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Past Present

Past Present brings together three historians to discuss what's happening in American politics and culture today. Natalia, Neil, and Niki bring historical insights to the news of the day, offering listeners an alternative to the reflexive and polarized world of punditry. Interested in the world around you but exhausted by rote reactions and partisan talking points? You've come to the right place.
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Now displaying: 2015
Dec 29, 2015

On this week’s Past Present bonus episode, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss life coaches. 

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

  • Life coaching is big business these days, but there’s still some confusion about what life coaches actually do. Natalia drew from the sociologist Arlie Hochschild’s work on the outsourcing of intimate labor to argue that life coaches are often stand-ins for a reliable friend or professional mentor. Niki noted this was most visible in new services like “Rent-a-Mom.”
  • Niki cited Julie Golia’s research on the rise of advice columns as a helpful way for understanding life coaches. Like Golia’s advice columnists, life coaches fulfill and professionalize social functions that once played out in close-knit communities. Neil noted that in a “Bowling Alone” era, life coaches provided an individualized experience of professional authority within a larger culture of community breakdown and anti-institutional sentiments.
  • Natalia recommended Susan Faludi’s Stiffed for thinking more about the gendered politics of self-help and Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright-Sided for a critical take on the life coaching industry. 
Dec 22, 2015

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss the war on Christmas, food politics, and political spouses.

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

Dec 15, 2015

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Niki, Natalia, and Neil discuss the sharing economy, affirmative action, and whether Donald Trump is a fascist.

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

Dec 8, 2015

 

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s philanthropic gift, the history of baby names, and “prayer shaming.”

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

 

Dec 1, 2015

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss the history of refugees, the legacy of Woodrow Wilson, and Instamoms. 

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

Nov 24, 2015

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss Thanksgiving food, the controversial history of football, and Black Friday.

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

Nov 17, 2015

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss the campus protests at Mizzou and Yale, Tinder and online dating, and the politics of immigration. 

 

 

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

 

Nov 10, 2015

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss Jeb Bush and the history of frontrunners, the modern period, and trigger warnings. 

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

 


Nov 3, 2015

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss Benghazi and the history of Congressional hearings, Ben Carson and black Republicans, and the state of reality TV today.

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

Oct 27, 2015

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss Bernie Sanders and the history of socialism in America, Fitbit, and why adults are now celebrating Halloween. 

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

  • Natalia recommended Michelle Miller’s The Underwriting as a page-turning thriller about a Silicon Valley dating website’s IPO. Natalia noted the novel had originally been published online in downloadable installments, harkening back the older publishing traditional of serializing literature.
  • Neil commented on the discovery that Mike Huckabee’s 1998 book Kids Who Kill was found to have contained numerous false and misattributed historical quotations from figures like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. Neil presented this as another cautionary tale in how politicians use and misuse history for their political advantage.  
  • Niki discussed the Slate article, “French Tadpoles and Persian Pickles,” an excerpt from Jude Stewart’s book, Patternalia. The article presented a fascinating history of paisley, but Niki noted it also demonstrated how the history of a pattern was also a way of understanding the history of society and culture.

 

Oct 20, 2015

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss Playboy magazine’s decision to stop publishing nude photos, the strength and stability of the nation’s political parties, and the whitening of American cities. 

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

 

Oct 13, 2015

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss Confederate history and memorialization, selfie shaming, and Carly Fiorina and conservative feminism. 

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

Oct 7, 2015

On this week’s Past Present bonus episode, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss the history of gun policy and debates over the Second Amendment.

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

Sep 30, 2015

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss Pope Francis’ visit to the US, the “quit lit” phenomenon, and Donald Trump.

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

Sep 30, 2015

Episode 2, September 21, 2015 Show Notes

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss the Planned Parenthood video controversy, the IPO of SoulCycle, and the rise of corporate support for gay rights.


Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

  • Natalia responded to a recent New York Times editorial that parents rather than schools should have the ultimate say in their children’s lunches. While acknowledging the class and cultural dimensions of food, Natalia argued that food and nutrition experts needed to have the same educational authority in the classroom that math and history instructors also hold. Natalia has written about how school wellness programs may be the next frontier in the nation’s culture wars.
  • Neil discussed Stacy Schiff’s New Yorker article, “The Witches of Salem.” (Schiff’s new book on the Salem Witch Trials comes out in late October.) Neil noted the rich historical literature on the Salem Witch Trials has included Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum’s Salem Possessed and Mary Beth Norton’s In the Devil’s Snare.
  • Niki spoke about Ari Berman’s new book Give Us the Ballot which argues we are in the midst of a counterrevolution in voting rights. If you want to read more about the battle over the ballot while you are waiting for Ari’s book to arrive, Niki has written about the history of voting rights several times in her column at U.S. News. See here, here, and here.

 
Sep 26, 2015

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss the jailing of Kim Davis and the history of civil disobedience, the new online marketplace called TeachersPayTeachers, and the controversy over Taylor Swift’s new video for “Wildest Dreams.”



Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:


In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

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