111 Works

Season Wrap

John Plotz & Aarthi Vadde
Our two hosts play guest, and dive into the season's high and lowlights, starting with the role humor played on the show. We also talk through the affordances of the "virtual" studio as opposed to the brick and mortar one where John recorded podcasts in "the before time." Literary critics that we are, we can't help but consider the podcast as an audio form that solicits different kinds of listening. Aarthi wonders if it's "close"...

Orhan Pamuk reads and glosses the end of Snow

John Plotz, Aarthi Vadde & Orhan Pamuk
Pamuk plays scholar and novelist both. He reads the cheekily postmodernist final page of his novel Snow, while also talmudically interspersing comments on the text.

Jennifer Egan with Ivan Kreilkamp

John Plotz, Elizabeth Ferry, Jennifer Egan & Ivan Kreilkamp
This week on Recall this Book, another delightful crossover episode from our sister podcast Novel Dialogue, which puts scholars and writers together to discuss the making of novels and what to make of them. Who better to chat with John and Jennifer Egan--prolific and prize-winning American novelist--than Ivan Kreilkamp? The distinguished Indiana Victorianist showed his Egan expertise last year in his witty book, A Visit from the Goon Squad Reread.

A Conversation with John Plotz and Elizabeth Ferry

John Plotz & Elizabeth Ferry
For the third installment of Books in Dark Times, inspired by our global moment, Elizabeth and John turned inward. We started with a book that you might not think would be so comforting, Daniel Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year (1722) about the plague in London "during the last Great Visitation in 1665." Probably based on the journals of Defoe's uncle Henry Foe, the Journal comforts Elizabeth in a few ways. First, by its...

The Caribbean and Vectors of Warfare

John Plotz, Elizabeth Ferry & Vincent Brown
The largest slave uprising in the 18th century British Caribbean was also a node of the global conflict called the Seven Year's War, though it isn't usually thought of that way. In the first few days of the quarantine and our current geopolitical and epidemiological shitshow, John and Elizabeth spoke with Vincent Brown, who recently published Tacky's Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War (Belknap, 2019), centered on a group of enslaved West Africans,...

Pardis Dabashi on \"My Uncle Napoleon\"

John Plotz & Pardis Dabashi
Iraj Pezeshkzad's My Uncle Napoleon is a slapstick and at times goofy love story, but it is also in the best tradition of sly anti-imperial satire. Scholar Pardis Dabashi came to it late, but she has all the convert's zeal as she links it to a literary tradition that's highly theoretical, but also delightfully far-flung.

A Conversation with Seeta Chaganti

John Plotz, Elizabeth Ferry & Seeta Chaganti
Seeta Chaganti, medievalist extraordinaire (Strange Footing and The Medieval Poetics of the Reliquary) joins John to discuss-wait for it-data visualization in the work of W. E. B. Du Bois, philosopher, visionary and scholar. They go on to discuss past traditions that merge text and image in ways that foreshadow modern visualization practices, and close with beloved books that take readers "back of the tapestry" to reveal what everyday front-of-tapestry life keeps decorously hidden.

Glimpsing COVID

Gael McGill, Gina Turrigiano, John Plotz & Elizabeth Ferry
What's a picture worth? How about the picture that allows scientists to grasp what's actually going on in a cell-or on the spiky outside of an invading virus? Gael McGill, Director of Molecular Visualization at the Center for Molecular and Cellular Dynamics at Harvard Medical School is founder and CEO of Digizyme and has spent his career exploring and developing different modes for visualizing evidence.

A Conversation with Matt Karp about Class Dealignments

John Plotz, Elizabeth Ferry & Matt Karp
We are delighted to begin the Brahmin Left series with Matt Karp, historian at Princeton, author of This Vast Southern Empire and a perennially thought-provoking essayist about the complex 19th and 20th century genealogies of contemporary American politics: "The Politics of a Second Gilded Age" is the essay that links most closely to this conversation.

Quinn Slobodian on Xenophobia and Ethno-Nationalism, 1973 to today

John Plotz, Elizabeth Ferry & Quinn Slobodian
What's the relationship between immigration, globalization and demographics? What do a badly characterized, racist novel and an imaginatively metaphoric biology article from the 1970s have to do with that? And what is woke particularism? John and Elizabeth find out all of that and more in this discussion with Quinn Slobodian, professor of history at Wellesley College and author, most recently, of Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism. They first discuss Jean...

David Ferry, Roger Reeves, and the Underworld

David Ferry, John Plotz, Elizabeth Ferry & Roger Reeves
"Their tongues are ashes when they'd speak to us" David Ferry, Resemblance. The underworld, that repository of the Shades of the Dead, gets a lot of traffic from time to time, especially from heroes (Gilgamesh, Theseus, Odysseus, Aeneas) and poets (Orpheus, Virgil, Dante). Some come down for information or in hopes of rescuing or just seeing their loved ones, or perhaps for a sense of comfort in their grief. They often find those they have...


John Plotz, Aarthi Vadde, Tom Perrotta & Mark Wollaeger
Novelist, screenwriter, and HBO showrunner Tom Perrotta joins his old friend Mark Wollaeger (who also happens to be a top scholar of modernism) for a wide-ranging conversation about literature, television, and everything in between. Tom reveals that he has been reading a most peculiar self-help book: Richard Ellmann's biography of James Joyce. Mark then shares some juicy Joyce anecdotes before getting into the nitty gritty of style and craft. We discuss balancing difficult themes with...

A Conversation with Jan-Werner Müller

John Plotz, Elizabeth Ferry & Jan-Warner Müller
Today's guest is Princeton's Jan-Werner Müller, (Another Country: German Intellectuals, Unification and National Identity, A Dangerous Mind: Carl Schmitt in Post-War European Thought, Constitutional Patriotism) author of What is Populism? (2016) which explores how the identitarian logic of populism can come to lodge within democracies. Is the current success of the antidemocratic Right (in Hungary and Poland-and increasingly elsewhere in Europe as well) the product of "plutocratic populism"? Or is there some other more systemic...

We are Not Digested

Ulka Anjaria, Rajiv Mohabir & John Plotz
Rajiv Mohabir is a dazzling poet of linguistics crossovers, who works in English, Bhojpuri, Hindi and more. He is as prolific as he is polyglot (three books in 2021!) and has undertaken a remarkable array of projects includes the prizewinning resurrection of a forgotten century-old memoir about mass involuntary migration. He joined John and first-time host Ulka Anjaria (English prof, Bollywood expert and Director of the Brandeis Mandel Center for the Humanities) in the old...

On Multi-Species Community

John Plotz, Gina Turrigiano, Elizabeth Ferry, Matthew Headrick & Patricia Alvarez Astacio
Octopus month has morphed seamlessly into Multispecies month here at RtB, bringing with it not only last week's piece on chimpanzees, but also this sparkling conversation about all sorts of multi-species communities. Recorded live in front of an audience of writing students and introduced by Brandeis physicist Matthew Headrick, it features Patricia Alvarez Astacio, an anthropologist and filmmaker. She has made a film about her work in the Peruvian highlands, where people live with, respect,...

Caryl Phillips Speaks with Corina Stan

John Plotz, Elizabeth Ferry, Caryl Phillips & Corina Stan
Our second January Novel Dialogue conversation is with Caryl Phillips, professor of English at Yale and world-renowned for novels ranging from The Final Passage to 2018's A View of the Empire at Sunset. He shares his thoughts on transplantation, on performance, on race, even on sports. Joining him here are John and the wonderful comparatist Corina Stan, author of The Art of Distances: Ethical Thinking in 20th century Literature. If you enjoy this conversation, range...

Lorraine Daston, Historian of Science

John Plotz, Elizabeth Ferry & Lorraine Daston
In this final episode of Books in Dark Times, John chews the bibliographic fat with Lorraine Daston of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. Her list of publications outstrips our capacity to mention here; John particularly admires her analysis of "epistemic virtues" such as truth to nature and objectivity in her 2007 Objectivity (coauthored with Peter Galison). Although she "came of age in an era of extreme contextualism" Daston is...

Christine J. Walley's \"Exit Zero\" and Life Writing

John Plotz, Elizabeth Ferry & Helena DeBres
Helena DeBres had so many brilliant insights about the ethics and the future of life writing that the final third of our discussion overflowed the bounds of our ordinary format. So we present that final conversation to you here as a bonus episode-well, episodelette. Elizabeth, John and Helena here discuss Christine J. Walley's "autoethnography" Exit Zero: Family and Class in Postindustrial Chicago. They talk about the relation of an autoethnography to life writing a la...

Silvia Bottinelli

John Plotz, Elizabeth Ferry & Silvia Bottinelli
Not long after Maurizio Cattelan taped a banana to the wall, John and Elizabeth met with Silvia Bottinelli from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts to talk about food as art and art as food. Silvia is a Modern and Contemporary Art historian in the Visual and Material Studies Department at SMFA and her interests range from post-war Italian art to representations of the domestic and the uses of lead in art. We...

A Conversation with Madeline Miller about \"Circe\"

Elizabeth Ferry, Gina Turrigiano, Madeline Miller & John Plotz
In this episode, John and Gina Turrigiano speak with Madeline Miller, author of the critically acclaimed bestseller Circe. They discuss Circe's place in Greek mythology and in a retelling of the Odyssey "from below" or "from the side," the concept of "mythological realism," and the influence of The Once and Future King on Madeline's writing. They touch too on the sweet family aspects that show up in Homer, and on Odysseus's changing reputation throughout time....

Addiction with Gina Turrigiano

John Plotz, Elizabeth Ferry & Gina Turrigiano
In this episode, John and Elizabeth speak with Gina Turrigiano, a neuroscientist at Brandeis, about a number of different facets of addiction. What makes an addiction to a morning constitutional different from-or similar to-an addiction to Fentanyl? What are the biological and social factors to consider? Should the addict be thought of in binary terms, or addiction as a state that people move into and out of? They contemplate these questions through biological, anthropological, and...

\"The Electro-Library\" with Jared Green

John Plotz, Elizabeth Ferry & Jared Green
In this warm summer episode, Elizabeth and John present a marvelous podcast, The Electro-Library, and they speak with one of its hosts and founders, Jared Green. Elizabeth, Jared and John play snippets from a recent Electro-Library episode on the decidedly non-podcasty topic of photographs, and use it as a springboard to discuss the different aesthetic experiences of radio, television, film, reading, audiobooks, and podcasts. Which are the easiest and which the hardest artworks to get...

Martin Puchner on Writing Then and Now

John Plotz, Elizabeth Ferry & Martin Puchner
From its origins in clay tablets to its future on digital tablets, Martin Puchner has thought about writing in all its forms. In this episode, John and Elizabeth talk to Martin, the Byron and Anita Wien Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard. They begin with a discussion of a very early writerly text-the epic of Gilgamesh, a version of which has been Englished by Elizabeth's father. They discuss the different stages of world...

Hayal Akarsu on Turkish Community Policing

John Plotz, Elizabeth Ferry & Hayal Akarsu
Today, Elizabeth and John discuss Turkish policing with Hayal Akarsu, Junior Research Fellow at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis. Hayal is an anthropologist specializing in police reforms in Turkey in the context of authoritarian governance. Our conversation focused on what police reforms succeed in doing, even if they do not frequently succeed in reducing police violence, and on how police relate to state and military objectives in Turkey, Brazil and the...

The Capitol Insurrection and Asymmetrical Policing

John Plotz, Elizabeth Ferry & David Cunningham
We first heard from the sociologist of American racism David Cunningham in Episode 36 Policing and White Power. Less than a week after the horrors of January 6th, he came back for an extended conversation about "asymmetrical policing" of the political right and left-and of White and Black Americans. His very first book (There's Something Happening Here, 2004) studied the contrast between the FBI's work in the 1960's to wipe out left-wing and Black protests...

Registration Year

  • 2022

Resource Types

  • Interactive Resource