The Podcast for Social Research

Introducing Episode 1 of the new Podcast for Social Research subseries (Pop) Cultural Marxism, in which Ajay and Isi (and special guests!) will be exploring the "fantastic form" of pop-cultural commodities—from film and television to toys and games to objects of every conceivable consumer variety. In the premier episode, they turn their attention to the genre of fantasy, and in particular to the recent prequels to The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. Listen in as they discuss, among other things, Amazon aesthetics, "the liberal imagination," beautiful failures, faux and real political realism, gif-able moments, Tolkien for neofascists, mimetic regression, billion-dollar budgets, and potential affinities between fantasy and socialist thought.

Direct download: pop_cultural_marxism_episode_1_elves_and_dragons.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:14pm EDT

In this Podcast for Social Research Shortcast, BISR's Ajay Singh Chaudhary and Isabella Likte consider the genre of teen comedy—or, in this case, a macabre critique of the genre. Sitting down for a short discussion in advance of our People's Choice Back-to-School screening of Michael Lehmann's 1989 film Heathers at BISR Central, Ajay and Isi probe (late) Gen-X social utopias and the dark side of Reagan's "morning in America." This Shortcast is a sneak preview of Ajay and Isi's new podcast subseries Pop-Cultural Marxism, which debuts next week, so stay tuned!

Direct download: HeathersTalk.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:33am EDT

In episode 26 of the Podcast for Social Research’s “Practical Criticism” series, Ajay Singh Chaudhary surprises Rebecca Ariel Porte with György Ligeti. They talk the newness of New Music, sparkling dissonance, champagne dissonance, weak shock, the poetry of Monk and Evans, generosity and difficulty, Adorno, modernism, working pluralism, theory and praxis.

Direct download: Practical_Criticism_Episode_26.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:15pm EDT

In episode 55 of the Podcast for Social Research, BISR faculty Ajay Singh Chaudhary, Rebecca Ariel Porte, and Isabella Katrina Litke sit down after our Occasional Evening screening of Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1987 masterpiece The Last Emperor to discuss the film’s making, themes, and fascinating approach to the grand sweep of 20th-century Chinese history. What can The Last Emperor, in its depiction of the Pu Yi’s fall from emperor to re-educated common gardener, teach us about the interplay of aesthetics, politics, and history? How does the film manage, where so many period pieces fail, to aestheticize history while also eschewing nostalgia? And what does it mean, cinematically, to democratize the past?

Direct download: TheLastEmperor.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:22pm EDT

Episode 54 of the Podcast for Social Research, a companion piece to Episode 53, is a live recording of Suzanne Schneider’s 11pm lecture at the 2022 Night of Ideas. In answer to the evening’s prompt “Where are We Going?” Schneider delves into the realm of risk, which has come to structure ever-increasing portions of individual, social and political life. And as risk has become “privatized,” its management has become a site for profit-making, with industries ranging from health care to firearms selling “safety” products pitched to privileged, middle- and upper-middle class subjects. How can we distinguish risk, fear, and paranoia? In what sense is risk a commercial concept? And what are the effects—individual and societal—of assuming an actuarial mindset when navigating social and political interactions? Does the culture of constant vigilance, of security hoarding as a lifestyle, in fact make us less safe?

Direct download: suzy_nop_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:28pm EDT

Episode 53 of the Podcast for Social Research is part one of two episodes recorded live at the 2022 Night of Ideas at the Brooklyn Public Library, co-sponsored by Villa Albertine. The theme of the evening was "Where are We Going?" Ajay Singh Chaudhary's response, "Against Resilience: Exhaustion, Ecology, and Emancipation" traces the genealogies and uses of the concept of resilience and its limitation in social and political theory. The foundation for "left-wing climate realism," Ajay argues, are to be found in rejecting the atomizing and internalizing imperatives of "resilience" in favor of the externalization of "exhaustion" into a real politics of power and conflict, citing anti-colonial and even Civil War precedents. Why is the ubiquitous concept of resilience so vague and yet so deleterious? How should we understand ecological and social exhaustion today? And what are the discomfiting implications of a political theory entirely structured by this ecological moment?

Direct download: against_resilience_night_of_ideas.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:55pm EDT

In episode 52 of the Podcast for Social Research, BISR faculty Nara Roberta Silva, Sophie Lewis, Jenny Logan, Abby Kluchin, and Alyssa Battistoni discuss Samuel Alito's Dobbs draft opinion, recently leaked, and the impending overturning of Roe v. Wade. Questions considered include: Alito’s reasoning, its implications for other rights, the validity of the “rights-based” approach itself (grounded in what’s implicitly a masculine (while also dis-embodied) liberal subject), abortion discourse (and the tendency to euphemize), the violence of enforced gestation, political strategy, the need for a truly mass feminism—and beyond.

Direct download: abortion_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:16pm EDT

In episode 60 of the Podcast for Social Research's Practical Criticism Series, Ajay Singh Chaudhary plays Lingua Ignota for Rebecca Ariel Porte, who, as usual doesn't know what the object of the week will be. They discuss commitment, committing to the bit, metal and its iconographies, ritual, decadence, Hildegard von Bingen, Audre Lorde, catharsis, exorcism, and choosing an enemy.

Direct download: PC_60.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:04pm EDT

In episode 51 of the Podcast for Social Research, Rebecca Ariel Porte welcomes the poet Yanyi for a discussion of his newly published collection Dream of the Divided Field. The episode kicks off with readings from Yanyi's work, before turning to a discussion, both playful and serious, of the genesis of Dreams, the role of dreams in the writing process, the power of the poetic line, and how writing can move one from a place of loss to new self-understandings.
Direct download: Yanyi_edit_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:22pm EDT

In Episode 63 of the Podcast for Social Research's "Practical Criticism Series," Ajay Singh Chaudhary plays "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda," as covered by The Pogues, for Rebecca Ariel Porte, who, as usual, doesn't know what the sonic object of the week will be. Their conversations covers resonances between World War I and our own historical moment, uses and abuses of nationalism, internationalism, periphery and metropole, proxy wars, balladry, pastiche, trauma, missed opportunities, disillusionment, and propaganda.

Direct download: pc_63.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:04pm EDT

In episode 58 of the Podcast for Social Research’s “Practical Criticism” series, Ajay Singh Chaudhary plays Pavement’s “Stereo” for Rebecca Ariel Porte, who, as usual, doesn’t know what the object of the week will be. Over the course of the discussion, they explore the strange aesthetic, social, and economic category of “indie”, the potential virtues and vices of non-virtuoso performance and “de-skilling”, musical absurdism, the Benjaminian physiognomy (and anxiety) of the slacker, the surprising genius of doggerel lyrics, the vaudevillian, the dark undercurrents of comfortable emptiness in a tired nation, and music with its corners chipped.
Direct download: pc_58.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:06pm EDT

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