191 episodes

Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. A podcast from The American Scholar magazine. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
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Smarty Pants The American Scholar

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.4 • 89 Ratings

Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. A podcast from The American Scholar magazine. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

    #190: Here for the Beer

    #190: Here for the Beer

    The experimental archaeologist Dr. Patrick McGovern, known casually as the “Indiana Jones of Ancient Ales, Wines, and Extreme Beverages,” and Sam Calagione, master brewer and founder of Dogfish Head Brewery, have spent years resurrecting the beverages of the past. In 2017, we sat down with them before an event at the Smithsonian to discuss what it takes to turn millennia-old booze samples at the bottom of a jug into mead fit for a king—or jiahu for an emperor—or tahenket for a pharaoh.
    Go beyond the episode:
    Try not to spill any beer on your copy of Ancient Brews: Rediscovered and Re-CreatedExplore Dr. Pat’s work on the intoxicating science of alcohol at the University of Pennsylvania MuseumWatch Patrick McGovern and Sam Calagione work on a recipe for a new ancient aleAnd if you’re in the area … pop over to Dogfish Head Brewery to check out what’s on tap
    Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
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    • 23 min
    #189: Positively Sweaty

    #189: Positively Sweaty

    Love it or hate it, sweat is the reason why you don’t die of heatstroke in the summer—though you might want to die of embarrassment if you work up too much of it. But perspiration also contains a trove of secrets about our body’s inner workings, from sexy pheromones and disease markers to what we had for lunch. In her new book, The Joy of Sweat: The Strange Science of Perspiration, science journalist Sarah Everts explores what it reveals about our biology and behavior, debunking overheated myths—and maybe even some stigma—along the way.
    Go beyond the episode:
    Sarah Everts’s The Joy of SweatDip into the world of custom perfume, which can smell quite different depending on who wears itDon’t cancel your gym membership, but do give your heart a workout in the saunaYes, you really do smell your hand after shaking someone else’s: here is the experiment with the videos to prove itTry out the first “mail odor dating service”
    Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
    Subscribe: iTunes • Feedburner • Stitcher • Google Play • Acast
    Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes!

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    • 22 min
    #188: Skin Deep, Only Deeper

    #188: Skin Deep, Only Deeper

    For something that seems so simple, the act of adorning one’s face with a smudge of lip color or a flick of eyeliner can mean getting a promotion, getting home safely, and being taken seriously—or not. As journalist Rae Nudson writes in her new book, All Made Up: The Power and Pitfalls of Beauty Culture, from Cleopatra to Kim Kardashian, makeup has, for better or worse, shaped cultural narratives and standards of beauty for centuries. Red lipstick is patriotic—and it’s an act of protest—and it’s a sign of sex appeal—all depending on when you lived, and who and where you are. Nudson joins us on the podcast to talk about the choices we make when we wear makeup, and whether those choices are ever entirely ours to make.
    Go beyond the episode:
    Rae Nudson’s All Made Up: The Power and Pitfalls of Beauty Culture, from Cleopatra to Kim KardashianNudson wrote about the camouflage paint industry and the the makeup mogul crafting the U.S. Army’s exclusive supplyRead more about Sabella Nitti, whose 1920s makeover saved her from the death penaltyFor decades, women have been inspired by Elizabeth Taylor’s iconic blue eyeshadow from Cleopatra–which she applied herself“Everything We Know About Beauty We Learned From Drag Queens,” writes Kristina Rodulfo in Elle
    Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
    Subscribe: iTunes • Feedburner • Stitcher • Google Play • Acast
    Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes!

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    • 23 min
    #187: The Feminine Critique

    #187: The Feminine Critique

    In her 25 years as a music journalist, Jessica Hopper has profiled the doyennes of modern rock and pop music: Björk, Kacey Musgraves, St. Vincent, Liz Phair, Robyn, and many more. Her reviews run the gamut from the latest Nicki Minaj album and the “mobile shopping mall that is the Vans Warped Tour” to the only album by D.C.’s first all-women punk band, released three decades after they broke up. The new second edition of The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic expands on the 2015 one. That the provocative (and mostly accurate) title still works six years later points out that rock criticism has even fewer women in it than rock music does. Hopper joins us on the podcast to discuss her writing, from her beginnings as a local Chicago critic to her expansive oral histories of Hole and the women who transformed Rolling Stone in the 1970s.
     
    Go beyond the episode:
    Jessica Hopper’s The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock CriticRead “Building a Mystery,” her oral history of Lilith Fair, and her reflections on Joni Mitchell’s Blue, 50 years onListen to her eclectic playlist of music that came out of ChicagoHopper hosted Season 2 of KCRW’s Lost Notes podcast, looking at artistic legacies of the likes of The Freeze and Cat Power
    Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
    Subscribe: iTunes • Feedburner • Stitcher • Google Play • Acast
    Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes!

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    • 23 min
    #186: Shelling Out

    #186: Shelling Out

    If you were a small child who grew up near a coastline—or maybe especially if you didn’t—nothing was more enchanting about summer than collecting seashells on the beach. People have been using conches and scallops and whelks as musical instruments, jewelry, canvas, and even money, pretty much since we evolved enough to pick them up. But the future of seashells and the creatures who make them is uncertain. The smallest shells are dissolving in an acidifying ocean, and today mollusks that have survived 500 million years of ice ages and heat waves are facing an enemy undeterred by their hardened exteriors: humans, and the climate change we've created. Science writer Cynthia Barnett's new book, The Sound of the Sea, is a plea to listen to what shells are telling us, both about the ocean and ourselves.
     
    Go beyond the episode:
    Cynthia Barnett’s The Sound of the Sea (watch the book trailer here)Listen to the haunting sound of the conch horn found in the temple of Chavín, and read about Miriam Kolar’s archaeoacoustic investigations into the instrumentsEver wonder how a mollusk repairs its shell?Evolutionary biologist Gary Vermeij explains how to read a seashellProbably most famous poem about a shell ever written: “The Chambered Nautilus” by Oliver Wendell Holmes
    Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
    Subscribe: iTunes • Feedburner • Stitcher • Google Play • Acast
    Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes!

    See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

    • 27 min
    #185: The Devils’ Books

    #185: The Devils’ Books

    There are a lot of very good, very long books out there: Middlemarch, War and Peace, Don Quixote, the Neapolitan Novels. And then there are the very long books you probably won’t ever want to read, like Leonid Brezhnev’s memoirs, Saddam Hussein’s hackneyed romance novels, or the Kim family’s film theory. This show is about that kind of very long book, and the man who decided to read all of them: Daniel Kalder, who joins us on the show to talk about his journey through The Infernal Library and what these books tell us about the dictatorial soul, assuming there is one. This episode originally aired in 2018.
    Go beyond the episode:
    Daniel Kalder’s The Infernal Library: On Dictators, the Books They Wrote, and Other Catastrophes of LiteracyDive into Turkmenbashi’s Ruhnama, if you dare.Daniel Kalder reviews Saddam Hussein’s prose—he “tortured metaphors, too”—or you can read it yourselfOr check out Kalder’s dispatches from The Guardian’s “Dictator-lit” archivesWhile we couldn’t find a video of Fidel Castro’s four-hour-and-29-minute address to the United Nations in 1960, you can read it here
    Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
    Subscribe: iTunes • Feedburner • Stitcher • Google Play • Acast
    Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes!

    See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

    • 20 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
89 Ratings

89 Ratings

veccb ,

Always Learn Something New

This podcast has exposed me to a wealth of topics. It’s a nice treat to learn something completely new each time and learn about topics I have never been exposed to before.

foesmck ,

One of the best

One of my favorite podcasts. Thanks for your hard work!

cincysport ,

Difficult to listen to.

Can’t understand much of what the host is saying because of vocal fry. So distracting.

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