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Act Two: Centralia

An inextinguishable subterranean fire on the edge of a small Pennsylvania town, and why the residents are not afraid of it. Host Ira Glass and This American Life contributor Alix Spiegel.

Act One: International Justice

They can't pronounce the names, can't read the maps, don't know the history, and are on an idealistic quest for justice that so far has not flowered. Kitty Felde, on Americans at the War Crimes Trial for the former Yugoslavia.Interview with Michael Ignatieff about war crimes trials and truth commissions.

Act One: Travels in Hyperreality

Host Ira Glass uses Italian author Umberto Eco's essay Travels in Hyperreality as a guidebook to American simulated worlds. Eco says that the urge to create these miniature simulated worlds is a very American impulse — a significant American aesthetic — and one that's not often discussed.

Act Two: Dinosaur Exhibit

Writer Jack Hitt discovers that the world of dinosaurs is a man-made creation, a simulated world that may or may not accurately reflect what happened on earth 100 million years ago. Talking with dinosaur experts like Jack Horner (whose work was the basis of much of the film Jurassic Park), Hitt finds that most of what you think you know about dinosaurs is probably wrong, and that Americans' ideas about dinosaurs go through "fashions" that reflect the national mood: We believed dinosaurs were more aggressive when we were on the brink of World Wars One and Two.

Act Three: Medieval Times

Ira takes a Medieval scholar from the University of Chicago, Michael Camille, to Medieval Times — a chain of fake castles where visitors eat Medieval food and drink Medieval Pepsi and watch a supposed recreation of a Medieval jousting tournament. The scholar finds that there are many historical inaccuracies, but that Medieval Times does capture something essential and interesting about the spirit of the Middle Ages.