With Good Reason
Summary: Each week scholars explore the worlds of literature, science, the arts, politics, history, religion, and business through lively discussion with host Sarah McConnell. From the controversies over slave reparations and global warming, to the unique worlds of comic books and wine-making, With Good Reason is always surprising, challenging and fun!
Today’s teens--Generation Z--are making headlines for their politics and their protests. The YA books that speak to them have followed suit. Lisa Koch shares three of her favorite recent young adult books that are speaking to a wider world of culture and politics. And: Old school guidance counselors sit behind their desks, giving one-on-one sessions that can feel like pulling teeth for moody kids. Natoya Haskins’ days as a guidance counselor were spent on her feet, in the hallways, in group sessions, and getting kids excited to see their counselor. Now, Haskins studies how this hands-on approach to school counseling can be an act of social justice. Later in the show: Eve Ettinger says that by the time they were 13, their childhood was essentially over. As the oldest of nine kids in an extremist religious household, Ettinger’s homeschooling was sidelined so they could be another parent, caring for siblings, cooking, and cleaning. Years later, Ettinger has left the religion they were raised in and is devoted to writing and helping other young people find their own path. Plus: Why do teens make the choices they make? And why do they take the risks that they take? Pearl Chiu and Brooks King-Casas have new research that seeks to unlock some of the mysteries of the teenage brain. They’re looking at how much teens’ decisions are influenced by the kids around them.
Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder aren’t just popular tv shows--they’re also groundbreaking. Michaela Meyer says Shonda Rhimes has changed the way we make and watch TV. Also: Imelda O’Reilly published her first poem when she was just seven years old. Now a filmmaker, her short film Eggs and Soldiers examines a single father and son struggling to adjust to life in New York after emigrating from Ireland. Later in the show: Screen icon John Wayne and director John Ford had a friendship and professional collaboration that spanned 50 years, changed each others’ lives, changed the movies, and in the process, changed the way America saw itself. Nancy Schoenberger explores the relationship between the two in her latest book Wayne and Ford: The Films, the Friendships and the Forging of an American Hero.
David Coogan is the editor of “Writing Our Way Out” written by former jail inmates, exploring the conditions, traps and turning points on their paths to imprisonment, as well as the redemptive power of writing. Jazz musician Antonio Garcia composed a musical piece “Open Minds: Music that Mends,” that reflects the book’s themes of social justice, healing, self-reflection and redemption. Music performed by the VCU Commonwealth Singers, directed by Dr. Erin Freeman. And: Josh Iddings looks at the history of writings from prison and how prison literature can humanize the image of the prisoner. Later in the show: Conversations about prison tend to focus on incarcerated men in urban areas. Bonnie Zare takes us inside a rural Wyoming women’s prison to understand the place that some women call “Camp Cupcake.”
What do the mythological Chimera and motherhood have in common? In her work, poet Julie Phillips Brown dissects this and other biological queries, cleverly unveiling what makes us distinctly and undoubtedly human. And: Playwright Ivan Rodden focuses on the stories of refugees in his plays On Arriving and Lost Sock Laundry. He aims to dispel the mystique surrounding the refugee crisis, painting intimate onstage portraits of humans navigating the unknown. Later in the show: As a poet, Caseyrenée Lopez loves precision in language. That’s part of why poetry helps them explore the muddiness of being queer. Along with their own work, Lopez has devoted a career to creating spaces for the poetry and experimental work of queer and trans writers. Plus: Poet and writer Louis Gallo says that all writing is autobiographical. Gallo’s own works reveal his life, from the musical city that’s in his blood to his wife, who he calls his muse.
What can we learn about climate change from literary figures like Walt Whitman or Cormac McCarthy? Greg Wrenn says it’s a lot more than you might think. He teaches a fascinating class that fuses both creative writing and the natural environment. And: Nick Balascio has journeyed to the far reaches of the planet, collecting lake sediments that offer clues into environmental change over thousands of years. Nick has been named an Outstanding Faculty member by The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. Later in the show: From newspapers to google searches, Rebecca Bromley Trujillo studies how the media influences bill proposals in state legislatures. She says media reporting plays a crucial role in shaping environmental policy. Plus: Ever felt at a loss for words to describe how you feel about climate change? Look no further than Brendan Baylor and Natalia Pilato’s art installation about sea level rise in Norfolk, Virginia. They’re helping members of the community invent words that reflect their feelings about the environment.
We often think of cemeteries as separate worlds unto themselves. But those buried at Confederate graveyards were surely connected to those at the African burial grounds, and the cemetery reveals the intimacy of their connections. Ryan Smith says he and his students have been transformed by tending to cemeteries over the past 20 years. And: After Pearl Harbor, the United States Navy needed land for bases and training. Travis Harris says that the Magruder community was just one of many mostly black communities displaced for military bases. Later in the show: Brian Palmer grew up hearing about Magruder, his father’s boyhood neighborhood that was bulldozed to make way for a US Naval base. An old picture led him and his wife Erin Palmer back to Magruder and across the state tracking where his ancestor was enslaved. After moving to Richmond, the couple got involved in restoring a cemetery where Brian has more ancestors.
Although it was once an important part of feeding families, home canning in America has never been just about necessity. Danille Christensen says a look back at home canning reveals the pride and creativity that went into stocking a pantry. And: Lilia Fuquen takes us inside a community cannery and a basement storeroom to hear from people who are keeping the tradition alive. Later in the show: Two brewers, Hunter Smith and Levi Duncan explain how a culture has grown up around brewing beer locally and at home. And: Just about everyone drank beer in early America—even for breakfast. Susan Kern says there even used to be a brewhouse right on the campus of one of our nation’s oldest colleges. Plus: Paula Pando and Jesse Miller explain how a new culinary school aims to transform a food desert into a local food hub.
In 1970, Philicia Jefferson was forced to integrate into all-white, E.C. Glass High School in Lynchburg, Virginia. 40 years later, she finally attended her first class reunion. She says it was a profoundly healing experience. Plus: As a teenager, Owen Cardwell made history as one of the first Black students to attend E.C. Glass High School. Today, he continues to work on improving equity in public schools as a civil rights leader and scholar. Later in the show: In 1951, Barbara Johns led a student strike for equal education at Robert Russa Moton Highschool. Brian Daugherity explains how this small community in Prince Edward County came to be at the center of the national fight to end segregated schools. And: Dwana Waugh has listened to dozens of oral histories from students who lived through desegregation. She says what struck her the most was the painful sense of loss African American students felt when leaving their all-black schools.
Parents spend a lot of time delegating. No, you can’t have the hot fries and ice cream for dinner. Yes, please, have some more kale. Andria Timmer takes us to the dinner tables of “natural parents,” who left city life behind to bring the kids closer to their food source. Plus: For decades images of Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben -- the “happy” enslaved cooks--adorned boxes of rice, bottles of syrup and other foods. Kelley Deetz says that this is one of the most successful and long lasting propaganda campaigns about slavery -- that cooks were happy and the living was easy. Later in the show: Everyone’s boosting their immune system as we begin a COVID-19 winter. John Munsell is helping new farmers meet the demands of the booming herbal medicine market. And: Will Collier says that COVID-19 has revealed our broken food distribution system, and farmers markets could be key to improving things.
Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency marked the beginning of United States imperialism. Matt Oyos explains how Roosevelt modernized the military to bolster America’s international presence. Also: Arthur Schlesinger Jr. was the foremost presidential historian of the 20th century. Over the course of his career, he won two Pulitzer prizes and was a close friend and advisor to former president, John F. Kennedy. Emile Lester says Schlesinger’s work can teach us a lot about what makes a successful liberal presidency. Later in the show: What makes a leader decide to go to war? Is the decision based solely on facts on the ground or does it have something to do with personality? Dennis Foster and Jonathan Keller have developed a psychological framework for uncovering why leaders do the things they do.
If you think poll taxes and literacy tests are voting barriers of the past, think again. Gilda Daniels’ new book Uncounted: Voter Suppression in the United States explores how updated versions of these barriers--like voter ID laws and misinformation--are undermining our democracy. Later in the show: This election has a lot of people worried about voting--how to do it and how to make it count. Jennifer Victor (George Mason University) walks us through the best way to cast our ballots this November and what to expect from a pandemic election. Plus: With the institution of no-excuse absentee voting, states like Virginia could see drastically different polling than in past years. Rosalyn Cooperman (University of Mary Washington) breaks down who this policy impacts most, and why your absentee vote is so essential this year.
As the world waits for a coronavirus cure, attention is focused on vaccines. Steven Zeichner cautions against prematurely approving a vaccine that later has significant safety concerns. Plus: With colder temperatures, how risky is it to dine indoors again? Linsey Marr says plenty risky. The tiny aerosols are like cigarette smoke and can pose a risk to anyone in the room. Also: For the estimated 7 million American adults who are immuno-compromised, traveling to a doctor’s office for a vaccine could be a massive risk. Julian Zhu is developing a mailable stick-on patch that would allow people to vaccinate from home. Later in the show: After being nearly eradicated, black lung has made a strong resurgence in central Appalachia. Aysha Bodenhamer looks at the human costs of so-called cheap fuel in coal country. And: The term self-help calls to mind home-organizing strategies and meditation guides. But in the 1960s and 70s, a different kind of feminist self-help movement was revolutinizing women’s healthcare. Hannah Dudley-Shotwell’s new book shares the history of the women who founded clinics, published pamphlets and books, performed medical procedures, and helped a generation of women reclaim control over their bodies.
Bars, nightclubs, dance, and music have long held a special place in LGBTQ culture. But even as shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race and Pose bring that culture into the mainstream, real-life gay bars and clubs are shuttering. DJ and Professor Madison Moore argues that the club scene and the “fabulous” fashions on display there are radical spaces for queer and trans of color togetherness. Gregory Samantha Rosenthal, Don Muse, and Peter Thornhill describe the sometimes-dangerous, always-exciting gay bars of the 1970s and 1980s in Roanoke, VA, before the AIDS crisis and gentrification changed the scene forever. Later in the show: Choreographer and performer Al Evangelista brings us into the world of experimental queer Pilipinx dance, a form that he and his collaborators say can spark conversations and social change. And: Growing up, Lauron Kehrer’s parents wouldn’t let her listen to hip-hop music. Now, she studies it for a living. Kehrer says hip-hop by both straight and LGBTQ artists can help us better understand race, gender, and sexuality.
Atin Basu and his colleague’s Hotspot Predictors placed America high on the conflict predictor index for 2019. Sure enough, in 2020, we’ve seen hundreds of thousands of people marching in the streets, guns flying off of the shelves and police and military using weapons against civilians. And there are 3 months left in the year. Can Predicting Hotspots help us see ahead to 2021? Christie Jones was working in homeland security when Trayvon Martin was murdered by a neighborhood vigilante. She began questioning why addressing terrorism wasn’t a priority for securing the nation, shifting her perspective from homeland to human security. Later in the show: As an undergraduate student, Juan Garibay found himself frustrated by his math program as an undergraduate student. How could it be the best program in the nation if it couldn’t connect STEM to social justice? Garibay is using the SENCER method to transform classrooms and connect students to the human needs in the data. Alix Fink is teaching students about the Power of Water through the waterways they swim in.
In 1908, the U.S.S. Albatross set off on a research expedition to the newly acquired U.S. colony of the Philippines. Today, Kent Carpenter is studying the more than 80,000 fish samples collected by the Albatross to uncover how overfishing is actually changing fish genetics. Carpenter has been named an Outstanding Faculty member by The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. And: The Chukar Partridge is a common ground-bird found in parts of Asia and the western United States. Brandon Jackson believes this species is the key to understanding the evolutionary link between dinosaurs and birds. Later in the show: When a neighboring wind farm was endangering an entire population of bats at the Rose Guano Cave in Spring Valley, Nevada, Rick Sherwin helped come up with an ingenious system to protect them. Also: “Toad Day” is the one night that all toads in a single region mate, and biologist Jason Gibson celebrates it each year. Gibson also started HerpBlitz, an annual citizen scientist event to collect information on reptiles and amphibians.