The Podcast for Social Research

In episode nine of Faculty Spotlight, hosts Lauren K. Wolfe and Mark DeLucas sit down with Jenny Logan, Associate faculty (legal studies) and plaintiff's attorney, at the District Court level, in the case of Johnson v. Grant's Pass, on which the Supreme Court recently ruled. Speaking from London, Jenny discusses the origins of the casein which a class of unhoused people sued the city of Grants Pass, Oregon, for imposing criminal penalties on people sleeping in public parks—and explains the reasoning behind the Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling upholding the constitutionality of Grants Pass's anti-homeless statutes. What were the stakes of Johnson v. Grant's Pass; and why, as critics argue, does the Court's ruling effectively enable the criminalization of homelessness? Why have cities responded to homelessness with largely punitive measures? And how can the case of Grant's Pass, whose only shelter is a religious mission, be situated within the wider history of the evangelical-neoliberal alliance to undermine the New Deal social contract and welfare state? What is the future of "poverty governance" in the United States? 

Direct download: Faculty_Spotlight_Jenny_Logan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:34am EDT

In this shortcast edition of the Podcast for Social Research, recorded live at BISR Central, BISR’s Rebecca Ariel Porte and Isi Litke discuss Stephen Frears's 1985 classic of queer cinema, My Beautiful Laundrette. Conversation ranges over the film's Thatcherite backdrop; its depiction of queer, and cross-racial, love; and its inimitable mix of gritty social realism and dreamlike sensuality. What's unique, in the queer cinematic canon, about a film made just before the AIDS crisis emerged in British public consciousness—that is, just prior to the inceasing identification of queerness with disease? How does it weave elements of the fairy tale into its story of cross-class, cross-racial love? And how does the film, with its "qualified utopian hope," contrast with later, more pessimistic classics of the New Queer Cinema? Why, in a film set in a laundromat, is it a source of optimism that some things don't stay clean? 

Direct download: Podcast_for_Social_Research_My_Beautiful_Laundrette.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:38pm EDT

Practical Criticism is back with its first episode of 2024—on Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter. In it, Rebecca Ariel Porte plays the opening track of the album, “American Requiem,” for Ajay Singh Chaudhary, who, as usual, doesn’t know what the object will be. Their conversation then commences with a question: Beyoncé is far from the first to undertake the ambitious task of deconstructing country music’s many musical debts—but does she actually succeed in doing so? Along the way, they discuss the history of Black country music (and listen to Linda Martell), the convergence of aesthetic and commodity forms (is the album so slick as to slide over into parody?), conflictual aspirations to iconicity and iconoclasm, and the courage of conviction it takes to betray an older version of one’s own aesthetic commitments.


Direct download: Practical_Criticism_Beyonce_06.14.24_V2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:51pm EDT

In episode 11 of (Pop) Cultural Marxism, Ajay and Isi examine Alex Garland’s Civil War (2024). Kicking off with a handful of pop culture news items—including the Met Gala, the death of Steve Albini, A24’s Stop Making Sense tribute album, and Apple's alarming iPad Pro commercial—the conversation turns to Garland’s provocative and uneven drama about a group of photojournalists traveling through a war-torn United States. Ajay and Isi discuss the perils of directors commenting on their own works, the film’s inadvertent critique of combat photographers, “Portland Maoists,” Garland’s allusions to significant 20th century photojournalists (Robert Capa, Lee Miller, Gerda Taro, the Bang Bang Club), reactionary aesthetics, and the vernacular of American violence. Central to the conversation are perennial questions about the mediation of war through film and photography; the circulation and reception of images of violence; and how to make a film about war that neither glamorizes nor sentimentalizes it.

Direct download: Pop-Cultural_Marxism_Civil_War.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:56pm EDT

Have 21st century technologies—from smartphones to medical devices to the commonplace use of artificial intelligence—made cyborgs of us all? In this episode of the Podcast for Social Research, recorded live at BISR Central, BISR faculty Rebecca Ariel Porte sits down with fellow faculty Danya Glabau and co-author Laura Forlano to parse what the latter, in their recent book Cyborg (MIT Press), have termed “critical cyborg literacy”: a lens through which to critically examine the constitutive role technology plays in the ways we think, behave, know, and interact. Glabau and Forlano begin with a synthetic overview of the history and affordances of thinking with the figure of the cyborg, after which the three discuss, among other things, the hidden human labor behind apparently automated systems, failure and the glitch, feminist scholarship as collaborative process, and the cyborg as, beyond its technicity, a social, political, and aesthetic project.


Direct download: Cyborg_BISR_05.02.24_MusicAdded.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:22pm EDT

In episode 78 of the Podcast for Social Research, BISR's Jude Webre (who also teaches at Columbia University and NYU), Sami Al-Daghistani (Columbia and the Norwegian School of Theology, Religion, and Society), and Robyn Marasco and Anthony Alessandrini (CUNY) offer faculty perspectives on the Gaza Solidarity Encampments that have arisen on college campuses nationwide and globally. What happened and what is happening on the ground in NYC and internationally? How do faculty understand their position relative to protesting students, on the one hand, and mega-institutions like Columbia University and City University of New York, on the other? What are the discussions that are happening among faculty—including faculty with different levels of employment precarity and security? How can we understand the Gaza Solidarity Encampments and the faculty response within the context of the wider crisis in academia? Can the student protests inaugurate, in turn, a new movement for faculty empowerment? What is the meaning of solidarity?

Direct download: Podcast_for_Social_Research_Student_Protest-Faculty_Solidarity.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:53pm EDT

In episode eight of Faculty Spotlight, hosts Mark DeLucas and Lauren K. Wolfe sit down with Danielle Drori, Associate faculty member (in literature and Judaic studies), Director of Development, and psychoanalyst-in-training. Recently returned from a long-delayed trip to her native Tel-Aviv, Drori discusses the state of Israeli society in the shadow of the war in Gaza, her own vexed relation to her country of birth (including, how it shaped her scholarly interests), and the unexpected resonances of Erich Auerbach's Mimesis in a time of mass destruction. What's humane in Auerbach's historicist method? Is Auerbach's documentation of "civilization" also a lamentation? What sorts of perspectives are afforded by exile?

Direct download: Faculty_Spotlight_Danielle_Drori.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:32pm EDT

In episode 77 of the Podcast for Social Research, recorded live at Goethe-Institut Chicago, BISR faculty and Chicago Coordinator Audrey Nicolaïdes sat down with special guest, art historian Annie Bourneuf, to discuss revolution and counterrevolution, in text and dialectical image. Annie begins with a reexamination of Walter Benjamin’s aesthetic and philosophical project in light of a surprising discovery: Paul Klee’s famous Angelus Novus—a print in Benjamin’s own collection—is in fact a piece of collage; Klee’s image is glued atop a sixteenth-century engraving of a portrait of Martin Luther. What did such an image mean to Klee, in the context of counterrevolutionary Munich in the 1920s? And how does this citation bear on Benjamin’s attachment to the image and the inspiration he drew from it? Then, Audrey walks us through the schisms that put socialist movements in pre- and interwar Europe on their back foot—and the world-historical consequences these schisms entailed. What were the fundamental assumptions—fundamentally in error—about the progressive nature of historical processes that Benjamin’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History” is an attempt to redress? Along the way, the two touch on the centrality of concepts like ephemerality and contemporaneity in Benjamin’s work, parody and citation, the revolutionary potential of “hatred for the oppressor,” and more.

This episode of the podcast was produced by Ryan Lentini.

Direct download: Benjamin_Goethe_BISR_04.26.24_Boosted.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 1:31pm EDT

What does it mean to claim translation as an artform unto itself? In episode 76 of the Podcast for Social Research, recorded live at BISR Central while a wicked Nor’easter raged outside, BISR welcomed Ugly Duckling Presse, Barricade journal, and the Leipzig/Vienna-based collective TRANSLETTING for an evening of presentations and panel discussion addressed to the ethics, politics, and embodied practice of literary translation in the 21st century.

With Walter Benjamin’s “Task of the Translator” (1923) and Sawako Nakayasu’s Say Translation Is Art (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2020) as historical and theoretical bookends, the cast—including BISR’s Lauren K. Wolfe, Ugly Duckling Presse Manager Marine Cornuet, and the TRANSLETTING collective (check out their bios below)—talked its way through Nakayasu’s playful politico-poetical wager (say translation is unfaithful, is performance, repetition, failure, process, collaboration, feminism, polyphony, conversation, deviance, decolonial, punk, and improvisation) and, from there, explored the word as a contingent unit of meaning and value by way of Ilse Aichinger's Bad Words, in a translation by poets Uljana Wolf and Christian Hawkey.

The ensuing conversation touched upon all manner of things—from good words to wrong ones; the pleasures of infidelity; how power is borne in the space between an original and its translations; the meaning-bearing unit of language (a word, a comma, a syllable, syntax, a poem, a book, alternative structures of literature?); markets and reading publics; a translator’s responsibility—to whom? to what?; identity and its vicissitudes; and much else besides.

The TRANSLETTING collective includes: Konstantin Schmidtbauer, writer and translator; Mücahit Türk, writer; Jonë Zhitia, writer, translator, and editor; Nadja Etinski, writer, historian, and editor; Leonie Pürmayr, writer and editor; and Anile Tmava, writer, editor, and anthropologist.

Direct download: TranslationIsArt_04.03.24_BISR_EditsMusic.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:03am EDT

In this edition of the Podcast for Social Research, recorded live before of a screening of Michael Haneke’s 2001 The Piano Teacher, BISR faculty Lauren K. Wolfe, Rebecca Ariel Porte, and Paige Sweet take up impinging mothers, absent fathers, and the variable affordances of literary and cinematic media, as they compare and interpret Haneke’s film and the eponymous novel by Elfriede Jelinek from which it was adapted. Topics touched on include: the reactionary milieu of 1980s Austria; ways of reading psychological depth from cinematic surface; recognition and misrecognition (by way of Aristotle and Lauren Berlant); pedagogy and its incidental lessons; musical Romanticism and sexual pathology; dissonance and the (dashed hope for) a return to tonic; Freud and polymorphous perversity; Schubert’s Winterreise, Schubert as seduction strategy, Adorno on Schubert, and much else besides.

Direct download: Piano_Teacher_prescreening_remarks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:32pm EDT

What does culture look like in a “sustainable” world? In episode of 10 of (Pop) Cultural Marxism, Ajay, Isi, and guest Rebecca Ariel Porte examine the problems with “green” technology and consumption—which, it turns out, do little, nothing, or less than nothing to sustain the environment—and talk about the kinds of cultural forms, from literature to architecture to games, that are not only sustainable in terms of ecology and society but also aesthetically compelling and beautiful. How does genuine ecological sustainability depend on social sustainability for artists and engineers and other creative workers, and promote far richer aesthetic expressions? Why is so much “Green”-branded work—in everything from the built world to fine art—anything but? What forms of aesthetic creation not usually thought of as ecological, are actually sustainable in every dimension? How does our current unsustainable social and ecological society constrict imagination and creative effloresce? And how would even a modestly more sustainable world, actually enable and support such creative flourishing? Looking to both current and historical examples, Isi, Rebecca, and Ajay review art installations like Walter De Maria’s The New York Earth Room and the MOMA’s Emerging Ecologies: Architecture and the Rise of Environmentalism; architecture from the “PR-architecture” of projects like “Oceanix” to the actual sustainability found in works like Võ Tr?ng Ngh?a’s “Farming Kindergarten”; unexhausted forms in music (from Bach to Stravinsky, pop music to the vast world of jazz) and in verse, such as the ghazals of poet Anthony Madrid; film, tv, and even videogames, whether low-powered and low-tech (as with recent critical and commercial successes like Hades (Supergiant) or Stardew Valley (Concerned Ape)) or high-powered and high-tech (and highly popular), like ZeldaElden Ring, and more. How is production—from emissions to mineral inputs, exploitative assembly and “crunch”—key to understanding aesthetic exhaustions? How does unsustainable ecological design and an ever accelerating model of production stifle creativity and promote ever narrower, more costly, and less interesting work? How does a model like streaming—and other modes of supposedly “dematerialized” distribution—actually obscure ecological damage while simultaneously making aesthetic production more difficult for artists and aesthetic consumption less compelling for everyone? What is the “trickle up misery” of “defensive architecture”? In the face of a capitalist ethos that always insists on creativity as bound to a logic of “bigger, faster, better, more,” the conversation explores the ways in which working, creating, designing, and engineering within limits has produced some of the most exciting aesthetic forms and experiences, and how the necessity of ecological and social limits can act as the “enabling constraints” of a far more compelling aesthetic life than the all-too-real dystopia of today.

Direct download: Pop_Cultural_Marxism_Episode_10_Green_Capitalism.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:31am EDT

In episode 74 of the Podcast for Social Research, BISR faculty Ajay Singh Chaudhary sits down with writer and artist Molly Crabapple to discuss his new book, The Exhausted of the Earth: Politics in a Burning World (Repeater). Live-recorded at P&T Knitwear in New York City, the conversation encompasses, among other things: the ubiquity of exhaustion (and how feelings of exhaustion might form the basis for new international solidarities); right-wing approaches to climate mitigation (and why, in the realm of climate policy, the Right has a "leg up"); "growth," "degrowth," and how the status quo actually thwarts abundance; the limits (or, illusions) of climate technocracy (and the kinds of climate technologies that can work); and international social movement responses climate catastrophe—and the lessons they might provide for U.S. activists.

Direct download: Podcast_for_Social_Research_Ep_73_Exhausted_of_the_Earth.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:13am EDT

In episode 73 of the Podcast for Social Research, recorded live following a screening of Daniel Goldhaber’s cinematic adaptation of Andreas Malm’s polemic against pacifism How to Blow Up a Pipeline, BISR faculty Isi Litke, RH Lossin, and Ajay Singh Chaudhary explore the aesthetic, historical, and thorny practical terrain of violence as activist strategy and political tool in the face of climate crisis. With Goldhaber’s film as a jumping off point, they ask—and answer—questions like: how can cinema represent the complex harms wrought by climate devastation, in all their manifold temporalities, from freak accidents to slow disease to historical expropriations? How are solidarities built across ideological divides? What unites anti-colonial movements across the Global South with the struggles of subaltern groups in the Global North? And what underpins the belief in non-violence as the righteous mechanism for political change—and why is this wrong? Along the way, they touch on everything from the heist film (wherein the question is not whether one ought but whether one can pull it off), how comrades are not friends, workplace violence, radical flanks, Fanon’s “stretched Marxism,” and much else besides. Plus a sneak preview from Ajay’s new book, The Exhausted of the Earth: Politics in a Burning World, out this February from Repeater Books!


Direct download: Pipeline_event.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:03pm EDT