mentioned it…probably thinking it an unimportant sideshow to the real action in Virginia or Tennessee or Georgia. After discussing her book, Ruin Nation, Megan and I look beyond the eastern, western, and trans-Mississippi theaters of the Civil War. Megan tells us the war in the far west – New Mexico territory and even California  – reveals much about the broader scope of the war.

We discuss:

  • What it means to be an “independent scholar”
  • Broken stuff
  • War in the New Mexico/Arizona Territory
  • The significance of the Civil War in the far West
  • Camels

And that’s not all – Megan offers great advice for history students, a point on movie recommendation, and suggests we all read the book, This Republic of Suffering by Drew Gilpin Faust – so you had better get to it.

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Episode #2 – Julian Hayter on Civil Rights in Richmond, Virginia

2You think you know about the Civil Rights movement. I know you do. You know all about the movement to secure the vote…right? Well, guess again my friend.  In this episode, Julian discusses his upcoming book, The Dream is Lost: Voting Rights and the Politics of Race in Richmond, Virginia, and opens our eyes to the unintended consequences and the legacy of the movement to secure voting rights for African Americans in Richmond, Virginia in the 1950s and 60s.

We discuss:

  • The “suffrage crusades” in Richmond that predate the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the mobilization of black voters
  • Resistance to mobilization in Richmond
  • Redistricting and marginalization of black people by the end of the 20th century
  • The legacy of this marginalization in the 21st century

And that’s not all – Julian has some great advice for history students and offers a fantastic book recommendation – White Trash: the 400 Year History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg – so you had better get to it!

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Episode #1 – Kevin Levin on Black Confederates

1Have you ever been minding your own business enjoying a little  Civil War history contemplation when someone tries to convince you that there were thousands of black  soldiers in the Confederate Army?  I have a little talk with historian Kevin Levin, author of Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murderabout this phenomenon. We talk about the controversy and the myth…and in the end, try to come to some conclusions about why it is so important for so many to imagine black soldiers in gray.

We discuss…

  • How one might define a “soldier.”
  • How black people involuntarily contributed to the Confederate cause
  • Why the myth of Black Confederates is so persistent
  • And whether or not it is worthwhile arguing with wingnuts

And that’s not all – Kevin offers some advice for students and makes a great movie recommendation…you’ll want to move on this one.

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