Episode 15: Romance Tropes









Episode 15: In this show, we depart from our usual analysis of YA literature and instead discuss adult romance-novel tropes that persistently beguile and bedevil us.

click to subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher


Our Current Reads


Baader-Meinhof: The Inside Story of the Red Army Faction by Stephan Aust
Orleans by Sherrie L. Smith


Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
The Smaller Evil by Stephanie Kuehn

   “Translation: All this twaddle merely is saying, ‘Hi, I’m Andreas Baader, a sociopathic dick.'”



What the hell is a “manther” anyway?
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Roxane Gay’s Outlander recaps: here, here, & here


                          “I feel so objectified.”

Romance Trope: The Virgin Hero 

Unclaimed by Courtney Milan
Off-Campus by Amy Jo Cousins
Taking Him by Jackie Ashenden

Romance Trope: The Indestructible Male

The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne
The Master by Kresley Cole
Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare


“Your torture tactics are nothing compared to the Midwestern accents of these dames, Le Chiffre!”

Want more? Subscribe to our accompanying TinyLetter for further discussion on this episode!


Episode 14: Femininity


Episode 14:  This is a companion piece to our episode on Masculinity, where we discuss femininity and some of its trappings as we’ve experienced them throughout our lives: lingerie, fake nails, cheerleaders, fathers and daughters, make-up, the meanings behind gendered concepts, the gender binary and the ritual of “getting ready.”

click to subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher


Our Current Reads


“The Dead” in Dubliners by James Joyce
Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase


The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne
Snow by Orhan Pamuk


==> Subscribe to our companion thematical TinyLetter for each podcast! <==


Against Our Will, by Susan Brownmiller
Another Round, Episode 45: Practical Tactical Brilliance (with Lin-Manuel Miranda)
by Susan Brownmiller
Symptoms of Being Humanby Jeff Garvin


Recommended Reads (listed in the order in which they were discussed)

Exit, Pursued by a Bearby EK Johnston
See No Color, by Shannon Gibney
Dare Me, by Megan Abbott
Afterparty, by Ann Redisch Stampler
The Forbidden Orchidby Sharon Biggs Waller
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banksby E. Lockhart

So? How did everything measure up? Tell us what you think! feedback AT theoralhistorypodcast DOT com

Podcasts We Like

"Get your fine self in here, baby."

“Gimme some of that podcast love, baby…”


Everyone and their mother has a podcast lately. It’s both wonderful and terrible, because much like the Amazon e-book store, it’s quite a slog finding good ones.

Of course, we vainly and whole-heartedly recommend our own show, The Oral History Podcast, but here is a list of ones we listen to regularly ourselves. What’s interesting is what they all have in common, too. Scroll down to the bottom of the list if you can’t figure it out…

Another Round
Description: “Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton cover everything from race, gender and pop culture to squirrels, mangoes, and bad jokes, all in one boozy show.”
Additional Thoughts: “Heben and Tracy are funny as hell, display much candor on mental illness and self-care issues, and are excellent interviewers.” – Christa
main show page

Death Sex & Money
Description: “A podcast hosted by Anna Sale about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation.”
Additional Thoughts: “Anna Sale is a bomb interviewer who finds lots of fascinating people to talk to and who has introduced me to a ton of artists and performers I wouldn’t know about otherwise. Stories are followed up on and listener-submitted stories are featured in every episode. It’s a very intimate look at how people feel about death sex and/or money and I never miss a show.” – Carrie
main show page

Double X Gabfest
Description: “Audio programming from Double X, Slate’s blog founded by women but not just for women.”
Additional Thoughts: “A good highlight reel of current events as they affect women and feminism, with lots of discussion on feminist debates, new and old, as well as a close look at popular culture and books. I especially enjoy June Thomas’ insight on, well, EVERYTHING. A good starting place for baby feminists and culture critics.” – Carrie
main show page

How To Make Me Come
Description: “”How to Make Me Come” explores issues linked to and inspired by female orgasm.”
Additional Thoughts: “Very candid discussion of the sexual lives and thoughts of real people. There were only 19 episodes made, unfortunately, but the open discussion is singular and fresh, and a concept I hope others will reprise.” – Carrie
main show page

In Bed With Susie Bright
Description: “In Bed is Susie’s notorious weekly audio show – all about sex, culture, media, and politics- from a refreshingly sexual point of view! You can’t hear it on the radio – you can only get it on the Internet. Commercial-free. Uncensored.”
Additional Thoughts: “You have to pay to listen to this show, but it’s well worth the money. Get a taste with some free samples available here. Susie Bright has one of the best minds when it comes to sexual politics and culture. Invest in your own sexual self-interest & listen.” – Carrie
main show page

A Novel Chat
Description: “Follow along with Aneeqah, Willa, and Emily as they discuss all things young adult books. Featuring insightful yet fun conversations, you’ll get to hear about various young adult novels, and the themes surrounding them. If you’re looking to find your next read or just listen in on a fun conversation, then tune in for some good times. From reading to publishing to all things life, these gals will sure to keep you entertained and also make you think a little deeper about a variety of books.”
Additional Thoughts: “This is a very new show and one produced by actual teenaged readers. I’m excited to see what they’ll produce next and will definitely be referring it to my teenaged students.” – Carrie
main show page

On Being
Description: “On Being takes up the big questions of meaning with scientists and theologians, artists and teachers — some you know and others you’ll love to meet. Updated every Thursday, Krista Tippett with a new discovery about the immensity of our lives.”
Additional Thoughts: I have listened to this show since 2001, when it was called “Speaking of Faith” and though I’ve got no religious life at the moment, I still find it a fascinating listen. I especially like the shows that get super exegetical about religious texts because though I don’t miss most of my former religious life, I do miss listening to smart people hold forth on the Bible.” – Carrie
main show page

Only Human
Description: “Only Human is a podcast about making the most of our health, whether we’re training for a marathon, overcoming an illness, or trying not to go broke paying for healthcare. Hosted by Mary Harris, Only Human is a show where we’re not afraid to have uncomfortable conversations, and experiment with possible solutions.”
Additional Thoughts: “I’m not a big fan of medical anything (shows set in hospitals, going to hospitals) but this is a very short, thoughtful look at health issues, both familiar and weird, which is a nice combination for a podcast, I think.” – Carrie
main show page

This Creative Life
Description: “Author Sara Zarr in conversation with other writers, with a focus on the practical and psychological aspects of creativity, the creative process, and the strange landscape where art meets commerce. Past guests include the author of If I Stay, Gayle Forman; literary agent Michael Bourret; and filmmaker Scott Derrickson.”
Additional Thoughts:  “A thoughtful look at creative process and creative obstacles, as well as discussion of living a creative life and how this kind of career affects all areas of one’s life.” – Christa
main show page

got yr ears on

“I got my ears on and I’m listening to every word you say, sweetheart.”




…what do all these podcasts have in common?

female content creators, hello

Episode 13: Sex Without Romance


oral_history_podcast_logoEpisode 13: We discuss Sex Without Romance (something that is very difficult to find in young adult fiction, as it turns out) and some of our adolescent adventures with respect to romance-free sex, as well as a few YA titles that touch on it.

click to subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher


Our Current Reads


Lost Paradise: From Mutiny on the Bounty to a Modern-Day Legacy of Sexual Mayhem, the Dark Secrets of Pitcairn Island Revealed by Kathy Marks
The House of Bernarda Alba by Federico Garcia Lorca


The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

                   “What I imagine when Christa describes ‘The Pit'” – Carrie


“Sex Without Love” by Sharon Olds
Young Life

Recommended Reads (listed in the order in which they were discussed)

Sex Without Romance: girl POV
Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn
The F-It List by Julie Halpern
Boy Heaven by Laura Kasischke
Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman
Everything Beautiful by Simmone Howell
“Me, Some Random Guy & the Army of Darkness” by Justina Ireland,  in The V-Word: True Stories about First Time Sex by Amber J. Keyser, editor

Sex Without Romance: boy POV
September Girls by Bennett Madison
Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian


“Want more? Subscribe to our accompanying TinyLetter for further discussion on this episode…”

Tell us what you think: leave a comment or send an email: feedback AT theoralhistory DOT com

Episode #12: Worst Dude Ever

oral history podcast cover

Episode 12:  We discuss traditional cultural lessons regarding masculinity and YA titles that address masculinity in fascinating ways.

click to subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher


Our Current Reads

The War That Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Fates & Furies, by Lauren Groff
Raging Star, by Moira Young
The Narcotic Farm, by Nancy D. Campbell


“As an underclassman who suddenly has to be the quarterback while taking care of my grandmother and having no parents, I’m here to say being a man is complicated.”

2nd Annual WriteLadyHeadRight Flash Fiction Tumblr & submission guidelines
My So-Called Life: the scene when Jordan Catalano holds Angela’s hand
on the slobby dress of men & the movie Clueless
Anatomy of a Country Music Song series
Angie Manfredi on Twitter @misskubelik
Iron John: A Book About Men, by Robert Bly
Starhawk, author & activist
a collection of romance novels edited by Christa
“Best Of Grindr” on Instagram
Sabaa Tahir on research and world-building in An Ember in the Ashes


“Sure I get the ladies but I basically have no education or idea of what to do with my life post-football. So, yeah.”

Recommended Reads
Fever Pitch, by Heidi Cullinan
Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta
All-American Boys, by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely
Winger, by Andrew Smith
September Girls, by Bennett Madison
An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir

Want more? Subscribe to our accompanying TinyLetter for further discussion on this episode!



Episode #11: Our Sexual Education

oral history podcast cover








Episode 11:  We discuss some of the books that helped shape our own sexual education and thinking over the years.


Click to subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher.

Our Current Reads
The Theory of Everything by Gae Polisner

The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne
Rogue Spy by Joanna Bourne
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir


“everything you’re saying is so resonant and deep and important; never stop talking…”

In Bed with Susie Bright podcast
On Our Backs magazine
writer Carol Queen
Susie Sexpert’s Lesbian Sex World by Susie Bright
Mother-Daughter Sex Advice by Susie Bright & Aretha Bright
A Natural History of Love & A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman
Leatherfolk: Radical Sex, People, Politics, and Practice edited by Mark Thompson
a bit on Jocelyn Elders, former SURGEON GENERAL (not Attorney General candidate, that’s Carrie’s error)
Disgruntled by Asali Solomon
Sula by Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Penis Passion” essay by bell hooks
The FetLife website


“wow, yr both really turning me around on a lot of topics here”

Recommended Reads 
Full Exposure by Susie Bright
Woman: An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier
Outrageous Acts & Everyday Rebellions by Gloria Steinem
The Best American Erotica anthology series edited by Susie Bright & others
Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex by Judith Levine
Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by Inga Muscio
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
The Story of O by Pauline Reage

Want more? Subscribe to our accompanying TinyLetter for more discussion!

Episode #10: Illicit Relationships


Episode 10:  We discuss illicit relationships where there is a power differential between the people involved, as well as legal and social restrictions.

Click to subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher

Our Current Reads
Walk On Earth A Stranger by Rae Carson
The Master by Kresley Cole

Traffick by Ellen Hopkins
The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Volume I: At the Edge of Empire by Daniel Kraus


power control wheel #3

the power & control wheel


being on “the down low”
“Is This TMI?” flash fiction
Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick
Boy Toy by Barry Lyga
Flawed by Kate Avelynn
Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Searching for Caleb by Anne Tyler
Other Broken Things by Christa Desir

Recommended Reads
Consent by Nancy Ohlin
Girl by Blake Nelson
How We Fall by Kate Brauning
Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
Still Waters by Ash Parsons



Tell us what you think! Leave a comment or send us an email: feedback AT theoralhistorypodcast DOT com