Spontaneous talk on surprise topics. Hosted by Jason Gotts, this podcast might, every now and then, remind you of the specific vernacular of theory-boys. But– its positives far outweigh this possibly limiting quality. Each episode features wide-ranging, off-script conversation with a writer, artist, academic or activist. And, as a way to converse in even more unscripted ways, Jason and his guest then riff together on whatever theme prompts discussion from a set of videos that they watch, taken at random from the Big Thinks archive.
It’s likely that, if you are teaching contemporary writers, there will be an episode that syncs directly with your course material. (There’s a hilarious and fascinating interview with Ayelet Waldman about her book about micro-dosing on LSD, for example. And a wonderful episode on Elif Batuman’s recent novel about undergraduate life in the mid-90s and the great array of philosophical and linguistic questions it explores—including the import of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis).
Especially teachable episode
Jelani Cobb: Shiny New Skin, Same Old Snake (episode 71): an evocative conversation about writing, biopolitics and embodiment. (This episode would work well as part of a lesson on Foucault). Towards the beginning of the interview, Jelani Cobb reads an excerpt from his own work: “’Vinyl always smells like the absence of sweat.’” He then explains that “there’s a need to flag the difference between being a thing and looking like a thing…. This reminds me of Foucault, who explains that power finds insidious new forms and goes underground…” and cites Frederick Douglass, “‘Let’s wait to see what new form this old snake takes.’” A marvelous prompt for in-class conversations about the injury, violence and systematic injustices that occur because of biopolitical structures– and also about the very existential toll that biopolitics demands (such that vinyl might approximate the lived sweat of labour, deceiving us about the nature of labour itself).