Professor Buzzkill History Podcast
Professor Buzzkill is an exciting blog & podcast that explores history myths in an illuminating, entertaining, and humorous way.
info_outline Household Gods: the Religious Lives of the Adams Family 07/27/2021
Household Gods: the Religious Lives of the Adams Family Dr. Sara Georgini enlightens us about the sophisticated religious beliefs and practices of John and Abigail Adams and their descendants. She also inspires us with stories about how her work as an archivist, historian, interpreter, and writer can help us understand important developments across the generations! Episode 424.
info_outline Felice and Boudleaux Bryant: WCW & MCM! 07/20/2021
Felice and Boudleaux Bryant: WCW & MCM! It’s Tuesday, and this is a combined Man Crush Monday and Woman Crush Wednesday! Today we’re going to look at a couple, Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. They were a driving creative force behind perhaps the biggest popular music revolution in American history in the 1950s. Often called the first professional songwriters in Nashville, the Bryants wrote songs for The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, and nearly every aspiring singing act of the 1950s.
info_outline LBJ and the Space Program - Encore! 07/13/2021
LBJ and the Space Program - Encore! With all the Richard Branson space news recently, we thought we'd have an encore of one of our Space Program episodes! President Kennedy usually gets all the credit for inspiring American to reach for the moon. And President Nixon’s signature is on the ceremonial plaque laid there at the end of the Apollo 11 landing. But President Lyndon Johnson hardly ever gets credit for the American space program. The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Shesol joins us to explain LBJ’s pioneering efforts in the space race.
info_outline Charlie Brown's America: the Popular Politics of Peanuts 07/06/2021
Charlie Brown's America: the Popular Politics of Peanuts Professor Blake Scott Ball discusses his new book on the history of the Peanuts comic strip! Despite--or perhaps because of--its huge popular culture status, Peanuts enabled cartoonist Charles Schulz to offer political commentary on the most controversial topics of postwar American culture through the voices of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the whole Peanuts gang. Episode 423.
info_outline Declaration of Independence Myths - July 4th Special Encore!! 07/03/2021
Declaration of Independence Myths - July 4th Special Encore!! Every July, American Buzzkillers get inundated with chain emails, Facebook posts, and Tweets that spread more myths about the Declaration of Independence. No matter how many times they’ve been disproved, the seem to crop up every year. John Hancock signing his name so large that “King George can read it without his spectacles.” And “The Price They Paid” -- the undying email myth about what happened to the signers of the Declaration. We explain these, and a lot more!
info_outline Mark Twain "Life is Just One Damn Thing After Another" Quote or No Quote? 06/23/2021
Mark Twain "Life is Just One Damn Thing After Another" Quote or No Quote? Sometimes, Buzzkillers, the stars just seem to align. A whole bunch of writers, pundits, journalists, and aphorists can come up with roughly the same idea at roughly the same time. In terms of the history of quotations, that's the story of the aphorism and witticism, "life is just one damn thing after another." But it's easier to attribute such a quotation to Mark Twain, and that's what people have done. Did he ever say it? Listen and learn.
info_outline History of the Appalachian Trail 06/15/2021
History of the Appalachian Trail The Appalachian Trail has a long and winding place in American history and culture. Professor Philip D’Anieri takes us on a hike through the significant aspects of its history and explains what the trail's construction and development have meant for the country. Episode 422
info_outline The Filibuster in the United States Senate 06/10/2021
The Filibuster in the United States Senate The filibuster, and the practice of filibustering in the United States Senate, is a raging topic in American politics these days. And, of course, the abuse of history has been rampant when current politicians attack or defend the filibuster. Professor Sarah Binder (_the_ expert!) explains it to you Buzzkillers! Episode 421
info_outline Abraham Lincoln "Government of the people, by the people, and for the people..." Quote or No Quote? 06/09/2021
Abraham Lincoln "Government of the people, by the people, and for the people..." Quote or No Quote? Voting rights are being taken away in 2021. So we should listen again to Honest Abe. Right? But did he actually say, "...government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth"? Was it his phrase originally? The background of the quote will fascinate you, Listen and learn, Buzzkillers! Episode 420
info_outline “Nazi” “Socialist”: What’s in a Name? 06/08/2021
“Nazi” “Socialist”: What’s in a Name? Marjorie Taylor Greene has brought up the Nazi-Socialist thing to defame certain left-wing American politicians in 2021. Obviously, she doesn't know history. But why was Hitler’s fascist party named the “National-Socialist German Workers' Party”? And why are democratic socialists nowadays tarred with the “Nazi” brush by political circus clowns? Professor Nash helps us understand it all. Listen and learn! Episode 419
info_outline Newt Gingrich and the Burning Down of American Politics 06/01/2021
Newt Gingrich and the Burning Down of American Politics There’s so much talk these days about the radicalism of the Republican Party. Politics has often been nasty in American history, but when did this particular style of Republican extremism start? Professor Julian Zelizer from Princeton University shows us how Newt Gingrich helped create the new Republican party, and in the process, helped burn down American politics. Episode 418.
info_outline The Nadir of African-American History - Encore! 05/25/2021
The Nadir of African-American History - Encore! With the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre nearly here, it's time to listen to an encore presentation of this episode. 1865-1930 is often called the “nadir of African-American life.” Not only did African-Americans gain very little economic or social benefit from the end of slavery, but white Southerners also built up a system of race oppression that still stains America. Listen as Professor Phil Nash explains it all!
info_outline Evangelical Influence on Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Relations 05/18/2021
Evangelical Influence on Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Relations Dr. Lauren Turek gives us the history of American Christian evangelical influence on foreign affairs, as well as their direct efforts to change American foreign policy. It’s all so much deeper and more interesting than most people think! Listen to her explain their “evangelizing” in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe in the late twentieth century. Episode 417.
info_outline Ronald Reagan “Terrifying Words - ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” Quote or No Quote? 05/14/2021
Ronald Reagan “Terrifying Words - ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” Quote or No Quote? We scrutinize Reagan's famous quote "the nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help’” in today's episode. Where and when was it coined? What is its broader meaning, and why does Professor Buzzkill call it "moronic and childish"? Episode 416
info_outline Truman "Socialism is a Republican Scare Word" Quote or No Quote Encore! 05/13/2021
Truman "Socialism is a Republican Scare Word" Quote or No Quote Encore! In the early days of the Biden administration, the Harry Truman “quote” about socialism being a Republican scare word is flying around the internet. Rhetoric is so over-heated in American politics these days. But did “Buck Stops Here” Harry really say it? If so, when, where, and in what context? Time for an encore of this popular episode!
info_outline Otto and Elise Hampel: "Ordinary" Resisters to Hitler's Regime 05/11/2021
Otto and Elise Hampel: "Ordinary" Resisters to Hitler's Regime Otto and Elise Hampel were a working-class German couple who wrote postcards denouncing Hitler's government and left them in public places around Berlin during World War II. Professor Philip Nash explains their significance in a combined Man Crush Monday/Woman Crush Wednesday! Episode 415
info_outline The Novels of Anna Lee Huber - Fiction Friday! 05/07/2021
The Novels of Anna Lee Huber - Fiction Friday! Historical novelist Anna Lee Huber gives us a glimpse of what it's like to be a historical novelist. She discusses her famous Verity Kent series (set in Britain during the WWI period) and her Lady Derby series (set in 1830s Britain). It's a Fiction Friday and let's have fun!! Episode 414
info_outline Mary Ware Dennett - Woman Crush Wednesday! 05/05/2021
Mary Ware Dennett - Woman Crush Wednesday! Mary Ware Dennett was an American women's rights activist, pacifist, and pioneer in the areas of birth control, sex education, and women's suffrage. Yet, she is largely unknown to the general public. So, she’s our Woman Crush Wednesday this week! Listen as historian Sharon Spaulding explains Mary’s important life and work! Episode 413.
info_outline Mother's Day 05/04/2021
Mother's Day Major social and political forces led to the establishment of Mother's Day as a major and official holiday. This episode explains those forces, and also tells us who founded Mother's Day. Was it Julia Ward Howe with her famous "Appeal to Womanhood" Peace Proclamation in 1870? Or did Anna Marie Jarvis found it, honoring her own mother in 1908? And what did war and campaigns for international disarmament have to do with the history of Mother's Day? Episode 412
info_outline Dinner in Camelot: When Art, Literature, and Science Mattered in the United States 04/27/2021
Dinner in Camelot: When Art, Literature, and Science Mattered in the United States Joseph Esposito tells us about “the night America’s greatest scientist, writers, and scholars partied at the White House in April 1962." We discuss this glittering event, including the untold stories of controversy, protest, and personality clashes before, during, and after the famous dinner. It's a fascinating look at the workings of the social side of the Kennedy White House, and also how this dinner became mythologized in the Kennedy-Camelot legend. Episode 411.
info_outline Gun Violence in the US and the History of the NRA - Encore 04/13/2021
Gun Violence in the US and the History of the NRA - Encore This encore episode from 2019 explains how the National Rifle Association become one of the most controversial and divisive organizations in American history. The NRA was once a sportsmen’s group. Since the 1970s, however, it has taken a very strict view of the US Constitution’s Second Amendment, and has gone to extremes in its defense of gun ownership. We explain how and why this happened, and dispel historical and cultural myths along the way.
info_outline Income Tax and Inequality in US History - Encore 04/11/2021
Income Tax and Inequality in US History - Encore Income tax is a troubling issue in American politics and history. We explain its long and complicated history, and delve into the even more complicated history of how personal income tax has related to the question of equality and inequality in US society. Professor Nash tells us how the American government has raised funds for peacetime needs and, of course, times of war. It’s not a simple tale of taxes rising as the country grew and the US government grew. Taxation is perhaps the most difficult thing to explain in American governmental history, but we make it easy to understand.
info_outline Immigration and The Deportation Machine in the United States 04/06/2021
Immigration and The Deportation Machine in the United States Professor Adam Goodman explains the unknown history of deportation and of the fear that shapes immigrants' lives in the modern United States. He explains how federal, state, and local officials have targeted various groups for expulsion, from Chinese and Europeans at the turn of the twentieth century to Central Americans and Muslims today. A very timely show! Episode #410
info_outline Woman Crush Wednesday: Qiu Jin - Encore! 03/31/2021
Woman Crush Wednesday: Qiu Jin - Encore! It’s a rare thing indeed to find someone in history who stands up and rebels against almost all the things she finds oppressive in society. Such a woman was Qiu Jin, the Chinese revolutionary whose short but dramatic life has led her to be called “China’s Joan of Arc.” She rebelled not only against the strictures placed on her as an individual, but also against the broader restrictions and repression against women in Chinese society in politics and society in the early 20th century. A great woman for a Woman Crush Wednesday!
info_outline Warfare, Technology, Constitutions, and the Making of the Modern World 03/30/2021
Warfare, Technology, Constitutions, and the Making of the Modern World Professor Linda Colley gives us the first full integrative, as well as literary, examination of the written constitution globally. Tracing their rise to the mid-eighteenth century and the emergence of hybrid warfare (cross-continental battles waged on land and at sea), constitutions addressed a growing concern for rulers during the Enlightenment: popular support. Episode #409.
info_outline Gloria Steinem "A Woman Needs a Man Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle" Quote or No Quote? 03/29/2021
Gloria Steinem "A Woman Needs a Man Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle" Quote or No Quote? The number of different images and different sayings or phrases printed on t-shirts exploded in the early 70s. And one of the most striking was the t-shirt from the women’s rights movement which said, "A Woman Needs a Man Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle," most famously worn by the feminist champion, Gloria Steinem. Did she coin the saying? We explain the history behind that great phrase.
info_outline Programmed Inequality: Women and British Computing - Encore! 03/28/2021
Programmed Inequality: Women and British Computing - Encore! Professor Mar Hicks joins us to talk about gender and employment in the emerging field of computing in Britain, and all the historical myths that surround them. In 1944, Britain led the world in electronic computing. By 1974, the British computer industry was all but extinct. We examine why this happened in the tense post-war world, as Britain was losing its role as a global leader and innovator. Professor Hicks calls this a story of gendered technocracy, and it undercut Britain's flexibility in the technology age. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!
info_outline Breaking Protocol: America’s First Female Ambassadors, Part 2 03/27/2021
Breaking Protocol: America’s First Female Ambassadors, Part 2 Professor Philip Nash tells us the broader context of America's First Female Ambassadors, the "Big Six," and how they carved out their rightful place in history. He takes the story up to the present day to explain the trajectory of gender parity in US foreign relations.
info_outline Breaking Protocol: America's First Female Ambassadors, Part 1 03/26/2021
Breaking Protocol: America's First Female Ambassadors, Part 1 Professor Philip Nash tells us the history of America's First Female Ambassadors, the "Big Six," and how they carved out their rightful place in history. He explains how these trailblazers helped pave the way for more gender parity in US foreign relations!
info_outline Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All - Encore! 03/25/2021
Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All - Encore! Professor Martha Jones offers a new history of African American women's political lives in America. She recounts how they defied both racism and sexism to fight for the ballot, and how they wielded political power to secure the equality and dignity of all persons. From the earliest days of the republic to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and beyond, Jones excavates the lives and work of black women -- Maria Stewart, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Fannie Lou Hamer, and more -- who were the vanguard of women's rights, calling on America to realize its best ideals.