Seth Cotlar is a professor of history at Willamette University and the author of Tom Paine’s America: The Rise and Fall of Transatlantic Radicalism in the Early Republic. He joins us to talk about Paine’s particular vision of a more radical democracy and how those ideas find life in today’s left. Cotlar is also hard at work on a new volume about the concept of nostalgia, obviously a favorite topic on the pod, and helps us sort out the complicated political and social functions (and the significant “traps”) of imagining the past.
Chad Vigorous is the host of a sharp and funny podcast called The Discourse, and one of left Twitter’s most acerbic political commentators. In this conversation, he shares his insights on the nightmarish landscape of American culture and politics in the 21st century, explaining how fascism and white nationalism are finding their footing within the socioeconomic despair and ideological void created by neoliberalism.
Bill Black is a historian and writer whose work has appeared in Vox, the Atlantic, Washington Post, and a number of other publications. He joins us to talk about his path in history, a few of his more provocative pieces of research, (including an incredible narrative about the origins of the racist “watermelon” trope), and his exciting new project Contingent Magazine, which seeks to publish and promote work from the growing pool of young historians who don’t have tenure-track positions at universities. Like The Nostalgia Trap, Contingent is attempting to address the adjunctification of college faculty by creating spaces for young scholars outside of the increasingly austere academy.