A podcast in which we discuss high-craft works of popular culture.
No one wants to be upper-class (too snobby!) or lower-class (too shameful!) any more, which is why many choose their own sliver of the safe middle class: lower-upper-middle, upper-lower-middle, middle-upper-middle. In the same spirit, we are tired of culture warriors forcing us to choose between highbrow and lowbrow literature, music, films/movies, and television.
So we are here to set you free. In rambling but never boring episodes, Jesse and Chris navigate the tidal waters of the upper-middle-brow, choosing pieces of work we believe to have mass market appeal but also some claim to a more rarefied air. Tag along as we see if Star Wars can clamber out of the middle class, or if we’ll offend Jennifer Egan by suggesting her work is anything but highbrow. In any case, we hope you find our discussions as interesting as we do. Welcome to the Upper-Middle Brow.
Episode 20: “The Eye of the Speculator,” or Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, Part II
Lauren Olamina leaves her ruined home in the second half of Octavia E. Butler’s 1993 novel/theology document/allegory/philosophical text, heading for the mysterious utopia of Branscombe first and then…the stars? Bagg and Dukes try to locate the climax of this work, discuss the figurative vs. denotative nature of the novel, and close things out with some…
Episode 19: “A Wizard of Earthseed,” or Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, Part I
Parable of the Sower purports to be a work of speculative fiction, but Bagg points out that “speculative” is in the eye of the speculator. Dukes calls it the founding document of a theology that both UMBs find rather coherent and attractive. Whatever the book is, it is the work of a gifted writer, who…
Tracking the Beats of Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary
Robin D. Laws, in his excellent book Hamlet’s Hit Points, walks readers through upward and downward beats in Shakespeare’s iconic work. By identifying the rising and falling moods of the play, Laws tracks how Shakespeare keeps a narrative alive and interesting, the true opposite of “flat,” an adjective usually deployed to describe narrative works that……
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Chris and Jesse create and interrogate different kinds of content. They are writers, radio producers, and fair-to-middling surfers.
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