BackStory show

BackStory

Summary: BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to learn - that’s where BackStory comes in. Each week BackStory takes a topic that people are talking about and explores it through the lens of American history. Through stories, interviews, and conversations with our listeners, BackStory makes history engaging and fun.

Podcasts:

 Real To Reel 2016: History At The Movies | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3300

The 2016 Academy Awards are just around the corner, and Peter, Brian, and Ed are taking a trip to the movies, considering likely Oscar contenders from Trumbo to The Hateful Eight to find out how history made its mark on the silver screen this year.

 New & Improved: Advertising In America [rebroadcast] | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3545

More than 100 million Americans will tune in to watch the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers duke it out at Super Bowl 50. And in between the plays, we’ll be bombarded by dozens of commercials, all competing for our attention. The next episode of BackStory tackles the tangled history of American advertising, from the nation’s first billboards to catchy jingles.

 PROMO - New & Improved: Advertising In America [rebroadcast] | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 35

More than 100 million Americans will tune in to watch the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers duke it out at Super Bowl 50. And in between the plays, we’ll be bombarded by dozens of commercials, all competing for our attention. The next episode of BackStory tackles the tangled history of American advertising, from the nation’s first billboards to catchy jingles.

 Court Of Public Opinion: Trial Watching In America | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3115

On this episode of BackStory, the Guys will explore our fascination with courtroom drama. What makes for a compelling case and why have some landmark proceedings received little attention? We’ll consider why so many Americans followed the trial of a young clerk accused of murdering a New York City prostitute in 1836, and why we’re still talking about Sacco and Vanzetti nearly a century after they were sentenced to death. From public hanging in Puritan Massachusetts, to the murder trial of Black Panther leader Huey Newton in the late 1960’s, the Guys will reveal the deep-seated issues beneath American trial-watching.

 City Upon A Hill: A History Of American Exceptionalism [rebroadcast] | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3178

In his final State of the Union address, President Obama called America “the most powerful nation on Earth,” saying, “When it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead—they call us.” President Obama is hardly the first leader to talk about American exceptionalism. But just how “exceptional” is America? And why does it matter? In this episode of BackStory, we’ll go behind the rhetoric to unpack the history and meaning of the term and assess the changing meanings of “American exceptionalism” over time.

 Color Lines: Racial Passing In America | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3919

On this episode of BackStory, the Guys will consider how and why Americans throughout the centuries have crossed the lines of racial identity, and find out what the history of passing has to say about race, identity, and privilege in America. We’ll look at stories of African-Americans who passed as white to escape slavery or Jim Crow and find out how the “one-drop rule” enabled one blonde-haired, blue-eyed American to live a double life without ever arousing suspicion. We'll also explore the story of an African-American musician who pioneered a genre of exotic music with a bejeweled turban and an invented biography, and examine the hidden costs of crossing over. CORRECTION: This show includes a story about Sylvester Long, a man of mixed descent who styled himself as a pure-blooded Native American named Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance. We refer to him as a movie star who published a famous autobiography. In fact, Long Lance published his autobiography first—the popularity of...

 The Future Then: Visions of America Yet to Come [rebroadcast] | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3086

For as long as anyone can remember, Americans have imagined the future—from the flying cars and 3-hour workdays of The Jetsons to World War III and nuclear holocaust. Sometimes we’ve even made those dreams come true, or at least we’ve tried. On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Ed and Peter kick off the new year by asking what past visions of the future tell us about the times that conjured them.

 Cheers and Jeers: Alcohol in America [rebroadcast] | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3101

A new year has dawned, and we’re willing to bet that Americans across the nation are fighting off hangovers after ringing it in with a drink—or three. On this episode of BackStory, we’re raising our glasses to the long history of alcohol in America. The Guys will consider how and why the consumption and production of alcohol have ebbed and flowed throughout the centuries. We’ll learn how rum became the drink of choice among revolutionary troops, explore why Native Americans were rejecting alcohol two centuries before the rest of the country, and follow the long march toward Prohibition.

 History for the Headlines: 2015 in Review | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3096

Here at BackStory, we’re always on the lookout for stories from the past that help us make sense of our lives today. As 2015 comes to a close, we’re winding back the clock to find out what some of our favorite BackStory moments have to say about the year’s major news stories. What does the 19th century populist movement tell us about the 2016 presidential campaign? And how does the 1897 battle over America’s first long-distance oil pipeline connect to the Keystone XL debate? In this episode, we’ll take a second look at 2015—and turn up a few surprises along the way.

 Islam and the United States [rebroadcast] | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3264

On this episode of BackStory, we’ll take a look at the long and surprising history of America’s relationship with Islam, from the Barbary Wars of the early 19th century to the clash between American-born Muslims and more recent immigrants from the Middle East. What does it mean to be Muslim in America? And how has the practice of Islam in the U.S. changed over time?

 American Prophets: Religions Born in the U.S. | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3097

History textbooks often argue that the United States was founded on the principle of religious freedom, beginning with the Pilgrims who sought refuge from the Church of England. But the America of centuries past was more than a safe haven for religious dissenters. It was also fertile ground for many new religious faiths. In this hour of BackStory, the History Guys will consider religions that originated or transformed in America, from Christian Science to Scientology. They’ll find out how the threat of colonization briefly united 18th-century Native Americans under a single deity, and how the Nation of Islam found converts among African-Americans in the civil rights era. What makes a religion “American”? Why do so many new faiths sprout from American soil? And what role will 21st century America play in the history of religious innovation?

 Counter Culture: A History of Shopping [rebroadcast] | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3095

On this episode of BackStory, the Guys jump headlong into the history of shopping in America—the glitz and glamor, the overflowing shelves, and the cheesy muzak. They’ll consider the role consumption played in the revolutionary politics of the colonies, look at the curious rash of shoplifting among well-heeled women in the country’s first department stores, and reveal the connection between the Wizard of Oz and window shopping.

 Three Squares: Mealtime in America [rebroadcast] | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3098

Three square meals a day. Three to five servings of fruits and vegetables, two to three servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese. Avoid fats and sugar. Red meat in moderation. We’re used to hearing these kinds of instructions. But eating isn’t just about finding the perfect nutritional balance—it has profound social implications, too. On this episode of BackStory, the Guys recover from their Thanksgiving feasts by looking back over the history of mealtime in America. From Victorian table manners to the school lunch program, how have our ideas about what, when, and how we eat our meals evolved?

 Contested Landscape: Confederate Symbols in America | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3484

In July of this year, the murder of nine African-American parishioners at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina reignited a longstanding debate about the Confederate flag. Soon after the shooting, South Carolina lawmakers voted to remove the flag from the State House building, and many other states followed suit. But while some Americans applaud the decision as a victory against racism and hatred, others argue that the flag’s removal dishonors the memory of those who died defending the South. On this episode of BackStory, we’re looking at how memories of the Confederacy have shaped the nation’s landscape, from the rebel flag to the silver screen. The Guys will hear what symbols of the Confederacy mean to African Americans, explore Hollywood’s love affair with Confederate heroes, and find out why one Civil War re-enactor changed his mind about his heritage. How have generations of Americans revered and renounced the Confederacy since its defeat 150 years ...

 Body Politics: Disability in America | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3430

The impact of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act is visible in parking lots, bathrooms, and public buildings across the country. But for centuries before the ramps and signs were erected, disabled people had to find their own ways to navigate American society. This week on BackStory, we’re exploring the history of disability in America, from the “ugly laws” that barred the disabled from public spaces to the grassroots activism that set the stage for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Guys will consider how the inventor of the telephone tried to stamp out American sign language, and how enslaved people found ways to exploit white fears of physical disability. How have people with disabilities shaped 21st century America? And how have American attitudes towards disability changed?

Comments

Login or signup comment.