Zombies have taken a special place in our cultural imaginary—appearing in countless cult classics, B-grade horror movies, best selling literary novels (and retellings of best-selling literary novels), record breaking television shows, and are the inspiration for themed parades and pub crawls around the globe. In this episode, Jennifer Rutherford, sociologist, literary scholar, and Deputy Director of the Hawke Research Institute at the University of Southern Australia, helps us understand what can be learned from the cultural obsession. We discuss the power of the zombie as metaphor, the unrestrained drive of the undead, and the allure of becoming zombie at gatherings and celebrations.

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This week we are joined by David J. Leonard, professor of Critical Culture, Gender, & Race Studies at Washington State University and author of After Artest: The NBA and the Assault on Blackness. We discuss the significance of Jason Collins’s article in Sports Illustrated announcing that he is gay, the media’s reaction to him coming out, and sport as a site key site for the performance of gender and sexuality.

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This week we talk with Catherine Squires about her September 2012 article in American Quarterly, Coloring in the Bubble: Perspectives from Black-Oriented Media on the (Latest) Economic Disaster.

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In this episode, we have a conversation with William Alexander. He is slightly different type of social theorist than we normally have on the podcast. Will teaches in the English Department at the Minnesota College of Arts and Design and last November he won the prestigious national book award for his first novel Goblin Secrets and the Earphones Award for narrating his book. Today Will is joining us to discuss the powers and politics of fantasy, and the relationship between fiction and the social world.

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This week we talk with Shadd Maruna and Fergus McNeill about their documentary project, The Road From Crime. This documentary was produced as part of the larger Discovering Desistance Project, which aims to share knowledge and improve understanding of why people desist from crime. First, we hear a clip from the opening sequence of the film, then we talk with Shadd and Fergus themselves as they describe the process of producing this project.

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In this episode we talk with Michael Schudson, author of The Sociology of News, recently released in its second edition. Schudson is the author of seven books and co-editor of three others concerning the history and sociology of the American news media, advertising, popular culture, Watergate and cultural memory. We discuss the changing nature of journalism, the effect of emerging technology on traditional news practices, and his new research on transparency as American value and policy.

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This episode we talk with Jay Gabler, sociologist, journalist, and creator of the play, Ivory Tower Burning. The play imagines a meeting between Talcott Parsons and C. Wright Mills where an intense debate about social theory and human nature ensues. We discuss bringing sociology to the theater and the role of sociology in the broader culture.

You can watch a preview clip on YouTube and see the entire play live August 4-11 at the Minnesota Fringe festival.

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This week, we talk with Lisa Wade and Gwen Sharp, co-editors of Sociological Images. Gwen and Lisa were in Minneapolis to receive the Public Sociology Award at the University of Minnesota Sociology Department’s annual Sociology Research Institute.

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This episode we talk to Joel Best, author of popular, accessible sociology books such as Damned Lies and Statistics, Everyone’s a Winner, and hot off the presses, a brand new Social Problems textbook from W.W. Norton.

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In this episode we discuss the social science of political humor with Heather LaMarre. This conversation is part of our latest Roundtable.

Download Office Hours #40.