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Nostalgia Trap

Updated 2 months ago

Society & Culture
News
History
Politics
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The Nostalgia Trap podcast features weekly conversations about history and politics with some of the left’s most incisive thinkers, writers, and extremely online personalities, exploring how individual lives intersect with the big events and debates of our era.

Read more

The Nostalgia Trap podcast features weekly conversations about history and politics with some of the left’s most incisive thinkers, writers, and extremely online personalities, exploring how individual lives intersect with the big events and debates of our era.

iTunes Ratings

137 Ratings
Average Ratings
124
8
1
0
4

Workers of the World, Unite ❤️💛

By NatashaConstance55 - Mar 28 2020
Read more
Love the podcast, super informative

Great stuff

By not a hippie - Jan 04 2019
Read more
Really love the historical perspective. Thanks for making my work day more bearable!

iTunes Ratings

137 Ratings
Average Ratings
124
8
1
0
4

Workers of the World, Unite ❤️💛

By NatashaConstance55 - Mar 28 2020
Read more
Love the podcast, super informative

Great stuff

By not a hippie - Jan 04 2019
Read more
Really love the historical perspective. Thanks for making my work day more bearable!
Cover image of Nostalgia Trap

Nostalgia Trap

Latest release on Jul 28, 2020

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The Nostalgia Trap podcast features weekly conversations about history and politics with some of the left’s most incisive thinkers, writers, and extremely online personalities, exploring how individual lives intersect with the big events and debates of our era.

Rank #1: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 105: Between Oligarchy and Democracy w/ Heather Cox Richardson

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Heather Cox Richardson is a historian of American politics with a number of important books on the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the ideological evolution of the Republican Party. Richardson’s work tracks the space between rhetoric and reality, showing us how political parties pull the levers of race and class to manipulate public opinion and gain power.

Richardson’s recent focus is the way American conservatism has influenced the direction of the Republican Party over the course of the past several decades. In this conversation, she explains how “movement conservatives” since the Buckley era pushed the GOP to embrace increasingly extreme candidates and positions, setting the table for the Trump nightmare:

“Americans figured out fairly early on that [Republican economic policies] didn’t really help them. So Republican language has gotten more and more crazy. For me, the real sign was when Carly Fiorina, in the debates in 2016, said that Democrats were literally killing babies so they could sell their body parts . . .

They’ve had to ratchet this language up more and more. So when Trump came in and said and did the horrific things he did, he was really simply playing that movement conservative narrative out to its logical end. It’s exactly the path we started on in 1951 with God and Man at Yale.”

Jul 11 2018

1hr 10mins

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Rank #2: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 131: Capital's Final Frontier w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper

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Justin Rogers-Cooper is here to explain how the robber barons of the 19th century stack up against the current crop of capitalist megalomaniacs in Silicon Valley and beyond. In the process, we talk about Marx’s labor theory of value, the shift from control of resources to control of debt, the colonization of the human soul as the final frontier of profitability, and the specific function of monopoly within the larger liberal project.  

Jan 30 2019

1hr 24mins

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Rank #3: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 116: The Southernization of Everything w/ Keri Leigh Merritt

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Keri Leigh Merritt is a historian of American class, race, and inequality, with a particular focus on the South during and after the Civil War. Her book Masterless Men: Poor Whites and Slavery in the Antebellum South deftly navigates discourses on race, power, and capitalism, telling us what happens to “excess labor” under a slave economy. In this conversation, she talks about the South’s influence on her direction as a scholar, and explains how vital elements of the Southern political economy (from “right to work” to convict leasing) have spread to the rest of the country.

Sep 17 2018

1hr 2mins

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Rank #4: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 138: Dreaming Liberation w/ Robin Kelley

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Robin Kelley is a professor of history at UCLA and the author of a number of important books on a wide range of subjects, from communism in the American South (1990’s Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression), to the political visions of radical black intellectuals and artists (2002’s Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination), to the history of jazz (2009’s Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original). He joins us to discuss his intellectual path from doctrinaire Marxism to “Marxist surrealist feminist,” and why he thinks aesthetics and culture are such vital spaces for the left to reclaim its imaginative vision.

Mar 21 2019

1hr 15mins

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Rank #5: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 141: Centrism is a Disease w/ Chad Vigorous

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Chad Vigorous is the host of a sharp and funny podcast called The Discourse, and one of left Twitter’s most acerbic political commentators. In this conversation, he shares his insights on the nightmarish landscape of American culture and politics in the 21st century, explaining how fascism and white nationalism are finding their footing within the socioeconomic despair and ideological void created by neoliberalism.

Apr 11 2019

1hr 39mins

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Rank #6: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 173: The Farmer is the Man w/ Sarah Taber

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Sarah Taber is a crop scientist and ex-farmworker with a wide knowledge of agricultural history and practice, which you can hear in action on her excellently-named podcast Farm to Taber.  In this conversation, we talk about the role of the “farmer” in the American imagination and survey some of the most critical moments in the development of American food and farming policy.

Dec 19 2019

1hr 28mins

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Rank #7: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 189: Thank You for Your Service w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper

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As we continue our series on the politics of COVID-19, Justin Rogers-Cooper takes aim at the absurd ideology of “sacrifice,” as we explore how American sentimental mythology allows us to justify capitalism’s indifference to deaths of its "essential" workers.

Apr 14 2020

1hr 16mins

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Rank #8: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 108: Seizing Socialism's Moment w/ Alex Press

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Alex Press is a writer and assistant editor at Jacobin Magazine whose work explores the contours and possibilities of American working class politics. In this conversation, she tells about being radicalized by the Occupy movement in 2011, her journey through anarchism and socialism in a basement full of radical literature, and her thoughts on the rising visibility of socialist politics in the U.S. mainstream. Surveying the current political landscape, Press sees many opportunities for the left to more effectively harness the anger and energy felt by millions of Americans. She argues that popular social movements, from Black Lives Matter to #MeToo, can and should be channeled into real working class power:

“We don’t have a very visible fighting feminist movement in the way that we’ve had in the past. You have this incredible energy around #MeToo, so many people wanted to change this thing, everyone agreed it was terrible that every woman they know seems to have experienced really awful things, whether in their work life or elsewhere, and yet there was nowhere really for people to go. And when you don’t have that infrastructure of an organized left that can really lead that energy, and develop it, and demand certain changes, it dissipates. It’s a real missed opportunity, and it’s why left organizations should be preparing themselves to actually figure out a way to fight back against incredibly anti-feminist policies in this country.”

Jul 30 2018

58mins

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Rank #9: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 118: Civil Unrest w/ Nathan J Robinson

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Nathan J. Robinson is the creator and editor-in-chief of Current Affairs, one of the left’s most consistently valuable and readable publications. In this conversation, Robinson talks about honing his skills at political argument in the high school debate club, explains how a British accent can be an asset in American media, and describes his vision for the future of Current Affairs and the larger left movement.  

Oct 10 2018

1hr 5mins

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Rank #10: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 184: History Accelerates w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper

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With a nation in quarantine, Justin Rogers-Cooper joins us for a deep dive into the political opportunities presented by the COVID-19 moment, as we track the rapid evolution of capitalism in crisis. Now that the energy of apocalypse has been released into the discourse, where does it go? What new futures can we imagine as the old world shapeshifts before our eyes?

Mar 22 2020

1hr 22mins

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Rank #11: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 166: Showing the Receipts w/ Kevin Kruse

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Kevin Kruse is a historian at Princeton University and the author of a number of important books about race, class, and politics in 20th century America. He is also one of the most visible historians online, with a massive Twitter following that often serves as a mini-course in American history. In this conversation, we talk about his unexpected rise to Twitter fame, his beef with right-wing propagandist Dinesh D’Souza, the many pleasures of archival research, and his connection to the wider community of historians and other scholars who are more actively engaging the public during a chaotic political moment. 

Oct 22 2019

58mins

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Rank #12: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 115: Raging Against the Machine w/ George Ciccariello-Maher

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George Ciccariello-Maher is a political scientist and activist whose work focuses on the historical and current landscape of insurgent politics and anti-capitalism. As an outspoken left academic, Ciccariello-Maher is a favorite target of white supremacists and other right-wing extremists, whose threats and harassment led to his resignation from Drexel University in 2017. In this conversation, he tells how his early life informed his political development, why Venezuela’s recent history is such a vital piece of understanding global politics, and how riots and other forms of militant resistance can be effective means for achieving social and economic justice.

Sep 11 2018

1hr 10mins

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Rank #13: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 169: Gaming the Future w/ Mike Pearl

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Mike Pearl is a writer and self-described “apocalypse expert” whose new book The Day It Finally Happens explores the increasingly bizarre scenarios that threaten to totally ruin our collective future. From internet blackouts and antibiotic-resistant superviruses to collapsing governments and mass extinction events, Mike tracks the actual probability of these nightmares coming true as a way of helping us navigate an anxious present. In this conversation, we game out some of the more insane ideas from his book while asking the question of our age: How bad is it gonna get? 

Nov 14 2019

1hr 27mins

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Rank #14: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 134: Posting is Praxis w/ @CapitlsmDislikr

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The online culture of memes, shitposting, and irony found on Twitter and other places is deeply entwined with the rise of millennial socialism and the larger landscape of 21st century politics. On this episode we explore the twisted path of the extremely online, as guest @CapitlsmDislikr shows us a world of grad school dead ends, crushing student loan debt, thankless adjunct teaching, satanic institutional bureaucracies and, of course, relentless irony posting on Twitter. Looking back on a ghastly past and even ghastlier future, our conversation sees millennials inhabiting a kind of endless present, with capitalism trapping an entire generation in a state of suspended animation.

Feb 18 2019

1hr 12mins

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Rank #15: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 170: The Extraterrestrial Left w/ A.M. Gittlitz

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A.M. Gittlitz is a writer on radical politics, counterculture, and the paranormal, and the producer of a wonderful podcast called The Antifada. In this conversation, he catches us up on the worldwide UFO phenomenon, detailing how the U.S. government is pouring resources into investigating alien spacecraft, with big corporations (and the guy from Blink-182!) getting in on the action. Gittlitz shares plenty of incredible stories, many featured in his upcoming book I WANT TO BELIEVE: The Posadist Movement and Leftwing Ufology (Pluto Press, 2020), as we discuss the wider context of the alien narrative in culture and politics. 

Nov 21 2019

1hr 10mins

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Rank #16: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 119: Imperialism is Over If You Want It w/ Daniel Bessner

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Daniel Bessner is a historian with a particular focus on American foreign policy. His book Democracy in Exile: Hans Speier and the Rise of the Defense Intellectual mixes biography with a striking analysis of Cold War policy-making. In this conversation, Bessner expands on the ideas he presented in a recent New York Times op-ed, in which he argues that the left needs a more focused and practical pathway to dismantling the American imperial project and drawing down the endless wars that have decimated globe for decades.   

Oct 16 2018

1hr 9mins

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Rank #17: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 112: The War that Never Ends w/ Matthew Stanley

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Matthew Stanley is a historian and professor whose latest book, The Loyal West: Civil War and Reunion in Middle America explores how the politics of the Civil War moved through the regions of the Lower Middle West. His work shows us how ideologies evolve through space and time, and how the Civil War in particular has served as a container for American social and political attitudes well into the 21st century. With Confederate monuments being toppled by activists and organizers around the country, to the shock and outrage of white supremacists and “traditional” (wink) Americans everywhere, Stanley points out some vital historical context:

“People talk about preserving history. But the best argument against keeping these monuments in public places IS the historical argument. Most of these were not erected by Confederate veterans, they weren’t erected during the Civil War or even Reconstruction. They were erected during the Jim Crow era, and many of them explicitly re-encode the racial order through monumentation. So they’re designed to be a political statement. You can’t depoliticize a monument. A monument is inherently political.”

Aug 22 2018

1hr 2mins

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Rank #18: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 148: Unlearning Capitalism w/ Astra Taylor

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Astra Taylor is a writer and filmmaker whose work explores the radical contours of contemporary politics and philosophy. Her latest film, What is Democracy?, is a deep dive into one of history’s most intense questions, framing interviews and discussions within the harrowing context of a collapsing planet. In this conversation, she explains the ideas underlying her inquisitive approach to writing and making films, how her unorthodox experiences with formal education shaped her political and analytical thinking, and why she thinks asking bigger questions is such a vital task for the left.

May 30 2019

1hr 12mins

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Rank #19: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 172: Empire of Cruelty w/ Luke O'Neil

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Luke O’Neil is a writer whose work chronicles the dark edges of 21st century America, capturing the horrific tenor of our age in his incredible newsletter and in his latest book, Welcome to Hell World: Dispatches from the American Dystopia. From murderous cops and fascist dads to suicidal veterans and imprisoned children, O’Neil connects the dots of the American nightmare in a voice that’s compelling and authentic and genuinely enraging. In this conversation, we talk about his path through the ugly landscape of new digital media and explore how the political and personal crash together in his work.

Dec 12 2019

1hr 7mins

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Rank #20: Nostalgia Trap - Episode 126: A Politics of Desire w/ Conner Habib

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Conner Habib is the host of Against Everyone w/ Conner Habib, a podcast about subjects that often fall outside the range of typical “left” discussionsthings like radical philosophy, the occult, psychoanalysis, sexuality, porn, and much more. In this conversation, he explains how the concept of desire permeates our politics, present in everything from sex work and surveillance to academia and the military-industrial complex, and why healing the planet and healing ourselves are inextricably connected projects.

Dec 04 2018

1hr 14mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 204: Eating Ass and Martial Law w/ Eddie Pepitone

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Eddie Pepitone is an actor and comedian whose latest standup special For the Masses captures the visceral hell of life in late capitalism. In this conversation, he talks about his path in comedy, the development of a “working class” voice, why he avoids trite topics like dating and pizza, and how his left-wing politics and Eastern spirituality find their way into his material. 

Jul 28 2020

1hr 5mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 202: No Place Like Home w/ Yasmin Nair

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How does the way we live reflect all the traps of American ideology? This week, one of our favorites, writer and activist Yasmin Nair,  joins us for a wide-ranging conversation on the historical, social, and economic dimensions of U.S. housing policy. From current debates around gentrification and rent strikes to the romanticized image of suburban nuclear families in pop culture, we explore how ideas of home ownership are at the core of the national-imperial project.

Jul 08 2020

1hr 31mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 201: Educating the Ruling Class w/ Nathan Tankus

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Since his first appearance on the Nostalgia Trap in 2016, Nathan Tankus has gained a devoted following for his ideas on politics, economics, and global finance. His newsletter, Notes on the Crises, is closely watched by journalists, politicians, and economists, particularly after publishing a remarkable set of pieces on COVID-19 and the Federal Reserve in early 2020. In this conversation, he discusses the strangeness of his newfound celebrity, and offers his takes on this chaotic historical moment, from Bernie’s flame-out to the Black Lives Matter uprising . For a special subscription discount to Nathan’s Substack, go here: https://nathantankus.substack.com/subscribe?coupon=1a0be4be

Jul 02 2020

1hr 16mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 200: Wild Card w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper

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This week Justin Rogers-Cooper joins us to celebrate our 200th episode with a deep dive into the political, economic, and cultural significance of the “Joker” character. What are the origins of the Joker image and mythology? How has the character evolved over time? And what does this archetype’s ubiquitous presence tell us about our historical moment? This episode is dedicated in loving, living memory of Laszlo Scott Kehoe. 

Jun 24 2020

1hr 39mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 199: We Cannot Live Without Our Lives w/ Asad Haider

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Asad Haider is a founding editor at Viewpoint Magazine and the author of Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump. In this conversation he explains how the history of anti-racist struggle in the United States provides a compelling set of ideas for a dynamic, anti-capitalist emancipatory practice. Along the way, we discuss the value of reading Marx in 2020, our distorted view of 1960s and 1970s radicalism, the significance of the Black Lives Matter moment, and much more.

Jun 18 2020

1hr 3mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 198: Most Wanted w/ Paul Renfro

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Paul Renfro is a professor of history at Florida State University and the author of Stranger Danger: Family Values, Childhood, and the American Carceral State. In this conversation he explains how fears of child abduction fueled a hysterical campaign in the 1970s and 1980s that produced a wave of new laws, structures of punishment, and ideas about family, security, and sexuality that continue to haunt American life. 

May 28 2020

1hr 13mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 197: Where the Wave Broke w/ Ken Layne

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Ken Layne is the creator of Desert Oracle, a magazine and radio show/podcast all about the strange inhabitants and culture of the Mojave Desert. Layne’s trajectory through the world of alternative media winds through the 1990s and 2000s, when he was present at the creation of the Gawker media empire and subsequently took the reins of their influential politics outlet Wonkette. In this conversation, we talk about the evolution of underground culture through layers of toxic capitalism, as we trace Layne’s path from the fast lane of LA/New York/DC digital media to the burgeoning psychedelic scene in the California desert.   

May 27 2020

1hr 35mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 195: Or Does It Explode? w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper

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Our series on the rapidly evolving politics of COVID-19 continues this week, with Justin Rogers-Cooper warning that the logic of finance capital may force a premature “re-opening” on the American public in the summer of 2020. In this conversation we talk about recent armed anti-lockdown protests, the movie Parasite as a window into the cultural zeitgeist around class inequality, and the potential for social violence as America plunges into an unprecedented depression.  

May 20 2020

1hr 22mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 193: Toward a Global Left w/ Arash Azizi

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Arash Azizi is a writer and scholar currently completing a Ph.D. in History and Middle Eastern Studies at NYU; his work focuses on the left in Iran and in the wider Islamic world. In this conversation, making frequent reference to cinema and pop culture, he discusses the global dimensions of anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movements, tracing a narrative from the Cold War to the 21st century.

May 06 2020

1hr 7mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 192: Cinema in Transition w/ Drew Morton

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Drew Morton is an Assistant Professor of Mass Communication at Texas A&M University-Texarkana. He is the co-editor and co-founder of [in]Transition: Journal of Videographic Film and Moving Image Studies, the first peer-reviewed academic journal focused on the visual essay, drawn from a wide range of scholars (including Drew himself). In this conversation he describes his education in film, both as a casual viewer and fan and later as a graduate student in Cinema and Media Studies at UCLA, as we explore how the central questions, ideas, and methodologies of the discipline are evolving in a hyper-accelerated media landscape. 

Apr 28 2020

1hr 12mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 191: Aping Revolution w/ Yasmin Nair

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Yasmin Nair returns to the Trap for a deep dive into the film Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), a conversation that helps us frame ideas about prison abolition, animal rights, environmentalism, pandemics, and the tactical elements of a grassroots revolution. 

Apr 23 2020

1hr 36mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 189: Thank You for Your Service w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper

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As we continue our series on the politics of COVID-19, Justin Rogers-Cooper takes aim at the absurd ideology of “sacrifice,” as we explore how American sentimental mythology allows us to justify capitalism’s indifference to deaths of its "essential" workers.

Apr 14 2020

1hr 16mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 188: Under the Heel w/ Mistress Snow, Ph.D.

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Mistress Snow, Ph.D. is an academic in the humanities who was abruptly rejected by her mentor after coming out to her as a working dominatrix, an experience she documents in a recent Chronicle piece. In this conversation, she explains how her story connects with larger issues of class in academia, from the collapse of the job market and the humiliations of the adjunct hustle to the student loan nightmare and endless financial precarity. In the context of an accelerating economic and biological meltdown, we try to salvage what we love about academic work and the university, while looking ahead to a rapidly shifting future. 

Apr 06 2020

1hr 8mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 186: Bodies and Power w/ Yasmin Nair

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Yasmin Nair is a writer and activist who always says what’s on her mind, and the results are consistently some of the most refreshing and challenging takes on modern American politics and culture. In this conversation, we talk about her most recent work, her outlook on the 2020 Democratic primary, the carceral politics of #MeToo, and why the U.S. left is often so hopelessly lost on issues of sex, race, and class.

Apr 01 2020

1hr 16mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 185: Ask Any Buddy w/ Evan Purchell

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Evan Purchell is a film historian and archivist whose latest film project, Ask Any Buddy, presents excerpted bits from 126 different gay male “adult” films from the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. The effect is an uncanny journey into a lost world of urban gay culture, depicting a kind of imagninative fantasy of gay life before the AIDS crisis. In this conversation, Evan tells us about the film’s origins as a popular Instagram account, and details some of the stars (both in front of and behind the camera) of this extraordinary moment in the history of cinema, culture, and sexuality. 

Mar 25 2020

49mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 184: History Accelerates w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper

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With a nation in quarantine, Justin Rogers-Cooper joins us for a deep dive into the political opportunities presented by the COVID-19 moment, as we track the rapid evolution of capitalism in crisis. Now that the energy of apocalypse has been released into the discourse, where does it go? What new futures can we imagine as the old world shapeshifts before our eyes?

Mar 22 2020

1hr 22mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 183: It Tolls for Thee w/ Justin Rogers-Cooper

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Justin Rogers-Cooper returns to continue our series on the extraordinary historical moment created by the COVID-19 crisis. In this conversation we take on the rapidly evolving politics of the virus, reflecting on the public outrage at massive corporate bailouts while working people are saddled with unimaginable economic ruin. Can the left seize that energy to win electoral and ideological victories? We also speculate on the direction of U.S. government policy, social stability, and American popular culture as the crisis develops.

Mar 16 2020

1hr 18mins

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Preview of Episode 182: Contagion

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Preview of bonus episode 182: Contagion with Justin Rogers-Cooper.

Mar 12 2020

3mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 181: Modeling the Future w/ Kevin Baker

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Kevin Baker is a historian studying the ways policymakers use predictive computer models to map the future. In this conversation, he tells us about navigating the shock of class consciousness in the academy, describes his work researching artificial intelligence at Berkeley, and offers the peculiar story of The Limits to Growth, a 1972 study based on SimCity-like computer programs that predicted the collapse of industrial civilization by the year 2050. 

Mar 03 2020

59mins

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Nostalgia Trap - Episode 180: Vibe Check w/ KJ Shepherd and Bill Black

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Trap favorites KJ Shepherd and Bill Black return for a much-needed election year vibe check, in which we discuss our individual and collective moods in the context of Bernie Sanders’ continued success in the Democratic primary. From online battles with Marc Maron and other toxic centrist dorks to the wider view of academic work in a collapsing humanities job market, KJ and Bill bring their characteristically refreshing perspectives to an increasingly chaotic historical moment. 

Subscribe to KJ’s newsletter: https://keegan.substack.com/

Read and support Contingent Magazine: https://contingentmagazine.org/

Feb 24 2020

1hr 6mins

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iTunes Ratings

137 Ratings
Average Ratings
124
8
1
0
4

Workers of the World, Unite ❤️💛

By NatashaConstance55 - Mar 28 2020
Read more
Love the podcast, super informative

Great stuff

By not a hippie - Jan 04 2019
Read more
Really love the historical perspective. Thanks for making my work day more bearable!