The Podcast for Social Research

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT