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What is the role of the press in a democracy? For nearly a century, scholars, media critics, and politicians have debated this question—in a large part thanks to Walter Lippmann. Lippmann’s 1922 book, Public Opinion, changed the conversation about how to educate voters and who should be able to vote at all. In this episode, University of British Co…
 
For this episode of How To Be Wrong, I speak with George Styles, a biochemist and author of the book Contemplation. George is also what we describe these days as an “influencer”—although as we discuss he objects to that label—on social media, with over 37 thousand followers on Twitter. His approach to Twitter is novel in that he focuses on asking p…
 
Scholars want to decolonize everything, and universities say they are doing the hard work of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. But is anything really being done, or is it all for show? In this episode, we approach these questions through three words that are common inside and outside of academia: decolonize, reconciliation, and colonialism. —…
 
A journey through an artist's quest for success, deep dive into substance abuse, family tragedy, and ultimate triumph. By the mid-1980s, singer-songwriter John Hiatt had been dropped from three record labels, burned through two marriages, and had fallen deep into substance abuse. It took a stint in rehab and a new marriage to inspire him, then a pr…
 
Sara Farrington's The Lost Conversation: Interviews with an Enduring Avant-Garde (53rd State Press, 2021) is a collection of interviews with a host of influential artists in experimental theatre, including Richard Foreman, Lee Breuer, Adrienne Kennedy, Maude Mitchell, and Jessica Hagedorn. They discuss process, making a living as an artist, the cha…
 
During the early years of photography, settlers around the Pacific World were fascinated with the landscapes of the places they conquered. According to Dr. Jarrod Hore, a postdoctoral researcher and co-director of the New Earth Histories Research Program at the University of New South Wales, wilderness images helped Americans and Australians make s…
 
Providing your children with a good education is one of the best gifts you can give. But it’s not straightforward. Education costs and student loan debt are skyrocketing. In some cases, college costs upwards of $300,000 for four years. And calculations for financial aid and merit awards are complex and opaque. How do you find the best education opt…
 
In 2016, social media users in Thailand called out the Paris-based luxury fashion house Balenciaga for copying the popular Thai “rainbow bag,” using Balenciaga’s hashtags to circulate memes revealing the source of the bags’ design. In Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Social Media's Influence on Fashion, Ethics, and Property (Duke UP, 2022), Minh-Ha T…
 
Compiled by New York Times bestselling author Andrew Bacevich and retired army officer Danny A. Sjursen, Paths of Dissent: Soldiers Speak Out Against America’s Misguided Wars (Metropolitan Books, 2022) collects provocative essays from American military veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, offering firsthand testimony that illuminates why th…
 
Feminism's Empire (Cornell UP, 2022) investigates the complex relationships between imperialisms and feminisms in the late nineteenth century and demonstrates the challenge of conceptualizing "pro-imperialist" and "anti-imperialist" as binary positions. By intellectually and spatially tracing the era's first French feminists' engagement with empire…
 
Rabbi Ari Kahn’s The Crowns on the Letters: Essays on the Aggada and the Lives of the Sages (OU Press, 2020) represents a major achievement in the study of the lives of our Sages, as well as in the study of rabbinic Aggada. This work is an immensely learned and deeply creative interpretation of many fundamental aggadot relating to the intellectual …
 
Dr. Susan Boyd is a scholar/activist and Distinguished Professor emerita at the University of Victoria. Her research examines a variety of topics related to the history of drug prohibition and resistance to it, drug law and policy, including maternal drug use, maternal/state conflicts, film and culture, radio and print media, heroin assisted-treatm…
 
The Earth has entered a new age—the Anthropocene—in which humans are the most powerful influence on global ecology. Since the mid-twentieth century, the accelerating pace of energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and population growth has thrust the planet into a massive uncontrolled experiment. J. R. McNeill and Peter Engelke's book The Great Accel…
 
How should we form new beliefs? In particular, what inferential strategies are epistemically justified for forming new beliefs? Nowadays the dominant theory is Bayesianism, whereby we ought to reason in accordance with Bayes’s rule based in the axioms of probability theory. In The Art of Abduction (The MIT Press, 2022), Igor Douven defends the alte…
 
During the Cold War, the British government oversaw the transition to independence of dozens of colonies. Often the most challenging aspect of this transition was the creation of a national army from colonial forces. In Built on the Ruins of Empire: British Military Assistance and African Independence (University Press of Kansas, 2022), Dr. Blake W…
 
A fascinating, complex dual biography of Hollywood's most dazzling—and famous—brothers, and a dark, riveting portrait of competition, love, and enmity that ultimately undid them both. One most famous for having written Citizen Kane; the other, All About Eve; one who only wrote screenplays but believed himself to be a serious playwright, slowly dyin…
 
Everything in law and politics, including individual rights, comes back to divisions of power and the evergreen question: Who decides? Who wins the disputes of the day often turns on who decides them. And our acceptance of the resolution of those disputes often turns on who the decision maker is-because it reveals who governs us. In Who Decides?: S…
 
Today’s episode originally aired in May of 2021, while violence was erupting all along the Gaza Strip. Israeli airstrikes had left over 200 Palestinians and a dozen Israelis dead. It was (and is) a continuation of a story of violent settler colonialism. And yet media and academic censorship has consistently silenced or punished those who speak out …
 
Opportunity in Crisis: Cantonese Migrants and the State in Late Qing China (Harvard UP, 2021) explores the history of late Qing Cantonese migration along the West River basin during war and reconstruction and the impact of those developments on the relationship between state and local elites on the Guangxi frontier. By situating Cantonese upriver a…
 
Music sampling has become a predominantly digitalized practice. It was popularized with the rise of Rap and Hip-Hop, as well as ambient music scenes, but it has a history stretching back to the earliest days of sound recording and experimental music making from around the world. Digital tools and networks allow artists to sample music across nation…
 
Trump’s voters. The yellow jackets in France. Putin’s base in Russia. The Brexiteers. One thing all these groups have in common is anger – anger at being left behind, anger about de industrialization, anger at the arrogance and wealth of the elite. But what more can be said about the nature of that anger and the different aspects of it? In Angrynom…
 
Julia May Jonas is a writer, director, and the founder of theater company Nellie Tinder. She has taught at Skidmore College and NYU and lives in Brooklyn with her family. Vladimir (Simon & Schuster, 2022) is her first novel. Books Recommended in this Episode: Iris Murdoch, The Sea, The Sea Vladimir Nabokov, Laughter In the Dark Vladimir Nabokov, Pn…
 
Madeline (Maddie) Fairbanks has created a satisfying life for herself in Jamesville since the death of her husband, Samuel, one of the town’s leading citizens. An herbalist from a long line of female healers, she provides medical care to local residents at all levels of society, traveling into the hills and from house to house with Renetta Morgan, …
 
Listen to this interview with Jo Mackiewicz, professor of rhetoric and professional communication at Iowa State University, and with Isabelle Thompson, emerita professor of technical and professional communication and former coordinator of the English Center at Auburn University. We talk about their book Talk about Writing: The Tutoring Strategies …
 
Harvey Graff's pioneering study presents a new and original interpretation of the place of literacy in nineteenth-century society and culture. Based upon an intensive comparative historical analysis, employing both qualitative and quantitative techniques, and on a wide range of sources, The Literacy Myth: Cultural Integration and Social Structure i…
 
What is holding the oceans back from entirely flooding the earth? While a twenty-first century thinker may approach the answer to this question within a framework of gravity and geologic deep-time, Lindsay Starkey demonstrates in her monograph, Encountering Water in Early Modern Europe and Beyond: Redefining the Universe Through Natural Philosophy,…
 
Archives are much more than silent repositories of historical material. They are rich sites for teaching and learning, for collaboration and for creative and critical exploration of our past, present and future. In their new book, Teaching through the Archives: Text, Collaboration, and Activism (Southern Illinois University Press, 2022), Tarez Samr…
 
In this episode John Yargo speaks with Kim about Environmental Catastrophe. In the episode John quotes Hannah Arendt and N.K. Jemisin, discusses a Shakespeare play and a 17th century Peruvian painting, and optimistically suggests that environmental catastrophe will save us. He references the work of many scholars in the field of environmental human…
 
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