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With Good Reason

Arts & Culture

Each week on With Good Reason we explore a world of ideas with leading scholars in literature, history, science, philosophy, and the arts. With Good Reason is created by Virginia Humanities and the Virginia Higher Education Broadcasting Consortium.


Charlottesville, VA


Each week on With Good Reason we explore a world of ideas with leading scholars in literature, history, science, philosophy, and the arts. With Good Reason is created by Virginia Humanities and the Virginia Higher Education Broadcasting Consortium.




145 Ednam Drive, Charlottesville, VA 1 877 451 5098


Police Culture

Conversations around community policing are polarizing. It can be hard to have a meaningful and useful conversation. Brian Williams believes that conversations that first hit the heart can impact the head and hands, bringing corrective and collaborative action. And: Police suicide rates are on the rise. It’s clear that mental health is a real problem in the profession. Stacey Clifton studies how the very culture of police–a sort of macho suppression of emotion–makes it extra hard to address their mental health crises. Later in the show: When we think of policing, we don’t usually think about policing white collar crime. Thomas Dearden explains some of the challenges of stopping white collar crime. Plus: Before England had a police force, Queen Elizabeth had a secret enforcer named Richard Topcliffe. Topcliffe’s job was to track down suspected Catholics and use their own pro-Catholic books as weapons against them. Centuries later, Mark Rankin found those books and uncovered the treasonous evidence that Topcliffe planted in their margins.


Seeing Isn't Believing

Photoshop recently unveiled a new function that integrates generative AI, a cutting-edge technology that can produce images from text. JD Swerzenski says we’ve reached a point where photo manipulation has never been so easy. And: Rebecca Silberman specializes in miniature set pieces: think of tiny scenes intricately constructed inside dioramas. She says it's a delicate process that requires a small paint brush, strong magnifying visors, and a good deal of focus. Later in the show: Deepfakes have been around since the last presidential election in 2020. But the technology was pretty clunky, so they were easy to spot. Cayce Myers says deepfakes will have a much bigger impact on the upcoming 2024 presidential race. Plus: The ability to see has been one of the senses that distinguishes living organisms from nonliving things. But computers have recently gained sight as well. Khan Iftekaruddin uses computer vision to help identify a deadly form of brain cancer, called glioblastoma. Khan was named an Outstanding Faculty member by The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.


Open Book

Traditionally people become licensed educators and then enter a classroom. Smita Mathur and her colleagues took a different approach. They invited migrant farm workers to come teach migrant children, and then trained them to be teachers. And: How Kelly Cartwright found that a lot of students can sound words out, but can’t quite connect the sound to the meaning of the word. And what educators are doing about it. Plus: Curiosity is central to learning, but Jamie Jirout says that school snuffs it out.


REPLAY Women On Screen

After new episodes drop, fans of TV shows take to social media to dissect what they just saw. Dr. Morgan Smalls says shows that feature Black women protagonists and majority Black casts, like Insecure and Being Mary Jane, inspire important conversations about race on social media. And: Disney princesses can be a bit of a scapegoat for what’s wrong with representations of women in movies. One of the problems: they don’t have many healthy female relationships. Jessica Stanley talks about the toxic relationships of wicked stepsisters and evil witches and how modern Disney movies are doing better. Later in the show: Movies and television tell stories about who we are and who we get to be. What does that mean for people who don’t find themselves on the screen? Andre Cavalcante explores the history of trans representation in the media and how trans women have subverted the stories so often told about them. Plus: Movies are so much more than entertainment--they shape the way we see the world around us. Even when we don’t realize it. Kimberly Brown looks at common stereotypes of Black women in movies and what it means for a casual moviegoer to watch film in an anti-racist way.


Artful Living

We experience the world first with our senses. And then art can help us understand what we’re seeing, feeling, and experiencing. Stephanie Hodde uses spectacle theater to help communities be in touch with the issues that matter most to them. And: The design of everyday objects is about usefulness—but there’s also an art and a politics to it. Carissa Henriques shares the innovative strategies that designers can use to be more democratic, compassionate, and effective in their work. Later in the show: Paul Bogard’s new book Solastalgia is an “anthology of emotion in a disappearing world.” He shares some of his favorite essays from the book and explains the love–of his daughter, of this Earth–that drove its publication.


The Many Indias

As India celebrates 76 years of independence - Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has drawn criticism for promoting a kind of hindu nationalism that's rooted in the colonial period. Rohan Kalyan says Modi’s vision for India doesn’t leave much room for non-hindus and other minorities. And: Neel Amin studies the writings of British hunters in 19th century India. He says the sense of colonial superiority held by the British was threatened when they met a nomadic people called the Banjara. Later in the show: In 1765, the ruler of the Indian province of Awadh was defeated in battle by the East India Company. Flush with war debt, he turned to his wife, Bahu Begam, to bail him out. Nick Abbott looks at how Bahu Begam leveraged her wealth to gain political influence during the colonial period. Plus: While Greco-Roman polytheism has long died off, Hinduism remains alive and well. In fact, it’s the third largest religion in the world. So what accounts for its staying power? Atin Basu says it’s because there’s no jealousy among the pantheon of Hindu gods.



Universities have been trying to curb dangerous binge drinking for years. Today’s students are glued to their phones, and Abby Braitman and her colleagues are meeting them where they are for interventions. And: Meagan Brem says that drinking is intertwined with a lot of the intimate partner violence that happens on college campuses. Later in the show: There’s a psychedelic renaissance going on in Javier González-Maeso’s biochemistry lab. He’s hoping to develop a new drug using psilocybin, the component found in magic mushrooms, to help people battling alcohol abuse disorder. Plus: How Jasmohan Bajaj discovered that addiction lives in the gut, not the mind.


Terrapins And Terriers

In the early 20th century, terrapins–a kind of turtle–were a culinary delicacy. Then humans nearly hunted them to extinction. While Americans don’t eat much turtle these days, terrapin populations are still in danger–from crab traps. Randy Chambers is working to perfect a device for crab traps that will help protect terrapins. And: Learning about learning is a lot easier if you’ve got hands on practice. That’s what inspired the first ever Wise-minster Dog Show at the University of Virginia at Wise. Robert Arrowood’s psychology of learning class put theory to practice by training shelter dogs. Through the project, UVA Wise students helped dozens of dogs find their forever homes. Later in the show: Lab rats have a pretty cushy life. And if you measure their stress levels compared to wild city rats, it shows. But what about wild country rats? Molly Kent’s research asks questions about stress in rats, but along the way she’s learning about human stress, too. Plus: Are undiscovered animals lurking in plain sight? Tara Pelletier says that even if animals look the same to our human eyes, they can have genetic differences that make them different species.


REPLAY Reading And Writing Ourselves

In 2017, many Americans watched in horror as violent images from the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville started spreading. A few short years later, My Monticello tells the story of Charlottesville neighbors fleeing racist violence and taking refuge in Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello. The author, Jocelyn Johnson, talks about what it means to be writing about a past and a future that both feel very present and whether there’s hope in writing about America’s racism. Later in the show: Famous for the fatwa put on him by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989, Salman Rushdie is still writing years later--but now from the United States. Pennie Ticen discusses Rushdie’s past and the new kind of writing he’s publishing as an American immigrant. Plus: On the surface, The Tigger Movie and Anne of Green Gables don’t have a lot in common. But if you look a bit closer, they both touch on an incredibly popular theme in stories for kids: adoption. Kim Gainer explores why kids are so obsessed with reading about adoption and how these stories help shape who we are.


REPLAY Entangling Alliances Hour

During the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, tensions between the United States and Russia nearly led to nuclear disaster. So what prevented the unthinkable from happening? Martin Sherwin argued it had something to do with luck. And:. Philip Roessler has studied the impact of rising temperatures on conflict zones around the world. He predicts climate change will soon become one of the main drivers of large scale political violence. Later in the show: China has burst onto the scene as one of the world’s most powerful countries - forcing the United States to take notice. Patrick Rhamey says as competition heats up between the two countries, the Biden administration should avoid treating China as the enemy. Plus: George Washington famously warned against the dangers of alliances in his Farewell Address. But Jason Davidson says despite Washington’s misgivings, America has relied on foreign alliances throughout its history.


Underground And Taboo

In the 1990s, a group of single Black mothers known as The Circle formed an underground gambling ring in Danville, Virginia. Their winnings went a long way in easing the struggle of raising a family as a single mother. With Good Reason producer, Matt Darroch, has the story. And: Now close to a century removed from prohibition - speakeasies, gangsters, and moonshine still loom large in the public imagination. But Michael Lewis says our understanding of the era isn’t a very accurate one. Also: There are currently more than 100,000 people in the US in need of an organ transplant. Every year, thousands die while waiting for their turn on the transplant wait list. Kim Krawiec studies how we view organ donation as admirable, as long as money isn’t involved. Later in the show: Most of us know the dark web as this scary and mysterious corner of the internet where online crime reigns free. But Babur Kohy says the dark web is more than just a hub for illegal activity, it can actually be used for good as well. Plus: Underground anti-Catholic sentiment in the US spiked right after WWI. John Kneebone studies what he calls the anti-Catholic underground. He says there’s a long history in the US of the KKK and secret fraternal organizations preventing people of Catholic faith from holding office.


Summer Reading Show

Summer is here and with it comes our annual With Good Reason summer reading list. From the hills and hollers of Appalachia to Egypt, we’ve got so much to keep your pages turning. Jessica Mullens Fullen, Vic Sizemore, Sarah Rifky and Maynard Scales share some of their favorite reads.


REPLAY Abolishing The Death Penalty

Virginia made headlines when it became the latest state to abolish the death penalty. Sabrina Butler-Smith is the first woman to be exonerated from death row. She says she’s living, breathing proof of why the capital punishment should be a thing of the past. Also: Deirdre Enright is probably best known for her work as the founding director of the Innocence Project and her passionate voice on the first season of the hit podcast, Serial. But before all that, she spent decades as a capital defense lawyer. She says she attended one of her clients’ executions and it changed her life forever. Later in the show: Since 1976, 17 women have been executed in the United States. Mary Atwell says women facing the death penalty are often subjected to harsher sentencing due to gender bias within the criminal justice system. Plus: In 1951, seven Black men from Martinsville, Virginia were executed for allegedly raping a white woman. Two months ago, Virginia governor Ralph Northam issued pardons to each of the Martinsville 7. Peter Wallenstein says the Martinsville 7 case brings into sharp focus the racial disparities of capital punishment in Virginia.


A Confrontation With History

As a Black literary scholar, Shermaine Jones was unsure of how to live and work through the Covid-19 pandemic and the George Floyd uprisings. She wondered, is it appropriate to study fiction and poetry during times of crisis? And how could she give her students grace and compassion in their own work? She turns to Black women writers to answer these complicated and enduring questions. And: Desegregation changed things on paper. But people continue to live how they were taught to live, and how history has taught them to live. As a Richmond native, Marvin Chiles understands this well. His new book The Struggle for Change: Race and the Politics of Reconciliation in Modern Richmond explores the slow and ever evolving desegregation of Virginia’s capital city. Later in the show: The 2017 Summer of Hate in Charlottesville became a worldwide media event. Images and videos from that day were shared millions and millions of times and continue to be used in pop culture. Aniko Bodroghkozy’s new book, Making #Charlottesville: Media from Civil Rights to Unite the Right looks at how the far right borrowed media strategies from the Civil Rights movement and how the images that each created continue to shape politics.


REPLAY The Empathy Tours

Jalane Schmidt recently brought a group of Virginia teachers to see Charlottesville’s tiny monument to its enslaved residents. One teacher had a startling personal revelation at that site. And: Elgin Cleckley is an architect who studies empathy. He says redesigning public space can help heal racial wounds. Plus: Danville, Virginia was once a Confederate capital. Now, teams of citizens are working together to tell the story of a different Danville: a city that hosted Martin Luther King Jr. and Thurgood Marshall, a city where brave teenagers forced the public library to integrate, and where opportunity for all is on the rise. Karice Luck-Brimmer recently took students and teachers from Averett University on an eye-opening tour of African American Danville. Later in the show: When we hear about the end of Jim Crow, we hear mostly about kids attending schools or about major court cases. But what did the process of legal desegregation look like in everyday life and culture? Jennifer Ritterhouse shares the story of Sarah Patton “Pattie” Boyle and her transformation from segregationist to ardent desegregationist in mid-20th century Virginia. Plus: Jody Allen discusses how Black Virginians collectively built their own institutions during the Jim Crow era. And: Camilla Williams was an African American opera singer from Danville, Virginia. She shares her memories and music with us, and Ethel Haughton explains why Williams’ legacy is so important today.


Working Conditions

Connective labor is disappearing. Professions that rely on connecting humans -- like teaching or therapists -- are being automated. Allison Pugh says that this is dangerous not only for people’s pockets, but for their overall wellbeing. And: A million poor men migrate to the Gulf for unskilled jobs every year. Andrea Wright says that the Indian government sees this as an opportunity, but also a mark against India in the international imagination. Later in the show: In 1914, coal miners in Ludlow, Colorado went on strike to protest better working conditions. Fawn-Amber Montoya details how they were terrorized and massacred in response.


Destroying The Soul

Political prisons in the Arab world are rooted in colonialism. Diana Obeid says these prisons are meant to instill fear and destroy the soul. And: In 2022, Mahsa Amini died after she was arrested by the Iranian morality police for not wearing her head scarf properly. Her death sent convulsions throughout Iran, as intense protests threatened to topple the authoritarian government. Peyman Jafari calls the protests a revolt with a revolutionary perspective. Later in the show: The Yemen civil war started back in 2014. Since then, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the US have all gotten involved - triggering a long and protracted proxy war. Bernie Kaussler says the situation in Yemen is a major humanitarian disaster. Plus: Earlier this year, China brokered a truce between Saudi Arabia and Iran, two of the biggest rivals in the Middle East. Ariel Ahram says China’s emergence in the region might actually be a good thing for the US.


Music For Life

Growing up in Southwest Virginia, Tyler Hughes has been steeped in the traditions of mountain music and dance from a young age. For him, music is about community. And: Life skills classes for people with exceptional needs often teach things like cooking, money skills, and street safety. Karen Feathers and Jackie Secoy believe that appreciating, listening to, discussing, and even playing music are important life skills, too. Later in the show: Imagine you’re looking at a piece of art like a painting or a sculpture. You can probably describe it in some basic ways using math–it’s 30 inches long, it’s twice as tall as it is deep, that sort of thing. Robert Wells says we can do the same thing with music. Plus: 60 years later, The Beatles still capture our attention–and new audiences, too! Thomas Payne is helping a new generation fall in love with John, Paul, George, and Ringo.


Visions Of Style

In the late 70s, the University of Virginia inherited 10,000 glass plate negatives from the Holsinger Studio. Among them were 600 portraits self-commissioned by Black Virginians. John Edwin Mason sat with those images for years, dreaming up the perfect team to bring them to life. He found his team. Now, through the Visions of Style and Progress exhibition, Mason says that the images are transforming the way that viewers think about life for Black Virginians at the turn of the 20th century. And: Light can be tricky to work with in installations. How Holly Robertson used the 9-foot-windows at the university’s Small Collections Library to bring Visions of Style and Progress to life. Plus: It’s difficult to imagine that the highway was someone’s home. But it was. LaToya S. Gray says a once thriving Richmond neighborhood known as the Harlem of the South fell victim to intentionally destructive city planners.


REPLAY Outdoor Archives

We often think of cemeteries as separate worlds unto themselves. But people buried at Confederate graveyards were surely connected to people at the African burial grounds, and the cemeteries reveal the intimacy of their connections. Ryan Smith and his students have been transformed by tending to cemeteries over the past 20 years. And: After Pearl Harbor, the United States Navy needed land for bases and training. Former William & Mary PHd student Travis Harris says the African American neighborhood of Magruder near Yorktown, Virginia was just one of the many mostly black communities forced out to make way for U.S. military bases. Later in the show: Award-winning journalist Brian Palmer grew up hearing about Magruder, his father’s boyhood neighborhood that was bulldozed to make way for a US Naval base. An old picture led Brian and his wife Erin Palmer back to Magruder and across the state tracking where his ancestor was enslaved. After moving to Richmond, the couple got involved in restoring a cemetery where Brian has more ancestors.