Over the past three decades in the United States, the wealth gap between the richest Americans and everyone else has reached new extremes. At the same time, labor union membership has drastically decreased. In his book What Unions No Longer Do, sociologist Jake Rosenfeld argues that you can't understand one trend without the other. Rosenfeld shares ideas from his book and considers what so-called "Right to Work" legislation may mean for the future of organized labor.
In her book No More Invisible Man: Race and Gender in Men’s Work, sociologist Adia Harvey Wingfield documents the pervasive and often subtle ways that successful black men – people like doctors, lawyers, and engineers – continue to face inequality in the workplace. Here she shares some of these men’s stories and discusses the causes of professional inequality. In addition to teaching sociology at Washington University in St. Louis, Wingfield is a regular contributor to The Atlantic.
Before becoming the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson was a successful lawyer in Virginia. His legal training influenced the way he thought about government and politics, yet this earlier part of his career has largely been ignored by historians. David Konig, professor of history and law, has spent years analyzing the complex legal notes and papers that tell the story of Jefferson's time as an attorney. For Presidents Day, Konig sheds light on this fascinating and neglected aspect of Jefferson's life and mind.
This episode was first released in 2015.
From today's top 100 Billboard songs to ancient Sumerian scripts, human beings have always sung about love. So how have love songs changed across the ages? Have they evolved to reflect society's understandings of love? Or have we been singing about basically the same things for millenia? Today, we'll look at one batch of love songs called the Loire Valley Chansonniers, made up of five songbooks from fifteenth-century France. Clare Bokulich, an assistant professor of musicology at Washington University in St. Louis, explains why these books are so special and breaks down the rare insight they give into not only historical understandings of love, but music itself.
In the 1880s, a new kind of performance became the craze in Argentina and Uruguay. These wild "Creole dramas" glorified country life and the occasionally violent exploits of gauchos, or Argentinian cowboys. In addition to being hugely fun to watch, the stories appealed to audiences experiencing rapid modernization and waves of immigration. William Acree, associate professor of Spanish, helps us envision these plays and understand their lasting significance.
Before film or even audio recordings, audiences across the south flocked to traveling tent shows for entertainment. Under these tents, female performers like Gertrude "Ma" Rainey helped invent and popularize a new type of music: the blues. Paige McGinley, author of Staging the Blues: From Tent Shows to Tourism, brings these elaborate performances to life and explains why they are so often forgotten.
Hundreds of years ago in France, a group of men set up dramatic lighting, put on costumes, read scripts, and acted out a dramatic story. Despite all these elements of the theater, the men were not performing for an audience or acting on a stage. This group of Masons, one of many in 18th-century France, met in secret and created elaborate performances to initiate and promote their members. Pannill Camp, associate professor of drama and co-host of On TAP: A Theater and Performing Arts Podcast, explores the purpose and significance of these secret rituals and their relationship to the wider world of 18th century drama.
When actress Fanny Kemble took the stage in 1831 as Bianca, the pure and mistreated wife in Henry Milman's play Fazio, she astounded audiences with her true-to-life portrayal of jealousy and grief. Julia Walker, associate professor of drama and English, brings the performance to life and explains why it was so extraordinary. Walker connects Kemble's acting style to historical events and anxieties, especially changing ideas about money and banking.