52 episodes

Hosts Sandra Newman and Catherine Nichols choose one book for each year of the twentieth century (Nella Larsen's Passing, 1936, Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls, 1966; Mohandas Gandhi's Indian Home Rule, 1909) and talk about it in its historical and literary context. Join the hosts and their special guests to find out what the 20th century was all about.

Lit Century Sandra Newman and Catherine Nichols

    • Arts
    • 4.8 • 24 Ratings

Hosts Sandra Newman and Catherine Nichols choose one book for each year of the twentieth century (Nella Larsen's Passing, 1936, Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls, 1966; Mohandas Gandhi's Indian Home Rule, 1909) and talk about it in its historical and literary context. Join the hosts and their special guests to find out what the 20th century was all about.

    Love in a Fallen City

    Love in a Fallen City

    In this episode, writer and photographer Adalena Kavanagh and editor Jaime Chu join host Catherine Nichols to discuss Eileen Chang's 1943 novel Love In a Fallen City. Set in Shanghai and Hong Kong in the early days of World War II, it centers on Bai Liusu, a beautiful young woman who has divorced her husband and returned to her traditional Chinese family. They consider her spoiled goods and are trying to marry her off to a widower with five children. At the same time, they are trying to match her sister with the highly eligible and rich bachelor Fan Liuyuan; Bai Liusu decides she will have him instead.
    Adalena Kavanagh is a writer and photographer in New York. Her writing has appeared in Electric Literature and The Believer, among many other publications, and she writes the weekly photography newsletter Mamiyaroid 5.5.
    Jaime Chu is an editor, critic, and translator from Hong Kong, currently based in Beijing, who is currently a contributing editor at Spike Art Magazine, and a part of Chaoyang Trap, an experimental newsletter about contemporary life in China. She studied at Sarah Lawrence College and used to work in book publishing. Her writing on contemporary art and cultural criticism has appeared in Spike, The Nation, The Baffler, Groove, and Telekom Electronic Beats.
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    • 1 hr 12 min
    Sunday in the Park with George

    Sunday in the Park with George

    In this episode, musician and editor Rob Weinert-Kendt joins hosts Isaac Butler and Catherine Nichols to discuss the musical "Sunday in the Park with George" with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. The play focuses on the painter Georges Seurat and his common-law wife Dot, in the time when he was painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, but in its second act goes to Seurat's great grandson, also an artist, and his personal crisis. The conversation address issues of muses, second acts, artistic isolation and connection, and how the play is inevitably read through the lens of biography, especially in the wake of Sondheim's death.

    Rob Weinert-Kendt is the editor of American Theatre and a frequent contributor to America magazine. He is also a musician.
    Here are some of Rob's pieces on "Sunday in the Park with George" and Sondheim:
    An interview with Sarna Lapine, who directed the 2017 SUNDAY revival:
    https://www.americantheatre.org/2017/03/21/how-sarna-lapine-makes-sunday-in-the-park-sing/
    A preview of the 2008 revival (not on Time Out's site anymore, but hosted on own janky website): http://robkendt.com/Features&News/sundayinpark.htm
    Thoughts on Sondheim's death
    https://www.americantheatre.org/2021/11/30/nothing-thats-not-been-said-on-sondheim/
    An in-depth interview with him from 10 years ago
    https://www.americantheatre.org/2011/04/01/stephen-sondheim-playwright-in-song/

    Then two from Isaac:
    https://slate.com/culture/2021/11/stephen-sondheim-dead-obituary-career-west-side-story.html
    https://slate.com/podcasts/culture-gabfest/2021/12/review-spencer-yellowjackets-stephen-sondheim
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    • 1 hr 14 min
    Pitchin' Man: Satchel Paige's Own Story

    Pitchin' Man: Satchel Paige's Own Story

    In this episode, writer Luke Epplin joins host Catherine Nichols to discuss Leroy "Satchel" Paige's 1948 memoir Pitchin' Man: Satchel Paige's Own Story, written with sportswriter Hal Lebovitz. Paige was a baseball legend and an important figure in the early integration of baseball. He was one of the greatest athletes of his time, but his stardom was also the product of a genius for self-promotion. In the 1940s, this involved cultivating a comical, unthreatening persona that made white audiences comfortable. His memoir tells the story of his life through that persona, turning his career in Black baseball into a series of comical picaresque adventures. This pose would later be condemned by younger Black players.
    Luke Epplin is the author of Our Team: The Epic Story of Four Men and the World Series That Changed Baseball, about the integration of baseball, and specifically the Cleveland Indians, in the 1940s. His other writing has appeared online in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, GQ, Slate, Salon, The Daily Beast, and The Paris Review Daily.
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    • 54 min
    The Hound of the Baskervilles

    The Hound of the Baskervilles

    In this episode writers Alex Higley and Willie Fitzgerald join host Catherine Nichols to talk about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 1901 novel The Hound of the Baskervilles. The conversation includes discussion of how the figure of Watson is used as a magnifying frame for Holmes's genius and the lasting influence of that narrative device; the overwhelming influence Conan Doyle and Holmes had on the development of the mystery genre, and how this was first Holmes story Doyle wrote after eight years away from the character, of whom he had grown tired.
    Alex Higley is the author of the short story collection Cardinal and the novel Old Open. He is also co-host (with Lindsay Hunter) of the podcast "I'm a Writer But." Willie Fitzgerald is currently the Mari Sabusawa Editorial Fellow at American Short Fiction. His work has appeared in Hobart, Poor Claudia, City Arts, Keep This Bag Away From Children and elsewhere.
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    • 1 hr 3 min
    Civilization and Its Discontents

    Civilization and Its Discontents

    Writer Jessica Gross joins host Catherine Nichols to discuss Freud's 1930 book Civilization and Its Discontents, in which Freud writes about the difficulty of living as an individual in society, and the ways in which society demands we repress our nature and our desires. How has psychoanalysis, and Freud's theories in particular, changed the way we see ourselves and tell our stories? Is the price we pay for living in a society too high, especially when that price includes world wars?
    Jessica Gross is the author of the novel Hysteria, about a young woman's relationship with Freud. Her nonfiction has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review Daily, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from the Yiddish Book Center and the 14th Street Y in New York. Jessica earned her MFA in fiction from The New School, where she also taught courses in fiction and nonfiction writing. She currently teaches creative writing at Texas Tech University.
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    • 52 min
    Tetris

    Tetris

    In this episode, video game designer Tracy Rae Bowling (The Fight) joins host Catherine Nichols to discuss the history and impact of the 1984 game Tetris—its place in the history of video games, the cultural impact on the late 20th century, and why it's not as popular as it used to be.
    Tracy Rae Bowling is a writer and video game designer. Their games include The Fight, available to play on itch.io, and The Color of the Moon, in development. Tracy also hosts Gift Horse, a comedy podcast about gift-giving with their husband, Mike Meginnis.
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    • 46 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
24 Ratings

24 Ratings

Annawan42 ,

Lit Century

I love to read and often have trouble finding a friend to discuss them with. Lit Century gives me insight I don’t have and makes reading for me so rich.
Thank you - pls keep this up!

allthegardens ,

Seriously so good

Informed, thoughtful, accessible, articulate, and stimulating!!! That’s how I would describe the episode on “What is it like to be a bat?”, and I’m definitely going to be listening to the rest of the episodes. I’ve read Catherine Nichols’ articles in the past and they are wonderful and muscular. In my insomnia I have also been pondering the question of why materialism is perhaps the philosophy of power now like Nichols proposes and my own theory is that as capital became ascendant and labor weak, it co opted that sexy sexy “this is the sad , real state of the world so let’s rise up!” into “this is the sad, real state of the world and you can’t change it, chump!” seeing as it was an easy and strong argument to make in the absence of an opponent really. They kind of won and are happy to crow about that lived world. And I think it remains persuasive to the layperson. Big government having only possibly emerged again after 50 or so years. Anyways if that even makes sense this is just conjecture and I am no expert, just an avid reader. Thanks for the great listen, and you’ve got a fan in me!

StaceyWinUK ,

Host Stammers and Stumbles

Can someone please get Catherine Nichols some coaching how to deliver even just one (1!) sentence where she does not stumble all over herself. I thought the podcast was buffering then I figured out Catherine was excessively pausing and stumbling all over herself. It is painful. She either is unprepared or lacks any confidence to have the conviction to say anything without excessive contemplation. A podcast is an auditory medium. This woman is not geared for it. Fortunately her co-host, Sandra Newman, can speak fluidly. Please get a coach to help Cathrine learn how to speak.

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