With millions of downloads, hundreds of hours of soundtracked content, and an overall emphasis on the cultural history behind famous works of literature, Literature and History is one of the most popular independent podcasts on its subject. Starting with Sumerian cuneiform in 3,100 BCE, Literature and History moves forward in chronological order through Assyriology, Egyptology, the Old Testament, Ancient Greece and Rome, and the birth of Christianity. The show's current season is on Late Antiquity (or 200-700 CE) and the dawn of the Middle Ages.
A typical episode (they average about two hours) features a general introduction to a work of literature, then a full summary of that work that expects no prior knowledge, and finally, an analysis of the cultural, biographical, and historical forces that gave rise to the work in question. Original symphonic and ambient background music is woven throughout each show, and all episodes offer free full, illustrated, footnoted transcriptions as well as quizzes for purposes of review. The show has no advertisements, and its host takes pride in a professional approach that avoids chitchat and ephemera and gets straight to the educational content. You can listen to the episodes in any order, although most listeners begin at the beginning and proceed from there, as the podcast itself is chronologically organized.
Doug Metzger finished his Ph.D. in literature in 2011. His chief scholarly interest, following his dissertation work, continues to be 19th-century realism and postbellum American philosophy.