Vox Conversations
Vox Conversations
Vox
Vox Conversations brings you discussions between the brightest minds and the deepest thinkers; conversations that will cause you to question old assumptions and think about the world and our role in it in a new light. Join Sean Illing and his colleagues across the Vox newsroom for new episodes every Monday and Thursday.
Why we're still postmodern (whatever that means)
Sean Illing talks with Stuart Jeffries, journalist and author of Everything, All the Time, Everywhere, about why postmodernism is so hard to define, and why — as Jeffries argues — it's still a very active presence in our culture and politics today. They discuss whether our desire should be understood as subversive or as a tool of capitalism, how postmodernism is inextricably linked with neoliberalism, and how to navigate our current culture of ubiquitous consumption and entertainment. What should we watch on TV: Boris Johnson's resignation speech, or the reality show Love Is Blind? Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews Writer, Vox Guest: Stuart Jeffries, author; feature writer, The Guardian References:  Everything, All the Time, Everywhere: How We Became Postmodern by Stuart Jeffries (Verso; 2021) "The post-truth prophets" by Sean Illing (Vox; Nov. 16, 2019) The Postmodern Condition by Jean-François Lyotard (Univ. of Minnesota Press; 1979, tr. 1984) Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard (Univ. of Michigan Press; 1981, tr. 1983) Postmodernism: Style and Subversion, 1970–1990 (exhibition catalog, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK; Sept. 24, 2011 – Jan. 15, 2012) "Postmodernism: from the cutting edge to the museum" by Hari Kunzru (The Guardian; Sept. 15, 2011) "You're sayin' a foot massage don't mean nothin', and I'm sayin' it does" by James Wood (Guardian Supplement; Nov. 19, 1994) Enjoyed this episode? Rate Vox Conversations ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Subscribe for free. Be the first to hear the next episode of Vox Conversations by subscribing in your favorite podcast app. Support Vox Conversations by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts This episode was made by:  Producer: Erikk Geannikis Editor: Amy Drozdowska Engineer: Patrick Boyd Deputy Editorial Director, Vox Talk: Amber Hall Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Aug 8
58 min
Even Better: Activism when you don't know where to start
Every Thursday in August, you'll hear Even Better on Vox Conversations, a special series focused on helping people live better lives individually and collectively. In this first episode, host Julia Furlan talks with activist, writer, and organizer Brea Baker. Brea's career has included student activism at Yale University, national organizing for the Women's March, and continues today through action-oriented work on behalf of progressive causes. Brea talks about how her work is informed by radical love, how she confronts obstacles in the movement on both personal and organizational scales, and how we can push back against despair and dread, and come into our power — no matter where we're at. Host: Julia Furlan (@juliastmi) Guests: Brea Baker (@Brea_Baker), activist; writer; Chief Equity Officer, Inspire Justice References:  "bell hooks Taught Us To Both Practice and Preach Radical Love" by Brea Baker (Elle; Dec. 20, 2021) The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (New Press; 2010) "Yale Announces a New Center for Race Studies. A Yale Senior Asks, Now What?" by Brea Baker (Elle; Feb. 23, 2016) "Why I Became an Abolitionist" by Brea Baker (Harper's Bazaar; Dec. 10, 2020) We Do This 'Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice by Mariame Kaba (Haymarket; 2021) Even Better is here to offer deeply sourced, actionable advice for helping you live a better life. Follow Even Better at vox.com/even-better. Enjoyed this episode? Rate Vox Conversations ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Subscribe for free. Be the first to hear the next episode of Vox Conversations by subscribing in your favorite podcast app. Support Vox Conversations by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts This episode was made by:  Producer: Erikk Geannikis Editor: Amy Drozdowska Engineer: Patrick Boyd Deputy Editorial Director, Vox Talk: Amber Hall Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Aug 4
48 min
The Supreme Court's power grab
Sean Illing talks with Harvard Law professor Nikolas Bowie about the U.S. Supreme Court's recently-concluded term, which produced landmark opinions restricting the power of the EPA, expanding gun rights, and overturning Roe v. Wade. They discuss how the conservative court's arguments are structured and why they are in fact quite radical, what "legal liberalism" is and whether it has just been decisively repudiated, and whether there are any reforms that could stop the conservative majority from reshaping American jurisprudence. Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews Writer, Vox Guest: Nikolas Bowie (@nikobowie), Louis D. Brandeis Professor of Law, Harvard Law School References:  Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court, Public Meeting, Panel 1 (C-SPAN; June 30) "How the Supreme Court dominates our democracy" by Niko Bowie (Washington Post; July 16, 2021) A Twitter thread on the repudiation of legal liberalism, by @nikobowie Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health (SCOTUS; June 24) 42 U.S. Code §1983 - Civil action for deprivation of rights 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1868) New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen (SCOTUS; June 23) Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (SCOTUS; June 29, 1992) Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don't Talk about It) by Elizabeth Anderson (Princeton; 2017) "A new Supreme Court case is the biggest threat to US democracy since January 6" by Ian Millhiser (Vox; June 30) Enjoyed this episode? Rate Vox Conversations ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Subscribe for free. Be the first to hear the next episode of Vox Conversations by subscribing in your favorite podcast app. Support Vox Conversations by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts This episode was made by:  Producer: Erikk Geannikis Editor: Amy Drozdowska Engineer: Patrick Boyd Deputy Editorial Director, Vox Talk: Amber Hall Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Aug 1
1 hr 5 min
How middlemen took over the economy
Vox's Emily Stewart talks with Kathryn Judge, professor at Columbia Law School and author of the new book Direct: The Rise of Middleman Economy and the Power of Going to the Source. They discuss how middlemen — which include real estate agents, stock brokers, but also Amazon and Walmart — came to assume such an outsized role in our economy, the pros and cons of middlemen in different market contexts, why Prof. Judge sees a fundamental difference between Etsy and Amazon, and how we consumers can change how we decide what to buy in order to help push the economy in a radically different direction. Host: Emily Stewart (@EmilyStewartM), senior correspondent, Vox Guests: Kathryn Judge (@ProfKateJudge), Harvey J. Goldschmid Professor of Law, Columbia University; author References:  Direct: The Rise of the Middleman Economy and the Power of Going to the Source by Kathryn Judge (Harper Business; 2022) "So Much for Cutting Out the Middleman" by Kathryn Judge (The Atlantic; June 9) "What Is Web3?" by Thomas Stackpole (Harvard Business Review; May 10) "The awful American consumer" by Emily Stewart (Vox; Apr. 7) Enjoyed this episode? Rate Vox Conversations ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Subscribe for free. Be the first to hear the next episode of Vox Conversations by subscribing in your favorite podcast app. Support Vox Conversations by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts This episode was made by:  Producer: Erikk Geannikis Editor: Amy Drozdowska Engineer: Patrick Boyd Deputy Editorial Director, Vox Talk: Amber Hall Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jul 28
1 hr 6 min
The necessity — and danger — of free speech
Sean Illing talks with Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan about his new book The Paradox of Democracy, which he co-authored with media studies professor Zac Gershberg. Sean and Margaret discuss the relationship between free expression and democratic society, talk about whether or not the January 6th hearings are doing anything at all politically, and discuss some potential ways to bolster democratic values in the media ecology of the present. Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews Writer, Vox Guest: Margaret Sullivan (@Sulliview), media columnist, Washington Post References:  The Paradox of Democracy: Free Speech, Open Media, and Perilous Persuasion by Zac Gershberg and Sean Illing (Chicago; 2022) Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy by Margaret Sullivan (Columbia Global Reports; 2020) "Four reasons the Jan. 6 hearings have conquered the news cycle" by Margaret Sullivan (Washington Post; July 22) Understanding Media by Marshall McLuhan (1964) Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman (1985) Newsroom Confidential: Lessons (and Worries) from an Ink-Stained Life by Margaret Sullivan (St. Martin's; Oct. 2022) Enjoyed this episode? Rate Vox Conversations ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Subscribe for free. Be the first to hear the next episode of Vox Conversations by subscribing in your favorite podcast app. Support Vox Conversations by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts This episode was made by:  Producer: Erikk Geannikis Editor: Amy Drozdowska Engineer: Patrick Boyd Deputy Editorial Director, Vox Talk: Amber Hall Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jul 25
56 min
Hacking coral sex to save the reefs
Vox's Benji Jones talks with marine biologist Hanna Koch about her team's efforts to repopulate the planet's coral reefs through cutting-edge scientific intervention. They discuss what makes coral so unique as organisms, how scientists understand their reproductive behavior, and how they are working to respawn corals and repopulate reefs. Hanna explains why this work is so imperative — not just for the diverse array of marine life that coral reefs are home to, but for the sustainability of human communities, as well. Host: Benji Jones (@BenjiSJones), Environmental reporter, Vox Guest: Hanna Koch (@DrHannaRKoch1), Marine biologist; postdoctoral research fellow, Coral Reef Restoration Program, Mote Marine Laboratory References:  "How to resurrect a coral reef" by Benji Jones (Vox; Apr. 22) "Restored Corals Spawn Hope for Reefs Worldwide" by Hanna R. Koch, Erinn Muller, & Michael P. Crosby (The Scientist; Feb. 1, 2021) "Herbivorous Crabs Reverse the Seaweed Dilemma on Coral Reefs" by A. Jason Spadaro & Mark Butler (Current Biology 31 (4); Feb. 22, 2021) Enjoyed this episode? Rate Vox Conversations ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Subscribe for free. Be the first to hear the next episode of Vox Conversations by subscribing in your favorite podcast app. Support Vox Conversations by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts This episode was made by:  Producer: Erikk Geannikis Editor: Amy Drozdowska Engineer: Patrick Boyd Deputy Editorial Director, Vox Talk: Amber Hall Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jul 21
55 min
The price of keeping secrets
Sean Illing talks with professor Michael Slepian, author of The Secret Life of Secrets. This new book explores secret-keeping behavior and its consequences, as well as how secrecy relates to trust. Sean and Michael talk about what things we keep secret, why we're so worried about keeping them secret, and the toll that secret-keeping can have on us. They also talk about how the issue of secrecy relates to authenticity, and our fears of being judged by others. Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews Writer, Vox Guest: Michael Slepian (@michaelslepian), author; professor, Columbia Business School References:  The Secret Life of Secrets: How Our Inner Worlds Shape Well-Being, Relationships, and Who We Are by Michael Slepian (Crown; 2022) "Why the Secrets You Keep Are Hurting You" by Michael Slepian (Scientific American; Feb. 5, 2019) "Spill the Beans" by Olga Khazan (The Atlantic; July 8, 2015) "Keeping Secrets Isn't So Bad for You After All — With One Exception" by Olivia Campbell (New York; May 3, 2017) Enjoyed this episode? Rate Vox Conversations ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Subscribe for free. Be the first to hear the next episode of Vox Conversations by subscribing in your favorite podcast app. Support Vox Conversations by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts This episode was made by:  Producer: Erikk Geannikis Editor: Amy Drozdowska Engineer: Patrick Boyd Deputy Editorial Director, Vox Talk: Amber Hall Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jul 18
52 min
Does China control Hollywood?
Vox's Alissa Wilkinson talks with Wall Street Journal reporter Erich Schwartzel about Red Carpet, his new book detailing the myriad ways that Hollywood movies are affected by China. They discuss how Chinese markets are essential for the budgetary math of big blockbusters, the role of the Chinese Communist Party's censors play in shaping the content of American films, and what this complicated global relationship might for Hollywood's future — and the future of movies in general. Host: Alissa Wilkinson (@alissamarie), film critic and senior culture reporter, Vox Guests: Erich Schwartzel (@erichschwartzel), reporter, The Wall Street Journal; author References:  Red Carpet: Hollywood, China, and the Global Battle for Cultural Supremacy by Erich Schwartzel (Penguin; 2022) Enjoyed this episode? Rate Vox Conversations ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Subscribe for free. Be the first to hear the next episode of Vox Conversations by subscribing in your favorite podcast app. Support Vox Conversations by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts This episode was made by:  Producer: Erikk Geannikis Editor: Amy Drozdowska Engineer: Patrick Boyd Deputy Editorial Director, Vox Talk: Amber Hall Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jul 14
1 hr 4 min
Steve Bannon is still at war
Sean Illing talks with Jennifer Senior, the Pulitzer-winning staff writer at the Atlantic, about her recent piece on Steve Bannon called "American Rasputin." Through incredible firsthand access and detailed reporting, Senior shows how Bannon is still an effective media manipulator through his popular "War Room" podcast. Sean and Jennifer discuss what Bannon's true political beliefs might be, the role he played in plotting the January 6th attack on the Capitol, and the role he might already be playing in setting up the next insurrection. Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews Writer, Vox Guest: Jennifer Senior (@JenSeniorNY), staff writer, The Atlantic References:  "American Rasputin" by Jennifer Senior (June 6; The Atlantic) UPDATE: "Bannon, Facing Jail and Fines, Agrees to Testify to Jan. 6 Panel" by Luke Broadwater and Maggie Haberman (July 10; New York Times) "Steve Bannon's 'We Build the Wall' Codefendants Plead Guilty" by Bob Van Voris (Apr. 21; Bloomberg) "Steve Bannon and U.S. ultra-conservatives take aim at Pope Francis" by Richard Engel and Kennett Werner (Apr. 12, 2019; NBC News) "'Flood the zone with shit': How misinformation overwhelmed our democracy" by Sean Illing (updated Feb. 6, 2020; Vox) The Paradox of Democracy: Free Speech, Open Media, and Perilous Persuasion by Zac Gershberg and Sean Illing (2022; U. Chicago) American Dharma, dir. by Errol Morris (2019) The Fourth Turning: What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny by William Strauss and Neil Howe (Crown; 1997) "The work" of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff (d. 1949) "What I Learned Binge-Watching Steve Bannon's Documentaries" by Adam Wren (Politico; Dec. 2016) "McLuhan would blow hot and cool about today's internet" by Nick Carr (Nov. 1, 2007; The Guardian) Enjoyed this episode? Rate Vox Conversations ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Subscribe for free. Be the first to hear the next episode of Vox Conversations by subscribing in your favorite podcast app. Support Vox Conversations by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts This episode was made by:  Producer: Erikk Geannikis Editor: Amy Drozdowska Engineer: Patrick Boyd Deputy Editorial Director, Vox Talk: Amber Hall Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jul 11
50 min
The Fortress of Solitude saw it all coming
Vox's Constance Grady talks with writer Jonathan Lethem about his 2003 work The Fortress of Solitude in this recording from a live Vox Book Club event. They discuss the prescient and still-relevant themes of the novel — like the issues of appropriation in art, gentrification, and superheroes, how Lethem approaches "realism" in his writing, and the role of music and comics in both his own life and the lives of his characters. Vox Conversations will be on summer break the week of July 4th, and will return on Monday, July 11th. Host: Constance Grady (@constancegrady), staff writer, Vox Guests: Jonathan Lethem, author References:  The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem (Vintage; 2003) "The Fortress of Solitude is a fraught and uneasy love letter to a vanished Brooklyn" by Constance Grady (Vox; May 20) "The Author Looks Inward: A Conversation with Jonathan Lethem" by Brian Gresko (LARB; Sept. 8, 2013) Another Country by James Baldwin (1962) Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann (1901) Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (1977) Enjoyed this episode? Rate Vox Conversations ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Subscribe for free. Be the first to hear the next episode of Vox Conversations by subscribing in your favorite podcast app. Support Vox Conversations by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts This episode was made by:  Producer: Erikk Geannikis Editor: Amy Drozdowska Engineer: Patrick Boyd Deputy Editorial Director, Vox Talk: Amber Hall Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jun 30
39 min
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