Seasonal Specials

December 17, 2014

Digging into Archaeoastronomy

Winter Solstice 2014

The Winter Solstice is on December 21 and marks the shortest day of the year, which was once a very important day to many cultures across the world. In fact, there are thousands of structures, including the impressive Stonehenge, built by our early ancestors to predict the equinoxes and solstices. So why did they make all this effort? Michael Friedlander, a professor emeritus of physics, and John Kelly, a senior lecturer in archaeology, both at Washington University in St. Louis, introduce us to the field of archaeoastronomy, which they use to examine one of the greatest pre-Columbian civilizations in the United States: Cahokia.

October 30, 2013

Pearl Curran: "Ghost"-writer

Halloween 2013

In 1913, Pearl Curran, a St. Louis housewife, sat at a Ouija board with her friends when the planchette went wild under her hands. It said, "Many moons ago I lived. Again I come. Patience Worth my name." And so began the literary career of the long-dead Patience Worth. Pearl transcribed novels, plays, essays, and poetry supposedly composed by Patience, and both became celebrities. Daniel Shea, emeritus professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis, recently wrote a book about the phenomenon, The Patience of Pearl: Spiritualism and Authorship in the Writings of Pearl Curran. In it, he uses modern psychology and the writings themselves to uncover the truth of this ghostly voice.

October 26, 2017

How to Create a Musical Monster

It’s been 200 years since Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, the classic tale of creation gone wrong. In honor of the novel’s anniversary – and just in time for Halloween – three undergraduates at Washington University in St. Louis were each invited to bring his own brainchild into being: a piece of music, inspired by Frankenstein, to be performed by WashU’s symphony orchestra. In this episode of Arts & Sciences' Hold That Thought podcast, Cole Reyes, Andrew Savino, and Ethan Evans talk about their music, the creative process, and Frankenstein. 

Symphony Orchestra: Frankenstein takes place at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 29, at the 560 Music Center.

February 8, 2017

Love Music Across Time

Valentine's Day 2017

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. 

March 30, 2016

Religion and Comic Books: A Tangled Web

Comic Con 2016

Most people don't normally associate comic books and superheroes with religion. However, Roshan Abraham, a comics studies scholar and assistant professor of religious studies and classics, reveals how religion is actually in the DNA of comics. He traces the many ways religion influences, shapes, and appears in comics, and how scholars in both religious and comics studies face very similar problems.