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re:verb

Calvin Pollak and Alex Helberg

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re:verb is a podcast about politics, culture, and language in action, featuring interviews and segments from scholars, writers, critics, and activists in the humanities, social sciences, and outside the academy.
 
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Are you winning bigly? No? Neither is Scott Adams, the infamous cartoonist, blogger, and self-proclaimed “expert predictor”, whose formerly ubiquitous comic strip Dilbert was recently pulled from national syndication. In September, Dilbert featured “anti-woke” content caricaturing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in the corporate world,…
 
“A.I. Is Making It Easier Than Ever for Students to Cheat,” proclaims Slate. The Chronicle of Higher Education asks, rhetorically: “Will Artificial Intelligence Kill College Writing?” And the New York Times warns: “A.I. is Mastering Language. Should We Trust What It Says?” Judging by media coverage of A.I. writing algorithms, you would think they’r…
 
For this year’s Halloween special, we wanted to take a journey through the filmography of one of our favorite film directors, Jordan Peele. From the breakout success of his 2017 thriller Get Out, to 2019’s creepy and horrifying tour-de-force Us, to this year’s action-packed monster movie Nope, Jordan Peele is becoming arguably one of the most impor…
 
We at re:verb can neither confirm nor deny whether the truth will set you free - but it certainly provides good fodder for rhetorical criticism! On today’s show, Alex and Calvin present a re:joinder episode with a unique rhetorical artifact: an “unclassified” podcast recently released by one of the most secretive intelligence agencies in the world,…
 
What’s a tenant union, and why does it matter? On today’s show, Alex and Calvin get some fascinating answers to this question from Luke Melonakos-Harrison, a Masters student in Yale University’s Divinity School, tenant union organizer with the Connecticut Tenants Union and the Connecticut Democratic Socialists of America, and aspiring Methodist pas…
 
At the recent 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), right-wing movement leaders couldn’t stop whining about “pronouns.” For example, Texas Senator Ted Cruz said that his preferred pronouns are “kiss my ass,” and former Trump official Matt Schlapp complained that instead of carrying out his “duties” like dealing with the “open border…
 
On June 28, 2022, explosive public testimony was delivered by a former Trump Administration aide named Cassidy Hutchinson in front of the United States House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attacks. Hutchinson’s testimony corroborated and deepened the Committee’s case that President Trump had led the attacks. In addition, Hutchinson …
 
In the wake of shooting massacres in Uvalde, TX and Buffalo, NY, public outcry has been sustained and vociferous, recalling similarly intense reactions to previous mass shootings over the past 10 years. But in the US, public policy responses to such events are rarely as swift or sweeping as most of us would prefer. Just two days after the massacre …
 
This episode was produced as a virtual panel presentation for the 2022 Computers and Writing Conference. It has been 2 years in the making, and we’re so pleased to finally present it to you! Academics have been increasingly using podcasts as rhetorically rich tools for achieving pedagogical goals and re-theorizing the power and potential of sonic r…
 
We would prefer not to write a description for this episode… but here’s one anyway! Today’s episode is a re:vival of our re:read series, where we create dramatic interpretive readings of short fiction with contemporary political and cultural relevance. In this installment, inspired by our recent conversation with Dr. Kendall Phillips on “rhetorics …
 
On today’s show, Ben and Alex have the privilege to dish with Dr. Anita Mannur, Professor of English and Asian American Studies at Miami University, about her research on the intersections that food has with culture, race, and gender. We begin the conversation by reflecting on how discourses around food and consumption practices, especially in post…
 
Although “populism” is a term that has been rigorously discussed and theorized in political science and communication studies, the term has received special attention ever since the political rise and presidency of Donald Trump. But what does populism actually mean, and how can we trace the lineage of populist conservative discourses that prefigure…
 
In his most recent book, Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters, Harvard University cognitive psychologist and noted Jeffrey Epstein associate Steven Pinker argues that “rationality” is what distinguishes good thinkers from bad, that societies which encourage rationality are superior to those that do not, and that making the w…
 
One year ago this week, a large crowd of Trump supporters disrupted what ought to have been boring and bureaucratic work: Congress’s certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory over then-President Trump. Instead, a massive melee ensued, resulting in five people dead and over a hundred wounded–mostly Capitol and Metropolitan Police Officers. Loya…
 
Last month, former New York Times columnist and current Substacker Bari Weiss took to Twitter to announce “a new university dedicated to the fearless pursuit of truth”: the University of Austin (UATX). Not to be confused with the University of Texas at Austin, UATX is thus far only a university concept–a pitch for a “new” kind of higher education i…
 
Look upon these films, ye mighty, and despair! In this episode, we’re thrilled to welcome back Dr. Kendall R. Phillips, Professor of Communication and Rhetorical Studies at Syracuse University - this time, to discuss his hot-off-the-presses book, A Cinema of Hopelessness: The Rhetoric of Rage in 21st Century Popular Culture. In it, Kendall examines…
 
Have you ever wondered why some issues are treated as private and personal, while others are self-evidently public concerns? Meanwhile, certain topics are discussed freely and openly, but only among niche subcultures: local interest groups, expert practitioners, hardcore enthusiasts, and even marginalized communities. How can we better understand t…
 
It’s spooky season, and you know what that means: time for another thrilling and chilling re:verb Halloween Special! This year, Alex and Calvin are honored to be joined on the mic by Dr. Bernadette Marie Calafell, Professor and Department Chair of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at Gonzaga University, and the recent recipient of the Distinguished …
 
On today’s show, we are joined once again by Dr. John Oddo, Associate Professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University, for a retrospective discussion of “War on Terror” rhetoric 20 years after September 11th, 2001. Ever since the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government and national news media have consistently used Us and Them categories of enemy- and…
 
It’s common to see tech journalists make proclamations about how the internet has fundamentally changed the ways that we think, interact, and most importantly, argue with one another. It’s also common to see them herald the arrival of a “new science” that promises to provide technical answers to all questions and solve all problems that come with t…
 
On today’s show, Ben and Calvin have the privilege of speaking with Dr. Richard Purcell, Associate Professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University. We begin by discussing Rich’s current research on conceptions of work in Black artistic labor, and how that led him back to considering the discursive formations of a Nixon-era economic initiative/sl…
 
We live in a world of unbridled technological and argumentative advancement. A.I. has learned to debate Thanksgiving-table politics against humans. People may soon be using “argument checks” as well as “grammar checks” on their smartphones. Cats and dogs have finally put aside their differences and learned to live in peace by forming a coalition ag…
 
On today’s show, the re:verb team gets “meta” - metaPHORICAL, that is! On this re:blurb episode, we discuss the rhetorical and linguistic features of conceptual metaphors, which provide us with a way to make connections between two (often very different) processes. To put it more simply: have you ever heard the phrase “time is money”? Have you ever…
 
On this episode, the re:verb editorial team -- Alex Helberg, Calvin Pollak, Sophie Wodzak, and Ben Williams -- kicks back, relaxes, and reflects on three years of podcasting about politics, culture, and language in action. Last Friday, to celebrate re:verb’s three-year anniversary, we held our first-ever livestream via Zoom / YouTube, complete with…
 
It’s 2021, science is back in charge in America, and we’re on a clear path to ending the COVID-19 pandemic. But is it really that simple? On today’s show, we talk with Dr. Abby Cartus, a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh, about her thoughts on pandemic rhetoric and policy in the transition from president Donald Trump to Joe Bide…
 
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