On this episode of the show, we’ll be talking about the Middle Ages: that period in European history that most of us learned about through Game of Thrones and Robin Hood. We think of it as racially homogenous, rigidly gendered, and brutish, but scholars like the ones Soleil talks to in today’s show have more nuanced interpretations. And yet, white supremacists within the alt right are attempting to claim the Middle Ages for their own political ends. What is the truth, and why does it matter? First, you’ll hear from Dr. Tory Pearman on the lives and public perception of people with disabilities in Medieval Europe. Then, Dr. Dorothy Kim elaborates on the connections between the alt right and Medieval Studies and what scholars like her are doing to take back control over the field they love.
Backtalk: Thank You for Voting—Next!
This week, Dahlia and Amy update on the latest horrifying policies the Trump administration are hoping to force into law. Beyond the midterm elections, the monsters in the White House are working overtime to push through harmful legislation, including limiting gender to being recognized to what one is assigned at birth, an end to birthright citizen, and more terribleness. In this week’s Amy vs. Dahlia, we’re debating the worse fake politician: Veep’s Selina Meyers or Idiocracy’s President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho! Text “Politician” to 503-855-6485 to let us know what you think!
Popaganda: The Devil You Know
This episode is all about how cool the Devil is, especially for people of marginalized genders and sexualities. The devil is all over popular media, not as a straight symbol of absolute evil, but as something a little more nuanced and approachable—and sometimes even a little queer. Is this a sign of the end times and the moral degradation of humanity? Or does the character’s appeal to young people speak to a greater rejection of good vs. evil binaries? To find out, Soleil spoke with two experts. First, you’ll hear from Megan Kennedy, the executive director of Utah’s Religious Education Series, on the political side of evil. Then you’ll hear from Holly Lyman Antolini, the rector at St. James’s Episcopal Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on what it means to disregard the idea of absolute evil. We hope you enjoy the show!
Backtalk: Let’s Take Refuge in Horror
This week, Dahlia and Amy get creepy and ghouly about screen horror (as opposed to the horror of our everyday lives). In this Halloweeny episode, we dig into the role of horror film and TV and how it helps us cope with our lived realities. We've also got a Petty Political Pminute starring our least favorite ventriloquist dummy, Jared Kushner. In this week’s Amy vs. Dahlia, we're debating the metaphor of the Haunting of Hill House: Is it all about childhood trauma or white supremacy? Text “Haunting” to 503-855-6485 to let us know!
Rebecca Solnit Talks Women, Activism, and Anger with Andi Zeisler
Even if you’ve never heard of Rebecca Solnit, you know who she is. It was Solnit’s 2008 essay at the blog TomDigest that identified the concept we know today as mansplaining. (“Most women fight wars on two fronts, one for whatever the putative topic is and one simply for the right to speak, to have ideas, to be acknowledged to be in possession of facts and truths, to have value, to be a human being.”) But long before Solnit became a patron saint of the extremely online, she was an activist, a historian, a mapmaker, and a prolific author of books on a dizzying breadth of topics: the history of walking (2000’s Wanderlust); the motion-photography pioneer Eadweard Muybridge (2004’s River of Shadows); the emerging evidence of climate change (2018’s Drowned River); and ambient cultural misogyny (2015’s essay collection Men Explain Things to Me). Solnit’s new book of essays, titled Call Them By Their True Names: American Crises (And Essays), connects the Trump administration, economic inequality, Indigenous history, police brutality, and gentrification gracefully, tying them together with meditations on American exceptionalism and the importance of precise language that gets right down to the lived facts of politics. Call Them By Their True Names doesn’t boil over with long-simmering ire on behalf of democracy and social justice, but rather deploys Solnit’s trademark precision, dry wit, and enduring optimism toward an absorbing whole. All the more reason to get her on the phone to talk about the role, and the necessity, of anger in a world that tosses up fresh outrages at least once a day.