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.
Christina Snyder, “Slavery After the Civil War: How Bondage Persisted in the United States and its Territories”
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.
The 15th-century Wars of the Roses between Yorkist and Lancastrian factions often summon images of royal intrigue and courtly splendor. Whether it is one of Shakespeare’s plays or a more scholarly account, histories of this struggle for the English throne tend to privilege the nobility. Art historian and NHC Fellow Sonja Drimmer offers a far different perspective of the era. By extending the political sphere beyond the royal court and into the court of public opinion, Drimmer explores how a newly-formed, larger public played an important role in this decades-long conflict.
Ann Wierda Rowland discusses her current research into a particular coterie of Boston readers at the turn of the twentieth century who regularly gathered to explore the works of John Keats. Through reflecting on the shared reading practices of past audiences, she suggests, we can better understand our own modes of literary engagement in a period that has supposedly witnessed a rapidly declining interest in the written word.
With increasing urgency, climate scientists and environmentalists are warning us about the dire need to radically change how we use energy, the ways we grow and distribute food, and many other activities. They’ve described a future in which our planet is increasingly unlivable. But, beyond imagining a world devastated by unchecked greenhouse gas emissions, how might we go about imagining more desirable futures? What resources can we call upon to help us not only avoid disaster but craft a better world? Fellow Joni Adamson, professor of English and director of the Environmental Humanities Initiative at Arizona State University, is working on just these questions.
Aristotle’s thinking on a variety of topics has influenced western philosophy for over two millennia. His writings on ethics, in particular—emphasizing human character and ethical psychology—continue to shape contemporary ideas about personal virtue and moral agency. Fellow Audrey Anton, however, has emphasized the importance of understanding the role that vice plays in Aristotle’s philosophy.
In the opening lines of his most famous poem, “To Althea, From Prison,” Richard Lovelace writes, “Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage...” This line expresses a thought common among imprisoned writers across time—that regardless of the conditions of their imprisonment, the human spirit and the poetic imagination cannot be constrained. Fellow Andrea Brady, however, suggests that the relationship between our poetic traditions and bondage has not been adequately explored in prior scholarly work.