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.

Apple Podcasts · Stitcher · Spotify

  • Episode 14: “The Impervious Battleship Egan,” or A Visit From the Goon Squad, Part II

    In the second half of Goon Squad, many of the characters end up…surprisingly OK, especially when you consider their struggles and self-destructive capacity displayed in the first half. Bagg and Dukes talk about whether the happy-ish outcomes are earned, and meditate on Proust’s epigram about memory. They wonder if the opposite of time as a ravager would be “Time, The Accepted Force that Propels Our Life Forward for Better or Worse?”

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  • Episode 13: “Time the Ravager” or Jennifer Egan’s 2010 A Visit From the Goon Squad, Part I

    After a camel cricket update (!), Jesse and Chris try to untangle the conga line of affection and destruction that forms the structure of Egan’s remarkable 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Bagg plays the babyface/fanboy while Dukes combines admiration for Egan’s craft with a deep sense of discomfort with the characters’ circumstances. We wrap it up with some trivia about titans of tech and shoplifting spin.

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The Hosts

Chris and Jesse create and interrogate different kinds of content. They are writers, radio producers, and fair-to-middling surfers.

Join the Community

We’re so stoked you’re here and that you are interested in engaging with us. Leave us your email for rare communiques, but also head on over to our Discord server, where the conversation never ends, or our Patreon account, where you can get more of us (for a price, of course).