On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss Confederate history and memorialization, selfie shaming, and Carly Fiorina and conservative feminism.
Yale’s Confederate Past
Students at Yale have petitioned the university to rename the residential college named for John C. Calhoun, the South Carolina politician and ardent defender of slavery. (You can read the formal petition here.) Neil noted the recent book, Ebony and Ivy, by MIT historian Craig Steven Wilder explores the connection between northern universities and the institution of slavery.
A group of sorority sisters being mocked for taking selfies at a recent Arizona Diamondbacks game quickly became a viral media sensation. Natalia referenced Christopher Lasch’s 1979 classic, The Culture of Narcissism, as one way to understand the “selfie” phenomenon, but suggested we might also recognize selfies as an act of female self-empowerment and self-expression in a culture with such demanding expectations regarding women’s appearance.
Carly Fiorina and Conservative Feminism
With her recent essay calling for “redefining feminism,” Carly Fiorina has joined the small ranks of conservative women who call themselves feminists. Other examples included the women of Feminists for Life, a pro-life organization founded in 1972 that believed it was a feminist duty to protect women from the atrocity of abortion.
What’s Making History
- Natalia shared an article about the history of leftover food as an example of how historical analysis can use the objects of everyday life to understand the bigger picture of American economic history.
- Neil recommended Gilbert King’s 2012 book, Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America, which chronicles Marshall’s legal defense of four young African-American citrus workers in central Florida falsely accused of rape in 1949.
- Niki discussed the reappearance of Richard Nixon in the form of the Twitter account @dick_nixon and how Nixon’s funeral became a culture touchstone. Read Hunter S. Thompson’s obituary of Nixon here.