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Welcome to the Artist in American History – a podcast exploring how filmmakers, illustrators, writers, and musicians have shaped the American experience.  This American History podcast includes a mix of audio and video (HD) presentations, ranging from lectures to short films and discussions with other scholars. If you are interested in American history and culture then I hope that this series will introduce you to some new ideas, as well as helping you to think about areas you are already familiar with in a new way.  To listen to the The Artist in American History, please use the links below  to get started – remember it’s all free and I would be happy to talk with you/answer any further questions that you may have.  The best way to get in touch is via my twitter account (@ThatHistorian) or via the comment section you will find at the bottom of the posts which appear throughout this website.  You can download podcast episodes directly from this site or from iTunes, the links for which are here:


The Artist in American History – An American History Podcast

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36 – Introducing Looking For Charlie: A Documentary About the Suicidal Clowns Who Inspired the Silent Era

After a lengthy delay, season three of the podcast finally kicks off in earnest with this sneak preview of our forthcoming documentary film Looking For Charlie: Or, The Day the Clown Died. This video podcast includes an introduction to the project as well as the film’s first teaser trailer. More Looking For Charlie featurettes will be coming to the podcast soon.  To read the first Production Diary for the film CLICK HERE.

Watch Video | iTunes


35 – Unfrozen: Gender and the Disney Princess

The first episode of season three explores the evolution of Disney’s controversial line of ‘princess’ character.

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34 – Why the ‘Redskins’ Name is Racist

The on-going controversy surrounding the name of the ‘Washington Redskins’ is the subject of this lecture.  This lecture examines the history of the ‘Redskins’ label and examines what, precisely, makes it so problematic and indefensible.

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33 – Folk Music of the American Civil War: Hard Times Come Again No More

In this lecture we examine the song ‘Hard Times Come Again No More’, tracing its evolution in the Civil War as it turned into a lament about the lack of food provided to the increasingly desperate soldiers fighting on the frontline.

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32 – The Theatre of Charlie Chaplin’s Youth

This micro-documentary is part of the #savethecoronet campaign and is designed to raise awareness concerning that venue’s ambiguous future.  The Coronet hosted a young Chaplin when he worked the British Music Hall scene at the turn of the century.  This short film explores the history of that theatrical tradition.

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31 – 5 Minute History: Charlie Chaplin’s Tramp Makes his Debut

This short documentary combines Kid Auto Races, the debut film featuring Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp, with a new audio commentary which explores the origins of that legendary character

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30 – Wonder Woman: The Making and History of a Feminist Icon

Of all mainstream superheroes, Wonder Woman probably has the strangest real-life backstory.  Created by the inventor of the lie-detector, Wonder Woman was a self conscious attempt to explore her creator’s vision of emerging feminist confidence and what that might mean for the world.  This lecture examines the creation of one of the world’s most enduring female comic book characters.

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29 – 24 Returns: Season Premier Review

With 24 returning examines the two-hour season premier, commenting upon the show’s past racial undertones and subtexts

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28 – Why Comic Books Matter: V for Vendetta and Occupy

Why comic books are deserving of academic study and attention? This episode takes a look at Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta and its links to the Occupy movement, Watchmen, also by Moore, and Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel, Maus.

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27 – The Lone Ranger Gets an Oscar Nomination

In this podcast episode we will drill down into the meaning behind The Lone Ranger’s controversial Oscar nomination in hair and makeup.

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26 – Charlie Chaplin’s The Immigrant with Audio Commentary


25 – The Birth of a Nation: Finale + Commentary (Film Festival #3)

Returning to the works of D.W. Griffith for the third film festival installment, this time we analyse the finale of one of his most famous films, The Birth of a Nation.  A deeply racist, even unsettling piece, this film is nevertheless one of the most important films in the history of early American cinema.

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24 – Superman Goes to War: Film + Commentary (Film Festival #2)

The second episode of the 2013 Artist in American History Film Festival includes the complete Superman animated film ‘The Eleventh Hour’ with a new director’s-style commentary which explores racial coding in this classic piece of short animated cinema.

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23 – A Song of the South: Decoding Dixie 

‘Dixie’ is one of the most controversial and divisive songs in American history.  In this episode we examine the meaning behind the original lyrics, paying particular attention to the racial undertones contained in the original text.

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22 – John Brown’s Body: An Introduction to ‘The Artist in American History’

John Brown was one of the most proactive (and violent) anti-slavery activists of the nineteenth century.  Following his disastrous attempt to start a slaver rebellion at Harper’s Ferry, Brown was executed but in death found renewed meaning.  The song, John Brown’s Body, resurrected Brown as a symbol and was, in turn, was turned into the Battle Hymn of the Republic.  This podcast explores the evolution of that piece of folk music

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21 – The Bad Death of William Crawford

In this podcast we explore how the torture and execution of William Crawford was turned into a piece of anti-Indian propaganda in the late eighteenth century

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20 – Native America on Film: The Mended Lute (Film Festival Episode #1)

In 1909 film making pioneer D.W. Griffith released The Mended Lute, a short silent film which laid bare The Birth of a Nation director’s view on Native Americans. In this special episode the entire short film is accompanied by a special academic audio commentary exploring the racial subtext at the heart of this early piece of cinema.

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19 – The Beach Boys and the Making of SMiLE, the Lost American Masterpiece of the 1960s

With the release of Pet Sounds Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys finally achieved the level of critical acclaim that was heaped upon their British contemporaries, The Beatles.  The follow-up to that album, SMiLE, collapsed before its release.  In this episode we examine the 2011 release of that great unfinished record, examining its cultural and artistic significance over forty years after the album was first meant to be released.

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18 – Is the Lone Ranger Racist?

Disney’s The Lone Ranger has been the subject of some controversy this year. In this podcast we explore what it is about this film that makes it so racially problematic.

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17 – Pink Floyd and the Cold War

This episode explores how the events of the Cold War changed the music of one of the biggest trans-Atlantic bands in history.

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16 – Racism and Wolrd War II

Was anti-Japanese racism during the Second World War really a product of that conflict, or was it part of a broader history of anti-Asian in America? This episode explores that question.

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15 – Captain America’s Racist Sidekick

Explore the history of Whitewash Jones, one of the most openly racist characters in the history of early superhero comics.

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14 – The Lone Ranger: Early Analysis

Following the release of the first Lone Ranger trailer, I examine the potential for this film to be a great (or terrible) vehicle for frontier history.

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13 – John Smith’s Virginia 1608

A reading of an edited version of John Smith’s account of early Virginia. A primary source for the trans-Atlantic seminar series (free online course I ran via skype and twitter in summer 2012).

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12 – The Slave Ship

A reading of an edited version of Olaudah Equiano’s account of life aboard a slave ship. A primary source for the trans-Atlantic seminar series (free online course I ran via skype and twitter in summer 2012).

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11 – Christopher Columbus and Henry the Navigator

A reading of Christopher Columbus’s account of the New World’s discovery, and a source exploring why Henry the Navigator wanted to explore Africa. These are primary sources for the trans-Atlantic seminar series (free online course I ran via skype and twitter in summer 2012).

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10 – The Man Who Laughs: A Brief History of the Joker

A history of Batman’s nemesis, the Joker, exploring how he evolved from Chicago-style gangster to 9/11 inspired terrorist.

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9 – Up, Up, and Away: Superman in 1938 and 2011

In this lecture we compare Superman’s original début in 1938 with his 2011 re-launch. Explores how gender issues from each time period are made manifest in each book.

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8 – American Studies Update

A brief episode introducing the broader American Studies content in this podcast.

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7 – The Trial of Daniel Boone

Few people realise that Daniel Boone was put on trial for treason. This episode explores why that was the case, and how he used his autobiography to vindicate himself (whilst ignoring the events of the trial!).

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6 – Daniel Boone’s Autobiography and Narrative

A complete reading of Boone’s narrative, to accompany episodes #7 and #2

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5- Daniel Boone Discussion – Part Two

Part two of my discussion on Daniel Boone with Blair Smith

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4 – Daniel Boone Discussion – Part One

Discussion with my fellow frontier scholar, Blair Smith, about the life, times, and legacy of Daniel Boone.

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3 – The Building War on the Frontier

This episode provides a history of the early years of the Kentucky frontier and the life of Daniel Boone.

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2 – The Adventures of Daniel Boone

Learn how to read and understand Daniel Boone’s autobiography.

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1 – Introduction

Welcome to the American Studies Podcast!

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For more on American Studies and History, remember to check out the rest of the website

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