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Primitive Culture: A Star Trek History and Culture Podcast

Sep 27, 2020

McCarthy, The Crucible, and “The Drumhead”

In 1953, Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible used the Salem witch trials of 1692–93 as an allegory for the contemporary persecution of alleged communists by US Senator Joseph McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee. Four decades later, the Star Trek: Next Generation episode “The Drumhead” drew on both the legacy of McCarthyism—as the senator’s search for communists in the US government came to be dubbed—and Miller’s play to craft a cautionary tale of an investigation into alleged Romulan spies on the Federation flagship.

In this episode of Primitive Culture, host Duncan Barrett is joined by Amy Nelson for a look at this classic TNG episode along with its historical and literary influences. Is retired Admiral Norah Satie more witchfinder or witch? Is it ever acceptable to trade freedom for security? And what is the price that must be paid to maintain a utopian society?

Duncan Barrett

Any Nelson

Duncan Barrett (Editor and Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Tony Black (Associate Producer) Clara Cook (Associate Producer)