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The Nostalgia Trap

Updated 8 days ago

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History
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The Nostalgia Trap podcast features weekly conversations about history and politics with some of the left’s most incisive thinkers, writers, and extremely online personalities, exploring how individual lives intersect with the big events and debates of our era.

Read more

The Nostalgia Trap podcast features weekly conversations about history and politics with some of the left’s most incisive thinkers, writers, and extremely online personalities, exploring how individual lives intersect with the big events and debates of our era.

iTunes Ratings

120 Ratings
Average Ratings
110
7
1
0
2

Great stuff

By not a hippie - Jan 04 2019
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Really love the historical perspective. Thanks for making my work day more bearable!

Wonderful History podcast

By DubstepInDPRK - May 06 2018
Read more
I love this podcast that captures both public and academic history. Really excellent to listen to!

iTunes Ratings

120 Ratings
Average Ratings
110
7
1
0
2

Great stuff

By not a hippie - Jan 04 2019
Read more
Really love the historical perspective. Thanks for making my work day more bearable!

Wonderful History podcast

By DubstepInDPRK - May 06 2018
Read more
I love this podcast that captures both public and academic history. Really excellent to listen to!
Cover image of The Nostalgia Trap

The Nostalgia Trap

Latest release on Jan 09, 2020

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The Nostalgia Trap podcast features weekly conversations about history and politics with some of the left’s most incisive thinkers, writers, and extremely online personalities, exploring how individual lives intersect with the big events and debates of our era.

Rank #1: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 105: Between Oligarchy and Democracy w/ Heather Cox Richardson

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Heather Cox Richardson is a historian of American politics with a number of important books on the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the ideological evolution of the Republican Party. Richardson’s work tracks the space between rhetoric and reality, showing us how political parties pull the levers of race and class to manipulate public opinion and gain power.

Richardson’s recent focus is the way American conservatism has influenced the direction of the Republican Party over the course of the past several decades. In this conversation, she explains how “movement conservatives” since the Buckley era pushed the GOP to embrace increasingly extreme candidates and positions, setting the table for the Trump nightmare:

“Americans figured out fairly early on that [Republican economic policies] didn’t really help them. So Republican language has gotten more and more crazy. For me, the real sign was when Carly Fiorina, in the debates in 2016, said that Democrats were literally killing babies so they could sell their body parts . . .

They’ve had to ratchet this language up more and more. So when Trump came in and said and did the horrific things he did, he was really simply playing that movement conservative narrative out to its logical end. It’s exactly the path we started on in 1951 with God and Man at Yale.”

Jul 11 2018

1hr 10mins

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Rank #2: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 141: Centrism is a Disease w/ Chad Vigorous

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Chad Vigorous is the host of a sharp and funny podcast called The Discourse, and one of left Twitter’s most acerbic political commentators. In this conversation, he shares his insights on the nightmarish landscape of American culture and politics in the 21st century, explaining how fascism and white nationalism are finding their footing within the socioeconomic despair and ideological void created by neoliberalism.

Apr 11 2019

1hr 39mins

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Rank #3: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 166: Showing the Receipts w/ Kevin Kruse

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Kevin Kruse is a historian at Princeton University and the author of a number of important books about race, class, and politics in 20th century America. He is also one of the most visible historians online, with a massive Twitter following that often serves as a mini-course in American history. In this conversation, we talk about his unexpected rise to Twitter fame, his beef with right-wing propagandist Dinesh D’Souza, the many pleasures of archival research, and his connection to the wider community of historians and other scholars who are more actively engaging the public during a chaotic political moment. 

Oct 22 2019

58mins

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Rank #4: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 83: AM/FM - The Deep State is Capitalism

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What is the "deep state"? Does it really exist, or is it a specter in the minds of far-right conspiracy theorists from Jack D. Ripper to Alex Jones? In this episode, Justin Rogers-Cooper joins me to sort it out, exploring the "deep state" idea in the context of the opioid crisis and other contemporary signs of malignant capitalism.  

Jan 15 2018

1hr 16mins

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Rank #5: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 122: Dunder Mifflin Nation w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper

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Justin Rogers-Cooper returns to the Nostalgia Trap to break down the political and social significance of NBC’s The Office, positioning the show within the larger context of 21st century neoliberal capitalism. How does the evolving sitcom form reflect changing attitudes about labor, patriarchy, and other structures of oppression? And what does it mean for the future of work?  

Nov 06 2018

1hr 12mins

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Rank #6: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 90: AM/FM - The Political Economy of Mass Shootings

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In this episode, Justin Rogers-Cooper joins me to unpack the mass shooting phenomenon in the wider context of American history. Why do Americans kill each other? Who benefits from mass killings? And how is social violence connected to the structures of capitalism?

Mar 21 2018

1hr 14mins

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Rank #7: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 113: The Center Collapses w/ Shuja Haider

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Shuja Haider is a writer and editor for a number of left publications (check out his work in Popula and Viewpoint). In this conversation, we talk about historical cycles of generational politics, the weird road from 60s counterculture to "conservatism is the new punk rock," and the growth of left/right radicalism among young people in the Trump era.

Aug 28 2018

1hr 10mins

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Rank #8: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 138: Dreaming Liberation w/ Robin Kelley

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Robin Kelley is a professor of history at UCLA and the author of a number of important books on a wide range of subjects, from communism in the American South (1990’s Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression), to the political visions of radical black intellectuals and artists (2002’s Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination), to the history of jazz (2009’s Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original). He joins us to discuss his intellectual path from doctrinaire Marxism to “Marxist surrealist feminist,” and why he thinks aesthetics and culture are such vital spaces for the left to reclaim its imaginative vision.

Mar 21 2019

1hr 15mins

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Rank #9: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 130: Being Tony Soprano w/ Topical Fever

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Before the Nostalgia Trap, David hosted a show called Topical Fever, which took on specific subjects from the worlds of politics, history and media. Sounds familiar, right? To mark the 20th anniversary since the premiere of The Sopranos, we’re sharing this Topical Fever episode from the vaults, featuring a conversation with professor of English Jeremey Cagle on the show’s relationship to another epic piece of American art: Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

Jan 15 2019

1hr 19mins

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Rank #10: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 148: Unlearning Capitalism w/ Astra Taylor

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Astra Taylor is a writer and filmmaker whose work explores the radical contours of contemporary politics and philosophy. Her latest film, What is Democracy?, is a deep dive into one of history’s most intense questions, framing interviews and discussions within the harrowing context of a collapsing planet. In this conversation, she explains the ideas underlying her inquisitive approach to writing and making films, how her unorthodox experiences with formal education shaped her political and analytical thinking, and why she thinks asking bigger questions is such a vital task for the left.

May 30 2019

1hr 12mins

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Rank #11: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 86: AM/FM - Punk in the 90s

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David Fouser was definitely way more into punk, as both an ethos and music genre, than I recall ever being. But now that he's all grown up, like many of us, his politics and musical tastes have evolved. In this conversation, we trade memories of the 1990s Southern California punk and ska scene, and reflect on punk's wider political and social significance. 

Feb 06 2018

1hr 16mins

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Rank #12: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 127: Tracking the Right w/ Jason Wilson

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Jason Wilson is a writer for The Guardian whose work often covers the far right of American political culture. From Milo to the Proud Boys, Alex Jones to Glenn Beck, Wilson details the internal drama, street fights, and larger context of right-wing movements in the 21st century. In this episode, we catch up with his latest reporting on “deplatforming” and explore the role social media plays in spreading extreme ideas.

Dec 12 2018

1hr 34mins

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Rank #13: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 81: Yasmin Nair

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Yasmin Nair is a writer and activist based in Chicago, known as much for her dynamic political and cultural writing as for her contentious social media adventures. In this conversation we spend a good amount of time talking about her amazing piece in Evergreen Review, a manifesto for an apocalyptic moment that combines analysis of neoliberalism with ideas about gentrification, queer culture, dystopian science fiction, and so much more. 

Dec 11 2017

1hr 33mins

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Rank #14: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 147: Anti-Capitalist in Appalachia w/ Tanya Turner

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Tanya Turner is one of the hosts of the Trillbilly Worker’s Party podcast, a smart, funny take on left politics in Whitesburg, Kentucky. In this conversation, we talk about the wider political world of Appalachia, her work with the media and arts center Appalshop, and how sex education is a vital space for talking about capitalism’s insidious control over our bodies.

May 23 2019

1hr 15mins

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Rank #15: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 119: Imperialism is Over If You Want It w/ Daniel Bessner

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Daniel Bessner is a historian with a particular focus on American foreign policy. His book Democracy in Exile: Hans Speier and the Rise of the Defense Intellectual mixes biography with a striking analysis of Cold War policy-making. In this conversation, Bessner expands on the ideas he presented in a recent New York Times op-ed, in which he argues that the left needs a more focused and practical pathway to dismantling the American imperial project and drawing down the endless wars that have decimated globe for decades.   

Oct 16 2018

1hr 9mins

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Rank #16: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 136: Seizing the Means of (Porn) Production

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Heather Berg is a writer and researcher who maps the intersections of socialism, feminism, and radical culture. Her upcoming book Porn Work locates porn workers as “experts on labor in late capitalism,” and in this conversation we explore how sex work in general and porn work in particular offers a critical site of anti-capitalist resistance.  

Mar 05 2019

57mins

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Rank #17: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 78: RE: Louis CK with Peter Sabatino

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Peter Sabatino, the Nostalgia Trap's producer and sound wizard, joins me to unpack the recent revelations about Louis CK's abusive behavior. Our conversation attempts to put this stuff in context, discussing both Louis' disturbing comedic output and the wider problem of predatory men protected by their social, political, and cultural power.

Nov 15 2017

1hr 20mins

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Rank #18: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 168: Fight Club, But Woke w/ Sam Yang

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Sam Yang is the host of Southpaw, a podcast about the intersection of leftist politics and combat sports. Yang is on a mission to reclaim fighting culture, forging connections between physicality, spirituality, and a more humane engagement with the planet and each other. In this conversation he discusses his background in martial arts, explaining how ethical ideas embedded in his combat training inform his political perspectives, and speculates on strategies for winning the hearts and minds of millions of UFC fans.

Nov 05 2019

1hr 15mins

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Rank #19: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 150: The Tenured Radical w/ Daniel Bessner

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Daniel Bessner is a professor and writer and frequent Nostalgia Trap contributor. He joins us to talk about his controversial recent Chronicle piece taking on the American Historical Association, and to share his vision of how to rescue the humanities from the destructive forces of neoliberalism.

Jun 12 2019

1hr 12mins

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Rank #20: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 108: Seizing Socialism's Moment w/ Alex Press

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Alex Press is a writer and assistant editor at Jacobin Magazine whose work explores the contours and possibilities of American working class politics. In this conversation, she tells about being radicalized by the Occupy movement in 2011, her journey through anarchism and socialism in a basement full of radical literature, and her thoughts on the rising visibility of socialist politics in the U.S. mainstream. Surveying the current political landscape, Press sees many opportunities for the left to more effectively harness the anger and energy felt by millions of Americans. She argues that popular social movements, from Black Lives Matter to #MeToo, can and should be channeled into real working class power:

“We don’t have a very visible fighting feminist movement in the way that we’ve had in the past. You have this incredible energy around #MeToo, so many people wanted to change this thing, everyone agreed it was terrible that every woman they know seems to have experienced really awful things, whether in their work life or elsewhere, and yet there was nowhere really for people to go. And when you don’t have that infrastructure of an organized left that can really lead that energy, and develop it, and demand certain changes, it dissipates. It’s a real missed opportunity, and it’s why left organizations should be preparing themselves to actually figure out a way to fight back against incredibly anti-feminist policies in this country.”

Jul 30 2018

58mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 174: Engineering Addiction w/ Sarah Milov

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Sarah Milov is a professor of history at the University of Virginia and the author of The Cigarette: A Political History. In this conversation, she describes how the intersection of private capital and state power combined (with astounding success) to promote the consumption of cigarettes to the American public, and how activists engaged ideas around public space, health, and consent to fight back.

Jan 09 2020

1hr 4mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 173: The Farmer is the Man w/ Sarah Taber

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Sarah Taber is a crop scientist and ex-farmworker with a wide knowledge of agricultural history and practice, which you can hear in action on her excellently-named podcast Farm to Taber.  In this conversation, we talk about the role of the “farmer” in the American imagination and survey some of the most critical moments in the development of American food and farming policy.

Dec 19 2019

1hr 28mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 172: Empire of Cruelty w/ Luke O'Neil

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Luke O’Neil is a writer whose work chronicles the dark edges of 21st century America, capturing the horrific tenor of our age in his incredible newsletter and in his latest book, Welcome to Hell World: Dispatches from the American Dystopia. From murderous cops and fascist dads to suicidal veterans and imprisoned children, O’Neil connects the dots of the American nightmare in a voice that’s compelling and authentic and genuinely enraging. In this conversation, we talk about his path through the ugly landscape of new digital media and explore how the political and personal crash together in his work.

Dec 12 2019

1hr 7mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 170: The Extraterrestrial Left w/ A.M. Gittlitz

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A.M. Gittlitz is a writer on radical politics, counterculture, and the paranormal, and the producer of a wonderful podcast called The Antifada. In this conversation, he catches us up on the worldwide UFO phenomenon, detailing how the U.S. government is pouring resources into investigating alien spacecraft, with big corporations (and the guy from Blink-182!) getting in on the action. Gittlitz shares plenty of incredible stories, many featured in his upcoming book I WANT TO BELIEVE: The Posadist Movement and Leftwing Ufology (Pluto Press, 2020), as we discuss the wider context of the alien narrative in culture and politics. 

Nov 21 2019

1hr 10mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 169: Gaming the Future w/ Mike Pearl

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Mike Pearl is a writer and self-described “apocalypse expert” whose new book The Day It Finally Happens explores the increasingly bizarre scenarios that threaten to totally ruin our collective future. From internet blackouts and antibiotic-resistant superviruses to collapsing governments and mass extinction events, Mike tracks the actual probability of these nightmares coming true as a way of helping us navigate an anxious present. In this conversation, we game out some of the more insane ideas from his book while asking the question of our age: How bad is it gonna get? 

Nov 14 2019

1hr 27mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 168: Fight Club, But Woke w/ Sam Yang

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Sam Yang is the host of Southpaw, a podcast about the intersection of leftist politics and combat sports. Yang is on a mission to reclaim fighting culture, forging connections between physicality, spirituality, and a more humane engagement with the planet and each other. In this conversation he discusses his background in martial arts, explaining how ethical ideas embedded in his combat training inform his political perspectives, and speculates on strategies for winning the hearts and minds of millions of UFC fans.

Nov 05 2019

1hr 15mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 167: Monster Mash w/ KJ Shepherd and Bill Black

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Bill Black and KJ Shepherd return to the Trap for a special Halloween episode, in which we reflect upon the public fears and personal phobias that plagued our childhoods. Together we explore all sorts of spooky stuff, including the hellish visions invoked by Chick tracts, the 1980s crusade against obscenity in pop music, the weird national obsession with children dying in abandoned refrigerators, and the varieties of erotic experience available at your local Barnes and Noble.

Oct 30 2019

1hr 14mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 166: Showing the Receipts w/ Kevin Kruse

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Kevin Kruse is a historian at Princeton University and the author of a number of important books about race, class, and politics in 20th century America. He is also one of the most visible historians online, with a massive Twitter following that often serves as a mini-course in American history. In this conversation, we talk about his unexpected rise to Twitter fame, his beef with right-wing propagandist Dinesh D’Souza, the many pleasures of archival research, and his connection to the wider community of historians and other scholars who are more actively engaging the public during a chaotic political moment. 

Oct 22 2019

58mins

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Episode 165: Today is Tomorrow w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper (BONUS)

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Justin Rogers-Cooper returns to explore the 1993 Bill Murray comedy Groundhog Day, a deceptively straightforward film that pulses with dark insights on political economy, American history, human psychology, and everyday life in late capitalism. 

FULL EPISODE: https://www.patreon.com/posts/30812647

Oct 18 2019

3mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 164: School's Out Forever w/ Brendan O'Malley

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Brendan O’Malley is a historian and teacher whose experience with his school’s abrupt closure was the subject of a fascinating, wrenching piece in Contingent Magazine this summer. He joins us to talk about his background in history, earning his Ph.D. at the CUNY Graduate Center, and his particular path through a rapidly collapsing academic job market. Brendan’s story is ultimately a hopeful one, reflecting how a generation of young historians is finding our footing as teachers and scholars in ways none of us expected. 

Oct 10 2019

1hr 23mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 163: Waging Peace w/ Susan Schnall

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Susan Schnall served as a nurse in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. Her experiences treating wounded Marines at Oak Noll Naval Hospital in Oakland, California transformed her, and in 1969 she faced court martial for her antiwar activism. In this conversation, she tells her incredible story of leaving the U.S. military and joining the antiwar movement, working as a hospital administrator and community organizer in New York City for 31 years, and serving as a core member of the Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign. 

You can read more about Susan's story, along with many other perspectives on the GI Movement (including a piece on GI coffeehouses by Nostalgia Trap host David Parsons), in a new book from NYU Press, Waging Peace in Vietnam: US Soldiers and Veterans Who Opposed the War.

Oct 02 2019

1hr 13mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 162: Doomsday Politics w/ Bill Black

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With Trap favorite Bill Black joining us, a conversation about David’s irrational fear of spiders leads into a wider consideration of existential politics in an apocalyptic age. Bill has lots to tell us about the El Paso shooting and the eco-fascist ideology from which it emerged, connecting it to the rise of doomsday scenarios, conspiracy theories, UFO flashmobs, and other pieces of outright weirdness circulating through the culture. 

Sep 19 2019

1hr 18mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 161: Circling the Eschaton w/ Erik Davis

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Writer and cultural critic Erik Davis joins us to discuss his fascinating, often startling new book, High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies. By connecting the strange experiences of three psychedelic philosophers (Philip K. Dick, Terence McKenna, and Robert Anton Wilson), Davis offers a narrative of the 1970s that goes beyond disco and Jimmy Carter, showing us a world of occult prophecies, paranoid conspiracies, and often drug-induced spiritual fuckery. In this conversation, Davis discusses the origins of High Weirdness, his longer journey as a thinker and writer, and how the transcendent freakiness of California in the 70s produced eerie premonitions of the chaotic dystopias of the 21st century.  

Sep 10 2019

1hr 18mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 160: Growth Mindset w/ KJ Shepherd

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KJ Shepherd is a Ph.D. historian whose research focuses on the history of American standardized testing and the “test preparation” industry it spawned. Along with trading stories about the horrors of teaching the SAT, we have a blunt talk about what’s happening in the history discipline: the impossibility of finding full-time jobs, the humiliation of the application process, the “alt-ac” lie, and much more. But we also discuss the wider historical moment we’re in, and how rising generations of non-tenured Ph.D.’s are shaping the future of scholarly work and public engagement. 

Sep 02 2019

1hr 16mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 159: Subtext Becomes Text w/ Eli Valley

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Eli Valley is a comic artist and writer with an intense, visceral aesthetic that perfectly captures the rotten politics of our age. His acclaimed anthology Diaspora Boy: Comics on Crisis in America and Israel features a broad sample of his work over the past ten years. In this conversation we talk about his influences, both politically and artistically, and explore the historic and current role of counterculture in building left solidarity against fascism.  

Aug 22 2019

1hr 4mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 158: Mapping the Zone w/ Liz Ryerson

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Liz Ryerson is a musician, writer, and teacher whose work explores the ideological and aesthetic landscape of video games and cult media. Her podcast The Blood Zone features her critical ideas about niche/independent media, from indie game design to music and cinema. In this conversation, we discuss the wider politics of the gaming and media world, including #Gamergate and other reactionary burblings, and trade ideas about leftists treading the stagnant cultural waters of late capitalism. 

Aug 13 2019

1hr 42mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 157: Above the Law w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper

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Justin Rogers-Cooper returns to continue our discussion of this Summer of Strangeness, this time taking on the Jeffrey Epstein case:  who’s connected, why it matters, and what it reveals about the dynamics of power, authority, and punishment within the wider nightmare of global capitalism. 

Jul 31 2019

1hr 14mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 156: Cartoon Reality w/ Daniel Pinchbeck

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Daniel Pinchbeck is the author of a number of books that explore big subjects like human consciousness, psychedelic drugs, shamanic cultures, and the Mayan 2012 prophecy. Lately he’s been thinking and writing about UFOs, after a number of startling reports in mainstream media over the past year revealed the US government’s deep engagement with spacecraft of unknown origin. In this conversation, we talk about his latest book, The Occult Control System: UFOs, aliens, other dimensions, and future timelines, and explore the possible explanations behind the UFO phenomenon’s peculiar appearance at this specific moment in history.

Jul 25 2019

57mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 155: Ride the Snake w/ Geoff Johnson

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Geoff Johnson has been teaching American history since we were both graduate students at CUNY in the George W. Bush years. In this conversation, we talk about our respective political and cultural experiences coming of age in the 1990s, and reflect on the different paths that brought us both to the radical left. From beat poetry, Jim Morrison, and hip hop to anti-capitalism and anarchy, we try to connect our personal, very American lives with the larger historical forces surrounding us.

Jul 16 2019

1hr 44mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 154: Generation Gump w/ Bill Black

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Bill Black is a historian whose project Contingent Magazine (begun with previous Nostalgia Trap guest Erin Bartram) this month features a 25th anniversary retrospective roundtable on the film Forrest Gump. In this conversation, Black explains how the film’s particular take on boomer generation “greatest hits” hides the film’s deeper engagement with the politics of the 1960s and 1970s, and helps frame how some of Gump’s key characters and scenes often dangerously distort our view of American history.

Jul 09 2019

1hr 25mins

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iTunes Ratings

120 Ratings
Average Ratings
110
7
1
0
2

Great stuff

By not a hippie - Jan 04 2019
Read more
Really love the historical perspective. Thanks for making my work day more bearable!

Wonderful History podcast

By DubstepInDPRK - May 06 2018
Read more
I love this podcast that captures both public and academic history. Really excellent to listen to!