Episode 72: Andrew Jackson, Donald Trump, and the Upending of SHEAR

Podcast

In this episode we talk with Daniel Feller, the editor of The Papers of Andrew Jackson at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. We discuss his work as a documentary editor, the uses of Andrew Jackson in the age of Trump, and a controversial paper he recently delivered at the annual meeting of the Society for the Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR).

You can also listen at your favorite podcatcher, including Apple Podcasts.

Episode 71: Writing History for Young Readers

Podcast

Have you ever wanted to write a children’s, middle-grade, or young adult history book? How do you get started? What is the process like? Do I need an agent? In this episode, we talk about writing history for young readers with former Smithsonian educator and author Tim Grove. Tim is the author, most recently, of Star Spangled: The Story of a Flag, a Battle, and the American Anthem. Learn more about his work at TimGrove.Net.

Listen here.

Resources on the History of Race in America from The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast

Podcast

We have done several episodes on race in America at The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast. They are now more relevant than ever as people are showing an interest in learning more about the African-American experience.

Episode 8: Historians Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter Onuf on Thomas Jefferson

Episode 16: Historian Manisha Sinha talks about the history of the abolitionist movement.

Episode 25: Historian Kelly Baker talks about religion and the history of the KKK.

Episode 27: Historian Julian Chambliss discusses the relationship between race, the environment, and Mar-a-Lago.

Episode 28: Public historian and Stax Museum director Jeff Kollath talks about the “Memphis Sound.”

Episode 39: Historian Nicole Hemmer on the one-year anniversary of the 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia race riots.

Episode 43: Public historian Chris Graham on how a Richmond, Virginia congregation is coming to grips with its racist past.

Episode 48: Historian Jemar Tisby on Christianity and race in America.

Episode 58:  Historian Richard Bell on the “reverse underground railroad.”

Episode 63: Historian Tom Mackaman on the 1619 Project

Episode 69: Sports historian Paul Putz on the legacy of Michael Jordan

Episode 68: The History of the Presidential Cabinet

Podcast

The members of Donald Trump’s controversial cabinet are regular features of the 24-hour news cycle. He has fired members of his cabinet who challenge his thinking on a host of foreign and domestic issues. Just ask Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, and Jeff Sessions. But how did our first president, George Washington, imagine the role of the cabinet? In this episode, we think historically about this important part of the executive branch with historian Lindsay Chervinsky, author of The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution.

https://playlist.megaphone.fm?e=ADL7730217358

Chervinsky

We Want The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast to Go Weekly This Summer…

Podcast

But we can’t do it without your help!

The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast is back after a short COVID-19 hiatus. We have been out of the studio, but with the help of studio producer-extraordinaire Kaci Lehman (now a resident of Nashville!), we have figured out a way to produce episodes with decent sound quality.

In the past, we have taken summers off. But this year we are hoping to not only produce summer episodes, but drop one every week! Right now we are close to making this happen, but we still need a bit more support. If you are interesting in supporting the podcast, or our work here at the blog, click on “Support,” follow the link to our Patreon page, and join our community of patrons. Your money goes directly toward our work here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home. And all of the benefits of membership–mugs and books–are still available! You can also go directly to the Patreon page by clicking here.

We already have three summer episodes in the can.

Episode 67 (Dropped on May 24, 2020): Public historian Susan Fletcher, author of Exploring the History of Childhood and Play Through 50 Historic Treasures, talks about the history of your favorite games and toys. This episode dropped on May 24, 2020.

Episode 68 (Drops on May 31, 2020): Historian Lindsay Chervinsky, author of The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institutiontalks about the first presidential cabinet.

Episode 69 (Drops on  June 7, 2020): We talk NBA history, Michael Jordan, and the ESPN documentary “The Last Dance” with Baylor University historian of sport Paul Putz.

Stay tuned.  We are ready and eager to go with more episodes, but we can’t do it without you! Shoot me a DM on Facebook or Twitter and let me know what guests you want to hear from this summer.

And, as always, a BIG THANK YOU to our current and ongoing patrons!

Episode 65: “What Would Lasch Say?”

Podcast

The American historian and cultural critic Christopher Lasch (1932-1994) had a powerful influence on the world of ideas. What would the author of the best-selling Culture of Narcissism (1979) have to say about Donald Trump and his particular brand of populism? In this episode we talk about Lasch, Trump, populism, progress, and “evangelical elitism” with intellectual historian Eric Miller, author of the award-winning Hope in a Scattering Time: A Life of Christopher Lasch (2010).

https://playlist.megaphone.fm?e=ADL1257192517

Are You Listening to The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast?

Podcast

If not, you are missing a great season:

  • Johann Neem (Western Washington University) on the meaning of college
  • Lawrence Glickman (Cornell University) on the history of free enterprise
  • Darren Dochuck (University of Notre Dame) on evangelicals and oil
  • Sarah Myers (Messiah College) on the Women Airforce Service Pilots
  • Richard Bell (University of Maryland) on “the reverse underground railroad”
  • Mandy McMichael (Baylor University) on the Miss America Pageant
  • Melissa Ziobro (Monmouth University) on a Bruce Springsteen museum exhibit
  • Jeffrey Engel (Southern Methodist University) on presidential impeachment
  • Drew Dyrli Hermeling (The Stone School) on his retirement from the podcast
  • Thomas Mackaman (World Socialist Web Site and Kings College) on the 1619 Project
  • Gillis Harp (Grove City College) on Protestants and American conservatism

Forthcoming: Eric Miller on Christopher Lasch; Serena Zabin on the Boston Massacre; Katherine Stewart on the Christian Right; Lindsay Chervinsky on the first presidential cabinet; and more!

Download episodes or subscribe at Apple Podcasts.

We operate on shoe-string budget. If you would like to support our work (and possibly receive valuable gifts!), head over to our Patreon page and make a pledge or a one-time gift.

Thanks for listening!

Episode 63: The 1619 Project

Podcast

In August 2019, The New York Times Magazine published The 1619 Project, an attempt to reframe American history by “placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.” American historians have praised and criticized the project. In this episode we talk with Thomas Mackaman, a history professor at Kings University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and a writer for World Socialist Web Site. Mackaman has not only criticized The 1619 Project, but has interviewed other critics of the project, including several award-winning historians. Why are socialists so upset about this project? What is the backstory behind Mackaman’s interviews with Gordon Wood, James McPherson, Clayborne Carson, and other 1619 Project critics? Anyone interested in debates over how historians do history and connect the past to present political and social issues will learn something from this episode.

https://playlist.megaphone.fm?e=ADL9483726242

Chatting About Evangelicals and Trump With Rob Schenk

Believe Me 3dI recently had the honor and privilege of being a guest on Rob Schenk’s podcast “Schenk Talks Bonhoeffer.” We chatted about my book Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump and evangelicals and politics more broadly. Perhaps some of you remember my post about Schenk from a few days ago.  He is the evangelical pastor who had a seat at the table for many of the conversations and initiatives that launched the Christian Right in the 1980s.

Listen here.

During the conversation, Schenk talks about his attendance at a prayer meeting on the day of Trump’s inauguration.  He bumped into a leading court evangelical and suggested that evangelicals needed to “recalibrate our moral compass” to bring it more in line with Jesus’s words in the Sermon on the Mount.  The court evangelical responded: “We don’t have time for that, we have serious work to do.”

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Episode 62: Farewell Drew!

PodcastFor four years Drew Dyrli Hermeling has been the heart and soul of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast. We are saddened that he has decided to step away from his work here, but excited that he will have more time to devote to his history students at The Stone Independent School, a college-prep school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Drew joins us for one final episode to reminisce with John about their work together on this project.

https://playlist.megaphone.fm?e=ADL6323227287

Episode 61: Impeachment 101

Podcast

Are you watching Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial?  Are you trying to make sense of it all?  We want to help.  In this episode we talk with CNN presidential historian and Southern Methodist University professor Jeffrey Engel on the history of impeachment. Engel sheds light on the debates over impeachment in the Constitutional Convention, the historic meaning of “bribery” and “high crimes and misdemeanors,” and the inevitable political and partisan nature of American impeachments.

The American History Podcast *Backstory* Will End Production in 2020

backstory-guys-825x550

The original Backstory hosts: L to R: Peter Onuf, Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh

Here is the announcement:

Charlottesville, VA— After more than three hundred episodes that have reached millions of listeners over the last twelve years, BackStory, the American history podcast produced by Virginia Humanities, will record its final episode this summer. The last episode of BackStory will publish on July 3, 2020.

Over the years, BackStory has looked at pivotal points in history with a fresh perspective and revealed lesser-known historical moments with journalistic curiosity and scholarly rigor. Hundreds of guests and listeners have contributed their voices to this conversation, while thousands more tuned in every week.

“When we first tried to find a radio voice for history, none of us would have predicted three hundred episodes of BackStory,” said BackStory host Ed Ayers. “Virginia Humanities has been a wonderful ally throughout our adventures. We’re grateful to them and our loyal donors for having faith in this twelve-year experiment.”

BackStory began in 2008 as a monthly radio show. Created by Andrew Wyndham and somewhat styled after popular radio show “Car Talk,” BackStory then featured noted historians Peter Onuf, Ayers and Brian Balogh as its hosts. In 2017, Onuf retired and historians Joanne Freeman and Nathan Connolly joined the team. Together, Ayers, Balogh, Connolly and Freeman continued to make history engaging, accessible and often, downright fun.

Read the rest here

Check Out This Week’s “The Holy Post Podcast”

Holy Post.jpegI chat with Skye Jethani about the evangelical persecution complex.  Here is a summary of the episode:

In a number of recent commencement speeches at Christian colleges, Vice President Mike Pence has been warning graduates about the hostility of our culture toward Christians. Historian John Fea is back to talk about what Pence gets right, and what he gets wrong, about the persecution of evangelicals in the U.S. Plus, Fea shares his theory about why regular church attendees are the most likely to still support Trump. Also this week, an evangelical activist is guilty of “astroturfing” Muslims. Airports try to ban Chick-Fil-A and Hollywood studios boycott states passing abortion restrictions. And is conservative politics killing white churches?

Listen here.

Podcasts Help Historians Speak to the Public

Mug
Are you listening to The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast?  We are heading into the studio today to record an episode on history teaching with special attention to the “Reacting the Past” model.

Over at The Anxious Bench, Chris Gehrz reminds us that podcasts are just another way in which historians are connecting to public audiences.  He writes in the wake of Max Boot’s recent criticism of historians.

Gehrz mentions several history podcasts trying to reach-out beyond the academy.  And The Way of Improvement Leads Home is one of them.  Here is a taste of Gehrz’s post:

Hosts: John Fea, Drew Dyrli Hermeling

Total Episodes: 46

Typical Length: 50-65 minutes

Sample Recent Episode: “A City Upon a Hill

Speaking of engaging hosts… This one is already well known to many readers of this blog, where he used to be a contributor. In many ways, John is the epitome of the 21st century historian: equally at home writing serious scholarly monographs and engaging with any and all comers through digital media.

As he does with a recurring “Author’s Corner” series at his venerable blog, John often uses his podcast to share the work of fellow historians. In this episode, he featured Daniel T. Rodgers, author of a new book on one of the most famous sermons in American history. (Agnes blogged about it at Anxious Bench last November.) John, producer Drew Hermeling, and their guests delve into many aspects of religion, politics, and U.S. history, but TWOILH can range widely, as in the Season 4 episode on the history of the “Memphis sound.”

Perhaps the recurring question of TWOILH is whether the past is “usable.” In the “City Upon a Hill” episode, John added a commentary inspired by the Greenwich Tea Burning of 1774, which he notes has been used to promote everything from the assimilation of immigrants to Cold War anti-Communism to the 21st century version of the Tea Party. (Learn more from John’s 2017 post on the topic for Omohundro, plus an accompanying episode of Ben Franklin’s World.) “The past should always be useful,” John agrees. But he warns that the past may not be usable as we’d like it to be:

…sometimes the past is not easily consumable. Sometimes what happened in previous eras has no direct relevance for our lives today… Sometimes the past introduces us to people whose ideas and behavior we want to forget, rather than resurrect for some modern-day agenda… In the end, good historical thinking requires us to see the past in all its fullness, whether it fits our pet causes or not…. This is why historical thinking is central to our role as citizens in a democracy

Thanks!  And don’t forget to check out Chris’s new podcast on sports and history: “The 252.”  A rumor is circulating that Sportianity‘s own Paul Putz will soon be making an appearance on this podcast.

Teaching History With Podcasts (#AHA19)

lakemacher

I am happy to have Matt Lakemacher writing for us this weekend from the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in Chicago.  Matt is one of the most engaged middle school teachers I know.  He teaches at Woodland Middle School in Gurnee, Illinois and is a veteran of numerous summer history seminars and institutes.  Here is his first dispatch:

Can podcasting help to stem the tide of declining enrollment in history departments?  For the panelists and audience members in an opening American Historical Association roundtable today on “History Podcasting as Graduate Students,” the answer was a resounding, if qualified, yes.  Producers and hosts from two historical podcasts, Sexing History and The Way of Improvement Leads Home, gave brief remarks on their experiences with history podcasting and then opened it up for audience members to share the ways that they’ve used podcasts in the classroom and with students.  In the end, it became clear that while podcasting (as well as blogging) might not be the silver bullet that saves history education, it can be another tool in the history teacher’s arsenal to make the subject relevant, keep students’ interest, and in jargon that all K-12 educators know their administrators want to hear: promote 21st century skills.

Two dual themes emerged from the panel: podcasting is good for history and history is good for podcasting.  Each panelist related in one way or another how working on a podcast actually improved their work as grad students and as historians.  According to Saniya Lee Ghanoui, podcasting with Sexing History taught her the importance of story-telling and has greatly improved her dissertation writing.  In a similar vein, Devin McGeehan Muchmore shared how blogging for Notches and working on Sexing History got him to think about ways of narrating the past outside of the traditional historical monograph or journal article.  And Drew Dyrli Hermeling credited his work on The Way of Improvement Leads Home with getting a job at the Digital Harrisburg Project. As a whole, the panel embraced the role that podcasting can play in public history – bringing the past to those outside of the academy (although it was conceded that podcasting is still very much a niche medium and can be somewhat of an echo chamber).  Ghanoui offered some advice to her fellow grad students: “It does take away time from your dissertation . . . but it’s a welcome distraction.”  She added, “I love how collaborative it is . . . it is worth it.”

Hermeling set the table for the audience discussion that followed and the pivot to history being good for podcasting, by sharing how he had students in his J-Term class on indigenous culture at Messiah College create a podcast as one option for a project assignment.  He, as well as the audience, made clear that audio quality and production values should not be heavily weighted on any rubric used for grading such an assignment.  But Hermeling was surprised by the quality of the research and sources that students used in their podcast.  “It’s a good way of tricking them into using a lot of citations.”  One audience member admitted that compared to other assignments, grading student podcasts was a pleasure.  Another said that Wisconsin Public Radio was looking to possibly use some of his students’ short pieces on the air.  And everyone who shared during the session had positive experiences doing a podcasting assignment in class, thought the students were engaged, and plan on doing them again.

So, can podcasting turn around sagging interest in history as a K-12 subject and as a major?  Perhaps the jury is still out.  But if it provides another way of getting students to apply historical thinking skills to a (relatively) new technology and opens another venue for bringing historical literacy to the public at large, then it’s an effort well worth pursuing.  As the roundtable’s chair and host of Sexing History Lauren Gutterman stated, “graduate students are at the forefront of history podcasting,” and for that this history teacher and fellow grad student is grateful.  Of course, as Hermeling put it in one final word of advice for potential history podcasters, “At the risk of being flippant, I’d go the Sexing History route.”