The Moral Imagination -  Michael Matheson Miller
The Moral Imagination
Ep. 35: Jessica Hooten Wilson, Ph.D.: Literature and Totalitarianism

Ep. 35: Jessica Hooten Wilson, Ph.D.: Literature and Totalitarianism

In this episode, I speak with Professor Jessica Hooten Wilson about her writing and research on literature and totalitarianism. We discuss how both violence and entertainment and distraction are used a tools of state control. We discuss Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, some of the writings of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Julia Alvarez's novel, In the Time of Butterflies, about life under the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. We also discuss Victor Frankl, Josef Pieper, Michael O'Brien, Tocqueville's idea of "soft despotism", and Neil Postman's argument in In Amusing Ourselves to Death about Huxley's Brave New World and George Orwell's 1984. Wilson notes that these novelists take evil seriously, but are also careful not simply villainize the opposition so as to increase our understanding and self-awareness, and help prevent us from falling into the trap of another ideology.

Visit for show notes and resources.


Books discussed in interview are listed below.

For updates about my forthcoming book Digital Pandemic, please subscribe.

Jessica Hooten Wilson Website

Fahrenheit 451

By Ray Bradbury

Giving the Devil His Due: Demonic Authority in the Fiction of Flannery O'Connor and Fyodor Dostoevsky

By Wilson, Jessica Hooten

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

By Solzhenitsyn, Alexander

The Family & the New Totalitarianism

By O'Brien, Michael D.

Learning the Good Life: Wisdom from the Great Hearts and Minds that Came Before

By Wilson, Jessica Hooten, Stratman, Jacob

In the Time of the Butterflies

By Alvarez, Julia

The Scandal of Holiness: Renewing Your Imagination in the Company of Literary Saints

By Wilson, Jessica Hooten

In the First Circle

By Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn

Only the Lover Sings: Art and Contemplation

By Josef Pieper

Solzhenitsyn and American Culture: The Russian Soul in the West (The Center for Ethics and Culture Solzhenitsyn Series)

University of Notre Dame Press

The Moral Imagination -  Michael Matheson Miller
The Moral Imagination
Welcome to the Moral Imagination Podcast.
The overarching theme of my podcast is what it means to be a human person and what makes for a meaningful and good life.
We will discuss philosophy of the human person, culture, religion, social philosophy, and many other related topics, like education, learning, economics, food, technology, artificial intelligence, and intellectual history. My goal is to interact with ideas and people whose work I find challenging, and intellectually and socially important.