Culture

Culture, Ideas, Religion

American Eugenics

Sep 6, 2016
Photograph courtesy of Arthur Estabrook Papers, Special Collections & Archives, University at Albany, SUNY.

 

Journalist Adam Cohen has said if you want to learn about an institution, you look at where it’s gone wrong. For Cohen, Buck v Bell is a moment when the US Supreme Court went terribly wrong. Its 1927 decision upheld eugenics laws, and led to the forced sterilization of Carrie Buck and some 70,000 “undesirables” declared “feebleminded.” Tuesday, Cohen joins us to explain how Americans - and some of our most revered legal minds - succumbed to racism and classism in the name of “uplifting” the human race. (Rebroadcast)

How Eloquence Works

Sep 5, 2016
<a href="http://bit.ly/289uFxL">Jack Thielepape/jmt images, via <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">CC</a>/flickr

We all know eloquence when we hear it. The skillful delivery of language delights us, captivates us, persuades and moves us. Most importantly, says the linguist David Crystal, speakers and listeners alike enjoy eloquent speech. Crystal has dissected the qualities and practice of eloquence. Partly, he wants to better understand how it's achieved. He also wants to show that eloquence is a talent everyone who uses words can possess. Crystal joins us Monday to examine how the gift of gab works. (Rebroadcast)

Biblical Literalism

Sep 2, 2016
Artondra Hall via CC/Flickr, http://goo.gl/qVxgS4, http://goo.gl/sZ7V7x

Retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong presents a provocative idea in his latest book. Reading the Bible literally, he says, is heresy. He bases his argument on a close reading of the Gospel of Matthew, which he argues was written by Jews for Jews. Spong says the gospel was not written as a literal account of Christ’s life, but rather as an interpretative portrait of God’s love. Spong joins us Friday to talk about biblical literalism and his uniquely progressive approach to Christianity.

Drinking in America

Aug 31, 2016

Historian Susan Cheever says that America has always oscillated between temperance and drunkenness, but that alcohol often gets left out of the story. She says one of the reasons is that we like our history “high-minded.” Cheever’s new book chronicles the ways alcohol has influenced critical moments in our history – from Paul Revere stopping for a drink during his famous ride to “our drunken friend” Richard Nixon. Wednesday, Cheever joins Doug to talk about “Drinking in America.” [Rebroadcast]

The Hour of Land

Aug 24, 2016
From <a href="http://ansleywest.com/">Ansley West Rivers</a>' photo series "Lunar Traces"

 

Wednesday, writer and naturalist Terry Tempest Williams joins Doug to discuss her latest book, The Hour of Land. It’s a paean to America’s natural parks. The parks are, Williams says, fundamental to our national identity, despite our complicated relationship with them. To mark the centennial of the National Parks Service, Williams visited 12 national parks. She wanted to better understand their relevance in the 21st century. She also wondered if they might serve to help unite our fractured country. [Rebroadcast]

On Trails

Aug 18, 2016
Rich via CC/Flickr, https://goo.gl/uk4xos, https://goo.gl/xYWc9B

In 2009, while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Robert Moor began to wonder about the paths beneath our feet. On every scale of life on earth, he says, trails form that “reduce an overwhelming array of choices to a single expeditious route.” But how do they form? Why do some paths improve while others disappear? How does order emerge from chaos? Moor joins us Thursday to explore how pathways serve as an essential guiding force for trailblazers and trail followers, alike.

The LDS Church ended the practice of polygamy more than a century ago, but author and activist Carol Lynn Pearson says the idea is “alive and unwell” in Mormon theology. According to doctrine, a man can still be spiritually sealed to multiple wives and those plural marriages are a reality in heaven. Pearson has gathered stories from more than 8000 faithful and former LDS Church members, and joins Doug Tuesday to explain why she says polygamy is still haunting Mormons today.

Monday, we continue our Through the Lens series with a thrilling exploration of the power of protest and the efforts to contain it. Filmmaker Nanfu Wang will join us to talk about her documentary film Hooligan Sparrow, which follows the efforts of activist Ye Haiyan as she and fellow protestors work to shed light on sexual exploitation in China. They’re marked as enemies of the state and routinely harassed by thugs, and the web of trouble also threatens Wang’s film, not to mention her personal safety.

Labor of Love

Aug 12, 2016
Keoni Cabral (cropped, resized) via CC/Flickr, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, https://goo.gl/OkKnN2

From Match.com to Tinder, there are all kinds of ways single people meet each other in today’s tech-driven world. It was a whole lot simpler and, some would say, better just a generation ago – what happened to meeting someone and asking them to dinner? According to scholar Moira Weigel, this is nothing new. As dating has changed throughout American history, people have questioned matchmaking practices. Weigel joins us Friday to explore the transformation of dating. Her book is called Labor of Love.

American Utopianism

Aug 10, 2016
Public Domain, http://bit.ly/1U56lcm

 

What should the future look like? That’s the question posed by ambitious, sometimes delusional Americans in the early 1800s who dedicated themselves to creating new ways of living. You had Mother Ann Lee’s Shakers; the Oneida community in New York; New Harmony, Indiana; intentional communities inspired by French socialist Charles Fourier; and the roots of a communist paradise in Texas. Wednesday, the writer Chris Jennings joins us to explore the idealism and the lasting impact of these five utopian movements. (Rebroadcast)

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