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History Myths Buzzkilled

Woman Crush Wednesday! Qiu Jin

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 [Cho Jeen], the Chinese revolutionary whose short but dramatic life has led her to be called “China’s Joan of Arc.” Born in 1875 or 1877 (experts disagree on the exact date), Qiu Jin grew up in a fairly traditional Chinese household, had her feet bound as a young woman, was placed in an arranged marriage, and had two children in quick succession. As a young woman, however, she was able to study Chinese literature, as well as martial arts. She not only studied both (and celebrated Chinese heroes from the past), she became active [...]

Jesse James and the Civil War

Was Jesse James a famous “western outlaw” or is the story more complicated than that? Listen as Professor Nash takes us through James’ life and explains the centrality of the Civil War, and how the bitterness enhanced by the civil war motivated his post-war life of crime. And how about Jesse James as a modern-day Robin Hood? We explore that myth and how the celebration of Frank and Jesse James has been based on hype, hatred, and histrionics.  --- Buzzkill Bookshelf T.J. Stiles, Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War In this brilliant biography T. J. Stiles offers a new understanding of the legendary outlaw Jesse James. Although he has often been portrayed as a Robin Hood of the old west, in this ground-breaking [...]

Irish Things that are Actually British

It’s getting to be mid-March, and all good Buzzkillers’ minds turn towards things Irish. We have done shows before on St. Patrick and on the Irish Slaves Myth, which, of course, were quite serious and brought up important historical issues and themes. But this March we thought we’d be a little more light-hearted, yet probably generate more comment and hate-mail than our other Irish episodes. That’s because I want to bring up an intriguing aspect of Irish history -- the nature of Irish identity, and the strength of the belief in Irish identity. So I should apologize in advance to the entire Irish side of the Buzzkill Dynasty, to all of Irish America, and to many of my favorite Buzzkillers in Ireland, especially Farmer Michael [...]

Making of the Non-Smoker

The “Non-Smoker” as a category of person seems obvious in the 21st century. But it wasn’t always this way. Professor Sarah Milov gives the history of the non-smoking movement, including the medical, legal, and political battles that eventually led to smoke-free public places. Hear about pressure groups like GASP, ASH, and the countless local movements that helped clear the air. Check out Professor Milov's book "The Cigarette: A Political History" here. --- Buzzkill Bookshelf Allan Brandt, The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall, and Deadly Persistence of the Product That Defined America From agriculture to big business, from medicine to politics, The Cigarette Century is the definitive account of how smoking came to be so deeply implicated in our culture, science, policy, and law. No product [...]

Encore Episode: Green Book – Travelling While Black

20th century automobile travel was supposed to represent freedom, but what else did it represent? Professor Cotten Siler joins us to discuss the difficulties and hazards faced by African-American motorists in the 20th Century while traveling in the United States, especially during the height of segregation and Jim Crow. Specifically, in this episode we’re going to talk about how important guides like the Negro Motorist Green Book and the popular Travelguide: Vacation and Recreation Without Humiliation were to the reality of “travelling while black.”

Man Crush Monday – Ignaz Semmelweis

Imagine you’ve been a pioneering medical doctor, but you’ve had a nervous breakdown and are being sent to an asylum for treatment. Despite all the work you’ve done, your innovations in medical treatment have not been recognized and accepted by the contemporary medical community. In fact, the medical establishment has more or less ridiculed you and tried to run you out of the profession. The stress has been too much and now you’re in the hands of the staff at a mental asylum. But it’s 1865, and the treatment for a nervous breakdown was more or less like being sent to a prison. The guards at this particular asylum have beat you severely in an attempt to get you to comply with asylum “treatment.” [...]

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