Entitled Opinions, the “Life and Literature” Podcast That Refuses to Dumb Things Down

Proust. Mimet­ic desire. The infla­tion­ary uni­verse. 1910, Amer­i­can writ­ers in Paris. The his­to­ry of the book. These top­ics may sound unusu­al enough to pique your inter­est. They may float through your mind once in a while, cap­tur­ing an hour or two of your curios­i­ty. They may peri­od­i­cal­ly send you to the library on read­ing binges. But for KZSU-FM’s Enti­tled Opin­ions, they are meat and drink. Since 2005, pro­fes­sor-broad­cast­er Robert Har­ri­son has explored these top­ics and many more besides in the intel­lec­tu­al­ly expan­sive long-form con­ver­sa­tions he con­ducts on Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty’s radio sta­tion. Always begin­ning with a mono­logue, Har­ri­son spends the bulk of his broad­casts think­ing aloud about these rich top­ics with philoso­phers like Richard Rorty, nov­el­ists like Orhan Pamuk, many a fel­low aca­d­e­m­ic, lis­ten­ers, and his own broth­er. (Some­times he up and con­ducts the entire show in French.) Each and every one of these he makes avail­able as a pod­cast, on the show’s site and on iTunes.

“These are not like Stan­ford cours­es online,” said Har­ri­son in a Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty News pro­file. “These are pro­grams where intel­lec­tu­als speak to each oth­er at a high lev­el of intel­lec­tu­al exchange—no one is exclud­ed per se, but you do have to have intel­lec­tu­al curios­i­ty. We refuse to dumb it down.” Hav­ing recent­ly returned from a pro­longed hia­tus, Enti­tled Opin­ions has kept not dumb­ing it down with con­ver­sa­tions on geog­ra­phy, her­maph­ro­ditism, polit­i­cal philoso­pher John Rawls, and Petrar­ch and Petrar­chism. I myself engaged Har­ri­son in a long-form inter­view on my pre­vi­ous pod­cast, The Mar­ket­place of Ideas, in which we dis­cussed the evo­lu­tion of his show; his books on forests, gar­dens, and the dead;  his life as a rock musi­cian (so that explains those episodes on Pink Floyd, The Doors, and Jimi Hen­drix); and get­ting called “the most pre­ten­tious man in the world” over e‑mail. We die-hard Enti­tled Opin­ions fans demand to know these things.

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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Comments (6)
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  • Jeff says:

    Oh, open cul­ture, how doth i love you. You give my online life mean­ing. Deeply indebt­ed, jeff

  • Russ says:

    Enti­tled Opin­ions has been my favorite pod­cast for a cou­ple years now, hav­ing lis­tened to every episode and a few mul­ti­ple times.

  • Ben says:

    Indeed! I dis­cov­ered this rare melody for the intel­lect last year and I have been a fanat­ic lis­ten­er ever since… Thanks for shar­ing this with the open­cul­ture com­mu­ni­ty!

  • Andrea says:

    Does any­one know when new episodes of Enti­tled Opin­ions may be com­ing out? I miss them dear­ly!

  • Nick Theophilou says:

    An excel­lent pro­gram. Great inter­view­er and inter­vie­wees

  • Chris Knapp says:

    i found your pro­gram yes­ter­day and have been lis­ten­ing and enjoy­ing many episodes.

    i just fin­ished lis­ten­ing to Dan Edel­stein on Human Rights and was shocked as the last 10 or so min­utes turned into a dia­tribe by the host about
    how the list of human rights is growi­ing or could grow to a ridicu­lous list of bour­geois wants by com­mon cit­i­zens. Dan Edel­stein could bare­ly even answer.

    Next i thought I would lis­ten to Hans Slu­ga:
    “Empire of Dis­ori­en­ta­tion”
    how can it be stat­ed that Trump came from noth­ing, when his Dad was a mil­lion­aire, who spoiled him rot­ten and bailed him out of nusi­ness trou­ble more than once? In fact, Trump is not a Busi­ness man but a Busi­ness THUG/Bully
    and Liar. The 3rd claim he is a bil­lion­aire is laugh­able as well–

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