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Biography

The podcasting of a life, by Matt Smith. “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.” - Charles Dickens.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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The best episodes ranked using user listens.

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Catherine the Great 1: Rise of a German Princess

Catherine the Great is one of Russia's most respected rulers, seen as raising Russia's reputation and building a powerful, cultured empire to rival Europe. It's almost hard to imagine that she was a little-known German princess, put into place by an elaborate power play. Guest: Associate Professor Adrian Jones (History, La Trobe University)

24mins

7 Mar 2016

Rank #1

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Charles Darwin 1: Before Darwin

Charles Darwin is such a large figure in the world of science that sometimes we forget how different our understanding of life was before he put forward his theories of evolution and natural selection. So how did Darwin grow up, and what did society think during that time? Guest: Dr Alexis Harley (English, La Trobe University).

20mins

4 Nov 2015

Rank #2

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Confucius 1: The Man Who Moves the Mountain

A philosopher, teacher, and political thinker, Confucius lived 2500 years ago, in the Spring and Autumn period of Chinese history. While his teachings and thinking has travelled worldwide, it is a hard task to separate the man from the myth. Guest: Professor John Makeham (Director, China Studies Research Centre, La Trobe University).

22mins

2 May 2016

Rank #3

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Gandhi 1: A Good Seed is Sown

Gandhi is a figure who is known across the world as the father of the nation, the man who achieved independence in the Indian subcontinent through non-violent resistance. He was also a thinker and a philosopher, and the name he was given, ‘Mahatma’, means great soul, and reflects the reverence with which he was seen. Guest: Dr Thomas Weber (Politics and Philosophy, La Trobe University)

25mins

10 Feb 2017

Rank #4

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Spartacus 3: The Death and Legacy of Spartacus

Cornered in the toe of Italy, Spartacus and his followers make their final stand. They may lose the battle to Crassus, but thousands of years later it is Spartacus who is remembered. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Ancient Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University)

19mins

20 Oct 2015

Rank #5

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Themistocles 1: Great Light of the Greeks

Themistocles lived during a time of change and progress in Athens. The monarchy was coming to an end, the republic was on the rise, and a self-made man from modest beginnings can make crucial contributions to an entire civilisation. Guest: Professor Christopher Mackie (Ancient Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University)

25mins

22 Nov 2016

Rank #6

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Catherine the Great 2: Patron and Collector

Catherine the Great is well known for being a patron for a range of artists and intellectuals. Her art collection, now housed in the Hermitage in St Petersburg, is one of the most varied and valuable in the world. Guest: Laurie Benson (Curator, National Gallery of Victoria)

20mins

22 Mar 2016

Rank #7

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Frida Kahlo 1: A Ribbon Around a Bomb

Frida Kahlo is considered one of Mexico's greatest artists but spent most of her career working in the shadow of her husband, the larger than life artist and muralist Diego Rivera. After a bus accident left her injured for life she took up painting, and became known for her surreal artwork and self-portraits which show a conflicted artist. Guest: Emeritus Professor Barry Carr (History, La Trobe University).

25mins

30 Aug 2016

Rank #8

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Charles Darwin 2: The Voyage of the Beagle

Having completed his studies, a young Charles Darwin looks set to continue his exploration of the natural world by joining a voyage around the world on the HMS Beagle. Guest: Dr Alexis Harley (English, La Trobe University).

28mins

16 Nov 2015

Rank #9

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Catherine the Great 3: The Warrior Empress

Catherine the Great took control of Russia, tried to make it a better place, and made sure the rest of the world couldn't ignore it's greatness. Guest: Associate Professor Adrian Jones (History, La Trobe University)

28mins

5 Apr 2016

Rank #10

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Confucius 2: The Master Says

After his death, the teachings that are attributed to Confucius take on a life on their own. We now look at the philosophy of Confucius, the trouble with interpreting his teachings, and what Confucianism means in today's world. Guest: Professor John Makeham (Director, China Studies Research Centre, La Trobe University).

20mins

17 May 2016

Rank #11

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Catherine the Great 4: Without you, Felitsa

By the end of her reign there was little doubt that Catherine had earned the 'Great' which was attached to her name. But what did Russia make of the empire she had built, and why is she most notably remembered for her sexual promiscuity? Guest: Associate Professor Adrian Jones (History, La Trobe University)

19mins

19 Apr 2016

Rank #12

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Charles Darwin 3: The Theories of Charles Darwin

Darwin returns from his voyage around the world and spends the next twenty years sorting through specimens and writing about barnacles, plants, and geology. In 1859 he publishes On the Origin of Species, and the world comes to term with evolution. Guest: Dr Alexis Harley (English, La Trobe University).

26mins

30 Nov 2015

Rank #13

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Martin Luther King Jr 1: They Told Us We Wouldn't Get Here

Issues around the segregation of African-Americans in the United States led to an increasingly active civil rights movement. The most influential figure in this movement was a Baptist minister named Martin Luther King Jr. His persuasive words and non-violent methods have made him one of the most revered Americans. Guest: Professor Timothy Minchin (North American History, La Trobe University)

27mins

25 Jan 2016

Rank #14

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Ely S. Parker

Ely S. Parker was born to a prominent Seneca family on an Indian reservation near New York, and to many was considered a man between two worlds. Working first as a tribal diplomat, and later forming a close friendship with Ulysses S. Grant during the civil war, he came to be the first Native American to hold the position of Head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Guest: Dr Claudia Haake (History, La Trobe University).

25mins

19 Oct 2016

Rank #15