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Culture Study Podcast

Author: Anne Helen Petersen

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A podcast about the culture that surrounds you — with Anne Helen Petersen and a bunch of very smart co-hosts
33 Episodes
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How are romance writers — and the recent romance boom — chipping away at the norms of Big Publishing? Does self-publishing lead to more diverse authors and characters? How has Amazon both expanded and limited the market? That’s what we’re grappling with in today’s episode. Back in June, romance novelist Nisha Sharma broke down all the tropes and trends of contemporary romance. Next month, we’ll have the owners of a romance bookstore explaining the the big (and complicated) business of romance-only bookselling. And today, we have Christine Larson, author of Love in the Time of Self-Publishing, walking us through the labor dynamics of romance publishing. If you like thinking about different ways of organizing labor, you’ll find all of this fascinating — and if you’re a romance fan, it’ll make you think a lot about which books end up in front of you and why. You’re gonna love it.Join the ranks of paid subscribers and get bonus content, access to the discussion threads, ad-free episodes, and the knowledge that you're supporting an indie pod trying to make its way in the world. If you're already a subscriber-- thank you! Join us in the discussion thread for this episode! Got a question or idea for a future episode? Let us know here. To hear more, visit culturestudypod.substack.com
J.Lo is, as we say in the Culture Study universe, a rich text. There is so much history, so many layers of accumulated meaning, so many relationships, and so little in terms of actual revelations. She gives so much and yet offers so little! Chelsea Devantez is a celebrity memoir aficionado, a humor writer, and a newly-minted J.Lo scholar — and the absolute perfect co-host to unpack all of your J.Lo questions, like why does Mariah hate her, why can’t she and Ben be happy, what the hell is going on with the new movie, and what does she actually want? Join the ranks of paid subscribers and get bonus content, access to the discussion threads, ad-free episodes, and the knowledge that you're supporting an indie pod trying to make its way in the world. If you're already a subscriber-- thank you! Join us in the discussion thread for this episode! Got a question or idea for a future episode? Let us know here. To hear more, visit culturestudypod.substack.com
Big Jeans Feelings

Big Jeans Feelings

2024-06-2601:00:132

Why do jeans make us FEEL THINGS? I mean, I have a lot of feelings about the “going out top,” but at least I no longer have to deal with it. Jeans, they’re still here in my wardrobe, making me feel uncool. It’s the actual garment, sure, but it’s also a garment in constant fashion flux — and almost always designed to fit one sort of (thin) body. There’s no one better to talk about big jeans feelings than Virginia Sole-Smith, who’s written a four-part series on ‘jean science’ and the relationship between jeans production (and jeans ‘norms’) and anti-fatness. Whether you’re clinging to your comfort jeans or trying to figure out what shoes to wear with a barrel leg or banishing jeans from your closet, this episode is for you. Join the ranks of paid subscribers and get bonus content, access to the discussion threads, ad-free episodes, and the knowledge that you're supporting an indie pod trying to make its way in the world. If you're already a subscriber-- thank you! Join us in the discussion thread for this episode! Got a question or idea for a future episode? Let us know here. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit culturestudypod.substack.com/subscribe
Most people I know think the monarchy — any monarchy — is pretty ridiculous. And yet: most people I know also know a lot about Meghan Markle and followed the #whereiskate conspiracy theorists at least part way down the rabbit hole. They’re rich celebrities, sure, but they’re also embodiments of empire in decline — and I wanted to think through how royal fascination manifests differently depending on where you live, how you were raised, and identification (or lack thereof) with “your” generation of monarch. Hannah McGregor and Marcelle Kosman are scholars, podcast hosts, and Canadians — and the perfect people to navigate all of your questions about colonial hangovers, misogynoir and Team Meghan vs. Team Kate, and when and how we’ll actually see an end to the monarchy. I loved this conversation, and I think you will too. Join the ranks of paid subscribers and get bonus content, access to the discussion threads, ad-free episodes, and the knowledge that you're supporting an indie pod trying to make its way in the world. If you're already a subscriber-- thank you! Join us in the discussion thread for this episode! Got a question or idea for a future episode? Let us know here. To hear more, visit culturestudypod.substack.com
Sephora teens are teens who hang out at Sephora — and they’re a point of cultural anxiety because 1) they’re buying a lot of makeup and skincare products and 2) we have complex and contradictory feelings about when we should start caring about makeup and skincare products, even though absolutely everything in our culture tells young people they should’ve started caring about these things yesterday. Do Sephora Teens just want a public place to hang out without their parents? Didn’t we *also* play around with makeup at their age? But wait where are they getting all of this money? I I was so thrilled when Elise Hu — author of a whole book on the contemporary skin care industry and mother of three teen/tween girls — agreed to come on as co-host for this episode… and I can’t wait for your thoughts. Join the ranks of paid subscribers and get bonus content, access to the discussion threads, ad-free episodes, and the knowledge that you're supporting an indie pod trying to make its way in the world. If you're already a subscriber-- thank you! Join us in the discussion thread for this episode! Got a question or idea for a future episode? Let us know here. To hear more, visit culturestudypod.substack.com
After our GREAT discussion of A Court of Roses and Thorns we realized we wanted to talk a lot more about romance: about the so-called “boom” and what’s fueling it, of course, but also about various tropes (sick bed, forbidden romance, grumpy protagonist), race and cultural specificity, the level of “spice” and how it shows up on the page, and how to manage your own romance reading behavior. Melody heard Nisha Sharma speak at Romance GenreCon last year and knew she was the person to address so many of your questions. Whether you’re new to romance like me, don’t read it but are interested in why other people do, or have immersed yourself in the genre for years, I promise there’s something in this conversation that’s going to stick in your head for days.Join the ranks of paid subscribers and get bonus content, access to the discussion threads, ad-free episodes, and the knowledge that you're supporting an indie pod trying to make its way in the world. If you're already a subscriber-- thank you! Join us in the discussion thread for this episode! Got a question or idea for a future episode? Let us know here. To hear more, visit culturestudypod.substack.com
Spoiler: No, millennials are not the most nostalgic generation — we’re just in a deeply nostalgic moment in our lives, reckoning (sometimes gracefully, other times less so) with no longer being the Main Character in the generational story. But this moment does give us opportunity to talk about the shape and purpose of nostalgia, how YouTube both amplifies and short-circuits it, and so much more — featuring one of my favorite nostalgia thinkers, Gabe Bullard. We talk about gum commercials, inflated Limewire persecution threats, Bagel Bites, and interrogate the idea of “core memories,” and I cannot wait for your thoughts.Join the ranks of paid subscribers and get bonus content, access to the discussion threads, ad-free episodes, and the knowledge that you're supporting an indie pod trying to make its way in the world. If you're already a subscriber-- thank you! Join us in the discussion thread for this episode! Got a question or idea for a future episode? Let us know here. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit culturestudypod.substack.com/subscribe
The very first episode of this pod was on how clothes got so shitty — and it prompted a whole bunch of you to write in with your questions about how the entire experience of obtaining those clothes became so shitty. Some of it is just what’s going on in the fashion world more broadly (and a continued refusal to believe that anyone larger than a size 12 wants cute, well-made clothes that fit and wants to pay you money for them) but some of it is just the weird ever-changing world of online shopping, which encourages our worst impulses and often leaves us with earrings that look nothing like the picture and make our earlobes turn green. To answer your questions (about best online shopping practices, about email marketing tactics, about how to quell or at least abate your anxiety shopping) I wanted to talk to the best and smartest shopper I know: Caroline Moss.Join the ranks of paid subscribers and get bonus content, access to the discussion threads, ad-free episodes, and the knowledge that you're supporting an indie pod trying to make its way in the world. If you're already a subscriber-- thank you! Join us in the discussion thread for this episode! Got a question or idea for a future episode? Let us know here. To hear more, visit culturestudypod.substack.com
I spent years of my life studying celebrity images and what makes them meaningful to us. A celebrity’s actions or words can make or deepen our connection to them — or they can really piss us off. But why? Is it just a classic case of dashed expectations? What makes, oh, Taylor Swift hanging out with Matty Healy so disappointing? For this episode, I asked celebrity feelings expert Margaret H. Willison to come answer your questions about the broad contours of celebrity-directed anger — and work through some very specific examples. I promise: you’ll leave this episode with a more textured understanding of your own celebrity feelings. Note: This episode was taped before the conversation re: the Met Ball and celebrity silence on Gaza; you can read more about it here.Join the ranks of paid subscribers and get bonus content, access to the discussion threads, ad-free episodes, and the knowledge that you're supporting an indie pod trying to make its way in the world. If you're already a subscriber-- thank you! Join us in the discussion thread for this episode! Got a question or idea for a future episode? Let us know here. To hear more, visit culturestudypod.substack.com
If you grew up in or adjacent to evangelical culture, the sounds of ‘90s and early 2000s Christian Rock are as familiar to you as the beginning bars of Britney Spears “Hit Me Baby One More Time.” The Newsboys, dcTalk, Jars of Clay, Third Day, Jennifer Knapp, Caedmon’s Call — these groups peaked just twenty years ago, but the sound and vibe feels like an archeological find. Same for the crossover “secular” hits from Creed, Lifehouse, Sixpence None the Richer, and Switchfoot. Where did Christian rock go? Did it just get devoured by Nickelback and Noah Kahan? Was it actually good? And what purpose did it actually serve in what we now understand as the evangelical culture war? Leah Payne, author of a God Gave Rock & Roll To You: A History of Contemporary Christian Music joins us to root the rise of Christian rock in history — and consider the ways it was wielded to control teens. If you grew up in this culture, there will be a lot of nostalgic groaning; if you didn’t, we’ve worked hard to make it as accessible as possible — and help connect some dots about how evangelical ideologies work their way into the mainstream.Join the ranks of paid subscribers and get bonus content, access to the discussion threads, ad-free episodes, and the knowledge that you're supporting an indie pod trying to make its way in the world. If you're already a subscriber-- thank you! Join us in the discussion thread for this episode! Got a question or idea for a future episode? Let us know here. To hear more, visit culturestudypod.substack.com
A platform where you can record what you’re reading and talk to others about what they’re reading doesn’t sound like a recipe for dystopia. But throw in a negligent billionaire conglomerate owner, optimization culture, and a competitive industry in which the line between reader and author is continually blurred… and you have a legitimate book lover’s hellscape. In other words: Goodreads! Today, I’m joined by book lover and book critic Maris Kreizman to talk about the rot at the heart of the platform, what feeds it, and whether there’s any hope of salvaging the entire enterprise. (Plus: a special bonus section where we give advice about dealing with self-imposed pressure to read X number of books a year). Also: it doesn’t matter if you’ve never gone on Goodreads in your life. If you read books, if you’re interested in the way we talk and think about books, you’re going to appreciate this episode. Join the ranks of paid subscribers and get bonus content, access to the discussion threads, ad-free episodes, and the knowledge that you're supporting an indie pod trying to make its way in the world. If you're already a subscriber-- thank you! Join us in the discussion thread for this episode! Got a question or idea for a future episode? Let us know here.Thanks to Bookshop.org for sponsoring today's episode! Use promo code CULTURE to get 10% off your next purchase. To hear more, visit culturestudypod.substack.com
A listener submitted a question earlier this week that was basically: Why are we talking about Taylor Swift again???? And I get it: if you’re not a fan, if her music is not for you, you too might be tired of the ongoing Taylor Swift Conversation. But I’m ultimately less interested in Taylor Swift herself and more interested in the shape of that conversation: what are we actually talking about when we talk about Taylor Swift? We’re talking about work and scarcity, we’re talking about aesthetics and whiteness, we’re talking about the performance of authenticity and narratives of romance… and we’re talking about all of those things today with Sarah Chapelle, the fashion journalist behind the enormously popular Instagram account Taylor Swift Style.Today's episode is free for everyone-- so if you like what you hear, join the ranks of paid subscribers and get bonus content, access to the discussion threads, ad-free episodes, and the knowledge that you're supporting an indie pod trying to make its way in the world. If you're already a subscriber-- thank you! Join us in the discussion thread for this episode! Got a question or idea for a future episode? Let us know here. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit culturestudypod.substack.com/subscribe
Who can force a nationwide conversation about musical genre for a whole damn month? Beyoncé can. And I knew I wanted to be several weeks into that discussion — and several weeks into my own relationship with the album — before I dove in myself. I also knew I wanted to talk about it with someone else with a similarly deep and ambivalent relationship with country music: the good, the white, the cold-beer-nation-building, all of it. So I was absolutely thrilled when Elamin Abdelmahmoud agreed to come on the show and engage in what he calls one of his favorite hobbies: “talking about Beyoncé at length.” You’re gonna love the show and you’re gonna love Elamin and it’s gonna make you think a lot more about Cowboy Carter, even if it’s not (yet) your fav. I can’t wait for your thoughts (and to argue more about Jolene in the comments). Join the ranks of paid subscribers and get bonus content, access to the discussion threads, ad-free episodes, and the knowledge that you're supporting an indie pod trying to make its way in the world. If you're already a subscriber-- thank you! Join us in the discussion thread for this episode! Got a question or idea for a future episode? Let us know here. To hear more, visit culturestudypod.substack.com
Moms For Liberty sucks. I’m not going to even try to soften that statement, because it’s true: they’re an ideologically regressive organization that is wielding the idea of “parental rights” to censor books, teachers, and instructional materials. They make it much, much harder for educators to do their jobs — and many of the people most involved don’t even have kids in public schools. But to defeat them, you have to understand what they’re doing — and how they’re doing it. Which is why I wanted to have journalist Laura Pappano come on the show to talk about her extensive reporting on “school moms” and the place of Moms for Liberty within the “battle” for public schools. We talk about where the money comes from, how other parents are effectively organizing against them, the history of parent-led school activism, and most importantly, what uniform you wear to a conservative mom conference. Join the ranks of paid subscribers and get bonus content, access to the discussion threads, ad-free episodes, and the knowledge that you're supporting an indie pod trying to make its way in the world. If you're already a subscriber-- thank you! Join us in the discussion thread for this episode! Got a question or idea for a future episode? Let us know here. To hear more, visit culturestudypod.substack.com
Driving, attending meetings, hunching over laptops, zooming, commuting, absentmindedly scrolling Instagram — so much of contemporary life encourages if not outright demands that we sit. But study after study (and maybe just your own body) has told you: this much sitting is not great for us. But what are we supposed to do instead? Can we get rid of the junk wellness moralizing (10,000 steps a day!) and figure out small things that actually make our bodies feel better?Turns out, yes! And Manoush Zomorodi is here to talk about all of it — including whether those walking pads are b******t. And I promise: this show won't make you feel like a horrible person for sitting. But it might give you some ideas about how you can listen to your body more.Join the ranks of paid subscribers and get bonus content, access to the discussion threads, ad-free episodes, and the knowledge that you're supporting an indie pod trying to make its way in the world. If you're already a subscriber-- thank you! Join us in the discussion thread for this episode! Got a question or idea for a future episode? Let us know here. To hear more, visit culturestudypod.substack.com
As any Pacific Northwest teen from the ‘90s and early 2000s who carted a Nalgene around campus can tell you: WATER BOTTLE CULTURE IS NOT NEW. As pretty much any Grandpa or Boomer Dad can tell you: NEITHER IS STANLEY. But the demand for Stanley Tumblers (and, just as important, the inflated, often misogynistic conversation around it?) That’s (sorta) new. Like everything we talk about on this show: it’s complicated. For today’s episode, we invited Amanda Mull back to the show to unpack the so-called Stanley Tumbler “obsession,” the relatively novel fascination with hydration, and why every kid has to have a water bottle at school. You might not think there’s that much to talk about when it comes to water bottles, but this one’s a whole lot of fun and as always, Amanda is a font of consumer behavior knowledge. (And make sure to check out Amanda’s first appearance on the pod, exploring why do clothes suck now??)Today's episode is free for everyone! If you like what you hear, join the ranks of paid subscribers. You'll get bonus content, access to the discussion threads, ad-free episodes, and the knowledge that you're supporting an indie pod trying to make its way in the world. If you're already a subscriber-- thank you! Join us in the discussion thread for this episode!Got a question or idea for a future episode? Let us know here. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit culturestudypod.substack.com/subscribe
I occasionally encounter someone who asks: Who would follow a celebrity on Instagram? Lady, I WOULD. I do! I follow celebrities who I actually like and celebrities who I find weird and complicated (Gwen Stefani, hi) and celebrities I wrote about or profiled at some point in the last ten years and now know all about their workout routines (hi, Brie Larson). But I didn’t follow Kevin Bacon — until a reel of him dancing, back-lit in his barn, to “Footloose” (in celebration of the end of the Actor’s Guild Strike) took over my field. Over the weeks to come, I let the posts of a man fundamentally at ease wash over me. Here was Kevin Bacon, playing me an LP from his collection. There was Kevin Bacon, slow-dancing with his wife of many decades (Kyra Sedgwick) in their modest farmhouse kitchen. There he was, with his shaggy graying hair and well-fit jeans, just effortlessly existing, seemingly free of the anxiety of public social media performance.Of course, I’ve studied stars long enough to know there was something more complicated going on — in the performance of a particular kind of masculinity and progressive semi-agrarian whiteness and heterosexual romance and so much more. So I asked Sarah Mesle, one of my favorite culture analysts (also, crucially, a Gen-Xer like Bacon and a practitioner of “hair studies”) to come on the pod to unpack it all.Join the ranks of paid subscribers and get bonus content, access to the discussion threads, ad-free episodes, and the knowledge that you're supporting an indie pod trying to make its way in the world.If you're already a subscriber-- thank you! Join us in the discussion thread for this episode!Got a question or idea for a future episode? Let us know here. To hear more, visit culturestudypod.substack.com
What does it mean to think of student loans as culture? First off, it means that we can think of them as something that’s changeable. Because as much as we’ve come to think of massive piles of debt as “just the way it is” for a broad swath of people (and more and more every year), there’s nothing inevitable about student loans. Our status quo doesn’t have to be saddling young adults (and/or their parents, and/or their grandparents) with albatrosses of debt, simply to obtain the credentials that (at least theoretically) put someone on track to financial security. But if significant student debt isn’t our status quo… what could be?Dominique Baker is one of my favorite thinkers on higher ed in general and the topic of student loans in particular — and we’re answering all your student-loan-culture questions, from “why can’t endowments just pay for all of this” to “how do I convince my beloved partner that it’s okay for us to share their student loan obligations?”Join the ranks of paid subscribers and get bonus content, access to the discussion threads, ad-free episodes, and the knowledge that you're supporting an indie pod trying to make its way in the world.Got a question or idea for a future episode? Let us know here. To hear more, visit culturestudypod.substack.com
The ACOTAR Chokehold

The ACOTAR Chokehold

2024-03-0643:33

If you’ve been in a bookstore lately, you’ve undoubtedly seen it: A Court of Thorns and Roses, better known as ACOTAR, ruling over the paperback bestsellers with all its sequel pals. These books are behemoths. They’re massive. They’ve sold millions upon millions of copies. They’re about faeries. And they’re very, very hot. Culture writer (and lifelong fantasy reader) Kathryn VanArendonk joins me to talk all things ACOTAR, from “is the writing bad” and “is that actually an interesting question” to “is Feyre secretly a horrible painter” and “wtf is happening with book four.” The podcast conversation is neatly divided, so you can listen to the first half without spoilers or without any previous knowledge of the books, and the second half (behind the paywall) is more of an ACOTAR book club, where we work through specific questions about plotting, characterization, and Feyre’s aforementioned painting skills. And if you want even more ACOTAR content, head over to the Culture Study newsletter for everything I’ve been thinking about that didn’t make its way into this episode. Join the ranks of paid subscribers and get bonus content, access to the discussion threads, ad-free episodes, and the knowledge that you're supporting an indie pod trying to make its way in the world.Got a question or idea for a future episode? Let us know here. To hear more, visit culturestudypod.substack.com
Every so often, I do a Culture Study (newsletter) interview that inspires a LOT of follow-up questions — and the podcast is the perfect forum to address them, particularly when the interviewee is as smart and hilarious and curious as Heather Radke. For today’s episode, Heather and I tackle all your BUTTS questions, like: Why are butts so funny? Isn’t it weird the fossil record can’t tell us how big butts were? Wouldn’t it be awesome if someone told you about hemorrhoids in a very matter-of-fact way at, like, age 16? Join the ranks of paid subscribers and get bonus content, access to the discussion threads, ad-free episodes, and the knowledge that you're supporting an indie pod trying to make its way in the world.Got a question or idea for a future episode? Let us know here. To hear more, visit culturestudypod.substack.com
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