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Aural History Productions


Talking History, based at the University at Albany, State University of New York, is a production, distribution, and instructional center for all forms of "aural" history. Our mission is to provide teachers, students, researchers and the general public with as broad and outstanding a collection of audio documentaries, speeches, debates, oral histories, conference sessions, commentaries, archival audio sources, and other aural history resources as is available anywhere. We hope to expand our understanding of history by exploring the audio dimensions of our past, and we hope to enlarge the tools and venues of historical research and publication by promoting production of radio documentaries and other forms of aural history. In addition to our weekly radio program, we are engaged in numerous educational efforts, from running and sponsoring workshops to offering full-semester courses on radio production and oral history. Some of the most talented radio producers and engineers currently working in public and non-commercial radio now contribute to Talking History—both to our programming and to our educational efforts through production workshops. Here, you'll also find digital archives of their enormously creative and captivating works. Our weekly broadcast/internet radio program, Talking History, focuses on all aspects of history. Follow the link to the left, "The Radio Show," for more information on the program and to access the live WWW broadcast. Below you will find our latest archived shows; use the drop-down menu to the left to access to our full radio archive.

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March 3, 2015
Segment 1 | Backstory: "The Middling Sort: Visions of the Middle Class" (2015).
 Download: MP3



From Backstory and the American History guys: "President Obama has been talking a lot about 'middle-class economics' lately. In his State of the Union address, he called it 'the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, everyone plays by the same set of rules.' It’s a powerful idea in American culture. So on this show, Brian, Ed and Peter explore the rise -- and, some might say, the fall -- of the middle class in the United States. They'll ask how this concept became central to the way Americans think about themselves. What is the middle class, anyway? Who’s in it? And... who isn’t?" Guests include: Tim Noah, Politico, on where the phrase “the American Dream” came from; Richard White, Stanford University, on the very different definition of “rags-to-riches” in the 19th century; Andrew Haley, University of Southern Mississippi, on the history of tipping and how it changed along with the middle class.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: The Middle Class in 1950s TV Sitcoms (Selection - The Trouble With Father, 1951)
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Middle class values and gender roles were depicted, perpetuated, but also caricatured and sometimes subtly undermined in 1950s television sitcoms. Here is a selection from the audio track of an episode from one of the earliest TV sitcoms: The Trouble with Father (also known as the Stu Erwin Show). It aired on ABC between 1950 and 1955. For more information on the series, see: http://www.tv.com/shows/the-trouble-with-father/.

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February 24, 2015
Segment 1 | Open Source: "Stokely Carmichael and Black Power." (2014).
 Download: MP3



This segment of our show comes to us from OPEN SOURCE: "At the end of June, 1964, Stokely Carmichael, Martin Luther King Jr., and hundreds of civil rights activists marched across Mississippi to register African-American voters in one of the turning points of the civil rights movement. In remembrance of that 'Freedom Summer,' we’re republishing our show with the Carmichael biographer Peniel Joseph, historian Isabel Wilkerson, and activist Jamarhl Crawford. Stokely Carmichael was a down-home organizer and radical off-beat visionary of racial equality in America 50 years ago, a quicksilver activist, theorist, street hero, preacher and prophet of black revolution in America and the world. He’s in the civil rights pantheon, for sure, but he’s still struggling in spirit with the leadership, especially the example of Martin Luther King; and he’s still a scarecrow in the memory of white America. Stokely Carmichael had some of Malcolm X’s fury and fire, and some of the comedian Richard Pryor’s gift with a punchline, too. “Black power” was his slogan that became a chant, that built his bad-boy celebrity and awakened a political generation but may also have been his undoing in the 1960s. So what does a half-century’s hindsight make of the man and his Pan-African vision? And while we’re at it: what would Stokely Carmichael make of black power today – looking at Hollywood, Hip Hop, the White House, and prisons and poverty?"

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "George Lincoln Rockwell Debates SNCC Chairman Stokely Carmichael" (1966)
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This is a selection from a debate between American Nazi Party head George Lincoln Rockwell and SNCC chairman Stokely Carmichael, aired on WBBM television in Chicago, Illinois on July 28, 1966. Rockwell and Carmichael debated Black Power and White Power" during their exchange. For the full broadcast, go to YouTube, where the debate is available in multiple parts. For part 1 -- and links to additional parts -- see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4av8z8WEZM#t=18. For information about Rockwell, see the biography by Fredrick James Simonelli, American Fuehrer: George Lincoln Rockwell and the American Nazi Party (University of Illinois Press, 1999), Rockwell's Wikipedia entry and the following FBI document: http://vault.fbi.gov/American%20Nazi%20Party%20/American%20Nazi%20Party%20Part%201%20of%202.

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February 17, 2015
Segment 1 | Backstory: "Women at Work." (2015).
 Download: MP3



This week Backstory explores the history of women in the workforce, "from 19th century domestic workers, to the Rosies of World War II, to the labs of Silicon Valley -- where programming a computer was once very much a woman's job. Find out how sexual harassment claims came into being, and why 'protective' labor laws regarding women often amounted to discriminatory exclusion from certain jobs." Guests Include: Nathan Ensmenger, Indiana University; Risa Goluboff, University of Virginia; Eileen Hagan, Intuit Vice President, Innovation and Transformational Change; Margaret O'Mara, University of Washington; Betty Soskin, Park Ranger, Rosie the Riveter / World War II Home Front National Historic Park; Lea VanderVelde, University of Iowa; Gay Semel, Retired labor lawyer for the Communications Workers of America -- and former switchboard operator at New York Telephone.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "From Building Bridges' The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire & Its Legacy - Rose Schneiderman's Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Speech, April 2, 1911" (2011)
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This is a reading of labor activist Rose Schneiderman's 1911 Speech delivered soon after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. It was part of a 2011 radio docudrama featured on WBAI's Radio Building Bridges: Your Community & Labor Report, produced by Mimi Rosenberg and Ken Nash : "On this the 100th anniversary of The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of March 25, 1911, the fire still remains one of the most vivid and horrid tragedies that changed American Labor Unions and labor laws. The tragic death of 146 young women, whose average age was 19, was what it took before the politicians and the people saw for the need to regulate safety in the workplace. For the Triangle anniversary, during this Women’s History Month, Building Bridges has produced 'Out of the Flames & Ashes: The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire & Its Legacy', a docudrama, a tapestry of sounds – archival voices of advocates and survivors, re-enactments of the voices of those flowering girls who lost their lives. Threaded through the sound tapestry the haunting voices from the fire intermingled with the poetry and songs that arose in the wake of the tragedy. Another thread of the tapestry will be the voices of scholar/activists who know the legacy of Triangle for today - to regulate the workplace and create a safe, decent life for working people, to attend to the problems around us today, still echoing the conditions at the time of the Triangle Fire. This will be a drama of the pathos, complexity and importance of the fire on this 100 anniversary and the organizing still to be done and the work to preserve the gains we’ve made bargaining collectively in unions." For information on Schneiderman, see: http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/schneiderman-rose.

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February 10, 2015
Segment 1 | Against the Grain: "History from the Bottom Up - E. P. Thompson and the Making of the New Left." (2015).
 Download: MP3



From Against the Grain: "E.P. Thompson was the greatest English socialist historian of the 20th century and his work still resonates today in how we understand class, social struggle, and history. Thompson's student Cal Winslow reflects on his life, politics, and writings, from his early days in the Communist Party, his key role in the early New Left, and his commitment to radical working class education." Cal Winslow is the author of E.P. Thompson and the Making of the New Left (Monthly Review Press, 2014).

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "'Herbert Marcuse Speaks at Berkeley, 1969."
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Herbert Marcuse and Angela Davis spoke at a rally at the University of California, Berkeley on October 24, 1969. Marcuse, at the time a Marxist philosopher based at the University of California, San Diego, was also one of the most influential intellectual figures behind the American New Left. The rally at Berkeley was precipitated by the University of California Board of Regents' challenge to the appointment of Communist Angela Davis to U.C. Berkeley. Here we present an excerpt from Marcuse's speech. To obtain the entire recording from the rally, go to the Pacifica Radio Archives at: http://www.pacificaradioarchives.org/. For more information about Marcuse, see: http://www.marcuse.org/herbert/.

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February 3, 2015
Segment 1 | Backstory: New and Improved ~ Advertising in America" (2015).
 Download: MP3


Continuing a theme we began last week -- focusing on economic history and consumption/shopping -- we move on to the related subject of advertising with this program, again from Backstory and the American History Guys: "On the first of February, more than 100 million Americans will tune in to watch the two best teams in the NFL vie for the national championship … and to watch advertisers duke it out during the commercial breaks. Brian, Ed and Peter, meanwhile, will tackle the history of advertising in the United States, from how cigarettes were marketed to women, to budget-busting trips to to moon. They’ll even take a stab at selling BackStory to the masses, with some colorful ads of our own." Segments include the following: "Historian Cathy Gudis tells hosts Ed Ayers and Peter Onuf about the ad-drenched streets of late 19th century American cities; Historian Kathleen Franz describes a scandalous 1917 soap ad that hooked consumers by showing them a little more than just the soap; Historian Cathy Gudis returns with the story of how advertising followed 20th century Americans out onto the open road, and discusses efforts to curb the spread of ubiquitous billboards. Plus, an ad inspired by BackStory listener Jim Mica’s request; Composer Michael Levine, who wrote the long-running Kit-Kat jingle, tells host Brian Balogh what makes a jingle powerful -- and catchy. Then… he offers up a new jingle for BackStory; Author Larry Tye and host Brian Balogh discuss the masterful campaign by PR guru Edward Bernays, to convince American women to take up smoking. Plus, listener suggests an ad for BackStory in the style of a 1950s cigarette ad; and author Richard Jurek describes how one giant leap in public relations helped launch NASA’s lunar program."

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "'Women for Eisenhower' - Political Advertising, 1956 U.S. Election."
 Download: MP3


Political advertising matured in the 1950s as television became the preferred venue for getting one's electoral message across to millions. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson's campaigns in 1952 and 1956 became a battleground for the hearts and minds of American voters. Here's the audio from one of Eisenhower's 1956 television campaign commercials, from the Web site "The Living Room Candidate." It's an example of an early female-focused appeal for votes. Later campaigns would be even more sensitive to gender-specific issues. For more examples of 1956 television political advertisements -- both Democratic and Republican -- see: http://www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/1956.

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January 27, 2015
Segment 1 | Backstory: "Counter Culture ~ A History of Shopping" (2014).
 Download: MP3

Here's another piece from Backstory and the American History Guys: "The word shop first appeared as a verb in the 16th century -- when it meant to put someone in prison. And boy can shopping feel that way, especially around the holiday season. The smells, the colors, the teeming shelves and showcases, the muzak. On this episode, BackStory will go shopping for the historical roots of Americans' consumer habits, considering the role of mercantilism in the revolutionary politics of early America, the journey from general store to shopping mall, and even look at shoplifting. When did coveting your neighbor's possessions go from sin to virtue? How did holiday shopping become the modern engine of the retail industry? And how did transformations in systems of consumer credit change American thinking about shopping?" Guests appearing on this show Include: Elaine S. Abelson, The New School; T.H. Breen, Emeritus, Northwestern University; Peter Hanff, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley; Jeff Hardwick, George Mason University and The National Endowment for the Humanities; Louis Hyman, Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations; Kathleen Moran, University of California, Berkeley; Eli Wirtschafter, Independent producer.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "George Carlin on American Consumerism."
 Download: MP3


Here's a selection from a standup routine by George Carlin -- an excerpt (with approriate radio edits to comply with FCC regulations). Carlin was notorious in his critique of materialism and consumerism in many of his routines. Here are few examples -- all available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egwghf1lPik. For information about Carlin see: http://www.biography.com/people/george-carlin-9542307.

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January 20, 2015
Segment 1 | From the Vault: "The Second Battle of Selma." (1965).
 Download: MP3



This piece comes to us from Pacifica Radio's From the Vault: "The Second Battle of Selma, produced by legendary newsman Dale Minor in 1965 during his time at Pacifica station WBAI, includes rare audio of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and actuality of the march on Selma. This program, a fine example of early Pacifica Radio editing and storytelling style, remains as relevant today as it did almost fifty years ago when it was first broadcast." For more information and links to primary sources, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selma_to_Montgomery_marches.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Stokely Carmichael at Berkeley, 1966"
 Download: MP3


Stokely Carmichael (1941-1998) delivered this speech at the University of California, Berkeley on October 29, 1966. Carmichael's celebration of "black power" and advocacy of a more militant approach to civil rights organizing emerged in reaction to the violence used against demonstrators at Selma and elsewhere. For more information on Carmichael and a transcript of this speech, see: http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/blackspeech/scarmichael-2.html.

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January 13, 2015
Segment 1 | Backstory: "The Future Then ~ Visions of America Yet to Come." (2015).
 Download: MP3



From Backstory and the American History Guys: "Across history, Americans have dreamed of what the future will hold, from the flying cars and 3-hour workdays of The Jetsons to fears of World War III and nuclear holocaust. Sometimes, we've made those dreams come true . . . or, at least tried. On this episode of BackStory, hosts Brian Balogh, Ed Ayers and Peter Onuf will ask what these past visions of the future have to tell us about the times that conjured them up." Guests Include: Matthew Beaumont, University College of London; Maria Lane, University of New Mexico; Matt Novak, author of the 'Paleofuture' blog at Gizmodo; Max Page, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Ray Bradbury's 1953 Classic, Fahrenheit 451 -- a reading selection)."
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Here's a short selection (a reading) from Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury's classic science fiction novel abour censorship published in 1953. In Bradbury's novel, Guy Montag -- a fireman whose job it was to burn books -- begins to question his job. In Bradbury's novel, reactions to controversial content in books had led to the decision to ban them altogether. While it was written during the Cold War era and was clearlyinfluenced by that era -- in light of current violence against, and controversy over, the French humor and cartoon magazine Charlie Hebdo, we thought it would be an appropriate segment to feature in conjunction with our main segment.

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January 6, 2015
Segment 1 | Lisa Tetrault on"The Making of a Myth: Seneca Falls Unraveled." (Recorded 11-21-2014).
 Download: MP3



Recorded at the 2014 Researching New York conference at the University at Albany -- SUNY, this talk by historian Lisa Tetrault from Carnegie Mellow University, focuses on a central women's rights origins myth and how it emerged: "The story of how women's rights began in 1848, at the women's rights meeting in Seneca Falls, New York, is a cherished American myth. But where did that story come from? Who invented it? And for what reasons? Unraveling that story by investigating its roots, which lay fifty years after the convention, Tetrault invites us to rethink the relationship of Seneca Falls to the evolution of modern women's rights activism. Carnegie Mellon University historian Lisa Tetrault is the author of The Myth of Seneca Falls: Memory and the Women's Suffrage Movement, 1848-1898. She specializes in U.S. women's history, memory, and social movements."

Segment 2 | From Archives: "Winifred Banks Singing 'Sister Suffragette' in Mary Poppins" (1964).
 Download: MP3


The treatment of suffragists in popular film before the 2nd wave feminist movement (and after!) has not always been flattering. Here's an example from the film Mary Poppins from 1964. For more on the topic -- focusing on the silent film era, see Kay Sloan, “Sexual Warfare in the Silent Cinema: Comedies and Melodramas of Woman Suffragism,” American Quarterly , 33:4 (Autumn, 1981), 412-436.

Segment 3 | From Open Source: "13 Days in September" (2014).
 Download: MP3


The New Yorker magazine's Lawrence Wright is interviewed by Christopher Lydon of Open Source about "the only (and unviolated) peace treaty between Israelis and Arabs, the Camp David Summit in 1978." Wright is the author of Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014).

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December 30, 2014
Talking History is taking a break for the holidays. We'll be back next week to start the New Year with all new programming. Meanwhile, we invite you to browse the Talking History pages, with the links and search function on the left menu, to find shows you may have missed or favorites you would like to hear again.

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December 23, 2014
Segment 1 | Backstory: "What Gives: Generosity in America" (2014).
 Download: MP3


From Backstory and the American History Guys: "’Tis the season for giving. And on this episode, we’re going to give you the history of that. The stories we’re working on explore gifts in the American past and consider how ideas about charity, philanthropy and generosity have changed over the centuries. Sometimes, it paid to be poor — but not too poor. In earlier days, philanthropy had humble aims: to foster community and put the idea of charity out of business. Along the way, we’ll also look the questionable notion of the “free gift,” the idea of reciprocity in Native cultures, and the back story behind tax-deductible donations." Guests include: Cynthia Bell, of the Bell Sisters; Shelia Moeschen, author of Acts of Conspicuous Compassion: Performance Culture and American Charity Practices; Johann Neem, Western Washington University; Alice O'Connor, University of California, Santa Barbara; Kevin Rozario, Smith College; Isaiah Wilner, graduate student, Yale University. Segment also available on line at Backstory: http://backstoryradio.org/shows/what-gives-2/.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Literary Lessons in Generosity: "Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree" (reading/sound track selection from 1973 film).
 Download: MP3


Here is a selection -- read by the author in a 1973 animated film -- from a controversial 20th century children's book classic about generosity. From Barnes and Noble: "Shel Silverstein takes a poignant and gentle look at theart of giving and the concept of unconditional love in his deeply profound children's book The Giving Tree. The story tells of the relationship between a young boy and a tree. Giving the boy what he wants is what makes the tree happy, a function it serves throughout the boy's life. First the tree is a place for the boy to play and munch on apples, later its branches serve as a source of lumber to build a house, and later still, its trunk provides the wood for a boat. By the time the boy has become an old man, he has used so much of what the tree has to give that all that remains is a stump. Yet all the old man needs at this point is a place to sit and rest, a function the stump nicely -- and happily -- serves." The book has been variously interpreted -- and those interpretations have been well summarized here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Giving_Tree#Interpretations. For the full film, from which this selection was taken, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TZCP6OqRlE.

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December 16, 2014
Segment 1 | Open Source: "Capitalism and Slavery" (2014).
 Download: MP3


From Open Source: "We're continuing our series on capitalism by going back to its unspeakable origins. A new wave of historians say that the "peculiar institution" of slavery explains more about the present than we'd care to admit: not just how the West got wealthy, but the way that global capitalism evolved in the first place. . . . It was the global slave trade that helped make America rich, and yet no part of our history was more brutally unequal, more lucrative and less regulated than the slave-and-cotton empire." Guests include: Sven Beckert, Laird Bell professor of history at Harvard, chair of Harvard's Program on the Study of Capitalism, and author of the forthcoming book, Empire of Cotton; Craig Steven Wilder professor of American history at MIT, and author of Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Karl Marx, Das Kapital, Vol. 1(selection from ch. 31)." (LibriVox reading of 1867 classic).
 Download: MP3



This is an edited selection (focusing on slavery and capitalism) from Karl Marx's first volume of his 3-volume classic, Capital, published in 1867. Here and elsewhere Marx offered an throrough analysis of the evolution, structure, and sources of instability of capitalism as it evolved from the late Middle Ages through the latter decades of the 19th centiry.) Volume 1 was the only one of his three volumes to actually be published during Marx's life. For the full text, see: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/. For the full LibRiVox reading, see https://librivox.org/capital-volume-1-by-karl-marx/
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December 9, 2014
Segment 1 | Backstory: "Let's Make Up: Reconciliation and Its Limits " (2014)
 Download: MP3


From Backstory: "Twenty-five years ago this November, East and West Berliners began chipping away at the iconic wall that had kept them apart for three decades, and symbolized the deep divisions that the Cold War had inflicted on the world at large. As this piece of history crumbled, the Western press was almost euphoric: Freedom, we were told, had triumphed over political repression and cultural imprisonment. But the fall of the Berlin Wall also set in motion a long and difficult process of reconciliation among German citizens. And, indeed, of reconciling the First and Second Worlds -- a process still fraught with tension and uncertainty. On this episode, the Guys dig up buried hatchets to help us explore some of our own best and worst efforts at making amends. How have Americans tried to restore ties and move beyond strain and strife? When does it work? And what are the limits of reconciliation? Guests Include: Rebecca Brannon, James Madison University; Clifton Truman Daniel, grandson of President Harry S. Truman; Benjy Melendez, Founder of the Ghetto Brothers; Shigeko Sasamori, Hiroshima survivor; Orin Starn, Duke University; Karen Van Lengen, University of Virginia; Julian Voloj, author of Ghetto Brother: Warrior to Peacemaker.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "Desmund Tutu on Truth and Reconciliation." (1998)
 Download: MP3



On November 5th and 6th, 1998,the University of Virginia and the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Asian Democracy hosted the Nobel Peace Laureates Conference. Nine Laureates presented on a variety of topics related to their areas of recogniton. One of them was 1984 Nobl Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Here we present an excerpt from his talk, "Reconciliation in Post-Apartheir South Africa: Experiences of the Truth Commission." You can read the full transcript of his presentation at this University of Virginia Web site: http://www.virginia.edu/nobel/transcript/tutu.html. The Web site also contains a short biography of Tutu, available here: http://www.virginia.edu/nobel/laureates/bios/tutu_bio.html.

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December 2, 2014
Segment 1 | Open Source: "WWI: The Shock of the New ~ James Joyce's Ulysses and Post-WWI Modernism" (2014)
 Download: MP3


From Open Source and Christoper Lydon: "Out of the mire and death of World War One, even before the shooting stops, comes the strangest thing: the novel of the century. It's James Joyce’s Ulysses, transposing the wily warrior of Greek myth into the buried consciousness of a single day in Dublin in 1904. The global war was only part of the nightmare from which Joyce was trying to awake. From his teens, he'd set himself against every orthodoxy of provincial Ireland, against the pieties of family, church and Empire. Even before pre-publication, Ulysses became the fighting flag of Modernism: a sort of cracked 'true realism,' an anti-violent anarchism in prose, poetry and painting, too. Do you still hear the rebellious voice in the modernist masterpieces: Mrs. Dalloway, The Waste-Land? Have you made it through Ulysses? Is history a nightmare we're still sleeping through? Guests include Kevin Birmingham, author of The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses; Howard Eiland, Modernist scholar, editor of the modernist philosopher, Walter Benjamin, and author of the biography Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life; Eve Sorun, Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, currently writing a book on empathy and elegy in British modernism.

Segment 2 | From the Archives: "T.S. Elliot's The Waste Land ("What the Thunder Said")." (1992)
 Download: MP3



Here is the last part of one of the best know 20th century modernist poems, by T. S. Elliot -- The Waste Land -- read by Elliot himself. For more readings by Elliot, go to: http://www.eliotsociety.org.uk/?page_id=95. For a short biography of Elliot, see: http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/a_f/eliot/life.htm
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