78 episodes

American Hysteria explores the moral panics, conspiracy theories, urban legends, and fantastical thinking that shape our culture and why we end up fearing and believing in the unreal. Using sociology, psychology, biology, and a whole lot of research, poet-turned-podcaster Chelsey Weber-Smith charts their own journey from fantastical thinker to flexible skeptic, while detailing the sometimes hilarious, sometimes horrifying stories of American freak-outs from the Puritans to the present, and the complex social issues around race, gender, sexuality, and class that they often act to cover up.

American Hysteria chelsey weber-smith

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.3 • 1.5K Ratings

American Hysteria explores the moral panics, conspiracy theories, urban legends, and fantastical thinking that shape our culture and why we end up fearing and believing in the unreal. Using sociology, psychology, biology, and a whole lot of research, poet-turned-podcaster Chelsey Weber-Smith charts their own journey from fantastical thinker to flexible skeptic, while detailing the sometimes hilarious, sometimes horrifying stories of American freak-outs from the Puritans to the present, and the complex social issues around race, gender, sexuality, and class that they often act to cover up.

    Black Evangelicalism and the Christian Right

    Black Evangelicalism and the Christian Right

    Today we are talking to two scholars of religion, Professor Lerone A. Martin of Washington University in St. Louis and Professor Anthea Butler of the University of Pennsylvania about the relationship between white and black evangelicalism and televangelism in the 20th century through the present day. Lerone is also the author of Preaching on Wax: The Phonograph and the Making of Modern African American Religion and Anthea is the author of Women in the Church of God in Christ: Making a Sanctified World, and the forthcoming White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America.

    Next week, you’ll hear episode one of our new Patrons' only podcast, Walk with Me. Find our Patreon here! After that we will be covering Charismatic Leaders.

    Produced by Miranda Zickler (check out her band's new single here)
    Sound by Clear Commo Studios

    • 53 min
    Televangelists

    Televangelists

    At this point in American culture, televangelists are often seen as overblown parodies, with their pleas for private jets, their fiery sermons, their many scandalous falls from grace. However, millions of people believe in the messages of these celebrity Christians who preach the Prosperity Gospel, that money donated to their megachurches will return to the donor in fantastical ways. Since the 1950s, conservative political preaching has slowly weaved into the gospels of prominent televangelists who have hidden ulterior motives under stories of societal decay. Since the 1970s, these pop-preachers have been able to rally the coveted ‘white Evangelical vote’ to advance right-wing policies and presidents, with 80% voting for Donald Trump in 2016, contributing profoundly to his victory.

    Next time on the show: Charismatic Leaders

    Consider donating to Jay Bakker’s Revolution Church

    Become a Patron for extra episodes, interviews, and videos monthly!

    American Hysteria is written, produced, and hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith
    Sound design by Clear Commo Studios
    Research and co-writing by Riley Smith
    Co-produced and edited by Miranda Zickler
    Voice Acting by Will Rogers

    Become a Patron for extra episodes, interviews, and videos monthly!
    Follow American Hysteria on social media:
    Twitter: @AmerHysteria
    Instagram: @AmericanHysteriaPodcast
    Find our merch at americanhysteria.com

    • 51 min
    Falling for Fascism with Jason Stanley

    Falling for Fascism with Jason Stanley

    Today we are talking to Jason Stanley, Jewish-American professor of philosophy at Yale University and author of the New York Times bestselling book 'How Fascism Works'. He'll help us understand more about the relationship between conspiracy theories, moral panics, and the tactics of fascist movements.

    Make sure you check out Jason's book 'How Fascism Works', it's vital!

    Next time on the show: Televangelists
    Hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith
    Produced by Miranda Zickler
    Sound by Clear Commo Studios

    Become a Patron for extra content every month!

    • 32 min
    Fake News

    Fake News

    PLEASE VOTE!!! Fake news was the unofficial buzzword of 2016, as incendiary disinformation spread prolifically across the tabloids, TV news reports, and social media, along with accusations of liberal media bias and even accusations of a democratic satanic cult. Some of what we are covering today are fantastical hoaxes that duped a gullible American public, priming future generations with a preference for the almost-unbelievable. But we’ll also look at how atrocity propaganda has been used by opportunist media outlets and politicians to get rich and to help incite literal and cultural war. Through examining fascist tactics, we’ll also see the dangers of constructing alternate realities, and how stories that hit on our most base emotions are controlling our personal and national consciousness and the future of our democracy at large.

    Please consider donating to First Draft News
    Check out the awesome Wild Wild Tech podcast
    Check our voice actor Will Rogers and his sister Kristen Anderson in the hilarious and spooky podcast Guide to the Unknown

    American Hysteria is written, produced, and hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith
    Sound design by Clear Commo Studios
    Research and co-writing by Riley Smith
    Co-produced and edited by Miranda Zickler
    Voice Acting by Will Rogers and directed by Kristen Anderson

    Become a Patron for extra episodes, interviews, and videos monthly!
    Follow American Hysteria on social media:
    Twitter: @AmerHysteria
    Instagram: @AmericanHysteriaPodcast
    Find our merch at americanhysteria.com

    • 50 min
    CrimeCon and Columbiners with Rachel Monroe

    CrimeCon and Columbiners with Rachel Monroe

    Today we’ll be talking with one of the big influences for our True Crime episode, Rachel Monroe, author of Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession. Rachel talks to us about true crime fandom, getting to know the real people behind the sensational stories, and the impact of crime narratives on public policy.

    Next time on the show: Fake News

    PLEASE VOTE OMG PLEASE VOTE!!!!!

    Hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith
    Produced by Miranda Zickler
    Sound by Clear Commo Studios

    Sponsored by Anchor Podcasts

    • 46 min
    True Crime

    True Crime

    To this day, glossy tabloids show the face of a six-year-old pageant girl murdered in a wine cellar in 1996, and 20 years later, an NBC special about the unsolved case still pulled in more viewers than the Emmys. Over the last few years, America has experienced a serious boom in True Crime entertainment; endless docuseries, TV shows, films, podcasts, and books, but our fascination with crimes that have nothing at all to do with us is a part of American history, and in fact, a part of human history as well. On this episode we will explore our most sensational boogiemen: uncaught sadistic geniuses, sociopathic hippy cults, allegedly handsome men with broken arms calling you into their cars, and silent killers slipping into your window at night. But we will also chart our historical reactions to this content, our intrinsic desire to become armchair sleuths and what that says about the psychology and biology of this thing called Justice, and how the public fear of these rare, sensationalized murders has aided Law and Order policies by making us all into future victims.

    Please consider donating to the Insight Prison Project

    American Hysteria is written, produced, and hosted by Chelsey Weber-Smith
    Produced and edited by Clear Commo Studios
    Research and cowriting assisted by Riley Smith
    Co-Produced by Miranda Zickler
    Voice Acting by Will Rogers

    Become a Patron for extra episodes, interviews, and videos monthly!

    Follow American Hysteria on social media: Twitter: @AmerHysteria Instagram: @AmericanHysteriaPodcast

    • 52 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
1.5K Ratings

1.5K Ratings

Adjibouti ,

Great Podcast - Just a note...

It's 'segregationist', not 'segregationalist'.

Kristenmeduh ,

This is Everything!!

I love this podcast! I found it after listening to “You’re Wrong About...” which I also love! I find that YWA covers the same kind of stories but Chelsea Weber-Smith is so much better at identifying cultural biases and how they affect the stories. Some of this show can kinda be a bummer but a bummer we need to hear about. Thank you for this podcast!!!

Kaarin ,

A History of American Culture

I absolutely love this podcast! I know of many of the historical events and moment’s mentioned in this podcast from “stuff you missed in history class” but I love how this podcast ties together a larger cultural narrative, including the background of events and how the same ideas or issues follow us into the present day. I do not agree with every conclusion the host draws, but she presents fascinating history and overview of American Culture as shown by some of our darkest moments.

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