Rank #1: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 173: The Farmer is the Man w/ Sarah Taber
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
Rank #2: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 141: Centrism is a Disease w/ Chad Vigorous
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
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Rank #3: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 138: Dreaming Liberation w/ Robin Kelley
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
Rank #4: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 166: Showing the Receipts w/ Kevin Kruse
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
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Rank #5: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 169: Gaming the Future w/ Mike Pearl
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
Rank #6: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 170: The Extraterrestrial Left w/ A.M. Gittlitz
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
Rank #7: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 148: Unlearning Capitalism w/ Astra Taylor
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
Rank #8: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 172: Empire of Cruelty w/ Luke O'Neil
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
Rank #9: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 184: History Accelerates w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper
With a nation in quarantine, Justin Rogers-Cooper joins us for a deep dive into the political opportunities presented by the COVID-19 moment, as we track the rapid evolution of capitalism in crisis. Now that the energy of apocalypse has been released into the discourse, where does it go? What new futures can we imagine as the old world shapeshifts before our eyes?
Mar 22 2020
Rank #10: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 183: It Tolls for Thee w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper
Justin Rogers-Cooper returns to continue our series on the extraordinary historical moment created by the COVID-19 crisis. In this conversation we take on the rapidly evolving politics of the virus, reflecting on the public outrage at massive corporate bailouts while working people are saddled with unimaginable economic ruin. Can the left seize that energy to win electoral and ideological victories? We also speculate on the direction of U.S. government policy, social stability, and American popular culture as the crisis develops.
Mar 16 2020
Rank #11: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 145: Money vs Wealth w/ Yasmin Nair
Yasmin Nair is a Chicago-based writer, activist, and founder of Against Equality, an anti-capitalist collective of radical queer and trans writers, thinkers, and artists. Her provocative, often polemical, and always entertaining writing takes on the political culture of neoliberalism, the pitfalls of left media, and the politics of gender and sexuality, among many other topics. In this conversation we talk about the material politics of Brooklyn™ socialism, the differences between social, cultural, and economic capital, and what the left can learn from radical queer culture.
May 09 2019
Rank #12: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 134: Posting is Praxis w/ @CapitlsmDislikr
The online culture of memes, shitposting, and irony found on Twitter and other places is deeply entwined with the rise of millennial socialism and the larger landscape of 21st century politics. On this episode we explore the twisted path of the extremely online, as guest @CapitlsmDislikr shows us a world of grad school dead ends, crushing student loan debt, thankless adjunct teaching, satanic institutional bureaucracies and, of course, relentless irony posting on Twitter. Looking back on a ghastly past and even ghastlier future, our conversation sees millennials inhabiting a kind of endless present, with capitalism trapping an entire generation in a state of suspended animation.
Feb 18 2019
Rank #13: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 142: Bring the Paine w/ Seth Cotlar
Seth Cotlar is a professor of history at Willamette University and the author of Tom Paine’s America: The Rise and Fall of Transatlantic Radicalism in the Early Republic. He joins us to talk about Paine’s particular vision of a more radical democracy and how those ideas find life in today’s left. Cotlar is also hard at work on a new volume about the concept of nostalgia, obviously a favorite topic on the pod, and helps us sort out the complicated political and social functions (and the significant “traps”) of imagining the past.
Apr 18 2019
Rank #14: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 168: Fight Club, But Woke w/ Sam Yang
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
Rank #15: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 154: Generation Gump w/ Bill Black
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
Rank #16: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 151: It's the Endless War, Stupid w/ Danny Haiphong
Danny Haiphong is a socialist writer whose work frequently appears on Black Agenda Report. His new book (with Roberto Sirvent), American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror, explores the central mythologies about American benevolence that have served as the ideological spine for capitalism’s cancerous expansion. In this conversation, we talk about the disappointing foreign policy positions of left political figures like Bernie and AOC, and discuss the radical left’s longer history of engagement with issues of war, militarism, and imperialism.
Jun 20 2019
Rank #17: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 174: Engineering Addiction w/ Sarah Milov
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
Rank #18: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 150: The Tenured Radical w/ Daniel Bessner
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
Rank #19: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 156: Cartoon Reality w/ Daniel Pinchbeck
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
Rank #20: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 160: Growth Mindset w/ KJ Shepherd
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