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Why Theory

A TV and Film podcast featuring Todd McGowan
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Episodes of Why Theory

Ryan and Todd conclude their discussion of Jean-Paul Sartre's Being and Nothingness with a focus on Sartre's conception of freedom. They discuss the strengths and weaknesses that follow from how Sartre theorizes subjectivity in relation to the
Ryan and Todd discuss the first half of Jean-Paul Sartre's magnum opus Being and Nothingness. They cover the difference between the in-itself and the for-itself, bad faith, temporality, the unconscious, and other important concepts. The next ep
In an annual attempt to theorize the Christmas film, Ryan and Todd examine the concept of the misfit in three famous stop-motion Christmas films from the 1960s and 1970s: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, and The Ye
Ryan and Todd discuss the role that debt plays in the structure of capitalist society and in the psyche necessary for sustaining this society. They explore debt as a subject matter in film and television, as well as debt's relationship to the l
Ryan and Todd discuss Todd's latest book Enjoyment Right & Left, which examines the political divide in terms of the different forms that enjoyment takes. They engage with this divide across a variety of issues, from anti-trans violence to the
This is a special Why Theory episode that was recorded live at the Impakt Festival that took place in Utrecht, Netherlands. Ryan and Todd discuss the theme of the festival--"the curse of smooth operations"--in terms of our relationship to techn
Ryan and Todd trace the history of how thinkers have dealt with the problem of love--the varying definitions of love, the view of love's role in society, and love's philosophical importance. They begin with Plato's Symposium, touch on the New T
Ryan and Todd provide an introduction to the philosopher of contemporary French thinker Alain Badiou. They begin with his insistence on the importance of mathematics and then move on to his understanding of truth in relation to the event. They
Ryan and Todd explore the philosophical concept of the event, tracing its trajectory through three thinkers--Martin Heidegger, Alain Badiou, and Slavoj Zizek. They make this discussion concrete with an extended discussion of the current revolut
Ryan and Todd discuss the diagnostic categories of psychoanalysis, beginning with neurosis. They analyze the three forms of neurosis--hysteria, obsession, and phobia--while also focusing on the different manifestations of these three forms in t
Ryan and Todd conclude their series on Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit with a discussion of the Absolute Knowing section. They explore the relationship between this section and the rest of the book as well as considering what this section has t
In their penultimate episode on Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, Ryan and Todd analyze the religion section of the book. They focus most on the comic work of art and the revealed religion sections as they try to make sense of why Hegel gives re
Ryan and Todd begin a series of discussions about the classical Hollywood genres with the screwball comedy, a genre that centers on the sexual antagonism. They look at the film that kicks off the genre, It Happened One Night, as well as the hig
Ryan and Todd are joined for the episode by James Godley, who recently organized a conference on mourning and the pandemic, entitled "In the Wake of the Plague" (which one can access here: https://sites.dartmouth.edu/wake-of-the-plague/), to di
Ryan and Todd analyze Freud's essay "Wild Psychoanalysis" and delve into the problem of treating symptoms with knowledge rather than addressing the enjoyment that they offer. Even though this is a minor Freud essay, it provides one of the pilla
In this special episode, Ryan and Todd address the newly minted US Supreme Court decision that overturns the nationwide right to abortion access. They delve into the history of the famous decision granting abortion rights and theorize what has
Ryan and Todd investigate the concept of the quilting point (point de capiton), as originally coined by Jacques Lacan and then in additional permutations. They attempt to develop this concept in further directions that challenge Lacan's origina
Ryan and Todd provide their reading of Jacques Lacan's Seminar III devoted to the psychoses. They focus on the idea of the foreclosure of the paternal signifier while also addressing the role that Lacan theorizing the imaginary having in psycho
Ryan and Todd address the history of psychoanalytic interpretations of Shakespeare's Hamlet, devoting time to both Freud and Lacan's reading. They then delve into the play as a work of modernity, seeing in it the modern project that attempts to
Ryan and Todd question the theoretical implications of the development of streaming for narrative, spectatorship, and politics. They look at the changes that streaming ushers in and the hidden continuity between streaming and earlier aesthetic
Ryan and Todd explore Lacan's late aphorism, "The Woman doesn't exist." They address the importance of this statement for psychoanalytic feminism and the complications that have arisen from it. The relation between signifying logic and the soci
Ryan and Todd explore theories of film noir and try to account for its success as a cinematic movement. They discuss films such as Out of the Past, Double Indemnity, and The Third Man, as well as figures such as the femme fatale and the hard-bo
Ryan and Todd investigate the possibility of thinking about all competing philosophies under the headings of dualism, multiplicity, and dialectics. They take as avatars for each position St. Paul, Gilles Deleuze, and Hegel. Rather than serving
Ryan and Todd delve into a shorter text from Freud's later years--"Notes on a Mystic Writing Pad." Freud takes the child's toy that he discovers as a paradigm for how memory works in the psyche. Ryan and Todd tease out the implications of the e
Ryan and Todd conduct a thorough exploration of Freud's 1920 text Beyond the Pleasure Principle, beginning with the claim that this represents Freud at his most radical and original point. They look at the notion of death drive that Freud devel
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