In March of 2020, a year ago, we started a podcast, intending to capture and build upon a discussion of history we’d been having for years. It was a discussion mostly in short bursts, often in passing, outside our classrooms, in the doorways of our offices, and frequently in the hallways and stairwells of the building where we teach. Our intent was to use the calmer space afforded us by a podcast to discuss what Hayden White called in his seminal 1973 book Metahistory, the “nature and function of historical knowledge.” Apparently the podcast gods had another design, and calm would play no part. Just as we settled in for a fuzzy friendly little chatfest, a relentless historical tide began building outside our windows, and swept us all along on a course we’re still trying to understand. Let’s call it history in real time: a global pandemic, and mutinous quarantine, a racial justice moment with death and truth, a brooder’s coup d’etat with a brokered insurrection, statues tumbling like bowling pins, shock troops, city streets, and a moment of reckoning for the stories we tell ourselves and the stories yet to be told. We called it History Against the Grain, so maybe we didn’t really expect calm after all, but after our year of living historically, a little calm reflection in our 39th episode will have to suffice.
To hear Episode 39 Our Year of Living Historically, click on the link below:
Sources Referenced and Items of Interest
Dennis Overbye, “Apollo 8’s Earthrise: The Shot Seen Round the World” (December 21, 2018, NYT Documentary)
“My deepest moral project is to understand the world.”William Cronon, historian