Other Episodes

1619: Food, Sugar, and Race

The hosts talk about the history of food production in the United States and its connections to poverty, race, and slavery. How is the legacy of slavery connected to the contemporary obesity epidemic? Listen and find out.

Climate Change: Art as Social Practice

Contemplating the consequences of climate change is not only the purview of scientists. Artists are also helping to imagine the contours of a warming planet, as well as re-imagine what possibilities might emerge from this global crisis.

Climate Change: Material Memory

Memory isn’t something that lives only in our minds. Memory lives in objects–in museums, and scrap books, and archives. How can archives help us make sense of climate change? What do we choose to preserve and why?

Toni Morrison: Her Life in Words

The hosts take a break from their long form discussion about climate change to discuss Toni Morrison, who died on August 5th. “We die,” Morrison said in her 1993 Nobel Prize acceptance. “That may be the meaning of life. But we do language,” she added. “That may be the measure of our lives.”

(r)omance: Alternative Lifestyles

How do alternative lifestyles effect historically heteronormative notions of “romance?” The hosts discuss the ways in which romance has changed in response to the mainstreaming of LGTBQ interests, and how LGTBQ interests have been shaped by mainstream romance.

(r)omance: episodic or epic

We often talk about our lives as if it is one long running story, from cradle to grave. We do the same in our romantic lives, from young and fantastic to mature and sober. But is that true? How much do we actually learn from romance?

(r)omance: Are you difficult?

What makes someone “difficult” in romantic relationships? Putting themselves under the microscope, the hosts explore their own shortcomings and wonder how difficult they are to love.

(r)omance: What Is It?

Romance–with a lowercase “r”–has been a preoccupation in the West since the 17th century. But it’s rarely discussed with any seriousness outside of literature or without pop cultural clichés. The hosts aim to change that.

Donald Trump: The Foucauldian President

The election of Donald Trump in 2016 broke the mold of the modern American President. Countless factors undoubtedly contributed to his election, but one that is seldom discussed is Trump’s compatibility with the critical intellectual fatalism common in continental philosophy.

Donald Trump: Media Responsibility

In a democracy the press serves a vital function–the dissemination of facts. Facts are slippery, but their faithful pursuit strengthens our national character. What has the election of Donald Trump revealed about fact based media in America?

Donald Trump: Change Agent

Cultural progress requires change, but that change isn’t always positive for its agents. For many years progressives ignored the cost of progress, but that bill came due in November, 2016. The 2016 election is a clear signal the world is changing, but what is it changing into?

2020 Democrats: How to “Look Presidential”

TAA 0073 – What do we mean when we say that someone does or does not “look presidential?” Is it still freighted with the same assumptions about race and gender (i.e. white and male)? The hosts discuss the possibility that it conveys a kind of dispassionate and benign ruthlessness.

2020 Democrats: Joe Biden, a Politician’s Politician

TAA 0072 – In most polling, Joe Biden is the front runner amongst Democrats in the 2020 Presidential primaries. But he’s a problematic candidate because many of his mannerisms put him out of step with the Democratic base. What kind of politician is Biden and can he secure the nomination?

2020 Democrats: Warren, and the Rest

TAA 0071 – The 2020 Democratic field is crowded, but there are a few standouts. Assessing the field, the hosts make the argument that Elizabeth Warren stands far out ahead of the rest in terms of preparedness. But is she electable?

Michael Jackson: How Much Does Innocence Cost?

TAA 0067 – In this episode the hosts discuss our preoccupation with innocence, and when moral responsibility takes shape. Defenses of Michael Jackson often involve his complicated childhood. How convincing is that defense?

Michael Jackson: “Leaving Neverland”

Podcast 0066 – Dan Reed’s documentary “Leaving Neverland” offers a compelling but disturbing description of the alleged abuse suffered by James Safechuck and Wade Dobson at the hands of Michael Jackson. But how credible is Reed’s film? Join as we discuss “Leaving Neverland.”

Michael Jackson: Predator, Performer, King of Pop

Podcast 0065 – Even though he died in 2009 Michael Jackson is still the most famous person in the world. With the release of Leaving Neverland his legacy has been once again called into question. Why is his life and art so meaningful to us? Join us as we try to unravel this history.

White Supremacy: Institutional Misanthropy

Podcast 0061 – What does institutional “white” power look like in the 21st century? In what ways are institutions oriented against people of color, and in what ways are institutions a result of that historical orientation? The hosts untangle the ways people use and are used by that history.

White Supremacy

TAA 0058 – The hosts begin their conversation about “white supremacy.” What does the supremacy of whites mean? Who is “white”? Are institutions or individuals primarily to blame for its perpetuation? And is it, in fact, perpetuating? Join us as we work through these and other questions.

Pornography, Part VI: Race

TAA 0057 – The hosts conclude their conversation with a discussion of the role of race in the sexual imagination. Why is the white, blonde female body so often the location of heterosexual desire in American culture? Why is the male black body so often fetishized?

Pornography, Part V: Desire and Despair

TAA 0056 – The hosts continue their conversation about pornography. This week they explore the emotional cost of pornography. Who shapes our desires? And what happens when we are regularly reminded of what we don’t have?

Unlucky Days Again

TAA 0052 – C. Travis Webb, Seph Rodney, and Steven Fullwood return to the topic of cyclical time. Every year in the Mesoamerican calendar there were five unlucky days between the end of the ritual calendar and the start of a new solar calendar. Are the days between Christmas and New Year a similar experience for twenty-first century Westerners?

Role Models: Inspiration or Imitation

TAA 0051 – C. Travis Webb, Seph Rodney, and Steven Fullwood apply some critical reflection to role modeling. Can one reject one’s status as a role model, as Charles Barkley famously did? Is there a difference between following a role model, and being inspired by one? Tune in and join the conversation.

You’re Being Watched: Surveillance Now and Then

TAA 0050 – C. Travis Webb, Seph Rodney, and Steven Fullwood discuss surveillance. Apps that track their users and government access to their data is much discussed, but surveillance isn’t new. Marginalized communities have been tracked for centuries, and powerful individuals have always had access to privacy, so what does privacy mean in the twenty-first century?


TAA 0049 – C. Travis Webb, Seph Rodney, and Steven Fullwood discuss the media’s reaction to the death of the 41st President, George H.W. Bush. Did mainstream outlets “whitewash” Bush’s legacy, or is there something to be said for speaking well of the recently departed? What is the role of public mourning and public anger in the establishment of community?

Porn, the Conversation, Part I: Liberty and the Body

When we say that we shouldn’t be looking at, watching pornography in public with other people around, essentially what we’re saying is, we shouldn’t be engaging in sex acts in public with other people around. This seems to be across cultures, right? There’s a taboo about that.

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving

TAA 0047 – To celebrate the holiday, C. Travis Webb, Seph Rodney, and Steven Fullwood offer thanks. The hosts recount some of the things they’ve each been thankful for this year, and also offer reflections on the challenges of artistic creation and the difficulty of doing foolishly ambitious things.

Veterans, Part II: Sex, Violence, and Identity

TAA 0046 – C. Travis Webb, Seph Rodney, and Steven Fullwood continue their discussion about veterans. They expand the topic by exploring the ways sexuality and potency are intertwined with violence. Why are “men in uniform” so often the object of sexual desire? How are our identities constrained by these roles? Join us for another wide-ranging exchange.

What’s Going On: Where Do You Get Your Information?

TAA 0044 – C. Travis Webb, Seph Rodney, and Steven Fullwood discuss information. To live responsibly in a democracy requires access to knowledge about the world we inhabit. But acquiring that knowledge can be difficult. Where does it come from, and who can be trusted to dispense it? How does ideology interfere with or enhance our ability to make sense of the world? The hosts discuss their media diets, and how they can be improved.

Halloween, Horror, and Hamlet: What Scares Us and Why?

TAA 0043 – In honor of Halloween, C. Travis Webb, Seph Rodney, and Steven Fullwood discuss their favorite horror films. They explore why some movies affect them more than others, and what those susceptibilities say about their world views. Some of the films discussed include: Carrie, The Changeling, Prince of Darkness, The Skin I Live In, Ringu, and Cabin in the Woods.

Social Media Selves

C. Travis Webb, Seph Rodney, and Steven Fullwood discuss their social media profiles and what their profiles both reveal and conceal about their identities. Is it possible to remain nuanced and effective on Twitter or Facebook? Can one use social media without being leveled by it, or reduced to a caricature?

Brett Kavanaugh Meets #MeToo

TAA 0038 – C. Travis Webb, Seph Rodney, and Steven Fullwood discuss the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh in the light of the #MeToo movement. The conversation turns to issues of personal responsibility, power, integrity, and, as always, the history of civilization. This is part I of a multi-part discussion.

Fathers, Part II: How Do We Create Possibility from Pain?

TAA 0037 – C. Travis Webb, Seph Rodney, and Steven Fullwood continue their discussion about fathers. Picking up from last time, they consider what is and isn’t possible in our intimate relationships. From fathers to history, we are born into dynamic contexts that both injure and inspire us. What tools do we have to manage these overwhelming forces?

Picking Your Battles: How to Fight with Principle

TAA 00035 – C. Travis Webb talks about narrowing our critical targets to those who truly oppose progressive agendas. He argues against generalizations that describe Republicans as “racist,” “greedy,” “homophobes,” and suggests these generalizations are the equivalent of indiscriminate machine gun fire. Only by committing ourselves to principles of empathy and courage can we hope to defeat those who oppose progressive politics.


TAA 0035 – C. Travis Webb, Seph Rodney, and Steven Fullwood discuss fatherhood. Being sons and having sons informs their exploration of masculinity, pride, misfortune, and the culture’s ambivalence towards traditional masculine values.

The Noble Lie: Are Some Myth’s Necessary? Part I

TAA 0033 -C. Travis Webb, Seph Rodney, and Steven Fullwood discuss Plato’s “noble lie.” Are some kinds of myths necessary to promote comity between strangers? Is the American Dream a worthwhile national story? How might we update it in the twenty-first century so that it remains relevant today?

Why Meme: what’s a meme and why do we make them?

TAA 0032 – C. Travis Webb discusses memes. He argues that typical discussions about memes, from their silliness to the gene-meme theory of Richard Dawkins, miss something very important about their function. He explains why The American Age produces memes and how they’re related to Buddhist prayer flags.

Is a Post-colonial Museum Possible?

C. Travis Webb, Seph Rodney, and Steven Fullwood discuss Seph’s recently completed book project. Seph has spent years studying how art museums cadre to and shape public expectations. Is it possible for the museum to be a neutral space of aesthetic engagement, or is it hopelessly bound to a political agenda?

Working to Music

TAA-0030 C. Travis Webb, Seph Rodney, and Steven Fullwood discuss the various ways that music does and does not shape the work they do. Does music boost or distract from your work? Just as musical tastes differ, so do preferences for listening.

Angry Races: Why Do We Care So Much About Color?

TAA 0029 – C. Travis Webb, Seph Rodney, and Steven Fullwood begin by discussing Rachel Dolezal, but quickly move to a free-ranging discussion of why we’re so bound up in racial narratives. What’s at stake, and what do African and European Americans gain by focusing on it?

Toxic Masculinity

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Space Force! Necessity or Inanity

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Twenty-Something Looking at Middle-Age

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Roseanne: The Weight of an Apology

C. Travis Webb, Seph Rodney, and Steven Fullwood discuss Roseanne Barr’s apology. How much credit should she get? Can we fight for a progressive political agenda and make room for forgiveness and empathy?

Politics in Art: How Much is Too Much

TAA 0021 – C. Travis Webb and Steven Fullwood discuss the role of politics in art. Artists have always been politically engaged, but can too much politics interfere with what is moving and provocative about great art?

The Blackening: Playing with Race and Racism

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C. Travis Webb and Steven Fullwood discuss UFOs. From the validity of their sightings to the possibility that they are a conscious manifestation…

Unwanted Opinions

TAA 0017 – C. Travis Webb and Seph Rodney discuss whether or not its fair to ostracize intellectuals that have unfashionable opinions…

Liberty vs. Security

TAA 0014 – C. Travis Webb and Steven Fullwood talk about the natural tensions that exist between liberty and safety. You cannot maximize both, so what does the current balance between the two in our society say about our priorities and prejudices.

Trump or Social Progress

TAA 0016 – C. Travis Webb and Steven Fullwood discuss the perils and the possibilities of a Trump presidency. Does symbolic cultural progress matter, and if it does, what does Trump’s election mean for the country?

Madness in America: Part III

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Conservatives in the Trump Age

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Madness in America: Part I

TAA 0010 – C. Travis Webb and Steven Fullwood discuss the history of denial in America, from Thomas Jefferson to the 2016 election. Should denial be considered a form of collective madness, and has social media made our denial worse?

Context Collapse

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Are Corporations Democratic Guardians?

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Violence in a Free Society

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Secrecy in Intimate Relationships

TAA 0005 – Secrets are an inextricable part of intimate relationships–not only keeping them together, but keeping them from each other. A wide-ranging discussion between C. Travis Webb, Seph Rodney, and Steven Fullwood.

Public Outrage: Part II

Podcast 0004 – C. Travis Webb and Seph Rodney continue their discussion about public outrage. Does expertise bring wisdom? Is outrage at elites justified? This and much more is discussed in this second of a two-part discussion.

Public Outrage: Part I

TAA 0003 – In this episode, C. Travis Webb and Seph Rodney discuss the coarsening of civic culture. What are the results and causes of public outrage? Are they historical or psychological? (Part I of II)

Faith in the Future

TAA 0002 – In this episode, C. Travis Webb and Seph Rodney discuss faith in the future. Is faith in the future justifiable or naive? Contrasting Ta-Nehisi Coates with Jeffrey Goldberg (the editor of The Atlantic), Webb argues that “faith” isn’t the point, and Rodney emphasizes the importance of honesty in any assessment of the American project.

Unlucky Days

TAA 0001 – On the inaugural episode of The American Age podcast, C. Travis Webb and Seph Rodney discuss “unlucky days.” Taking inspiration from the Mayan tradition of the haab (i.e. the five “unnamed” days that fall between the end of the old sun calendar and the start of the new) Travis and Seph discuss the days between Christmas and New Year, and the ways in which we try to make sense of our lives.

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