Seasonal Specials

April 6, 2016

"The Quality of Mercy": A Shakespearean Theme

Shakespeare 400

Four hundred years after the death of William Shakespeare, theater enthusiasts around the world are celebrating the famous playwright's legacy. To learn more about Shakespeare, his works, and the times in which he lived, we invite you to tune in to our 2015 series Summer with the Bard. In the following episode from that series,  Robert Wiltenburg takes us through Shakespeare's comedies, tragedies, and romances to reveal how a quintessential Shakespearean theme - mercy - evolves in each genre, highlighting great triumphs and disasters along the way. 

February 10, 2016

The New Anthropology of Love

Valentine's Day 2016

Love and desire are deeply personal, right? And when we fall in love with someone, it's because there's something unique and innate in them that matches with something unique and innate in us, right? Actually, neither of these things are as true as you think, according to Dredge Byung'chu Kang, a cultural anthropologist and a post-doctoral fellow in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. He discusses some national and global relationship trends, including data from online dating sites, that reveal how society and political economy shape what we consider intimate. He also shares one case in Thailand where love breaks the rule.

January 26, 2016

Violence and Memory

International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2016

How should we remember historical moments of violence and loss? What are the links between terrible events like the Holocaust, the mass casualties of World War I, the Armenian Genocide, and crises around the world today? What challenges do historians face as they examine and interpret death and war?

Anika Walke and Jay Winter both face such questions and issues in their research. Here, the two historians candidly discuss the process of seeking meaning in history, as well as the personal motivations behind their work. Winter, the Charles J. Stille Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University, has published numerous books on World War I. His public history efforts include serving as co-producer and lead historian of the Emmy-winning PBS series “The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century." Walke, an assistant professor of history at Washington University in St. Louis, is author of Pioneers and Partisans: An Oral History of Nazi Genocide in Belorussia.

January 20, 2016

How to Control Your Emotions

New Year 2016

Are you a "think on the bright side" person, who always has a positive outlook? Or do you sometimes find it hard to control what you feel and how you express those feelings? Tammy English, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences and director of the Emotion and Relationships Laboratory at Washington University in St. Louis, studies emotion regulation. Here she discusses some common successful strategies for managing emotions and working toward long-term happiness.


January 13, 2016

How to Strengthen Your Willpower

New Year 2016

It's mid-January, that time of year when a person's zeal to start fresh in the new year might be starting to fade. But don't give up on your resolutions quite yet! Psychologist Tim Bono has some research-proven tips for how to successfully build willpower. Bono, an assistant dean in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, teaches the popular course Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness.


October 28, 2015

The Witches' Hammer: Magic and Law in Early Modern Europe

Halloween 2015

Back by popular demand! This podcast was first released in October 2014.

In 1487, when the witch trials were just starting to take root in Europe, a Dominican priest published the Malleus Maleficarum, or The Witches' Hammer, a treatise on the prosecution of witches in a court of law. This text would be used over the next three centuries as the authority on the trial and torture of witches, laying out why women in particular were so susceptible to witchcraft. By the end of the witch craze in the 1720s, an estimated 80,000 had been tried and executed. In this extended episode, Gerhild Williams, a professor of comparative literature and Germanic literature and culture, breaks down the witch trial phenomenon into three parts: (1) defining the witch and the roots of these beliefs, (2) how the political landscape evolved and the contents of The Witches' Hammer, and (3) how and why the witch craze took hold and what we can learn from it today.

September 30, 2015

The Physics of Baseball

MLB Playoff Season 2015

Ever wonder why some hits feel good when the bat connects with the pitch, and others leave your hands ringing? Or exactly how a pitcher throws a ball that seems to curve just as the batter swings? Physicist Dr. Kasey Wagoner says, like most things in our universe, it all comes back to physics. Just in time for MLB playoff season, he talks about the forces involved in different pitches and how the "sweet spot" of the bat works.

February 19, 2015

Memories of Chinese New Year

Lunar New Year 2015

For thousands of years, Chinese New Year has been celebrated in the spring to mark the beginning of a new lunar year. Traditions surrounding this festival have varied across time and cultures - here at Washington University in St. Louis, they include the student-run Lunar New Year Festival. To commemorate the occasion this year, Linchei Letty Chen, associate professor of Chinese language and literature at Washington University, shares personal memories from new year's festivals she experienced growing up in Taiwan. 

February 11, 2015

Physics of the Heart

Valentine's Day 2015

Mentioning the word "physics" brings to mind things like gravity, relativity, mass and volume, or even dark matter. Rarely do we think about how these principles affect the inner workings of our own bodies. This week, Jim Miller, professor of physics, medicine, and biomedical engineering at Washington University, talks about the 'physics' of 'physiology' and explains how cardiologists and doctors use physics in their every day work.