Oklahoma’s gateway to humanities education, community conversation, and cultural experiences.



Oklahoma Humanities’ BrainBox podcast uses the humanities to take listeners on a deep dive into the issues affecting American society and culture. Join some of Oklahoma’s most interesting and knowledgeable humanities scholars along with BrainBox host and OH Program Officer Chris Carroll to explore how history, literature, ethics, philosophy, and other humanities fields inform our understanding of current events and the human experience.

Email comments, questions, and ideas for future episodes to [email protected]

S1 EP10: The Victorian Era and Its Radicals

An exhibition sponsored in part by Oklahoma Humanities at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art focuses on rebellious artists and designers who reacted against the status quo of the Victorian Era. In this episode we talk with Dr. Pam Bracken of Southern Nazarene University and Bryon Chambers of OKCMOA about how this art movement gives us deeper insights into the Victorian Era and its connections with our own times.

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S1 EP9: Game of Thrones & the Humanities

For a story that features dragons, killer zombies, direwolves, and magical priests, Game of Thrones has a lot to say about the human experience. In this BrainBox episode recorded in front of a live audience, we discussed the portrayals of gender, slavery, governance, religion, and more on the world’s most popular TV show by looking through the lens of the humanities. Two of Oklahoma’s coolest history professors, Dr. Becky Bruce and Dr. Sunu Kodumthara, joined host Chris Carroll for a great discussion and audience Q&A at Oklahoma Humanities’ recent Curiosity Fest for this special episode. The audio quality isn’t as good as our normal studio episodes, but we hope you will give it a listen #ForTheThrone.

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How does a war that ended 100 years ago still affect the world today? As we near the centennial of its conclusion on Nov. 11, First World War scholar and UCO history professor Dr. Justin Olmstead discusses the war's “long shadow” with BrainBox host Chris Carroll. We'll also find out what it means to be a "World War I Person" versus a "World War II Person."

Check out Dr. Olmstead’s books, The United States’ Entry into the First World War and Reconsidering Peace and Patriotism during the First World War.

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Jad Abumrad is the founder and host of NPR’s Radiolab, and he will be the featured speaker at the Oklahoma Humanities Curiosity Fest at the Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall on Oct. 20. In this episode, Jad talks with BrainBox host Chris Carroll about the weird paths where his curiosity has led him through the world of the humanities. This episode also features a discussion with Oklahoma Humanities Executive Director Ann Thompson about some of the other cool programs happening at Curiosity Fest.

Check out information about the Curiosity Fest, featuring Jad Abumrad: okhumanities.org/curiosityfest

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Hip Hop has influenced cultures from the Eskimo lands near the North Pole to all points south on the globe. Hear the Chair of OU’s Clara Luper Department of African & African American Studies, Dr. Karlos K. Hill, break down the history, impact, and meaning of hip hop with BrainBox host Chris Carroll. (Check out the fresh remix of our BrainBox theme song too.)

Learn more about Oklahoma’s Elemental Hip Hop Program: facebook.com/ElementalHipHopProgram

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BrainBox guest Dr. Karlos Hill provided this playlist of 13 essential hip hop songs, representing different eras, regions, and approaches to the art form. WARNING: Some lyrical content may be inappropriate for younger listeners.


How should we live our lives? Are human beings “condemned to freedom”?  What did the Zen Buddhist say to the hot dog maker?** BrainBox tackles these and other weighty matters with Rose State philosophy professor Toni Castillo, as we take a look at the relevance of philosophy to our everyday lives.

 (** "Make me one with everything.”)

Links to information discussed in this episode: 
The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
The Daily Nous  
Voltaire’s short story The Good Brahmin
A discussion of the concept of wu wei
Judith Butler's concept of performativity
How to study philosophy through Rose State College

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Dr. Ryan Kiggins, a political science professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, talks with BrainBox host Chris Carroll about the history of the Internet and social media and their (not great) effects on American democracy.

Check out the new book The Political Economy of Robots, edited by Dr. Kiggins.

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S1 Ep3: Ralph Ellison's Light Bulb Room

Oklahoma Humanities recently sponsored a series of talks in four cities across the state about race and social issues. The writings of Oklahoma's own Ralph Ellison were used at the programs to give context to the state of race relations today. In this episode, the Ralph Ellison Foundation's Executive Director, Michael Owens, talks with BrainBox host Chris Carroll about the legacy of Ralph Ellison and his relevance to discussions of race in America today.

Learn more about the Ralph Ellison Foundation.

Read Ralph Ellison's essay "What America Would Be Like Without Blacks."

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S1 Ep2: #MeToo and the History of Women's Activism

In this episode, Dr. Sunu Kodumthara, a history professor at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, talks with BrainBox host Chris Carroll about the #MeToo movement and its place in the history of women’s protests and activism.  

In the wake of the allegations of sexual harassment and assault by film producer Harvey Weinstein in fall 2017, a movement originally inspired a decade earlier by activist Tarana Burke went viral, encouraging hundreds of thousands of women to share their own experiences. Dr. Kodumthara has deeply researched the history of women’s activism and protest, and she discusses key issues in the long, diverse, and ever-evolving struggle for equal rights for women.

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S1 Ep1: Watergate

On the very first episode of Oklahoma Humanities’ BrainBox podcast, Dr. Ben Alpers of the OU Honors College talks with host Chris Carroll about why the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s is important to understanding American politics and culture today. Ben and Chris talk about Americans’ historical memory and the changing ways Americans have thought about Watergate, Richard Nixon, and the presidency itself in the decades since Nixon’s resignation. We’ll also find out why the suffix “-gate” gets attached to every other scandal since Watergate. 

Want to read more from Ben Alpers? Check out his blog at https://s-usih.org/author/ben_alpers/  

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