103 episodes

A biweekly discussion dedicated to American History, historical thinking, and the role of history in our every day lives. Hosted by historian John Fea

The Way of Improvement Leads Home: American History, Religion, Politics, and Academic life‪.‬ John Fea

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.8 • 110 Ratings

A biweekly discussion dedicated to American History, historical thinking, and the role of history in our every day lives. Hosted by historian John Fea

    Episode 100: Christian Historians as Activists?

    Episode 100: Christian Historians as Activists?

    In this episode, our 100th, host John Fea delivers his 2022 Conference on Faith and History presidential address.
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    • 1 hr 9 min
    Episode 99: Historicizing the Search for Roots

    Episode 99: Historicizing the Search for Roots

    Do you do genealogical research? In this episode, historian Francesca Morgan talks about her new book A Nation of Descendants: Politics and the Practice of Genealogy in U.S. History. She discusses Americans' fascination with tracking family lineage through three centuries and how the practice has intersected with race, class, religion, and commercialism. 
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    • 1 hr 9 min
    Episode 98: Conversions: Spiritual and Political

    Episode 98: Conversions: Spiritual and Political

    What do Sammy Davis Jr., Muhammad Ali, Clare Booth Luce, Whitaker Chambers, and Charles Colson all have in common? They all had very public religious conversions. In this episode, historian Rebecca Davis joins us to talk about her new book Public Confessions: The Religious Conversions That Changed Politics. 
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    • 58 min
    Episode 97: In Search of George Washington's Hair

    Episode 97: In Search of George Washington's Hair

    Using America's obsession with Washington's hair as his window, historian Keith Beutler examines how "physicality," or the use of the material objects, was the most important way early Americans (1790-1840)--museum founders, African Amerians, evangelicals, and school teachers-- remembered the nation's founding. Beutler is the author of George Washington's Hair: How Early Americans Remembered the Founders (University of Virginia Press, 2021).
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    • 58 min
    Episode 96: Thinking Historically about the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

    Episode 96: Thinking Historically about the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

    In this episode we talk with historian Bruce Berglund about Vladmir Putin's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Our conversation focuses on Putin's use of history to justify the invasion, the insufficiency of the Russian military, the international ban on Russian athletics, and the role that race has played in the invasion. 
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    • 44 min
    Episode 95: The Lost Promise of American Universities

    Episode 95: The Lost Promise of American Universities

    American universities entered the 1960s with the hope of bringing a high-quality system of universal higher education to all comers. But by the early 1970s hope turned to despair as universities gave way to neoliberalism, corporatism, and a powerful conservative backlash. In this episode we talk with historian Ellen Schrecker about her new book The Lost Promise: American Universities in the 1960s.
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    • 1 hr 18 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
110 Ratings

110 Ratings

NM CK ,

Wonderful

I have enjoyed every episode. I suppose I am new to the podcast and it looks like the podcast has ended - strike that last sentence, Dr Fea still releases new episodes - not as often as I’d like, but he seems to be a very busy man. The new platform is called Current and I have enjoyed the site (looks like the podcasts there are only for subscribers $), but, once I finish all of the back episodes here - well, I will have to go back and listen to them again. Well worth the time.

Ralph McRalph ,

All

I came to the podcast through several of Dr. Fea’s books and then Twitter. I absolutely love the historical context the podcast provides for contemporary events and the blending of history, religion, and politics. Doing so provides at least a glimpse into understanding why people behave the way they do.

zacharyfcote ,

Continually enriching our minds

I have never missed an episode of The Way of Improvement Leads Home. John Fea has the unique gift of bringing on guests about things I’m passionate about, know nothing about, and had previously dismissed. And yet, every episode captivates my attention. As the great historian he is, Fea asks great questions and is well informed going into any interview. I’m grateful for his curation as I am able to enrich my own mind. If you are interested in the intersection of faith, history, and politics (and the occasional sports or Bruce Springsteen episode), this podcast is for you. His opening (and at times closing) monologues are some of the best analysis I hear in general. It’s truly a great podcast.

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