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Podcast Episode 1

Leadership and the Humanities Podcast

Episode 1: Leadership in History, Leadership and History

The subject and discipline of history is really the essence of the humanities. I don’t say this because I’m a historian—I’m actually not a historian…

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  1. Charley Blount Charley Blount

    In her first podcast, Professor Bezio said, “History can provide us with example scenarios of how people might react in a given situation.” Is it becoming more difficult to use history as an indicator of how people will react to situations because of technological innovations made in the last quarter century? Do lessons in history still hold true? If so, do you expect this pattern to continue?

    • Olivia Cosco Olivia Cosco

      I had a similar thought. Professor Bezio also mentioned that a part of history is not only what it is, but why it happened, as well as where it came from and how it was recorded. Going through the years, there has obviously been an increase in ways history can be recorded and by whom. Because of this, my thought is that lessons in history may still hold true, but only to a certain extent. While we can hold on to the history we have, because of technological innovations, there are now more example scenarios that we have to learn from.

  2. Margot Roussel Margot Roussel

    I had two main thoughts after listening to Professor Bezio’s podcast. Firstly is it getting more difficult to define trends and eras as more things are recorded? We used to be able to define centuries by a few things because we didn’t know the particulars of what happened but now it’s not that easy. The second thing I thought about was how what Professor Bezio said connects to the book Educated. The author Tara Westover wrote about her own life and throughout the book would stop and point out how her memory of an event differed from her siblings recollection. She then went on to study history and how historians choose to record events.

    • Olivia Cranshaw Olivia Cranshaw

      I had a similar thought in connection to the question: “will it become more difficult to define trends and eras as more things are recorded”. I think there could be an interesting debate about whether the increase in personal data is worth the trouble it may cause to distinguish between important and insignificant trends/events. Personally, I do think it is worth the difficulty because we now have the ability to hear from infinitely more perspectives which creates more meaningful history. We also have the capability and computer processing systems to choose data/events that are more crucial based on calculations. The real question will be how biased are these processing systems towards the typical narrative?

  3. Tess Keating Tess Keating

    Something that stuck out to me from Professor Bezio’s podcast was when she stated, “history is written by the victors… but doesn’t have to be”. We are now able to hear history from all sides due to increases technological advancement, and it is no longer just “white men writing about other white men”. Will this change the way history classes are taught in the future? Will this lead to more complex studies of history from multiple different points of view?

  4. Annie Waters Annie Waters

    My biggest takeaway from this podcast is understanding historical biases in the context of how they affect the way in which history is presented as well as how they shape society today. Because of historical influences such as limited technology, great financial disparities, and The Great Man Theory, history is depicted in such a way that glorifies wealth and power, often to the extent that more influential societal forces are unknowingly overlooked. This provokes a lot of questions for me, the most pressing of which being “How have modern day classism and socioeconomic inequities been shaped by the manner in which our history has been presented, and how might they be different under the influence of alternative historical perspectives?”

  5. Alexander Barnett Alexander Barnett

    As I was listening to Professor Bezio’s podcast, I heard her say something along the lines of “history is highly contested”, and that many historians disagree on certain events in time. If this is true, how does our school system find the right candidate to write our history books? Does every history book have some level of bias?

  6. William Coben William Coben

    As i concluded the podcast and reflected amongst the many interesting points made by you, Professor Bezio, i was most intrigued by the comments you made about the white man writing history about the richer white man. While this was already mentioned, i am viewing it from a different perspective and wondering, will that ever change? Looking at politics in the United States, our country is run by rich white men. While there are minuscule amounts of minorities, and especially women of color with power and significant historical contributions, the majority of political leaders, along with CEO’s, Elite lawyers, and heads of PAC’s and SuperPac’s are white. With that fact being known, i am incredibly curious to see what history books display in the future. Will they talk about the few figures that are working tirelessly like Kamala Harris and AOC to make women of color prominent in politics, or will the narrative of a white man depicting a richer white mans history hold true.

  7. Zachary Andrews Zachary Andrews

    One of the first things that Professor Bezio mentioned was the concept that history is always contested. Often times it is challenged because of a historian’s personal belief or the source they receive their information from is different from other sources. Another reason as to why history is often contested is because frequently, primary sources that we have from the era of study only depict one side of the story. Usually this side is the one of the elite white people or the winners of a significant war. As we know, “History is always written by the winners. When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated…” Thus meaning that we don’t have accounts from the losing side. Since we don’t have primary sources from the losing side, we cannot accurately educate, tell, or depict what life was exactly like. My question is, will there every be a point where history is no longer contested? What year do you think the Era of Non-Contestation would begin?

  8. Kayla O'Connell Kayla O'Connell

    After listening to Podcast #1, it is clear that everything can be connected to history. In the past, historians were selective about what they documented due to the lack of materials and their obsession with “rich, white christian men”. Through the progression of time, women have gradually gained respect as leaders. Despite the increase in respect, a woman has yet to become the president of the United States of America. What must a woman do in order to prove themselves as a leader to the citizens of the United States? How long until the public deems a woman as a worthy and just president?

  9. Olivia Cranshaw Olivia Cranshaw

    Something I have been continuously debating is the question, to what extent does a victor win the right to define history, or if they even have that right? Professor Bezio mentioned several times how influential regular people are throughout history, even if we haven’t been able to hear from them as a result of a lack of access and/or education. This prompts me to question how much of a person’s victory is really their own. As stated in the podcast, when we examine history it is usually focused on Great Men (and now Women), so to what extent is their victory their own anyways? I think this concept of who has owned and who should own history extremely interesting as it forces you to both recognize natural wants/biases while also framing history in terms of its patterns.

  10. Aine Clancy Aine Clancy

    The topic of podcast one explored the unfortunate truth of how historiography impacts or changes the way we interpret events from the past. For instance, when exploring the Elizabethan Era in England, history depicts that the impoverished and normal people within England loved and supported their queen. However, historians know that there were several assassinations attempts against Queen Elizabeth and a rebellion during her reign. The common people did not have the means to share their own story due to lack of literacy and supplies as well as fear of repercussions for speaking against the people in power. This clearly shows how history was altered to fit the narrative of the victors, according to Great Man Theory. We can see how the people in power changed the writing of history and why history focuses on rich, powerful white men.

    • Aine Clancy Aine Clancy

      so my question is, how is the Great Man Theory still reflected in our society today?

  11. Christopher Wilson Christopher Wilson

    I acknowledge that Dr. Bezio has mentioned that the Humanities is a broad term, encompassing a range of subjects, such as History and the Arts. After hearing Dr. Bezio’s comment about the need for common people’s stories to be told and the power thereof, I immediately thought of the rise of creative nonfiction writing, which is factually based literature written engagingly. More specifically, I think of memoirs, like Michelle Obama’s Becoming, that not only shares the life of a great woman in American history who supported a great leader- her husband, former President Barack Obama- but also shows the world who she was before she became great. In response, what effect, if any, will more unconventional and creative mediums of telling common people’s stories have on members of society from different generations and upbringings?

    • Delaney Demaret Delaney Demaret

      Going off of a similar train of thought, with incorporating creative medias into our history, I often wonder about the extent to which social media will be studied in future years. The idea that historiography has long been written by rich white men almost clashes with the inherent inclusivity of social media platforms. However, there is absolutely no basis of factual standards held among the vast posts on social media as a whole, thus I imagine historiography might get a little tricky there. In general, a worldwide rise in literacy rates and a greater participation in society on the whole has to diversify the telling of history.., right?

  12. Samuel Hussey Samuel Hussey

    My biggest takeaway from the first podcast was in regards to the Great Man Theory and how much of history is biased towards white, christian men. They were the ones who had enough wealth to record events, and talk about their triumphs as generals or kings of their respective kingdoms. My question is how did these men become the first people to accumulate wealth and subsequently record history? Civilization was not started by white men. The first civilizations were formed in the fertile crescent region, a predominantly non-white area. So, how is it that white men were the first to accumulate enough wealth to have written records of their triumphs that we now call history? Is it so much that these men truly were “Great Men” as the theory suggests or was it more so being at the right place and right time in history where technology was at the point where it was more feasible to record events and store the records safely for centuries. So, were the Assyrians, Sumerians, and Egyptians simply too early on the human innovation timeline to be the ones of to master the art of recording history?

    • Delaney Demaret Delaney Demaret

      This is a highly specified example, but I got the opportunity last year to research the interaction between cultures that rely on oral storytelling and their interaction with white colonial powers. Personally, I focused on the Igbo people of lower Nigeria, and the loss of their sense of identity upon clashing with British colonial powers. Ultimately, the Igbo history and narrative was always there- as with all non-white cultures- but in the height of colonialism and global expansion, their narrative was rewritten by white colonial powers who in turn wrote it into the history we learned today. Our education, and western academia in itself, has not much been changed by the original white colonial powers that hijacked narratives that had always existed in different platforms.

  13. Morgan Crocker Morgan Crocker

    After listening to Professor Bezio’s podcast, it really made me realize there is so many moments in history that most people do not know about, because that moment in history does not revolve around someone who fits into the great man theory. So schools tend to leave those historical moments out of the history lessons, which makes me wonder why history lessons heavily revolve around a white man with money who treats minorities poorly. When will we start learning about the moments in history that focus on the achievements of African Americans, women, or anyone else that is not a rich white man? When will we not just learn about slavery when it comes to African Americans, but also the positive historical things African Americans have done that made this country better? When will we the lesson be more than just women fighting for the right to vote?

  14. Jeffrey Sprung Jeffrey Sprung

    After listening to “Podcast Episode One”, I was intrigued by the notion that events in history predominately revolve around the perspectives and events from the lives of rich, white men. Due to the combination of the fact that rich, white men had access to the money and supplies to record history and that many prominent worldwide leaders, such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, were rich white men, history is greatly biased as people of different ethnicity and socioeconomic class did not have a voice. However, today, due to the creation of social media and the internet within the 21st century, people of all race, gender, and socioeconomic class, have the ability to document their daily lives and share their perspectives. My question is how will the information that people of all genders, races, and socioeconomic classes document on social media and the internet change certain historical beliefs of the past, and to what extent will more events relating to people of all genders, races, and socioeconomic classes be more widely remembered in the future?

  15. Julia Borger Julia Borger

    After listening to this very thought-provoking podcast, I found myself pondering everything I had been previously taught about history- whether in school or from books or articles, and questioning its truth and value. Specifically the statement “we must unlearn what we have learned and relearn” really made me pause and reflect on the “facts” that I considered true since elementary school. In addition, I wonder how our history books and classes would change if it were not the affluent and powerful writing the stories for us, I imagine it would be a completely different narrative, as there are always two sides to every story. I also wonder how recording news will develop in the future to attempt an unbiased and objective story. I believe it is impossible to have a human recording events in a completely objective manner, as we will always be influenced by our own opinions and emotions, even if we try not to, so this will be a difficult task.

  16. Christina Glynn Christina Glynn

    After listening to Professor Bezio’s podcast, I thought about how the role of women in society changed after Queen Elizabeth? Were women more respected? More equal? Was this the start of a social revolution? Did other countries reconsider the role of women after witnessing Queen Elizabeth’s success? Surely, men came to a harsh realization that maybe they were not the dominant species and that women were capable of much more than was previously imagined. Queen Elizabeth served a prominent role in gender equality demonstrating how women were just as capable, if not more capable, of leading large societies of both men and women.

  17. Jack Kirkpatrick Jack Kirkpatrick

    This was a very insightful podcast for both the truth of historical leadership and the future of this class. After listening to episode one, I have a series of questions based off one overarching thought…. the people on the winning side of history write the history books, so why do we study their style of leadership when it’s likely some information was falsified or exaggerated? If historical writers only write about the “entertaining stuff” about leaders, like kings and generals, then these leaders would have there details exaggerated for students like us reading today, so how should we trust what is said to have been done by leaders hundreds/thousands of years ago. I heard you state we will study an alternative side of history uncovering the truth, but how do we know what is the truth and what it not? Even in our modern world today, different sources of information often lie and exaggerate the truth on all different angles of current events. I look forward to studying the alternative side to the high school history books, but I will be curious to know if it is the truth and how we know so.

    If what you say is true about only the rich white men getting wrote about, then again why should we study their leadership styles when they likely got credit for things they didn’t accomplish? Also vice versa, there were likely poor or common people who hated the ones holding power, so how do we trust the negative things we hear that are seen as “the truth” when talking about historical leaders. Furthermore, if we don’t know much about the basic people in history then how do we know that the perhaps “harsh” or “selfish” leadership styles of past leaders weren’t necessary in specific times? I recall a history video about a Persian(I believe) leader who supposedly was crazy, putting innocent people to death via torture… however the alternative side of history states these people were mass murderers or arsonists and were sentenced to death in a way that was seen as common in that specific historical context.

    Finally, on a separate note, I was left wondering how leaders’ decisions differ from past plagues to our current plagues? What similarities and differences were there in how the people and leaders reacted…. what worked and what didnt?

    – Jack 🙂

  18. Julia Leonardi Julia Leonardi

    This podcast really helped put in perspective how biased history is, and how leaders could basically write history the way they pleased and made them look good. Rich white men wrote about rich white men, so we only know about rich white men. I began to wonder how what we live today will be told and studied in the future because there is an overwhelming amount of personal anecdotes. I love the last part “we must unlearn what we learned, and then learn it all over again.” So excited to learn everything again in a completely different perspective.

  19. Sophia Peltzer Sophia Peltzer

    I found listening to this podcast very interesting especially during this particular time in history because I always find myself thinking about and wondering how people in the future will look at and view life in the early 21st century, and how life now will be defined by future generations. It is obvious that we are going through a pretty tumultuous, dividing, and controversial time period, particularly in America, and with the emergence and popularity of social media and the ability for people to share even the most mundane details of their lives, future historians will have a huge collection of data to sort through to determine the what the average life in 2020 looked like. The podcast really helped put into perspective that although a large part of history as we know it is biased because of the limited sources from which the information comes from, future historians will be able to create a much more nuanced and detailed picture of reality than we have ever seen before.

  20. Zariah Chiverton Zariah Chiverton

    I’ve thought about how one-sided history is but not to this depth. One thing that stuck with me towards the end was that you said history is important but the question is what kind of history? It makes me wonder about so much history that we don’t actually know about because there have always been so many voices that were ignored for so long. Would it be safe to say that if we were to learn the full picture of the past, it would change everything or would it not matter because it would continue to be ignored the way it seems to happen now?

  21. Delaney Demaret Delaney Demaret

    While listening to Dr. Bezio’s explanation of the “Great Man” theory, I thought of the theory of the “divine right to rule”. While the theory is relatively specified to certain time periods in history, it spans across nearly every continent. Without the structures in place in any society to award merit-based leadership, the power vacuum must be both filled and justified. The “divine right to rule” takes “Great Man” theory past innate qualities of leadership into omnipotent levels of leadership. Both falsely assume that leaders act alone, and I’d imagine that both require a certain degree of socioeconomic injustice (as the readings discussed) to distort the success of leadership. Turning the point towards historiography and its exclusive history, do you all think there is an element of a “divine right to history”? As in, those who are victorious (not truly victorious, just rich white Christian men), somehow think that history is theirs for proprietorship?

  22. Sophia Picozzi Sophia Picozzi

    I thought it was very interesting when Dr. Bezio talked about the traits of a leader and of leadership in general because I have often thought of the stereotypical leader as someone who is very extraverted and charismatic. However, the point that struck me and changed my perspective was when Dr. Bezio mentioned that these traits are very common and the people who have these traits don’t necessarily become leaders. This made me think of why we even try to list or assign certain personality traits to leadership and followership. Why are we so desperate to create a perfect personality mold that suits every leader across different countries and cultures? Why do we repeatedly try to create theories or a type of science to the abstract, complex, and diverging concept that is leadership?

  23. Carly Cohen Carly Cohen

    The biggest takeaway I had from the podcast was the Great Man Theory. I am really interested in learning more about this and how status can affect civilizations. If people truly believe some people are born leaders and not made into a leader, what is the deciding factor for this? How do people predetermine if someone is better than another person simply when they are born?

  24. Alexandra Oloughlin Alexandra Oloughlin

    Listening to the podcast, the thing that stuck out to me was how Dr. Bezio warned us not to accept history, without figuring out who is telling the history, in what context and why? That, in connection to her talking about the dentures George Washington had from the teeth of slaves, caused me to question the history that has been taught through the American education system. America looks towards its leaders with a reluctance to acknowledge the flaws they possess because of how our political leaders hold such a prominent part in society and the representation of America as a whole. We know the history that society wants us to know- yet- it is our job to look at history from an unbiased perspective, something difficult when history used to be recorded as the history of great men. This all encourages me to look deeper and re-examine the history that I have just accepted in the past.

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