Podcasts have become an increasingly important media format within an academic context. At first they were predominantly a popular means to record and disseminate lectures, evidenced by the ever popular iTunes U platform, which broadcasts free courses and lectures from top universities. Yet academic events, seminars, and conferences are also increasingly being recorded and disseminated as podcasts. I particularly enjoy the recordings from the Backdoor Broadcasting Company, who record talks for universities and research institutes and have a large archive with talks from theorists such as Etienne Balibar, Catherine Malabou, and Slavoj Žižek. Cultural theorist Jeremy Gilbert’s public seminar series on Culture, Power and Politics, which serves as a broad introduction on cultural studies and radical theory, is also available as a podcast series over at https://culturepowerpolitics.org/podcasts/.
Academic podcasts which follow an interview format, i.e. where an interviewer talks with a scholar or a group of scholars about their research and publications, are also very common. For example, over the last few years I have, together with Clare Birchall, Gary Hall and Pete Woodbridge, co-edited a podcasts series, Culture Machine Live, which is dedicated to discussions of culture and theory and consists of interviews with cultural and critical theorists, including Johanna Drucker, Katherine Hayles and Alan Liu. Other examples in this genre involve New Books Network, a volunteer effort sponsored by Amherst College Press, which publishes around 60 podcasts a month in the form of book reviews, with hosts from around the world covering a wide array of fields. Sociologist Mark Carrigan, who has also written extensively on podcasting, runs a successful podcast series over at The Sociological Imagination, and my colleague, media theorist Bernard Geoghegan, runs a podcast series entitled Cultural Technologies, which includes interviews with Steven Shaviro and Graham Harman.
Yet increasingly podcasting is also envisioned as an alternative academic publication format in itself, where research is formally published as a podcast. Following this podcast format, the Institute of Networks Cultures in Amsterdam has recently started the Zero Infinite Podcast, which they also specifically position as one of their publication formats—alongside their text-based publications for example. I was recently interviewed by Leonieke van Dipten for the second episode of this podcast, which focuses on the future of (digital) publishing and also includes contributions by Michael Dieter, Morehshin Allahyari and Daniel Rourke:
In a similar vein, The Cinematologists, a popular podcast series about film and film culture produced by Neil Fox and Dario Llinares, have recently released their article for the experimental, disrupted special issue of the Journal of Media Practice (which we, the Centre for Disruptive Media, are collaboratively co-editing with the DMLL) in the form of a podcast. Neil interviewed me and various other contributors to this special issue about our submissions and asked us about our thoughts on practice-based research. This was mixed together to form the third part of The Cinematologists’ podcast-article: ‘Knowing Sounds: Podcasting As Academic Practice’
Related to this, A.D. Carson released his PhD dissertation “Owning My Masters” not as a ‘single’ podcast, but as an entire 34-song album, where Carson wants to ‘rap his scholarship’, and ‘write in Hip-Hop’ whilst reflecting on whether this specific performance of scholarship will be interpreted as ‘inferior to “proper” or “properly academic” performances’. You can listen to his dissertation underneath. I hope these examples will inspire more academics to experiment with audio and with podcasting as a publication format on its own, as a wide variety of practices is already breaking ground.