Despite often being cast as the religion of immigrants, Catholicism has a long history here in the United States. Unfortunately, so does anti-Catholicism. In this episode, host John Fea and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling discuss American Catholicism. John looks at the roots and utility of political anti-Catholicism. They are joined by historian Catherine O’Donnell (@codonnellinaz) who discusses her new biography, Elizabeth Seton: American Saint.
With the election of Donald Trump, the term populism has returned to the political lexicon. However, while many people may use the term, fewer people truly understand its meaning and history. On today’s episode, we try to unpack the idea of populism in the American context. John Fea discusses the history of his favorite populist, William Jennings Bryan. They are joined by the foremost historian on the subject, Michael Kazin (@mkazin).
What do Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick have in common? Besides being NFL quarterbacks, they’re both famous kneelers. Yet their actions have been interpreted by sports fans and American Christians in very different ways. In today’s episode, we explore the deep historical connections between sports and Christianity. Host John Fea looks into what colonial New England’s Puritans thought about sports. They are joined by Messiah College historian Paul Putz (@p_emory), who discusses his work on the unique melding of sports and religion, “sportianity.”
The legacy of August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville haunts America. The precipitating event, the removal of Confederate monuments, continues to be debated in southern cities and on college campuses. This is a conversation that warrants sustained historicization. Host John Fea lends his thoughts to the recent toppling of “Silent Sam” at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. They are joined by University of Virginia-based historian and podcaster Nicole Hemmer (@pastpunditry) who recently dropped her own serial podcast, A12, in response to her experiences during the violence of the “Summer of Hate.”
On June 28, John Fea will release his new book, Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump with Eerdman’s. As a bonus episode, producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling sat down with Fea to discuss the deep history that led 81% of white evangelicals to vote for Trump in the 2016 election.
On May 21, 2018, the Office of the Provost at Messiah College surprised the faculty at their annual Educator’s Day with a live recording of our podcast. Under the theme “Flourishing in a Digital World,” the goal was to highlight the ways in which Messiah faculty have been using digital tools within their own scholarship. In that spirit, we interviewed history professor and lead architect of the Digital Harrisburg project, David Pettegrew (@dpettegrew); English professor and director of the Center for Public Humanities, Jean Corey; and film and digital media professor, Nathan Skulstad (@NathanSkulstad). The episode also features an interview of our regular host, John Fea, conducted by the director of the Agape Center, Ashley Sheaffer. Finally, special thanks also go out to the director of the Ernest L. Boyer Center, Cynthia Wells for organizing and co-producing the event.
Anyone who has been paying attention to higher ed and the humanities knows that job prospects for recently minted Ph.Ds are abysmal. So why do people keep choosing to engage in such a difficult process that by many measures is unlikely to pay off? John Fea adds his thoughts to this question and they are joined by Erin Bartram (@erin_bartram), the author of the viral blog post, “The Sublimated Grief of the Left Behind.”
Those of us who consider ourselves to be early American historians have been engaging with “the Atlantic World” paradigm for some time now. But what is the Atlantic World and why do so many historians find it compelling? Host John Fea explores the Atlantic life of William Moraley. They are joined by historian Timothy Shannon, whose recent work, Indian Captive, Indian King: Peter Williamson in American and Britain, explores yet another 18th-century life that spans either side of the Atlantic.
Greetings loyal listeners. Just wanted to let you know that something went wrong when we uploaded the latest episode. You may have noticed that the episode ended a bit abruptly. That’s because the last 5 minutes were cut off for some reason. I just wanted to let you know that we have fixed the issue. If you are a subscriber, you may have noticed that a second episode with the same title recently got added to your queue. If you have two episodes in your queue with the same name, listen to the newest one! Regardless, the episode currently available is now correct.
Thank you for your patience!
Host John Fea and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling return to a beloved subject, sports culture. While they have previously discussed baseball, the Olympics, and soccer, in this episode they turn their attention to global hockey. John discusses his short history as an aspiring goalie. They are joined by Bruce Berglund, who offers a peek into his new project on the spread and evolution of global hockey cultures.
Although many assume that historians are stuck in the past, social media has revolutionized the ways in which historians engage with the public. Twitter has become an especially powerful platform, causing #twitterstorians, #vastearlyamerica, #everythinghasahistory as well as countless other subfield-specific hashtags to go viral among history lovers. Host John Fea shares his own experience with being a historian on twitter. Our guest is Princeton professor and popular twitterstorian, Kevin Kruse (@KevinMKruse).
Host John Fea and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling continue to explore the many facets of the Culture Wars. Today, they tackle the often taboo subject of sex and politics. John discusses how sex was politicized in colonial America. They are joined by R. Marie Griffith (@RMarieGriffith), author of Moral Combat: How Sex Divided American Christians and Fractured American Politics.
We have some exciting news to announce here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home!
At the end of last year, we were approached by a couple of podcast producers who were in the process of forming a new network of history podcasts, the Recorded History Podcast Network. They have asked us to join as one of a wide range of historically-minded productions.
As we continue to explore the best ways to make the production of the podcast sustainable, we jumped at the opportunity to join forces with others doing similar work.
While we will retain full creative control over the podcast, listeners will notice some changes in 2018. First and foremost, joining the network gives us access to advertisers. This is a great monetization opportunity for us, but it does mean that advertisements will begin appearing throughout the podcast. Ads will be placed at the beginning and end of each episode and there will be a short advertising break in the middle. Additionally, you will start hearing cross-promotions for other podcasts on the network. We believe this will be a great way to spread the word about what we’re doing and introduce other podcasters’ work to our listeners.
Finally, you can also see that there have been some small changes to our visual identity as our podcast logo has been redesigned to include a tag with the Recorded History logo.
This will not change our current relationship with our patrons. In fact, we are working with the network to provide an ad-free option for our patrons as an added perk. So we still need your support. If you have not done so already, please head over to our Patreon campaign website and join the team!
We are very excited about the continued growth of the podcast and our dedicated and growing listenership. We always need good historical thinking, but in times of great social change, we need it more than ever. We believe that the Recorded History Podcast Network presents a wonderful opportunity for making historical thinking more accessible.
The word “evangelical” has a number of meanings and connotations. However, in the current political and social climate, people are most likely to hear the word in association with politics. In this context, it is often synonymous with the Christian Right. Host John Fea and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling unpack this term further, especially as it pertains to the “Age of Trump.” They are joined by Pulitzer, Bancroft, and National Book Award-winner Frances FitzGerald, who discusses her newest National Book Award-nominated book, The Evangelicals.
Many voices in American politics have been sounding the alarm about the influence of the Koch brothers as a threat to voting rights, the direction of American conservatism, and the very sanctity of American democracy. But like all things, the Koch brothers have a history. In this episode, host John Fea and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling discuss the rise and influence of American libertarianism within the conservative movement. They are joined by Nancy MacLean who discusses her book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, which was just nominated for the National Book Award.
Otis Redding. Booker T and the M.G.s. Eddie Floyd. Isaac Hayes. The Staples Sisters. What do all of these classic soul and R&B artists have in common? Stax Records. As he toured the history of the Civil Rights Movement this summer, host John Fea included a stop at the Stax Museum (@StaxMemphis) in Memphis, Tennessee. Eager to relive the experience and share such attractions as a floor-to-ceiling record room and Isaac Hayes’s gold-plated Cadillac, Fea and producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling are joined by the museum’s executive director, Jeff Kollath. They discuss the importance of that “Memphis Sound” for the city as well as creating a “usable past” with popular music history.
Here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home, we have traveled to both Mount Vernon and Monticello in our explorations of presidential history. Today, we explore a much more recent addition to the world of presidential real estate, Mar-a-Lago. While host John Fea explores the history of presidential vacations, guest Julian Chambliss (@JulianChambliss), historian and author of the Boston Review article “Draining the Swamp,” dives deeper into Mar-a-Lago as a lens for understanding Florida’s unique history, the disproportionate effects of climate change, and the origin of Trump’s unique and at times inscrutable blend of everyman populism and billionaire branding.