The History of Literature

The History of Literature

Latest Episodes

Chinua Achebe
October 10, 2019

Chinua Achebe's first novel Things Fall Apart (1959) ushered in a new era where African countries, which had recently achieved post-colonial independence, now achieved an independence of a different kind - the freedom of imagination and artistry, as Afric

Blood and Sympathy in the 19th Century (with Professor Ann Kibbie)
October 03, 2019

"England may with justice claim to be the native land of transfusion," wrote one European physician in 1877, acknowledging Great Britain’s role in developing and promoting human-to-human transfusion as treatment for life-threatening blood loss. But what d

Weeping for Gogol
September 26, 2019

"Gogol was a strange creature," said Nabokov, "but genius is always strange." Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol (1809 – 1852) rose from obscurity to a brilliant literary career that forever changed the course of Russian literature. Born in 1809, he and his contem

Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes (with Yuval Taylor)
September 16, 2019

They were collaborators, literary gadflies, and champions of the common people. They were the leading lights of the Harlem Renaissance. Their names were Zora Neale Hurston (1891 - 1960), the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Langston Hughes (190

The Brontes
September 09, 2019

Although their lives were filled with darkness and death, their love for stories and ideas led them into the bright realms of creative genius. They were the Brontes - Charlotte, Emily, and Anne - who lived with their brother Branwell in an unassuming 19th

Robert Louis Stevenson
August 31, 2019

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 - 1894) went from a childhood in the western islands of Scotland to the heights of literary popularity and success, beloved and admired for his adventure stories Treasure Island and Kidnapped and his eerie portrait of a double

Marcel Proust
July 22, 2019

Marcel Proust (1871-1922) did little of note until he turned 38 years old - but from that point forward, he devoted the rest of his life to writing a masterpiece. The result, the novel In Search of Lost Time, published in seven volumes from 1913 to 1927,

George Eliot
April 08, 2019

Perhaps the greatest of all the many great English novelists, George Eliot was born Mary Ann Evans in 1819 in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England. Her father Robert managed an estate for a wealthy family; her mother Christina was the daughter of a local mill-

Samuel Beckett (with Nic Barilar)
April 01, 2019

We're back! A newly reenergized Jacke Wilson returns for a deep dive into the life, works, and politics of Samuel Beckett. Yes, we know him as one of the key figures bridging the gap between modernism and post-modernism - but was he more than just a highl

182 Darkness and Light (with Jessica Harper)
March 06, 2019

Jessica Harper has had the kind of life it would take ten memoirs to capture. Born in 1949, she went from a childhood in Illinois to a career as a Broadway singer, a Hollywood actor and movie star, a songwriter, an author of children’s books, an author of