18-07 Segment 2: The Power of the Written Word

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With technology constantly changing, new ways of documenting stories are being used to allow people access to reading them. These new inventions have led many people to wonder just how storytelling happened in the past, and what changes have allowed for stories to continue to be told over time.

Storytelling has always been an important part of human communication. In the past, stories relied on oral communication. Martin Puchner, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University and author of The Written Word: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization explains that before written word, stories had to be able to withstand being told from one generation to the next by remaining relevant. He also explains that there were rare exceptions to this rule, in which some stories were lost and then rediscovered, a feat that Dr. Puchner says is very lucky. The only way to ensure that a text survived from one generation to the next was to continue to verbally communicate the story.

Since then, many technologies have been created that increased the accessibility to written text. These developments have allowed for new writing techniques to surface. One of these elements of modern writing that Dr. Puchner explains is introspection, which was not always important in literature, but emerged about a thousand years ago when the first novel was written, and since then, it has become an important aspect of storytelling. The written word has had many other significant impacts, not just on the way humans write, but also on how humans understand the world.

Guest:

  • Martin Puchner, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University and author of The Written Word: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization

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18-04 Segment 1: The Real History Behind the Evacuation of Dunkirk

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In the last year, two movies including Christopher Nolan’s latest blockbuster have introduced the story of Dunkirk to American audiences. We talk to Michael Korda, a historian and author, who explains some of the real history, including why Hitler and Churchill acted the way they did throughout the ordeal.

Guest:

  • Michael Korda, author, Alone: Britain, Churchill, and Dunkirk: Defeat into Victory

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17-36 Segment 1: Bobby Kennedy’s Legacy

 

Although he never became president, Bobby Kennedy spearheaded a great deal of change in America with his work in civil rights, crime fighting and by combatting corruption. Our guest remembers this icon and talks about his more personal side, how he helped his brother John become president, and how his legacy inspires liberals and conservatives to this day.

Guest:

  • Larry Tye, author of Bobby Kennedy: The making of a liberal icon

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Culture Crash 17-18: The Impact of “Hamilton: An American Musical”

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Welcome to Culture Crash, a new segment where we examine literature, film and entertainment to explore issues and trends affecting the country.

This week, we look at the musical people can’t stop talking about: Hamilton: An American Musical.

Hamilton the brainchild of Lin-Manuel Miranda, has won numerous awards including a Tony for Best Musical and a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. Inspired by Ron Chernow’s biography of forefather Alexander Hamilton, Miranda and his collaborators sought to make this essential American history lesson more accessible to modern audiences.

The infectious music pulls from a variety of styles, most notably rap and hip-hop, but it also includes ballads and several pop-rock songs reminiscent of the British Invasion. The anachronistic music succeeds at bringing the history of the late 1700s and early 1800s into the twenty-first century.

Even more significant Hamilton makes history accessible to everyone through ground-breaking non-traditional casting. The show features African Americans and Latinos portraying the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and our unlikely narrator, Aaron Burr.

But make no mistake, in addition to being a trailblazer, Hamilton teaches real history. Songs document the tactics involved in winning the Battle of Yorktown, the neck-and-neck election of 1800, and the famed duel between a sitting vice president and the man on our ten dollar bills.

After U.S. history teachers lauded the production for being classroom-ready, the producers have hosted several free matinees for high schools in New York City and Chicago, with plans to unveil similar programs in other cities across America. Hamilton is now running on Broadway and in Chicago, and a touring production opened in San Francisco last month.

If you can’t find a ticket are interested in the history the full soundtrack for Hamilton, all two hours and twenty-two minutes of it, is available for purchase or can be streamed on Spotify and Apple Music. I’m Evan Rook.

16-50 Segment 2: Henry Clay: The great American statesman you should know more about

 

Most of us have heard the name of Henry Clay, but he’s not one of the people we usually remember the way we do George Washington or Thomas Jefferson. Our guest says that Clay was just as important to our nation as the founding fathers, and he discusses the great contributions this Speaker of the House made to keep our country together, fight for justice, and create the foundations of our extensive modern U.S. transportation system.

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16-39 Segment 1: Robert Kennedy: Remember a fallen icon

tomb of robert kennedy at arlington national cemetery, va

 

Although he never became president, Bobby Kennedy spearheaded a great deal of change in America with his work in civil rights, crime fighting and by combatting corruption. Our guest remembers this icon and talks about his more personal side, how he helped his brother John become president, and how his legacy inspires liberals and conservatives to this day.

Stay in the loop! Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!

Subscribe and review on iTunes!

Click here for guest information and the transcript