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Public Intellectual

100 EpisodesProduced by Jessa CrispinWebsite

Complicated conversations with complicated people about complicated topics. Let's get into the real mess of gender, feminism, punishment, class, politics, and culture and leave easy rhetoric and jingoism behind. Hosted by Jessa Crispin.

100 Episodes | 2019 - 2021

What Is Art Even For, with Rita Felski

January 11th, 2021


Many of the odd social media arguments over the last couple years -- from Scorsese v Marvel to teach Harry Potter instead of Nathaniel Hawthorne -- can be understood as being actually about uncertainty about what art is …

Bonus Episode: What Do We Do with a Don Giovanni During #MeToo with Amber Fasquelle

January 4th, 2021


We'll be returning to our regular weekly schedule starting January 11th. Until then, please enjoy this first entry in our series of bonus episodes …

The Downward Spiral is a Solstice Album, with Adam Steiner

December 21st, 2020


On the darkest day of the year, and with Trent Reznor everywhere with two new scores, it seems an appropriate time to discuss the Nine Inch Nails masterpiece The Downward Spiral. How did someone with actually so few …

America is Losing Its Mind. Again. with Chelsey Weber Smith

December 7th, 2020


Chelsey Weber Smith runs the American Hysteria podcast, so who better to come on to discuss America's various conspiracy theories, cults, and moral …

Art Under Trump, with Allison Hewitt Ward

November 23rd, 2020


We were promised great art under the Trump administration. Everyone said it: our suffering would lead to a Renaissance of art, literature, and music. …

What Happens to the Left Under a Centrist, with Natalie Wynn of Contrapoints

November 16th, 2020


Over the last four years under Trump, we've seen the emergence of a far right with militias, the alt-right, and other weirdo fascists, but we've also …

A Gun for Every Girl, with Zach Toman

November 9th, 2020


Talk about guns is now shorthand for a certain kind of American: white uneducated racists. But conversations and action around gun control often hurt …

Monetizing the Dead, with Claire Cronin

November 2nd, 2020


It's election week in America, so of course we're going to talk about horror, ghosts, and watching violent death as a way of relieving anxiety. …

The British Museum is Haunted, with Dan Hicks

October 26th, 2020


Who owns a cultural object? Who benefits from artistic production? Where is the line between looting and preservation? While museums have been …

A Lady's Guide to Fascism, with Victoria de Grazia

October 19th, 2020


Ladies love a fascist. In Victoria de Grazia's new book The Perfect Fascist, she tells the story of Lilliana Weinman -- a beautiful Jewish heiress, …

Re-Release: Beyond Pro-Choice and Pro-Life with Alissa Quart

October 12th, 2020


With the death of RBG and the Supreme Court once again in a position to overturn Roe v Wade, journalist Alissa Quart and Jessa attempt to complicate the abortion debate. We discuss how the pro-choice movement often …

Pope Says Property is Theft, with Eugene McCarraher

October 5th, 2020


Just a few days before the Pope release a barnfire of an encyclical about the evils of neoliberalism and capitalism, Eugene McCarraher (The …

Living in Strange Times, with Darran Anderson

September 28th, 2020


In his new memoir Inventory, Darran Anderson recounts growing up in Derry, Northern Ireland, in the 80s, amid all of the humiliation and intimidation …

Our Anxious Relationship to Stuff, with Jen Howard

September 21st, 2020


We continue our series on the stress the pandemic is putting on domestic spaces. Jen Howard, the author of the new book Clutter, talks to Jessa about pandemic hoarding, why Marie Kondo drives some (mostly white upper …

California Fires and California Dreams, with Mark Arax

September 14th, 2020


Mark Arax (The Dreamt Land) is one of our finest chroniclers of the American West, and he joins Jessa to discuss the wildfires, the mismanagement of resources like water, soil, and timber, and why California is our land …

The Musician as Content Creator with Marianna Ritchey

August 31st, 2020


Now that Samuel Beckett's "Fail Better" is a motivational poster in some Silicon Valley bro's office, what is the value of art in the neoliberal age? …

On Sourdough Starters and How Domesticity Became a Luxury, with Jaimee Edwards

August 17th, 2020


What is hiding behind your Instagram photos of perfectly baked sourdough bread? First of all, all of the labor and time and knowledge it took to create it. Second, the strained and in some places broken food supply …

Extra: A Talk with a Covid Long Hauler, with Natalie Alford

August 12th, 2020


Natalie Alford, a singer songwriter out of Chicago, started to feel sick in the spring. Now four months later, she's still sick. As a part of our conversation about the how health care in this country is going to have …

Preparing for the Post-Pandemic, with Cassie Thornton

August 10th, 2020


Often when we discuss health care reform, we're talking about issues of accessibility and affordability. It is assumed American medicine is great, top notch. The only problem is how expensive it is and how broken the …

I Regret to Inform You We Are Discussing the Harper's Letter, with Elvis Bego

August 3rd, 2020


Do we and should we have free speech or not? Why can't anyone agree on that? Bosnian-born writer Elvis Bego joins Jessa to discuss how free speech …

The Rich Getting Richer, with Ashley Mears

July 20th, 2020


BU Professor Ashley Mears details the leisure of the wealthy in her new book, Very Important People, but also the men and "girls" who live in their periphery. Examining the nightlife of the moneyed, from the ecstatic …

The Journalist as Moral Arbiter, with JoAnn Wypijewski

July 13th, 2020


With all the media struggles lately, a conversation has emerged: should the journalist strive to be an objective observer, or should they be the …

The Bechdel Test Returns, with Vincent Chabany-Douarre

July 6th, 2020


Somehow, the conversation around historical racism and bigotry and police brutality turned into a series of... resignations by white voice actors in …

Housing is a Public Health Issue, with Tara Raghuveer

June 29th, 2020


While many cities and states offered protection from evictions during the beginning months of the pandemic, many of those protections have expired and people are losing their houses. Tara Raghuveer of KC Tenants speaks …

Re-Release: A Conversation with Brandon Scott, the Presumed Next Mayor of Baltimore

June 22nd, 2020


I know, we're all against voting and progress through elections right now, but the triumph of Brandon Scott over Sheila Dixon and assorted other …

The Feminist City (with Leslie Kern)

June 15th, 2020


What does a fully inclusive city look like? With issues like policing, housing, child care, surveillance, and education in the news, due to the …

The Relationship Between Disease and War, with Frank A Von Hippel

June 8th, 2020


Frank A von Hippel takes us through the surprising relationship of disease and war, from how the treatment of malaria facilitated colonialism, how …

Your Doctor is Going to Kill You, with Caren Beilin

May 26th, 2020


Excuse the click-baity title. Caren Beilin had a copper IUD implanted, and was overwhelmed with health issues almost immediately. Six days later, the IUD was removed, but the damage, including the sparking of an …

New Atheists, Flat Earth, and the History of Doubt (with Alec Ryrie)

May 18th, 2020


Alec Ryrie, the author of Unbelievers: An Emotional History of Doubt, joins Jessa to discuss how faith and doubt operate together, skepticism as a contagion, and the legacy of the New Atheists. 

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Reading The Topeka School (with Christopher Piatt)

May 11th, 2020


Ben Lerner's The Topeka School was recently shortlisted for the Pulitzer, and critics have been raving about its insight into Trump Country. But... …

No NYTimes There Won't Be a Rona Baby Boom (with Maxine Eichner)

May 4th, 2020


For all of the think pieces about why Millennials aren't having as many children as previous generations -- maybe they are too selfish blah blah blah …

Tiger King, A Morality Play (with Eileen G'Sell)

April 27th, 2020


Tiger King was a sensation, so a million words had to be spilled in response. Most of those words accused the Netflix docuseries itself of being immoral, misogynistic, exploitative. Rather than just depicting …

Red State Culture (with Jason Pine)

April 20th, 2020


Jason Pine (The Alchemy of Meth) joins Jessa to discuss the invisibility of America's drug crisis. Pine spent a year in Missouri to research his book on the overwhelming presence of meth, an extremely common and yet …

The Feminist Response (with Breanne Fahs)

April 6th, 2020


The shelter in place and work from home orders are straining domestic spaces, and it feels like the most professional and public feminist speakers are not up the task of imagining how to respond. What is the "feminist …

Deaths of Despair, with Anne Case

April 1st, 2020


Anne Case and Angus Deaton released Deaths of Despair this year, the culmination of their study into how your education level determines how much …

How is Your Self-Isolation Going (with Jim Behrle)

March 23rd, 2020


Jim Behrle reports from the tumbleweeds of Time Square to discuss eco-fascism, why the bees should just take over, how to get through this …

Pete Buttigieg is from the Suburbs (with Joe Kennedy)

March 16th, 2020


Joe Kennedy, author of Authentocrats: Culture, Politics and the New Seriousness, swings by to talk about the parallels between the UK and US …

Bonus Episode: Sinead O'Connor is the Kassandra of Our Time, with Margaret Howie

March 12th, 2020


We're releasing this bonus episode from the Patreon vaults. Come subscribe to our Patreon and get content like this all the time! (Or, you know, on a …

Twilight Moms and the Indignity of Female Desire (with Jennifer Hodgson)

March 9th, 2020


Why are celebrity crushes so embarrassing? Critic and editor Jennifer Hodgson joins Jessa to overintellectualize their shared crush on Bill Hader, to think about female desire, how celebrity crushes are labor, and why …

Weinstein the Monster (with JoAnn Wypijewski)

March 2nd, 2020


JoAnn Wypijewski joins Jessa to discuss the Weinstein trial and conviction, after writing about it for the Nation. We discuss how trials for sexual …

On Creepy Men (with Heidi Matthews)

February 24th, 2020


Professor of Law at York University Heidi Matthews has been writing about "creepiness," particularly as it relates to gender relations. What causes a …

Writing from the Margins (with Susan Ellen Finlay)

February 17th, 2020


Jessa talks to writer Susan Ellen Finlay (Objektophilia) about the difficult position of small, independent publishers in today's cultural climate. 

The American Story is a Story of Grievance (with John Biguenet)

February 10th, 2020


With all of the publishing scandals going on, I thought it made sense to re-up this conversation with novelist John Biguenet. Why is the standard narrative in American writing the narrative of victimhood? How do we move …

Social Capital, with Richard Davies

February 5th, 2020


Richard Davies is the author of "Extreme Economies: And What They Can Teach Us." He visits places like Santiago, Chile to examine income inequality, …

You Can Talk to a Conservative Like a Normal Human Being (with Gerald Russello)

January 27th, 2020


Gerald Russello, the editor of University Bookman and conservative intellectual, joins Jessa Crispin to talk about the growing political divide in …

The Most Important, Dangerous, Thrilling Year in Film (with Eileen Jones)

January 19th, 2020


If the year in film went the way film critics said it was, Joker would have caused an incel uprising and Little Women would have solved misogyny. …

Against Relentless Cheer (with Jim Behrle)

December 16th, 2019


Poet and well known curmudgeon Jim Behrle talks to Jessa about this season of cheer, hope, and friendliness and how terrible all of that is. You …

Deprogramming Trump Voters, with Robert Jay Lifton

December 9th, 2019


The legendary cult expert and psychologist Robert Jay Lifton joins Public Intellectual to explain what the totalitarian experience shares with the …

Facebook is Death (with Jacob Silverman)

November 18th, 2019


Twitter is full of Nazis, Facebook is facilitating genocide, YouTube is, well, also full of Nazis but also child pornography. How did social media …

Listening to Politics, with Brandon Scott

November 11th, 2019


Jessa talks to Brandon Scott, currently the City Council President and hopefully the next mayor of Baltimore, to talk about how the language of …

"Capitalizing on MeToo (with Laura La Rosa)"

November 4th, 2019


With the revelations about the abuses of Harvey Weinstein and others like him came a scramble to uncover the misdeeds of other powerful men. Some …

What is a Feminist Artist (with Jen May)

October 28th, 2019


What makes a feminist artist feminist? Is it just by being a woman and political? Is it something to do with the art itself, must it carry a specific …

Impossible Fathers (with Nara Milanich)

October 21st, 2019


Before DNA testing, the father was, ultimately, a question mark. Because paternity was always in question, there were legal, familial, societal, and …

The New Culture Wars (with Nathalie Olah)

October 16th, 2019


Jessa speaks with Nathalie Olah about her new book, Steal As Much As You Can and the bland cultural landscape, created by upper classes and dominated …

Why I Quit Writing (with Yasmin Nair)

October 7th, 2019


Jessa speaks with cultural critic, academic, and leftist thinker Yasmin Nair about the exploitative, dumbed down, and click-baity hot take culture in …

The Disappearance of the Working Class Journalist (with Justin Ward)

September 30th, 2019


Jessa speaks with Justin Ward about the disappearance of the working class journalist. With local, small, and alternative newspapers folding, there …

Teaching Consent (with Laura Kipnis)

September 25th, 2019


On the inaugural episode of “Public Intellectual,” Jessa Crispin invites writer & cultural critic Laura Kipnis to discuss her book, “Unwanted …

The Feminist Bogeyman (with Breanna Fahs)

September 25th, 2019


Jessa invites Breanne Fahs, Professor of Women and Gender Studies at Arizona State University and author of Out for Blood: Essays on Menstruation and Resistance, onto Public Intellectual to discuss Radical Feminism and …

The New Tarot (with Michelle Tea)

September 25th, 2019


Jessa invites Michelle Tea, author of “Modern Tarot: Connecting with Your Higher Self through the Wisdom of the Cards” and “Black Wave,” onto the show to discuss Tarot’s relevance and application in the modern era. They …

Heterosexuality is a F**king Nightmare (with Indiana Seresin)

September 25th, 2019


Jessa made a joke on twitter saying that she wanted to write a book called “Heterosexuality is a Fucking Nightmare.” She received an e-mail from another user intrigued by the idea, Indiana Seresin, encouraging her to …

Straight White Men (with Zak Mucha)

September 25th, 2019


Jessa invites Zak Mucha, author of Emotional Abuse: A Manual For Self-Defense, onto Public Intellectual to discuss straight white men and the crisis …

Missing Dames (with Bruce Benderson)

September 25th, 2019


Jessa invites author Bruce Benderson onto the show to discuss the disappearance of the spinster/grandma in film and how women’s roles have changed …

Queering the Military (with Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore)

September 25th, 2019


Jessa invites author Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore (The End Of San Francisco) onto Public Intellectual to discuss the transgender military ban & …

Writing for Our Strange Times (with Mia Gallagher)

September 25th, 2019


Jessa invites Irish author Mia Gallagher (Beautiful Pictures of the Lost Homeland) onto Public Intellectual for a thoughtful discussion on what it …

The Woman Genius Problem (with Pamela Bannos)

September 25th, 2019


Jessa invites Pamela Bannos, author of the upcoming book “Vivian Maier: A Photographer’s Life and Afterlife” to discuss Vivian Maier’s life, the exploitation of her work, and the manufacturing of her image after her …

Welcome to the #Resistance (with Neal Pollack)

September 25th, 2019


Jessa invites writer Neal Pollack onto the show to discuss the opportunism and profiteering of #Resistance writers in the age of Trump. They talk …

Canonize Tori Amos (with Common Gore)

September 25th, 2019


As we approach the 20th anniversary of Tori Amos’s “Boys for Pele,” Jessa invites her friend, Common Gore, onto the show to discuss Tori Amos, the …

The Forgotten Occult History of Art (with Padraic E Moore)

September 25th, 2019


Recently, Jessa attended a fascinating exhibition of mysticism and art at the IMMA in Dublin called “As Above, So Below: Portals, Visions, Spirits & Mystics.” Pádraic E Moore, writer/curator/art historian from …

Witchcraft Capitalism (with Katelan Foisy)

September 25th, 2019


There is a strong market for witchcraft these days. As practices such as astrology, tarot, crystals, and herbal medicine enter the mainstream, the …

Abolish Marriage (with Jessica Stites)

September 25th, 2019


Jessa invites Jessica Stites, executive editor of In These Times, onto the show for a conversation about the institution of marriage and why it …

Cosmopolitans (with Bruce Robbins)

September 25th, 2019


What does it mean to be a global citizen? What does it mean to be a global citizen as a Westerner, when so much of the world has been molded to work …

Recovering Christians (with Adrian Shirk)

September 25th, 2019


It’s the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation, so Jessa invites Adrian Shirk onto the show to talk about religion and her new book, And Your Daughters Shall Prophesy: Stories from the Byways of American Women and …

Gentrification vs Development (with Natalie Y Moore)

September 25th, 2019


South Side bureau reporter for WBEZ Chicago, Natalie Y. Moore, joins Jessa for a candid conversation about Gentrification vs. Development and the specific situation in Chicago. What is the current state of things? And …

Hating Books (with BD McClay)

September 25th, 2019


There's nothing like reading a hateful book review. And though it is certainly pleasurable to read (and write), the bad book review serves an …

Straight White Men, Part Two (with John Biguenet)

September 25th, 2019


It’s Part Two of “What The Christ Is Wrong With Straight White Men?” For the second installment of this series, Jessa invites writer John Biguenet onto the show to discuss the straight white male writer. What are his …

The Handmaid's Tale (with Indiana Seresin)

September 25th, 2019


Jessa invites writer Indiana Seresin back onto the show as the first repeat guest to discuss the TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, …

Sh**ty Media Men (with Leah Finnegan)

September 25th, 2019


Jessa invites writer Leah Finnegan (The Outline) onto the show to discuss the “shitty media men” list, the power imbalances in media (and elsewhere), and the current structures that protect sexual predators. Together, …

Zodiac is the Only Thing That Matters (with David Rees)

September 25th, 2019


The second part in a series about the films of David Fischer and Paul Verhoeven. Jessa invites author/cartoonist David Rees onto the show to discuss …

Men Should Wear Skirts (with Ciara Cremin)

September 25th, 2019


This week, Jessa invites Ciara Cremin, author of Man-Made Woman: The Dialectics of Cross-Dressing, onto the show for a conversation about …

Showgirls Is a Documentary (with Anne Ishii)

September 25th, 2019


The third part in a series about the films of Paul Verhoeven and David Fincher. Jessa invites writer, translator, and producer of erotic gay manga, …

Women Love Bad Men (with Laura Elizabeth Woollett)

September 25th, 2019


Why are women attracted to violence and brutality? Laura Elizabeth Woollett wrote a collection of short stories about this phenomenon called “The …

The Social Network is the Only Thing That Matters (with Austin Grossman)

September 25th, 2019


The fourth part in a series about the films of David Fincher and Paul Verhoeven. Jessa invites writer, Tech StartUp employee, and Harvard Alum Austin …

Fight Club is Prophecy of the Alt-Right (with Manan Ahmed)

September 25th, 2019


The fifth part in a series about the films of David Fincher and Paul Verhoeven. Jessa invites Manan Ahmed, Professor of Medieval Studies at Columbia …

Beyond Pro-Choice and Pro-Life (with Alissa Quart)

September 25th, 2019


Jessa sits down with journalist, poet and filmmaker Alissa Quart to discuss the rising maternal death rates and the place limited abortion access has in those figures, and how we are in this position where abortion is …

The Unified Theory of Michael Douglas, or The Game (with Carmen Petaccio)

September 25th, 2019


if you wanted to gauge the state of straight white men in America in the 80s and 90s, you could just watch Michael Douglas movies. The sixth part in …

The Enlightenment is White Man Identity Politics (with John Ganz)

September 25th, 2019


Over the last few years, there have been a lot of white dudes who’ve taken up the task of defending the enlightenment. But for decades, women and …

The Unified Theory of Michael Douglas Part Two, or Basic Instinct (with Melissa Gira Grant)

September 25th, 2019


The seventh part in a series about the films of Paul Verhoeven and David Fincher. Jessa invites writer Melissa Gira Grant onto the show to discuss …

Why Save the World When You Can Just Think You Did, or Total Recall (with Sheila O'Malley)

September 25th, 2019


The eighth part in a series about the films of Paul Verhoeven and David Fincher. Jessa invites film critic Sheila O'Malley onto the show to discuss …

All Art is Political (with Natalie Hopkinson)

September 25th, 2019


Remember when people were desperately trying to find a silver lining to the Trump presidency and what they came up with, aside from “at least we'll …

American Amnesia (with Pankaj Mishra)

September 25th, 2019


Pankaj Mishra’s book “The Age Of Anger: A History of the Present” is the antidote to the defenders of the enlightenment, like Jordan Peterson and Steven Pinker, who are suddenly so big now. It examines the gap between …

The Allure of Conspiracy (with Susan Lepselter)

September 25th, 2019


There’s something alluring about conspiracy thinking. A way of understanding and giving order to a world that is mostly chaotic and unknowable. Why is there pain and suffering? Well, either God is doing it or the …

Straight Men Explain Elle to Me (with Joe Cilio & Alex Ramsey)

September 25th, 2019


The ninth part in a series about the films of Paul Verhoeven and David Fincher. Elle is a film about power dynamics, the way men treat women, sexual …

Community is a Verb (with Talja Blokland)

September 25th, 2019


The first episode in a new series about life in Berlin -- not just Berlin, but the new urban age. We'll be speaking with academics, journalists, writers, and other figures about housing issues and income inequality, how …

The Failures of the Left (with Dominika Dyminska)

September 25th, 2019


In America and in Europe, the left has a problem. Unable to control the rise of populism and the extreme right, the left has become powerless and …

The Scientification of Religion (with Kocku von Stuckrad)

September 25th, 2019


Today we understand science and religion as being two wholly separate pursuits. They are not only separate, they are often hostile to one other. Yet, …

Travel Writing is Bad (with Haley Swanson)

September 25th, 2019


There are consequences to travel. From the environmental impact of international flights, to massive displacement in trendy neighborhoods for air bnb …

The Berlin Myth, with C C O'Hanlon

September 25th, 2019


There is always a myth about a city that may or may not line up with the reality of what it’s like to live in that city. For Berlin, the myth is that it’s incredibly cheap, with endless resources, and everyone there is …

Toxic Femininity, or The Love Witch (with Margaret Howie)

September 25th, 2019


The Love Witch is the feminine version of Fight Club. Not only in the sense of it being an exploration of the extreme expressions of gender and all the societal pressures to perform that gender -- but also because the …

From Woman to Wife (with Suzanne Leonard)

September 25th, 2019


In Suzanne Leonard's new book, Wife Inc, she looks at the pop culture industry based around the idea of what a wife is. From reality television, to …

We Should All Kill Our Dads, or Elle (with Marta Peirano)

September 25th, 2019


We’ve already done an episode about Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, but there are a few more things left to say about this film: in particular, the radical …

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