Off-Campus History
Episode 11 - The Green Knight with Morgan Moore

Episode 11 - The Green Knight with Morgan Moore

January 3, 2022

On today’s episode, we’re discussing the 2021 film The Green Knight!

The Green Knight is a 2021 film directed and written by David Lowery. The film is based on the Arthurian tale “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” which was first recorded as a poem in a fourteenth-century English manuscript. In both the original poem and the film, the story follows Gawain, a nephew of King Arthur who undertakes a quest to face the Green Knight and fulfil a promise made one year prior. Along the way, Gawain experiences strange and magical trials and tribulations. On today’s episode, we delve into the history behind The Green Knight—including the origins of Arthurian legends, how and why the movie differs from the original poem, and how the movie portrays the medieval world.

To discuss all this with me, I’m joined by Morgan Moore. Morgan is a PhD student at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Medieval Studies. Her research is about the relationship between performance and manuscripts in medieval England and Wales. As part of that expertise, she knows a lot about Arthurian tales generally and the Sir Gawain and the Green Knight poem particularly!

For those who’d like to learn more about the origins of the King Arthur legend, check out Tom Shippey’s review of Nicholas Higham’s book King Arthur: The Making of the Legend in the London Review of Books: https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v40/n24/tom-shippey/so-much-smoke. And for those who want to understand the movie a little better, including some comments directly from the director, check out these Vox and Vanity Fair articles: https://www.vox.com/22585318/green-knight-explained-ending-spoilers-girdle-winifred-temptation; https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2021/07/green-knight-ending-explained-does-he-die-gawain-dev-patel.

Also, for those interested in getting more involved in academically studying this type of topic, check out the Celtic Studies Association of North America, of which Morgan is a board member! Learn more at https://celticstudies.org/.

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Podcast logo is made by Instagram.com/nethkaria; intro and outro music are clips from “Mystery!” which recorded in 1919 by Paul Biese and his Novelty Orchestra. Follow the show on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/offcampushistory/) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/offcampushistory)! You can also email the show at offcampushistory[at]gmail.com.

Episode 10 - The Diefenbunker with Erin Isaac

Episode 10 - The Diefenbunker with Erin Isaac

December 10, 2021

On today’s episode, we have a very special crossover episode! We're taking shelter and visiting the Diefenbunker with Erin Isaac, host of Historia Nostra.

Officially styled Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum, the Diefenbunker is a museum and historic site housed in a Cold War era nuclear bunker a little outside Ottawa, Canada. In 1959, the Canadian government commissioned this 4-story bunker. The idea was that if a nuclear attack hit Canada, important members of the military and government could take shelter inside and continue to run the government from there. The bunker was completed in 1961, and though no nuclear attack ever struck Canada, the site was used as a military base and communications headquarters until it was closed in 1994; that same year, it became a National Historic Site. Today, the Diefenbunker is a historic site that recreates the experience of life in the bunker. The site also has some exhibits providing a more general overview of the period.

To discuss this with me, I’m joined by Erin Isaac. Erin is a PhD student at Western University whose research focuses on themes of religion, race, and the environment in early North America. Erin is also the host of Historia Nostra, a YouTube channel that primarily explores how history is told and interpreted at museums and historic sites. Erin and I visited the Diefenbunker together, and she has a tie-in episode about our visit that you can see here: https://youtu.be/TcgrN56XE8E. Check out Historia Nostra's many other excellent videos here: https://www.youtube.com/c/HistoriaNostraNA!

For those interested in learning more about the history of preparation for nuclear war in Canada, check out Andrew Burtch’s Give Me Shelter: The Failure of Canada’s Cold War Civil Defence (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2012). Those interested in thinking about the stories our historic sites tell should also check out Claire Elizabeth Campbell’s Nature, Place, and Story: Rethinking Historic Sites in Canada (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017).

In making this podcast and video, Erin and I met with a couple members of the Diefenbunker’s staff and learn a bit about the museum to them. Thanks to Sean Campbell and Jordan Vetter for taking the time to talk to us, and to the museum for covering our admission. Check out the Diefenbunker’s website at https://diefenbunker.ca/!

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Podcast logo is made by Instagram.com/nethkaria; intro and outro music by Instagram.com/nelamusica. Follow the show on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/offcampushistory/) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/offcampushistory)! You can also email the show at offcampushistory[at]gmail.com.

Episode 9 - Richard III with Ariana Ellis

Episode 9 - Richard III with Ariana Ellis

November 22, 2021

On today’s episode, we’re talking about one of Shakespeare’s plays as a representation of history. Specifically, we’re talking about Richard III, and even more specifically, we’re talking about the BBC’s 2016 production as part of The Hollow Crown series.

Richard III ruled England from 1483 to 1485, and is probably most famous for imprisoning (and possibly murdering) two young princes who would have otherwise been ahead of him in line for the throne. About 100 years later, William Shakespeare wrote the play Richard III. The plot (spoilers!) centers on Richard scheming his way to the throne and murdering anyone who stands in his way; once he becomes king, he becomes increasingly paranoid and mad, even betraying his former allies before he is finally slain in battle. In this 2016 version, Benedict Cumberbatch headlines as Richard, and other stars such as Judi Dench and Sophie Okonedo also feature in key roles.

I am especially excited about this episode because not only can we examine Shakespeare’s play as a representation of history—events that took place about 100 years before it was written—but we can also learn something about Shakespeare’s own time from this play. 

To discuss all this with me, I’m joined by Ariana Ellis. Ariana is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. Her research is all about popular culture and executions in London and Venice from about 1400 to 1600. Check out her website, https://arianaellis.com/, which includes some historical text-based video games!

If you’d like to learn more about Richard III, we suggest Rosemary Horrox’s Richard III: A Study of Service (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989) and Charles Ross’s Richard III (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981).

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Podcast logo is made by Instagram.com/nethkaria; intro and outro music by Instagram.com/nelamusica. Follow the show on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/offcampushistory/) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/offcampushistory)! You can also email the show at offcampushistory[at]gmail.com.

Episode 8 - Fragments of Epic Memory with Carlie Manners

Episode 8 - Fragments of Epic Memory with Carlie Manners

November 1, 2021

For today’s episode, we dig into a new exhibition interpreting the history of the Caribbean, and talk about how we can use art to interpret history.

We’re discussing a new exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Fragments of Epic Memory. Fragments of Epic Memory is an exploration of the history and culture of the Caribbean and Caribbean diaspora from the mid-nineteenth century to today. The exhibit combines the use of archival photos from the region—typically reflective of a colonial gaze on the Caribbean and its peoples—with more recent artwork by Caribbean artists challenging these colonial representations. History is at the heart of this art exhibit, and themes including emancipation, migration, colonialism, and Caribbean culture take to the fore. If you’d like to check out Fragments of Epic Memory for yourself, it’ll be open at the AGO in Toronto until February 21, 2022.

To discuss the exhibit with me, I’m joined by Carlie Manners. Carlie is a PhD student at the University of Toronto and an expert in Caribbean history. Her research focuses on Afro-Caribbean religion and material culture. In addition to this expertise, Carlie worked as a research and writing consultant for Fragments of Epic Memory, bringing the podcast a unique insight into the exhibit’s development.

For anyone who would like to learn more about this topic, check out Krista A. Thompson’s An Eye for the Tropics: Tourism, Photography, and Framing the Caribbean Picturesque (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006). In the episode, we also mention Derek Walcott’s The Antilles: Fragments of Epic Memory (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1993). Walcott is a problematic figure, having been accused of multiple incidents of sexual harassment. I’ve included his work here since it’s especially relevant to this exhibit—it’s the inspiration for and namesake of the exhibit, and provides a great deal of context for understanding the exhibit—but these accusations are important to remember, and including his work here is not an endorsement of his conduct.

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Podcast logo is made by Instagram.com/nethkaria; intro and outro music by Instagram.com/nelamusica. Follow the show on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/offcampushistory/) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/offcampushistory)! You can also email the show at offcampushistory[at]gmail.com.

Episode 7 - Assassin‘s Creed II with Éric Pecile

Episode 7 - Assassin‘s Creed II with Éric Pecile

October 11, 2021

On today’s episode, we’re chatting about Assassin’s Creed II!

Released by Ubisoft in 2009, this incredibly popular video game sold over 9 million copies and helped solidify the Assassin’s Creed franchise into the juggernaut of gaming that it is today. History is a big part of this franchise’s appeal, and AC2 is no different. The game takes place in Renaissance Italy, and is famous for trying to make players feel immersed in that setting. As an open-world game, players can explore late fifteenth-century cities like Florence and Venice that the developers have attempted to recreate. The game plays upon classic historical tropes of Renaissance Italy, featuring powerful families and cutthroat political rivalries between them. The game also casts real historical figures as characters, from Leonardo da Vinci to Pope Alexander VI.

To discuss this game with me, I’m joined by Éric Pecile. Éric is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto whose research focuses on economic history of Renaissance Italy. Éric also works with digital tools as part of his historical work—sort of like the game developers, he’s worked on creating a 3D recreation of sixteenth-century Florence.

For those who’d like to learn more about Renaissance Florence, check out John M. Najemy’s book A History of Florence 1200-1575 (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2006). And for those interested in thinking about teaching with video games, have a look at Metagaming: Playing, Competing, Spectating, Cheating, Trading, Making, and Breaking Videogames, by Stephanie Boluk and Patrick LeMieux (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017).

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Podcast logo is made by Instagram.com/nethkaria; intro and outro music by Instagram.com/nelamusica. Follow the show on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/offcampushistory/) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/offcampushistory)! You can also email the show at offcampushistory[at]gmail.com.

Episode 6 - Hamilton with Hana Suckstorff

Episode 6 - Hamilton with Hana Suckstorff

September 20, 2021

On today’s episode, we’re not throwing away our shot.

We’re talking Hamilton: An American Musical! This Broadway sensation, created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, focuses on the life of Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father and the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. In doing so, the musical also offers an interpretation of the American Revolution, the early republic period, and in some ways, American history as a whole. Miranda has described the show as “A story about America then, told by America now,” and the show is notable for having a cast comprised of almost entirely actors of colour, portraying characters based on white historical figures. The musical also foregrounds musical genres, such as rap and R&B, that are more associated with communities of colour.

Miranda’s musical first premiered in 2015 and has since become an international sensation, achieving critical acclaim, mass popularity, and financial success. In early 2020, Disney acquired the rights to distribute a theatrical release of the musical with its original Broadway cast, and released it on its streaming service Disney+ in July 2020.

To discuss the show with me, I’m joined by Hana Suckstorff. Hana is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. Her main area of research focuses on early modern Italian religion, but she has an additional area of specialization in US history. Hana has taught US history and has given some careful thought to ways that historians can use Hamilton as a tool for teaching students about American history.

For those looking to learn more about this topic, check out Lyra D. Monteiro’s article “Race-Conscious Casting and the Erasure of the Black Past in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton,” The Public Historian 38, no. 1 (2016): 89-98, https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2016.38.1.89. Also check out Renee C. Romano and Claire Bond Porter’s edited volume Historians on Hamilton: How a Blockbuster Musical is Restaging America’s Past (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2018). Also worth reading is David Kindy’s article for Smithsonianmag.com, “New Research Suggests Alexander Hamilton Was a Slave Owner” (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/new-research-alexander-hamilton-slave-owner-180976260/), which discusses some recent research by Jessie Serfilippi.

Also, not related to Hamilton but absolutely worth checking out regardless is https://decima-map.net/. Hana is part of the DECIMA research team and is working on a 3D visualization of seventeenth-century Florence, which you can access on the above site once the project is complete!

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Podcast logo is made by Instagram.com/nethkaria; intro and outro music by Instagram.com/nelamusica. Follow the show on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/offcampushistory/) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/offcampushistory)! You can also email the show at offcampushistory[at]gmail.com.

Episode 5 - Canada: A People’s History with Hannah Cooley

Episode 5 - Canada: A People’s History with Hannah Cooley

August 30, 2021

For today’s episode, we’re watching some Canada: A People’s History!

This monumental documentary series launched in 2000 will be familiar to Canadian history buffs. The original run of the series, made by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, featured 17 episodes with about 32 hours of content, documenting Canadian history from 15,000 BC all the way up to 1990 (a more recent bonus episode covers the years 1990-2015). Canadians watched the series by the millions, and the documentary has been broadcast in 9 languages.

For today’s podcast, we focus on episode 16, “Years of Hope and Anger,” which covers the years 1964 to 1976. Major themes in this episode include a growing Canadian nationalism; the Quiet Revolution and the emergence of Québécois nationalism; the idea of progress and the harms that accompanied it; and protest, counterculture, and activism, often spearheaded by youth (as the documentary puts it, young people “doing their own thing”). Events like the October Crisis and figures like Pierre Trudeau and René Lévesque take center stage. To discuss this episode as well as the series more generally, I’m joined by Hannah Cooley. Hannah is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto whose research focuses on Indigenous activism through print media on the prairies in the 1960s and 70s.

For those looking to learn a bit more about the making of Canada: A People’s History, check out Mark Starowicz’s book Making History: The Remarkable Story Behind Canada: A People’s History (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2003). Starowicz was a producer on the series, and so while the book doesn’t offer a particularly critical look at the series, it features a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the ideas and politics behind the making of the documentary.

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Podcast logo is made by Instagram.com/nethkaria; intro and outro music by Instagram.com/nelamusica. Follow the show on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/offcampushistory/) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/offcampushistory)! You can also email the show at offcampushistory[at]gmail.com.

Episode 4 - Renaissance Tourism with Graeme Sutherland

Episode 4 - Renaissance Tourism with Graeme Sutherland

August 16, 2021

On today’s episode, we take a much-needed vacation.

…Okay, not really. But we’re talking about tourism and the history of tourism in Florence, Italy! Much of the city’s identity (not to mention its economy) revolves around its connection to the Renaissance. Today, the city’s galleries, museums, and buildings housing Renaissance-era artifacts and works of art attract millions of tourists every year; in 2019, the Uffizi Gallery alone recorded over 2 million visits.

But this connection to the Renaissance is not just something that appeared naturally—it’s something that people, both from the city and elsewhere, have intentionally cultivated over time. In an episode talking about Florence’s history of the Renaissance, history of tourism, and historical tourism in the present, I’m joined by Graeme Sutherland. As a graduate student, Graeme has researched both the history of the Renaissance itself and the history of tourists in the modern era seeking to visit Italy for a taste of the Renaissance. Graeme has also worked for many years as a professional tour guide in Italy, and has taken numerous visitors around to these sites recalling the Renaissance.

For those looking to learn more about this topic, here are a couple of reading recommendations that we mention in the episode: Richard Handler and Eric Gable, The New History in an Old Museum: Creating the Past at Colonial Williamsburg (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997); M. Medina Lasansky, The Renaissance Perfected: Architecture, Spectacle, and Tourism in Fascist Italy (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2004).

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Podcast logo is made by Instagram.com/nethkaria; intro and outro music by Instagram.com/nelamusica. Follow the show on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/offcampushistory/) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Off-Campus-History-104741381870195)! You can also email the show at offcampushistory[at]gmail.com.

Episode 3 - The Western Development Museum with Tyla Betke

Episode 3 - The Western Development Museum with Tyla Betke

August 2, 2021

On today’s episode of Off-Campus History, we look to the west.

We’re talking about the Western Development Museum, one of the most important public history institutions in Saskatchewan, Canada. The WDM is actually a network of four museums, though our episode focuses on its largest branch in Saskatoon.

Established in 1949, the WDM was originally dedicated to commemorating the history of pioneers on the prairies in the early 1900s. The Saskatoon branch features the iconic “Boomtown,” which recreates a bustling settler town in 1910.

In recent years, the museum has confronted the challenge of how to integrate Indigenous history into a museum that originally left those stories out. In an episode focusing on the museum’s depictions of Indigenous history, and its efforts to revise those depictions, I’m joined by Tyla Betke. Tyla is a PhD candidate in history at Carleton University whose research focuses on Indigenous history and settler colonialism on the prairies in the late nineteenth century. Tyla also previously worked at the WDM, providing a unique perspective into the museum.

For those interested in learning more about this topic, check out Adam Gaudry’s article “Fantasies of Sovereignty: Deconstructing British and Canadian Claims to Ownership of the Historic North-West,” Native American and Indigenous Studies 3, no. 1 (Spring 2016): 46-74.

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Podcast logo is made by Instagram.com/nethkaria; intro and outro music by Instagram.com/nelamusica. Follow the show on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/offcampushistory/) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Off-Campus-History-104741381870195)!

Episode 2 - Hearts of Iron IV with Sid Sridhar

Episode 2 - Hearts of Iron IV with Sid Sridhar

July 19, 2021

On today’s episode of Off-Campus History, we get strategic.

We’re playing Hearts of Iron IV, an incredibly detailed grand strategy video game set during the Second World War. In particular, we’re playing as the British Raj—a colony that in the mid-1930s included present-day India, Pakistan, Myanmar, and Bangladesh, among other places—to see how the game depicts the history of South and Southeast Asia during this period.

The period of the Second World War was a tumultuous one in the region. As the British Raj fought to repel Japanese incursions, it also saw an accelerating movement for Indian independence from Britain, and was devastated by the Bengal Famine beginning in 1943. To discuss how the game depicts all this history, how strategy games can interpret the past, and much more, I’m joined by Sid Sridhar, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto who is an expert in themes of capitalism and imperialism in South Asia during the 1930s and 40s.

For those who want to learn more about this episode’s topic, check out Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper’s book Forgotten Armies: The Fall of British Asia, 1941-1945 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005).

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Podcast logo is made by Instagram.com/nethkaria; intro and outro music by Instagram.com/nelamusica.

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