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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