The Podcast for Social Research

In episode 72 of the Podcast for Social Research, Nara Roberta Silva, Rebecca Ariel Porte, Lauren K. Wolfe, Mark DeLucas, and Ajay Singh Chaudhary look back at their 2023 in cultural objects, or their 2023 experiences of objects washed up on present shores from other times, observing as they do how year-end compendia reveal surprising throughlines. A tally, in brief, of their preoccupations include: the itinerant dance party Laylit celebrating Arab/SWANA music, Argentina, 1985 (and why historical contingency is such a problem for theory), paper architecture, Isabella Hammad’s Enter Ghost and global Shakespeares, Naomi Klein’s Doppelgänger and demonic doubles, Ruth Beckermann’s Mutzenbacher (and cis-male hetero-sexuality as at once the most and least visible), Anita Brookner’s novels of mid-life resignation (a revival for aging millennials?), the origins of Fauvism, actually interesting YouTube trends, vinyl records and deliberate listening, and what there is to look forward to in 2024.

Direct download: EOY_full_cast_pod_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:42pm EST

In the final episode for 2023, Isi, Ajay, and Joseph address the vexing nature of End-of-Year lists—and then go through the vexing process of assembling our own! Isi leads us through our year in cinema; Ajay, the year in games; and Joseph, the year in television, culminating in three top picks (and some honorable mentions) for the year in each category. Discussions range from the surprising success of cinematic restorations to films which shape, subvert, and show the optical unconscious; games of visceral pleasure, systemic fascination, and astonishing simplicity; and the politics (and possibilities) in contemporary anime and the anxious and wonderfully character-driven year in television. Proceeding in part through negative examples (Oppenheimer and Final Fantasy XVI receive perhaps the harshest treatments), the cast ultimately records in the world of film: 1. Stop Making Sense (2023, remaster); 2. Killers of the Flower Moon (2023); and 3. May December (2023), with honorable mentions for How to Blow Up a Pipeline (2023) and The Boy and the Heron (2023). In the world of games: 1. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (2023); 2. Armored Core 6 (2023); 3. Super Mario Brothers Wonder (2023) / Pikmin 4 (2023), with honorable mentions for Star Ocean: The Second Story R and a whole slate of tiny games for Panic's "Playdate" lo-fi handheld: Questy Chess, Omaze, Zipper, Casual Birder, among others. In the world of television: 1. Rap Shit (2023); 2. Beef (2023); 3. Attack on Titan (2013-2023), with honorable mentions for the live-action adaptation of One Piece (2023) and our collective 2022 hangover shows: Peaky Blinders (2013-2022) and Ozark (2017-2022). Stay tuned in for talk of the unbearable “Barbenheimer” phenomenon, what makes old action movies so good, unsustainable labor practices in the world of commercial game production, and making a “Breaking Bad” that is actually good. Wishing you all a critically reflective holiday season from PCM!

Direct download: pop_cultural_marxism_231211_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:14pm EST

In episode 67 of Practical Criticism, Rebecca and Ajay surprise each other with songs and compositions drawn exclusively from their respective algorithmically-generated Spotify "Wrapped" playlists! Pieces include Erza Furman's "Can I Sleep in Your Brain"; Linked Horizon's "Guren No Yumiya" (from the Attack on Titan soundtrack); Lucy Dacus's "Night Shift"; The Smashing Pumpkins's "Mayonaise"; Monteverdi's "Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria"; Phish's "Cavern" (from Atlantic City, 10/30/2010); CeeLo Green's cover of "No One's Gonna Love You" by Band of Horses; and Nirvana's "All Apologies." Along the way, the conversation turns to overcoming the All-Roads-Lead-to-Coldplay-Problem of automatic curation, the subtle and the transformative, time changes and genre conventions, unadorned pop and unromanticized classics, the dialectic of sincerity and absurdity, cute aggression and martial pop, fascist aesthetics, narcissistic injury and pathic projection, epics of the ordinary, the strange proliferation of 2-part pop songs, soft edged vs. soft with edges, unleashed elegance, what the machine wants you to listen to, coolness and anomie, the many modalities of anger, musical artifacts and ur-forms, ariosos vs. arias and the nascent opera of the early 17th century, brilliant failures, and, above all, writing soundtracks. Listen to what rises out to shine from the digital (and other) mucks of 2023.

Direct download: practical_criticism_231201_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:52am EST

Is a recipe a text? What happens when it’s translated, via cooking, into food? In episode 71 of the Podcast for Social Research, live-recorded at BISR Central, author Rebecca May Johnson joins BISR faculty Sophie Lewis and Rebecca Ariel Porte and Dilettante Army's Sara Clugage to read from her autotheoretical "epic in the kitchen" Small Fires and discuss the ways cooking relates to language, the body, knowledge, politics, power, and thinking. What's creative about cooking from a recipe? What kinds of bonds and connections do recipes create—between both intimates and strangers? Why is Donald Winnicott wrong about sausages (and, can we ever be recipe-less)? Why cook a recipe 1,000 times? When is cooking labor; and when, if ever, is it not? What would it mean to abolish the kitchen?

Direct download: Cooking_is_Thinking_Rebecca_May_Johnson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:37pm EST

In this very special crossover episode, the compound cast—Isi, Rebecca, and Ajay—are back together after hiatuses of various lengths to discuss the Talking Heads and A24's recent re-release of Jonathan Demme’s much-celebrated 1984 concert film Stop Making Sense. Kicking off with some reunion talk (to wit: research rabbit holes, early modern gardens, avant-garde architecture, automata, and, naturally, more Zelda), the trio then sets out to explore what it is that makes this film such a brilliant exemplar of the genre—joyful, affirmative, but nevertheless critical in sensibility. Along the way, they discuss: first encounters with the film, soundtrack versus album versions (controversial!), David Byrne’s pas de deux with a lamp, fashion and theatrical influences (kabuki, noh, Brecht), laying bare the device, the more integrated musical scenes of the 1980s, satire, collective composition, Tina Weymouth as secret sauce, and so much more. What kind of story does this film tell about music? How did the restored version come to be? And what does it restore?



Direct download: pop_cultural_marxism_final_231122.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:31pm EST

In episode seven of Faculty Spotlight, Mark and Lauren sit down to chat with two BISR faculty whose interests, scholarly and otherwise, dovetail in fascinating ways—Sophie Lewis, writer, critic, and leading scholar of family abolition and the politics of reproduction; and Paige Sweet, writer, practicing psychoanalyst, and founder of the experimental writing project Infinite Text Collective. Following Sophie’s personal reflections on her early experiences of the injustices in-built into middle-class heteropatriarchal institutions like the family and formal schooling (“nothing is apolitical”), the four of them discuss: what previously overlooked insights one might still unearth from so-called second wave feminists like Silvia Federici (is the witch a figure of incipient queerness?); how fecund and fungible was the time of transition from feudalism to capitalism, not least for thinking with gender; the “unruly undertows” of popular and “low” entertainment (Chicken Run as exemplary Marxist-feminist cinema!); autotheory, autofiction, autoanalysis, and the affordances of writing from the self; why children’s liberation is to everyone’s benefit; and the erstwhile pin-up career of Barnacle the cat—with much else in between and besides. 

Direct download: Faculty_Spotlight_Sophie_Lewis.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:03am EST

In episode six of Faculty Spotlight, Mark and Lauren sit down with R.H. Lossin, postdoctoral fellow at Harvard’s Warren Center of Studies in American History and a leading scholar of the theory and practice of sabotage. The three discuss: what led R.H. to the study of sabotage; why sabotage is more ordinary than you think; R.H.’s beef with the “universal library”—i.e., the total digitization of books; how readers have become producers; why Luddites have a bad rap; the meaning of “capitalist sabotage”; and the violent origins of all private property—among other scintillating subjects.

Direct download: Faculty_Spotlight_RH_Lossin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:30pm EST

In this shortcast edition of the Podcast for Social Research, recorded live at BISR Central, BISR’s Rebecca Ariel Porte, Paige Sweet, and special guest Sonia Werner take an in-depth look back at Jamie Babbit’s 1999 queer cult classic But I’m a Cheerleader—a campy send-up of gay conversion therapy and compulsory heterosexuality. What are the “roots” of sexual desire? Rebecca, Paige, and Sonia parse the film’s playful mockery of the very notion—spoiler alert!—that sexuality (of any stripe) has anything so neatly grounded about it. Topics touched on include: sexuality’s intersubjective structure, plastic flowers and monochrome palettes, Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, comedy as coping mechanism, femme queerness, butch visibility, camp as a celebration of surfaces, Foucault, discipline, straight pedagogy, and more! 

You can download the episode by right-clicking here and selecting “save as.” Or, look us up on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

The Podcast for Social Research is produced by Elliot Yokum. If you like what you’ve heard, consider subscribing to Brooklyn Institute’s Patreon Page, where you can enjoy access to all past and future episodes of the podcast.

Direct download: but_im_a_cheerleader_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:09pm EST

Episode 70 of the Podcast for Social Research is a live recording of the concluding panel of BISR’s July symposium Frankfurt School and the Now: Critical Theory in the 21st Century. To what extent, 100 years later, can critical theory help us make sense of the particular conditions, crises, and prospective futures of the contemporary twenty first-century moment? Panelists Isi Litke, Barnaby Raine, Samantha Hill, Ajay Singh Chaudhary, Moira Weigel, and Jodi Dean consider big data and social media, György Lukács, Black Marxism, climate and class struggle, hyper-individualism, optimism versus pessimism, and the objectification of everything. Is interactive media a democratic alternative to a top-down culture industry, or does it actually exacerbate authoritarian dynamics? How can we think about politics and political subjects under conditions of climate change? In what ways does the twenty-first century echo the twentieth? How do we think with critical theory without fetishizing it? What are the political uses of failure? Is there an imperative to hope?

Direct download: goethe_event_podcast_4.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:09pm EST

In episode 69 of the Podcast for Social Research, live-recorded (like episodes 67 and 68) at BISR’s recent symposium Frankfurt School and the Now, BISR faculty Ajay Singh Chaudhary, Isi Litke, and Nathan Shields and guests Adam Shatz and Kate Wagner ask about the uses of critical theory for thinking about contemporary culture and cultural production, from Twitter to architecture to media mega-conglomerates like Disney. How does social media structure and even produce certain kinds of discourse (for example, YIMBY vs. NIMBY)? How can Theodor Adorno help us navigate the poles of poptimism and elitism? Why do we feel driven to “stick up” for major movie studios and franchises, and why does doing so feel and code as “progressive”? How can we think about and conduct cultural criticism today? Why are culture and cultural analysis vital to the formation of political consciousness? Can we imagine a culture that’s expressive and productive of freedom, rather than domination?

Direct download: The_Frankfurt_School_and_Contemporary_Culture.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:18pm EST

In episode 68 of the Podcast for Social Research, live-recorded at BISR’s recent symposium The Frankfurt School and the Now, panelists William Paris, Nathan Duford, Eduardo Mendieta, and Paul North tackle the question: What use does Frankfurt School critical theory, a thought movement composed largely of mid-20th-century white men, have for contemporary thinking about race, sex and gender? The conversation touches on, among other things, the Frankfurt School’s amalgam of Marx and Freud; the patriarch as racketeer (the threatening figure who protects the woman from himself); the pitfalls of moralism and the fetishization of suffering; Walter Benjamin’s paradoxical understanding of the “tradition of the oppressed”; and Frantz Fanon’s notion of race as a pathology of time (that is, the denial of our capacity to live, in the future, in a different sort of world). How can we understand the seemingly inextricable relationship between gender panic and normativity and authoritarianism? What will race come to mean in the context of a warming planet (which most threatens black and brown people in the global south)? Who are the thinkers who have taken up Frankfurt School critical theory and pushed it in feminist directions?

Direct download: Critical_Theory_from_Below.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:43pm EST

In episode 67 of the Podcast for Social Research, a live recording of the opening panel of two-day symposium Frankfurt School and the Now, BISR’s Ajay Singh Chaudhary and Rebecca Ariel Porte and guests Seyla Benhabib and Aaron Benanav answer the perennial question, What is Critical Theory? As they trace a line from Kant to Marx to the classic and latter-day Frankfurt School critical theorists, they grapple with a wide range of attending questions: How can we understand the concept of critique itself? How does philosophy relate to social theory? What are we to make of critical theory's fraught history as a practice of negativity (the source of many of its most piercing insights and also of its perceived troubles for praxis)? Must criticism provide a solution? Or is the critique of “progress” as urgent as ever? In the 21st century, what remains of critical theory—and what doesn’t?

Direct download: What_is_Critical_Theory.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:24pm EST

After a brief hiatus, Ajay and Isi are back with another episode of (Pop) Cultural Marxism! In episode 7, they sojourn amidst the splendid ruins of Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, the much celebrated 2023 game from Nintendo’s EPD development group, directed and produced by Hidemaro Fujibayashi and Eiji Aonuma. Before delving into the series’ past and present iterations, the two spend some time catching up on what’s new at the movies—including the expected summer blockbusters, relative degrees of quackery, and other matters. Then it’s on to Nintendo and its quasi-mercantilist business model, the awe-inspiring complexity of the latest entry in the Zelda franchise, leading to excurses on Situationist psychogeography, flânerie, combinatorial aesthetics, architectural reasoning and silent film techniques. Taking up Tears of the Kingdom as a kind of Trauerspiel in the Benjaminian sense, they explore the dialectical tension between humor and mourning, diegetic and critical knowledge formation, comparative religion, and the beauty of works that are incomparably more than the sum (or multiplication) of their parts. Stay tuned for answers to burning listener questions on the game’s environmental (or extractivist) dimensions—with reference to Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke—and the (fairly incomprehensible) class structure of Hyrule.

Direct download: pcm_zelda_fdraft_230721.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:09pm EST

In episode 66 of the Podcast for Social Research, recorded live at BISR Central, Daniel M. Lavery, erstwhile “Prudence” of Slate’s popular advice column, dropped by to discuss his latest book—a collection of “greatest hits” from his tenure as “Prudie,” interspersed with reflections on the uses and affordances of the advice column, the role and persona of the advice-giver, and the varieties of human experience, from the sacred to the profane, that the advice column offers up to view. Danny sat down with BISR’s Kali Handelman, Abby Kluchin, and Rebecca Ariel Porte for a truly wide-ranging discussion of the history, ethics, and gnarly practicalities of advice-giving—from Greek oracles to the micro-targeting of micro-identities in the internet age, from Aristotelian “practical wisdom” to the psychoanalytic scene of transference, from “agony aunties” to Miss Lonelyhearts. What is it we're actually asking for, or about, when we ask for advice? Stay tuned as the podcast wraps with the panel providing extemporaneous advice in real time to thorny questions from the audience!

Direct download: dear_prudence_event_final_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:50pm EST

In episode 65 of the Podcast for Social Research, recorded live at BISR Central, songwriter, improviser, and ecumenical instrumentalist Wendy Eisenberg took to the “stage” for an intimate solo performance of new acoustic work. They then sat down with BISR faculty Jude Webre for a wide-ranging discussion of their musical formation, theoretical inspirations, and promiscuous reading habits. Topics touched on include being the “type of guy” who’s inspired by Tom Verlaine; implicating others in your own embarrassments; the jazz training to noise pipeline (“codified at Bard”); “hardcore” as a blurry signifier; the brilliance of Brazilian music; Astrud Gilberto, voice leading, and musical power from below; the 4-track as time machine; how to change a line without touching it (as per William Gaddis); and sexy books for summer reading when all the trees are plump.

Direct download: wendy_eisenberg_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:43pm EST

In episode five of Faculty Spotlight, Lauren and Mark sit down with Joseph Earl Thomas, BISR faculty and author the acclaimed memoir Sink. The three discuss: memoir-writing and the art of "un-knowing" writing; literary realism in the 21st century; having, or faking, a "world picture"; how, with Sylvia Wynter, we can think trans-culturally; Gayl Jones and the art of literary maximalism (and why it's not just for "white boys"); why "resignification" can't change the material world; and what it's like to live, work, and think in Philadelphia.

Direct download: Faculty_Spotlight_Joseph_Earl_Thomas.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:31pm EST

Episode 64 of the Podcast for Social Research is a live-recording of mezzo-soprano Lucy Dhegrae's sound lecture, Music and Trauma, recently delivered at BISR Central. Between performances of selections from her acclaimed Processing Series, including the frenetic "Dithyramb" and the ethereal "No," Dhegrae talks to BISR faculty Paige Sweet and Danielle Drori about the interrelationship—the push-pull—between trauma, body, psyche, and sound—particularly in the wake of traumatic experience. What does it mean to sublimate trauma, and how is it "felt" and processed in the body? How, moreover, is trauma expressible (and what does Julia Kristeva have to say about it)? How can we understand the difference between language and music, words and sounds? And how can we think about the interrelationship of the voice and the body, of "vibration against bone"?

Direct download: Lucy_Dhegrae_Music_and_Trauma.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:21pm EST

In episode 63 of the Podcast for Social Research, a live-recording of our Wednesday, May 3rd event Cop City: Police, Protest, and Social Control, BISR faculty Nara Roberta Silva, Patrick Blanchfield, Geo Maher, and guests Natasha Lennard and Kamau Franklin examine and contextualize the planned construction of "Cop City"the Atlantan “state-of-the-art public safety training academy” that features classrooms, firing ranges, and a “mock city” in which police trainees can practice the methods of tactical urban warfare. Who and what is driving the creation of Cop Cityand why is it a phenomenon of national significance?  How can we understand the "boomerang" effect that has brought imperial counterinsurgency "back," as it were, to U.S. shores? What is the nature of the opposition to Cop City? How, here and elsewhere, have authorities wielded statutory law to intimidate protesters and effectively prohibit protest? What are the politics on the ground, in Atlanta, a majority black city with a majority black political leadership? Finally, for a society unwilling to address extreme racial and material stratification, is Cop City its inevitable future? 

Direct download: What_is_Cop_City.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:13pm EST

In this shortcast of the Podcast for Social Research, recorded live before a screening of Fellini Satyricon as part of our Occasional Evenings series, BISR classicist Bruce King and fellow faculty Isi Litke take up the ancient past and its (cinematic) reconstruction in the present. How did ancient Romans imagine, and then parody, a “good” death—or the staging of one? How do we come to grips with the fragmentary nature of our knowledge of antiquity? What imaginaries emerge (including 20th century fascist ones) in the fissures between what remains and what’s been lost? What do out-of-sync dubbing, nonsense language, dream logics, and incongruous gestures have to do with the postmodern dismantling of grand narratives of the ancient past and its putative “simplicity and grandeur”?

Direct download: fellini_satyricon_live_intro.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:07pm EST

In this episode of the podcast, recorded live at BISR Central as part of our Occasional Evenings series, writer and critic Lucy Ives joins BISR’s Rebecca Ariel Porte, Lauren K. Wolfe, and special guest Sonia Werner for a reading and discussion of Lucy’s latest novel Life Is Everywhere (Graywolf Press, 2022)—an enormously capacious and, perhaps counterintuitively, characteristically “weak” novel. Starting with the question, implicit in Life Is Everywhere, as to what the novel can possibly contain (bodies and feelings? institutions and systems? historical events? speculative counterfactuals? emails and utility bills?), their conversation touches on genre—is it an organizing principle or an awkward limit?—how certain failures in writing are inadvertent strengths, the pleasures of “difficult” novels, unpromising premises, “strong” versus “weak” theory, thinking versus feeling protagonists, the disruptive power of affect, the kinds of knowledge that novels produce, the strangeness of the nearest things, Mrs. Dalloway, Henri Lefebvre, time travel, Aristotle’s poetics as high comedy, and much more.

Direct download: occasional_evenings_lucy_ives_draft.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:27pm EST

In episode six of (Pop) Cultural Marxism, Isi and Ajay consider the cultural imperative du jour, "Let People Enjoy Things"—and offer an alternative: not letting people enjoy things. What underlies the collective impulse to not criticize? What is the purpose of criticism? And how does the injunction to not criticize misunderstand the relationship between the self and representation? Are critics cheerless? Why are we anxious for our art (are blockbuster movies so fragile)? Why, in this moment, are we seemingly so driven to seek out cultural experiences that console? Isn't critical engagement in itself a pleasure? As Isi and Ajay explore the anti-critical impulse (with a detour into the present and future of the Oscars), they take up objects ranging from Best Picture winner Everything Everywhere All at Once (and therather ardentdiscourse surrounding it) to Florian Sigl's The Magic Flute, Kate Wagner's Baffler essay "Don't Let People Enjoy Things," Franz Kafka's retranslated diaries, the video game Like a Dragon: Ishin!, A.O. Scott's New York Times exit interview, aesthetic debates reaching back to Adorno, Benjamin, and Lukács, and much else besides.

Direct download: Pop_Cultural_Marxism_Ep_6.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:37pm EST

In episode four of Faculty Spotlight, hosts Mark and Lauren interview Andy Battle, BISR faculty and urban historian. The three discuss: why cities are so radicalizing--and alienating; the deep connection between capitalism and urbanization; how "private welfare states" drive up the cost up the cost (sometimes prohibitively) of building infrastructure; what Henri Lefebvre means by the "Right to the City"; Eric Adams (and his parallels with Trump); dance culture (and "dis-alienation"); and Cop City, the "outside agitator," and why "policing is what's left when you can't or won't...address the problems" that fundamentally beset us.

Direct download: Faculty_Spotlight_Andy_Battle.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:52am EST

In this shortcast, recorded live before a screening of Chantal Akerman's "love film for my mother," BISR's William Clark, Paige Sweet, and Isi Litke offer a sweeping overview of the film’s technical innovations, thematic stakes, and its film-historical context. Their talk touches on Akerman’s deft hybrid of experimental and narrative traditions, formal techniques as narrative strategies, the domestic terrain of diminished sovereignty, the uncanny activation of everyday objects, ten static minutes of making meatloaf, haunted houses, whether unleashed aggression might result in repose, and what sort of genre conventions this endurance test of a film may be partaking in after all. 

Direct download: jeanne_dielman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:07pm EST

In episode 61 of the Podcast for Social Research, recorded live at BISR Central, BISR faculty Joseph Earl Thomas and Paige Sweet sit down for an intimate conversation about the peculiar and often unsparing perceptions children have of adult worlds and the writerly innovations at play in the endeavor of representing their experience of it. Their wide-ranging talk touches on everything from strategies of self-narration to means of soliciting a reader’s agency, how to tell a life-story out of order, whether animals can understand us, flat versus hyperbolic language (and their differential effects when narrating Black life in particular), comprehending things in bits (as opposed to the epiphanic moment), whether the norms to which adults acquiescence are in fact inevitable, plus an extremely capacious (materially and emotionally) kitchen sink. Before the discussion, Joseph reads an excerpt from his aptly and provocatively titled coming-of-age memoir Sink, a much-lauded and vividly told story of need, desire, imagination, and the manifold objects of adolescent attachment. 

Direct download: Sinkevent.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:23pm EST

In episode 5 of (Pop) Cultural Marxism, Isi and Ajay dive deep into the spectacle of James Cameron’s latest blockbuster Avatar: The Way of Water, touching on questions of cinematic language, the ironic celebration of nature through its destructions, papyrus fonts, visual and narrative incoherence, Final Fantasy (and being unfair to it), Ridley Scott, Moby Dick, Heidegger’s question concerning technology, Prehistoric Planet, windmills, colonialism, György Lukács, Eiji Otsuka, Sontag's “Fascinating Fascism,” dubs vs. subs, 64-bit water, underwater motion capture, the shock doctrine, the movie's mildly eugenic obsession with sexualized (yet sexless) bodily perfection, James Cameron's legacy in crafting so much of the style of contemporary "cinematic universe" form, even the bizarre Manhattan mall where Isi and Ajay watched the movie. And, of course, lots and lots of water. 

Direct download: PCM_AVATAR_corrected.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:12pm EST

In episode 60 of the podcast, recorded live at Goethe-Institut New York, BISR's Ajay Singh Chaudhary joins translator Tess Lewis, political theorist Corey Robin, and novelist Jessi Jezewska Stevens for a wide-ranging discussion of Ernst Jünger’s 1939 novel On the Marble Cliffs, now out from NYRB in a new translation by Lewis. Prompted by the question, “Why read Jünger today?,” their talk explores the various “tangled” scenes of Jünger reception—from his contemporaries (excoriated by Thomas Mann and Walter Benjamin) to his apologists (defended for his denunciation of the Nazis—if only for their vulgarity) to patent aesthetic and thematic parallels in contemporary anime and manga. Is it possible, or worthwhile, to read Jünger in the context of the contemporary right and its concern with its own worldview losing traction in a changing world? Is Jünger literary aristocracy—or, rather, a kind of literary adolescent? And, what is it like to translate something that you feel at odds with? 


Direct download: JungerEventGoethe.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:05pm EST

In episode 59 of the podcast, on the occasion of Valentine's Day, we are celebrating the many friendships that BISR has fostered over the years. You’ll hear the stories of four friendships – and one marriage – all of which began at a BISR class or event. First, Paige Sweet and Joseph Earl Thomas, fellow faculty who met at a student meetup, share their intellectual and creative affinities. After that, student Sasha Kruger and faculty Amrita Ghosh describe the after-class chat that sparked an enduring, transcontinental friendship. Next, faculty members Rebecca Ariel Porte and Danya Glabau will discuss an intellectual friendship that dates back to BISR’s early days. Faculty Lygia Sabbag Fares and student Susie Hoeller follow, talking about friendship even in the midst of political non-alignment. And lastly, faculty Audrey Nicolaides and the brains behind BISR’s website Josh Johnson (both former students) tell the story of their first encounter at an early BISR course back in 2012, the several inauspicious dates that followed, and, eventually, their wedding, officiated by BISR's executive director, Ajay Singh Chaudhary.

Direct download: BISR_Buddies.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:07am EST

In episode 58 of the Podcast for Social Research, award-winning translator Ross Benjamin sits down with BISR’s Christine Smallwood, Rebecca Ariel Porte, Ajay Singh Chaudhary, and Lauren K. Wolfe to discuss—on the occasion of his new translation of the fully reconstructed, uncensored diaries—Kafka’s long, often fraught, sometimes tendentious publication and reception history. Loosely organized along three axes—Kafka and literature, Kafka and translation, Kafka and Theory—their talk touches on Kafka’s creatures, proliferating anxiety, his vexed relationship with tradition (and how to carve out a space for protest), the fantasy of a translator’s omniscience (and disabusing oneself of the same), Benjamin’s “Task of the Translator,” Kafka as stimulus to prodigious theoretical invention, the call center as the surreal bureaucracy of this century, how to read and write with unfinished texts, and much else besides.
Direct download: The_Kafka_Diaries.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:11pm EST

In episode three of Faculty Spotlight, Lauren K. Wolfe and Mark DeLucas interview BISR classicist Bruce King. The three discuss: what brought Bruce to the classics; the charisma of his teachers (and the poverty of their ideas); queering the canon; the trouble with the Odyssey; coming to love Latin (and why he's keeping Horace to himself); learning Sanskrit with friends; BISR's new Language Learning and Critique program; and Bruce's favorite non-ancient things—from Henry James to Claude Lévi-Strauss to La Monte Young's "Pythagorean" Dream House.

Direct download: Faculty_Spotlight_Bruce_King.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:44pm EST

In episode four of (Pop) Cultural Marxism, Ajay, Isi, and Joseph review the year 2022 in pop culture via the prism of five topics and trends: "open world" (and cinematic universe) fatigue (for example, Assassin's Creed: Vahalla, Sonic Frontiers, Legend of Zelda); the plague of remakes and cultural nostalgia (Top Gun Maverick, Wednesday, Interview with the Vampire); cultural paranoia (true crime TV and paraphernalia, including the "In Case I Go Missing Binder," Nextdoor, Tár); liberal fan fiction (Handmaid's TaleBridgerton); and the substitution of moralism and forensic analysis for actual aesthetic judgment (explainers, the backlash to critique, and "explains it all" prequels like Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power). Do open worlds lend gravitas to video games—or do they just create sameness? What are the pastoral impulses behind farming games? Is the mania for remakes confirmation of Francis Fukuyama's "End of History"? Is Tár a product of cancel cultural panic? What is "plastic representation"; and how does representational fantasy like Bridgerton erase the very historical knowledge that makes social critique possible? And finally, what explains the urge to explain it all? How does ambiguity provide potency to art? The podcast closes with a discussion of Ajay's, Isi's, and Joseph's favorite 2022 things (whether actually released in 2022 or just personally discovered): Elden RingYellowjacketsHadesAzor, The Banshees of Inisherin, Station 11, and Xenoblade Chronicles 3.

Direct download: Pop_Cultural_Marxism_2022_Year_in_Review.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:31pm EST