Between the 1930s and the 1970s, racialized legislation and subsequent migrations of Black Americans combined to drive explosive population growth in urban centers, which in turn gave rise to the creation of segregated districts and public housing projects. The experience of life in these spaces, which required residents to navigate precarious conditions where distinctions between public and private collapsed, was chronicled by Black women writers of the era. In this podcast, Jennifer D. Williams, assistant professor of English at Howard University, discusses her research into urban spaces, racial politics, and Black womanhood in the twentieth century.
July 15–August 19, 2020 | This installment in our virtual book club series features six gifted scholars whose work helps illuminate the long history, bitter realities, and complex dynamics surrounding racial oppression in the United States. Over these six events, we look to consider both the breadth of human suffering propagated by entrenched racial bias and the heroic efforts required to correct systemic injustice.
After the ancient Roman Empire embraced Christianity, the empire’s culture and politics were significantly transformed. In this podcast, Dennis Trout shares insights from his interdisciplinary study of poetic inscriptions found throughout ancient Rome. He considers the way these epigrams were embedded in the city's architecture and displayed to an empire in transition, and he suggests they go beyond considerations of religion, literature, and culture to illuminate the ways that visual and textual cues were used to send messages to a diverse audience in the ancient world.
For the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States, the changing nature of immigration law and policy is not merely an abstract concern. The rise in anti-immigrant sentiment has transformed the lives of young people, who must contend with the uncertainty of their own legal status even as they fear for the safety of their families. In this podcast, Angela Stuesse, associate professor of anthropology at UNC–Chapel Hill, discusses her latest collaborative project, which seeks to understand the reality of contemporary immigration in the United States through a personal lens.
In the 1930s, the writer Ursula Parrott used her novels, short stories, and screenwriting ventures to portray independent women during a period of immense social change in America. Despite this, like many women writers, Parrott’s legacy has been all but erased from the popular imagination. In this podcast, Marsha Gordon, professor of film studies at North Carolina State University, delves into the way that Parrott’s independence and professional success existed in a complex relationship to her rather conservative views on gender.
We tend to think of money as a familiar object that plays a role in our everyday lives. However, when we consider the changing nature of currency in colonial America, money appears differently—as a “social technology for the distribution of value.” Because money allows individuals to represent and share value in direct and visible ways, the use of paper money in the United States in the eighteenth century supplemented social connections and bolstered economic consumption. In this podcast, historian Simon Middleton from the College of William & Mary discusses how his work examines the cultural, legal, and social dimensions of money.
As commonly understood, slavery in the United States officially came to an end with the surrender of the Confederacy and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. Yet various forms of human bondage and forced labor continued across the United States and its territories long after the conclusion of the Civil War and into the twentieth century. In this podcast, historian Christina Snyder from The Pennsylvania State University discusses her work, examining why multiple forms of unfree labor and bondage persisted across the United States long after chattel slavery was abolished.
In this podcast, Ian Burney, professor of the history of science, technology, and medicine at the University of Manchester, discusses his new book which explores the methods Erle Stanley Gardner and his “Court of Last Resort” used to establish the innocence of those wrongly convicted in an era long before the use of DNA evidence, setting precedents for how we think about establishing innocence up to the present moment.
After she tragically died in childbirth in 1932, acclaimed novelist and activist Margery Latimer became lost to history. While her work had drawn comparisons to Gertrude Stein and James Joyce, Latimer’s reputation as a writer was overshadowed by her interracial marriage with the poet and novelist Jean Toomer. In this podcast Emily Lutenski, associate professor of American studies at Saint Louis University, discusses Latimer and Toomer’s romantic relationship and intellectual partnership, the scandal that ensued, and the ways their legacies have been shaped as a result.
Research indicates that African Americans are far more likely to get sick than their fellow citizens who are white. Regardless of their age, educational attainment, or socioeconomic circumstances, they are more likely to suffer from severe forms of illness and have shorter life expectancies. While a number of factors play a part in this sad statistical reality, a key underlying factor is the persistence of racial bias in America. In this podcast, philosopher Yolonda Wilson from Howard University discusses her work on these issues, focusing particularly on how racial biases affect end-of-life care for African Americans and how we might go about rectifying historic and continuing injustices.