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The Road to Now

In 2006, Bob Crawford (The Avett Brothers) & Dr. Benjamin Sawyer (MTSU History) sat down to talk history in a Detroit coffee shop. Their discussion lasted a couple hours, but the conversation kept going. Join them as they trace the road between past and present with the help of great thinkers from the academy, the media, politics, entertainment and more.
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Now displaying: September, 2019
Sep 30, 2019

Tom Shadyac will be our guest for a live recording at TPAC’s Polk Theater as part of the Nashville Comedy Festival on April 18th, 2020! Click here for tickets!

This is a rebroadcast of RTN #34 with an update on Tom's work since we spoke with him in December of 2016.

Tom Shadyac has probably made you laugh. He was the youngest ever staff joke writer for Bob Hope and he directed some of the biggest comedy films in recent memory, including Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Nutty Professor. A lot of people would say Tom has “made it.” Tom would disagree.

Tom joins Ben and Bob for a conversation about his life and the path that led him to abandon the pursuit of fame and material abundance to focus on helping others. He tells of his 11-year period of unemployment as he struggled to find success in the Los Angeles comedy scene, his relationship with Jim Carrey and how following his own passions led him to take a risk with Ace Ventura. Tom also talks of his approach to teaching film, and explains why he defines success as a state of mind. Other topics of conversation include the LA comedy scene, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Tom’s deep commitment to the people of Memphis.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This rebroadcast was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Sep 23, 2019

The recent drone strike on Saudi oil fields has implications for the entire world, but we remain uncertain who is responsible for the attack. Yemen’s Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility, but Trump claims it was actually Iran. There’s a lot at stake here, so Ben sat down with his MTSU colleague Sean Foley to learn about the history of the conflict and how that might inform policy moving forward.

In the second part of the episode, Bob and Ben talk about Bob’s research and what he’s learned about Monsanto since our last episode. We also share an exciting announcement about upcoming plans for the podcast!

Dr. Sean Foley is a Professor of History at Middle Tennessee State University, where he specializes in the contemporary history and politics of the Middle East and the wider Islamic world. He frequently visits Asia and the Middle East, follows events in both regions closely, and speaks Arabic and Bahasa Malaysian. Dr. Foley has held Fulbright fellowships in Syria, Turkey, and Malaysia, and lived in Saudi Arabia from April 2013 until January 2014. His most recent book is Changing Saudi Arabia: Art, Culture, and Society in the Kingdom (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2019). You can follow him on twitter at @foleyse.

Sep 16, 2019

Bob and Ben talk about some of the incredible resources that are now available electronically and how they have opened up new opportunities for historians. Bob talks about how his research on Monsanto, which he’s conducting for his US business history seminar, is adding to his greater project on the history of the Research Triangle Park and Apex, NC. Ben also talks about some of his interesting finds working in Russian archives and how publicly-accessible databases have provided some valuable material for his work.

Sep 9, 2019

Brian Rosenwald joins Ben and Bob to discuss his new book Talk Radio’s America: How an Industry Took Over A Party That Took Over the United States, which traces the emergence of talk radio as a major powerhouse in shaping the Republican Party. Brian explains how conservative talk radio and hosts such as Rush Limbaugh came to have tremendous influence over the GOP’s policy agenda, ultimately laying the groundwork for Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 Republican Primary. Brian also discusses how his conclusions have changed since his first appearance on RTN in November 2016.

Dr. Brian Rosenwald is a scholar in residence at the Partnership for Effective Public Administration and Leadership Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania and an instructor at Penn. He also conducts research for the Slate podcast Whistlestop, and serves as one of the two Editors-In-Chief of Made By History, a Washington Post history section. You can follow him on twitter at @Brianros1.

Want to hear our first conversation with Brian Rosenwald? You can get it and the other first seventy-five episodes of RTN, along with Patereon exclusive episodes and other bonus material, by supporting The Road to Now on Patreon for as little as $5 a month! Click here to find out more.

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Sep 2, 2019

The Netflix series The Last Czars and HBO’s Chernobyl have (in very different ways) brought Russian & Soviet history to televisions across the world. In this episode, Ben sits down with fellow Russian historians Philippa Hetherington and Jonathan Waterlow to discuss their opinions on the two series, what they think they got right, and ways that producers and scholars might benefit most from collaboration on future projects. Philippa, who is a featured scholar in The Last Czars, shares her experience being interviewed, her impression of the show after seeing it, and her work to correct historical errors that viewers identified after release.

Dr. Philippa Hetherington is a Lecturer in Modern Eurasian History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. Her research focuses on the legal history of imperial Russia and the early Soviet Union in global and transnational context. You can follow Philippa on twitter at @philippahether.

Dr. Jonathan Waterlow is the author of It’s Only a Joke Comrade! Humor, Trust and Everyday Life Under Stalin, and cohost of the Voices in the Dark podcast. He received his Doctorate in History from the University of Oxford and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at St. Anthony’s College (Oxford) and the University of Toronto. For more on It’s Only a Joke Comrade!, check out RTN #107 Laughing at Stalin: The Politics of Humor w/ Jon Waterlow or pick up a copy by clicking here. You can follow Jon on twitter at @JonWaterlow.

 The Road to Now is part of The Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

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