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Episode 169: Megan Kate Nelson

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Release Date: 03/14/2020

Episode 187: James MacDonald show art Episode 187: James MacDonald

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Once again, Colin plays "Six Degrees of Court Carney," this time with fellow LSU veteran and historian James MacDonald. As is the case with Colin, James is a Damn Yankee who moved to the South as an adult and has never looked back. Oh, and like Colin, he married a southerner. James teaches at Northwestern State University of Louisiana in Natchitoches (pronounced "Nackadish"), a town so southern that it was the setting for the film Steel Magnolias. James talks about the teaching life, including how to cope with educating during the pandemic, wrestling with technology, what it's like to handle a...

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Episode 185: Carytown Blues show art Episode 185: Carytown Blues

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

American Rambler talks about some new albums he got at Plan 9 Records in in Carytown in Richmond. Carytown seems to be losing businesses steadily, but Plan 9, thankfully, is still open. Yesterday, Colin picked up music from Margo Price, Blaze Foley, King Curtis, and King Biscuit Boy. The band County Kitchen takes us out with the song "Devil Dog," set in the old blues town of Helena, Arkansas.

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Episode 186: Wayne Edmondson show art Episode 186: Wayne Edmondson

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Wayne Edmondson is a high school teacher living in northern Louisiana. He and Colin are old friends and survivors of the LSU grad program in history. Colin stayed to finish his dissertation, but Wayne took a different path. In addition to studying at LSU, he's played in a rock band, been a sonar technician on a nuclear sub, surveyor in the Gulf of Mexico, funeral home assistant, disaster relief worker after Hurricane Katrina, and sweated out desert days as a contractor working on military bases in Iraq.  Wayne talks about growing up in Louisiana, grad school, and seeing one of his...

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Episode 184: Tim Van Den Hoff show art Episode 184: Tim Van Den Hoff

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

It's fitting that Colin and Tim talked on the anniversary of the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. That's because Tim's recent documentary Monumental Crossroads (link below) examines the debate over Confederate memorials and the meaning of the Civil War in the South. Taking his camera to locations in Louisiana, Tennessee, Virginia, and Alabama, Tim's film interviews white and black people to understand their feelings about some of the most divisive symbols in the American landscape. Monumental Crossroads shows us a cross-section of the South, from a black artists and...

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Episode 183: John Jay Osborn, Jr. show art Episode 183: John Jay Osborn, Jr.

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

John Jay Osborn, Jr., is perhaps best known for his 1971 novel The Paper Chase, which was made into an Oscar-winning movie starring John Houseman (with whom John became friends). The book was based on John's experiences at Harvard Law School and centers on James T. Hart, a bright, ambitious, first-year student trying to balance his studies and tumultuous personal life. The book sold well and the film was a success, but John never abandoned the law. The Papers Chase, nevertheless, led to John spending 15 years in Hollywood as a scriptwriter and advisor. He worked on the TV adaptation of The...

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Episode 182: Chris Leahy show art Episode 182: Chris Leahy

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Chris Leahy was a fellow traveler with Colin in his days at LSU. Since 2007, he's been a professor a Keuka College in upstate New York. He has a new book out, President without a Party: A Life of John Tyler (LSU Press, 2020). His biography began as a dissertation in Baton Rouge, where Chris studied under the imposing William J. Cooper (a previous podcast guest on American Rambler). Chris talks with Colin about his days at LSU as well as growing up in Baltimore and his time at Virginia Tech. Chris has been working on his biography for more than 20 years. Born in the first years of the American...

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Episode 181: Barclay Key show art Episode 181: Barclay Key

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Barclay Key is a history professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He's a native of north Alabama, who was born into a working class family of farmers and textile workers. His father picked cotton before going to college and becoming a teacher. Barclay's Alabama roots help explain why he's a huge fan of Muscle Shoals area rockers Drive-By Truckers, whose music he has used in his history classes. Since graduating from the University of Florida, Dr. Key has traveled the world courtesy of Fulbright Scholarships that allowed him to teach in Poland and Mexico. He is back in Little...

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Episode 180: Robert Gudmestad show art Episode 180: Robert Gudmestad

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Robert Gudmestad is a native of Minnesota who teaches history at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. He knows Colin from his days as a grad student at LSU, where they both worked with the imposing figure of Charles Royster, the late scholar of the Early Republic, the Civil War, and colonial Vietnam.  Bob is the author of two books, A Troublesome Commerce (2003), about the domestic slave trade, and Steamboats and the Rise of the Cotton Kingdom (2011). As he tells Colin, he never approached his career with much of a plan. He had a good job before he attended grad school. Even so, he...

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Episode 179: Mark Doyle show art Episode 179: Mark Doyle

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Mark Doyle is a professor of history at Middle Tennessee State University. A native of Oklahoma who now resides in Nashville, he has lived for extended periods in New Orleans, Boston, and Ireland. His latest book is The Kinks: Songs of the Semi-Detached. Mark and Colin talk about the historical and sociological background of the Kinks' golden period in the late 1960s and early 1970s. More specifically, they discuss how the brilliant and multi-faceted Ray Davies, the Kinks' main songwriter and singer, commented on the profound changes going on around him. In the process, he and the Kinks made...

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Episode 178: Manisha Sinha show art Episode 178: Manisha Sinha

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Manisha Sinha was born in India, but she moved to the U.S. to finish her education. Since graduating with a Ph.D. from Columbia--where she studied under Eric Foner--she has made an impact on the history world. Her first book, The Counterrevolution of Slavery (2000), based on her dissertation, was nominated for the Bancroft Prize. A few years ago, Politico named it as one of the ten books on slavery "you need to read." Her most recent book, The Slave's Cause: A History of Abolition (2016) won the coveted Frederick Douglass Prize.   Dr. Sinha stays busy. She lives in Massachusetts, but...

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A fascination with Game of Thrones inspired Megan Kate Nelson's new book, The Three-Cornered War, which examines the role of the Union, Confederacy and Native Americans in the southwestern theatre of the Civil War. It's Megan's third book. Now that she is writing full time, she shows no signs of slowing down.

Megan is a native of the West herself, and to write The Three-Cornered War, she traveled to the places she describes in her book. She lives in Massachusetts, but she is still fascinated by the West she grew up in. She is already working on her fourth book, on the history of Yellowstone, which is slated for publication in 2022.

Are you thinking about grad school? While they both have Ph.D.s, Colin and Megan talk about the difficulties of being on the tenure track and how one should maybe consider the option of "alt-ac" careers. What do you do with a Ph.D. if academia isn't for you? Megan has shown that there is life, and success, beyond the Ivory Tower. And you can start by deciding not to write for free anymore.

You can find out more about Dr. Nelson at: http://www.megankatenelson.com/