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Episode 194: Michael Gorra

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Release Date: 01/10/2021

Episode 197: Dan Gullotta show art Episode 197: Dan Gullotta

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Dan Gullotta is the host of the popular Age of Jackson history podcast. A relatively recent arrival in the U.S. by way of Australia, Dan is a Ph.D. student of religious studies at Stanford University, though he is currently residing in Kansas. Dan is working on a dissertation that focuses on 19th century religion and how it influenced the development of the second party system in America.  Dan talks with Colin about why he wanted to do a podcast, his love of his new homeland, and where America stands in terms of its historical consciousness. He also discusses what he doesn't like about...

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Episode 196: The Kid Detective with Michael Scott show art Episode 196: The Kid Detective with Michael Scott

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Movie detectives are as old as movies themselves. So what could a 2020 film add to the genre? Michael Scott, co-host of cinema podcast The Dana Buckler Show and his own film podcast Adkins Undisputed returns to American Rambler to discuss the recent crime noir/comedy/thriller The Kid Detective. It's a detective movie, but in addition to having a subtle comedic sense, it packs an emotional punch. The Kid Detective stars Adam Brody (of TV's The O.C. and Smallville) as Abe Applebaum, an early-30s, down-on-his-luck private investigator who gets his biggest case in years involving the murder of a...

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Episode 195: James Oakes show art Episode 195: James Oakes

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

James Oakes is a two time winner of the Lincoln Prize for Civil War studies. But as he tells Colin, he initially went to college for business. An English teacher at Baruch College wisely turned him away from the world of international finance. Since then, he has made a name for himself as a scholar of 19th century history. Jim ended up attending Berkeley for graduate school during an astounding period in the department's history. He studied with Kenneth Stampp, whose book The Peculiar Institution Jim had read when he was still in high school. Also there at the time was Winthrop Jordan,...

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Episode 194: Michael Gorra show art Episode 194: Michael Gorra

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Michael Gorra is a native of Connecticut who has taught at Smith College since the 1970s. A professor of English, his most recent book is The Saddest Words: William Faulkner's Civil War. This book builds on a career dedicated to examining writers such as Henry James and V. S. Naipaul. In Faulkner, Professor Gorra has tackled one of our most brilliant and baffling novelists. Raised on a steady diet of sci-fi, Michael entered college thinking he wanted to write novels. Or at least, he knew he didn't want to work in his father's fruit business. He ended up pursuing an English degree, though he he...

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Episode 193: Country Boy: The Roots of Johnny Cash show art Episode 193: Country Boy: The Roots of Johnny Cash

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Colin gives a sneak peak at his January 6 "Legacies and Lunch" talk for the Central Arkansas Public Library in Little Rock. His talk will be on his upcoming book Country Boy: The Roots of Johnny Cash, coming out in the fall of 2021 from the University of Arkansas Press. Country Boy seeks to reclaim Cash for Arkansas. In the book, Colin examines Cash's upbringing in rural Arkansas, his rise to stardom, and the memorable concerts he gave in his home state. These included the concerts for Winthrop Rockefeller in 1968, at Cummins prison farm in 1969, his 1976 show in Rison, and his final Arkansas...

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Episode 192: Alan Farrell show art Episode 192: Alan Farrell

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

It's not often that Colin has a poet warrior on the podcast. It's been twenty years since Dr. Farrell taught at Hampden-Sydney College, where he was a professor of modern languages. He spent 27 years at HSC before moving on to VMI, where he was fired from being a dean after he said the wrong thing to a "fat guy in an expensive suit." Nevertheless, he enjoyed a long tenure as a teacher at VMI before his retirement to Unlucky Mountain near Lexington, where he lives and rides motorcycles. Alan grew up in New Hampshire, went to prep school in Connecticut, graduated with a bachelor's from Trinity...

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Episode 191: Jean H. Baker show art Episode 191: Jean H. Baker

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Historian Jean Baker is a lifelong resident of Baltimore, so it makes sense that her most recent book is Building America: The Life of Benjamin Henry Latrobe. Her book on Latrobe is only the latest in a long and productive career that began as a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University. At Hopkins, she worked under the late, great, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Donald, whose students include Michael Holt, Robert Kenzer, and Bill Cooper (who have previously been on the podcast). True to her mentor's example, Dr. Baker's scholarship has combined political history and biography. Her...

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Episode 190: David Dixon show art Episode 190: David Dixon

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

David Dixon is the author of Radical Warrior: August Willich's Journey from German Revolutionary to Union General. Surprisingly, it is the first major biography of General Willich, whose life was the stuff of Hollywood movies. Willich was an aristocrat, born into a prominent family in Prussia. After growing up in the household of the philosopher Friedrich Schleiermacher, Willich pursued a military education before joining the army. Thus began his interesting and unconventional military career. Willich took part in a rebellion in Germany amid the revolutions running through Europe in the late...

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Episode 189: Michael Scott and Friday the 13th show art Episode 189: Michael Scott and Friday the 13th

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Happy Halloween! Movie guru Michael Scott returns to the podcast to talk about his love for the Friday the 13th films. How did a low-budget 1980 horror movie spawn a franchise and draw in millions of fans? Is it all about the hockey mask? As it turns out, Michael's first foray into the series was Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives, which led him to devour the rest of the "Jason Movies." Michael has also read a few books on our friend Mr. Vorhees, including Crystal Lake Memories, written by author Peter M. Bracke. As Michael notes, Jason not only inspired numerous splatter flicks, the Friday...

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Episode 188: John Lingan show art Episode 188: John Lingan

American Rambler with Colin Woodward

A native of Maryland, John Lingan's first book is Homeplace: A Southern Town, a Country Legend, and the Last Days of Mountain-Top Honky Tonk, which examines the northern Virginia town of Winchester. Winchester is known largely for two things: the Civil War and being the birthplace of Patsy Cline. But as John's book shows, just as compelling are the stories of more recent inhabitants, including chefs, writers, and store owners. Homeplace shows how people in 21st century South are trying to make a living in a region undergoing severe political and economic change. Homeplace builds upon John's...

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Michael Gorra is a native of Connecticut who has taught at Smith College since the 1970s. A professor of English, his most recent book is The Saddest Words: William Faulkner's Civil War. This book builds on a career dedicated to examining writers such as Henry James and V. S. Naipaul. In Faulkner, Professor Gorra has tackled one of our most brilliant and baffling novelists.

Raised on a steady diet of sci-fi, Michael entered college thinking he wanted to write novels. Or at least, he knew he didn't want to work in his father's fruit business. He ended up pursuing an English degree, though he he only came to the idea of being an academic later. As an undergrad at Amherst, he encountered the no-nonsense novelist Robert Stone and decided writing fiction wasn't for him.

After decades of teaching, a prolonged stay in Germany in the late-90s helped open Michael's mind about the importance of place and history in writing. It certainly helped him when examining Faulkner. As The Saddest Words shows, few American writers have done as well as Faulkner has in exploring the intersection of history and geography in his "postage stamp" in Mississippi.