63 episodes

There’s more to a book than what’s written on its pages: a book can change the world. In each episode of Writ Large, host Zachary Davis talks with one of the world’s leading scholars about one book that shaped the world we live in—whether you’ve heard of it or not. These conversations go beyond the plot summaries to unpack each book’s context and creation, and reveal its lasting influence on the ideas of today. Learn more at writlarge.fm

Writ Larg‪e‬ Zachary Davis

    • Books

There’s more to a book than what’s written on its pages: a book can change the world. In each episode of Writ Large, host Zachary Davis talks with one of the world’s leading scholars about one book that shaped the world we live in—whether you’ve heard of it or not. These conversations go beyond the plot summaries to unpack each book’s context and creation, and reveal its lasting influence on the ideas of today. Learn more at writlarge.fm

    The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas

    The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas

    The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas is such a complex and clever allegory of Brazilian society that many readers didn’t initially understand just how searing its critique really was. Its author, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, was the grandson of former slaves writing to and about the slaveholding class at the time and is widely regarded as the most prominent Brazilian writer of all time. His writing is noted for its formal experimentation, and while this book is certainly funny and self-aware, it also communicates the cruelty of the Brazilian elite. Flora Thomson-DeVeaux is the translator of a new English version of The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas, as well as many other texts. 
    Sidney Charlhoub is a professor of History and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. His books include Machado de Assis, historiador, about the literature and ideas of Machado de Assis and A força da escravidão: ilegalidade e costume no Brasil oitocentista on illegal enslavement in nineteenth-century Brazil.

    See more information on our website, WritLarge.fm.
    Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod.

    • 32 min
    Uncle Tom's Cabin

    Uncle Tom's Cabin

    By the early 19th century, slavery was still a brutal reality in southern U.S. states, and a growing movement to abolish slavery nationwide was taking hold. In 1851, Harriet Beecher Stowe published her first novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It was intended to be an anti-slavery book, to provide a positive view of Black people in America. But it also has another, more complicated legacy, unintentionally birthing new racist stereotypes.
     
    Professor Robin Bernstein is a Professor of African and African American Studies and of Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality at Harvard University. She is the author of Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights as well as Cast Out: Queer Lives in Theater and a children’s book titled Terrible, Terrible!

    See more information on our website, WritLarge.fm.
    Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod.

    • 31 min
    The Brothers Karamazov

    The Brothers Karamazov

    The Brothers Karmazov is Fyodor Dostoevsky’s last novel. In it, he presents his ideas about culture, the human soul, and God, and he uses his characters, the brothers Ivan, Dimitri, and Alyosha, as examples of his philosophical ideas. These brothers have to reconcile with the past, but also for their part in it. This book was a response to the conditions in Russia at the time it was written. And since then, it’s continued to shape philosophy itself.
    Yuri Corrigan is an Associate Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature at Boston University. He studies the intersections of philosophy, religion, and psychology in modern Russian and European literature. He is the author of Dostoevsky and the Riddle of the Self and is working on two new books, titled Soul Wars and Chekhov as a Moral Thinker. 

    See more information on our website, WritLarge.fm.
    Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod.

    • 44 min
    The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

    The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

    In 1962, American philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn published The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn was struck by Aristotle’s beliefs about motion. Actually, he thought that those theories didn’t make any sense. But he also knew that Aristotle was one of the smartest philosophers of the ancient world. Kuhn realized that if Aristotle was stuck within his own way of seeing the world, then so are we. His ideas about scientific revolutions changed the way we perceive and teach science.
    Samuel J. Gershman is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. His research focuses on environmental knowledge and adaptive behavior, memory, and computational neuroscience.

    See more information on our website, WritLarge.fm.
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    • 29 min
    Treatise on the Two Sarmatias

    Treatise on the Two Sarmatias

    In Treatise on the Two Sarmatias, Polish scholar Maciej Miechowita argued that two mountain ranges that were described on maps dating back to antiquity did not, in fact, exist. This was the 1500s, and Europeans’ understanding of the world was changing. When they looked at the old maps, things didn’t always line up. New mapmakers were pushing back against ancient maps that showed a world they didn’t see or didn’t believe in.
    Michael Tworek is an associate professor in the History Department at Harvard University. His research and teaching focuses on early modern Europe, particularly central and eastern Europe. Some of his current book projects explore Europe’s role in early modern globalization.

    • 31 min
    The Wealth of Nations

    The Wealth of Nations

    In 1776, Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations, an investigation into the nature of wealth. Smith is now considered the Father of Capitalism or the Father of Modern Economics. In fact, many people think of him as an economist and only an economist, but scholars tend to think of him as a moral philosopher. Smith lived in an era of great change, and the moral questions of the time were closely linked to developing politics and economies. 
    Glory Liu is a College Fellow in Social Studies at Harvard University. She is currently working on an intellectual history of Adam Smith’s reception in American politics and political economy from the eighteenth century to the present.

    See more information on our website, WritLarge.fm.
    Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod.

    • 38 min

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