Social distance…it means more than just six feet apart. What other kinds of distances did we encounter during 2020 and beyond? Join Midstory as we interview experts in the humanities and delve into the kinds of distances that are, well…social—the gaps that have been exposed and widened amidst crisis, and how we’ve learned to bridge them.

Each week, we look at a different cross section of society that has been impacted by the crisis, and unpack topics ranging from the environment, birth and death and shelter, to media, race relations and more through insights from historians, anthropologists, poets, policymakers and other experts. Check out the video podcast episodes below or on social media under @midstory.

Social Distances Podcast Episodes


“The miner’s canary” | Dr. Akil Houston

Race. History. Media. The social unrest of 2020 called into question our present—and our past. Midstory talks to Dr. Akil Houston, professor of Cultural and Media Studies at Ohio University, to unpack how we got here and where we go from here.

“But I can remember stories” | Bill Kimok and Miriam Intrator

When the COVID-19 outbreak began, people sought answers in the century-old archives of the last global pandemic. 100 years from now, what will people look at to remember today? Midstory talks to Bill Kimok and Miriam Intrator of the Archives and Special Collections at Ohio University, as well as student Jade Braden, about preserving this moment—both the historic and the mundane.

“The triple whammy” | Amilcar Challu

In the past year, wildfires, hurricanes, record temperatures and more devastated populations already struggling with a raging global pandemic. Midstory talks to Dr. Amilcar Challu, professor of History at Bowling Green State University, about the ways the environment deeply influences our social and political realities.

“Comforted in the darkness of grief” | Dave Lucas

In the isolation and grief of 2020, we turned to the written word to find connections that transcend time and space. Midstory talks to Dave Lucas, the second Poet Laureate of Ohio and lecturer at Case Western Reserve University, about the ways writing and poetry provide solace, wisdom and clarity far beyond what we (and perhaps the authors) could have imagined.

“Playing more freely” | Zak Vassar & Chris Anderson

As concert halls and jazz bars closed amidst the pandemic, the music community had to find new ways to bring music to people. In doing so, they’ve also opened up doors to broader audiences. Midstory talks to Zak Vassar, President and CEO of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, and Chris Anderson, founder of Open Tone Music, about how the pandemic changed our access to music—for the worse, but also for the better.

“The luxury of hindsight” | Anne Sokolsky

At a time when travel is rendered impossible, literature can take us places. Midstory talks to Dr. Anne Sokolsky, professor of Comparative Literature at Ohio Wesleyan University, about the stories born of past pandemics and the importance of telling our stories today—through broader and more diverse means than ever before.

“The margins of subsistence” | Andrea Seielstad & Catherine Crosby

How does someone “shelter in place” when shelter isn’t safe, or there’s no shelter to stay in? Midstory talks to Andrea Seielstad, professor at the University of Dayton School of Law, and Catherine Crosby, Chief of Staff of the City of Toledo, about evictions, food insecurity, domestic violence and homelessness during the pandemic.

“I’m having that baby!” | Barbara Piperata & Emily Wolfe-Sherrie

Our last episode of the series brings life to the fore in a time of disease and death. Midstory talks to Dr. Barbara Piperata, professor of anthropology at the Ohio State University, and graduate student Emily Wolfe-Sherrie about what motherhood and bringing new life into the world look like under the strains of quarantine, as well as how cultural constructs shaping women’s postpartum experiences reflect back on society as a whole.

This program is made possible, in part, by Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.