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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 pick up their discussion of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit with an exploration of the "Spirit" section of this book. They probe into Hegel's conception of Sittlichkeit (or the ethical order) and his investment in the act of getti
Ryan and Todd discuss Lacan's claim that "there is no metalanguage." They address the political implications of this idea and look at various attempts to constitute a metalinguistic position. Finally, they explore the connection between metalan
Ryan and Todd return to the theorization of the Christmas film by examining three entries in the genre: Meet Me in St. Louis, Holiday Inn, and Christmas in Connecticut. They discuss the Christmas film's depiction of castrated authority, its cha
Ryan and Todd delve into the theoretical importance of the 1942 film Casablanca. They examine its critique of cynicism, its intermixing of love and politics, and its enactment of the importance of the barrier. They conclude by exploring how the
Ryan and Todd explore the concept of retroactivity or Nachträglichkeit from its development in Hegel's philosophy to its pivotal status as the basis for freedom in Slavoj Zizek's thought. In between, they discuss how Freud, Lacan, and Laplanche
Ryan and Todd finish their three-episode examination of Freud's structural theory of the psyche with a focus on the id. They discuss the lack of discussion of the id among theorists and try to fill this lacuna. They then explore its cultural re
In this second in a series of three episodes, Ryan and Todd discuss the trajectory of the concept of the ego from Freud to Lacan. They investigate how Lacan's critique of the ego reshapes psychoanalytic thinking by distancing the subject from e
In this episode, Ryan and Todd trace the development of the concept of the superego from Freud's invention of it in the Ego and the Id to Jacques Lacan's development of it through his seminars to Slavoj Zizek's theorizing of it as a political c
Ryan and Todd analyze the presuppositions and argument of Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer's Dialectic of Enlightenment. They challenge the conception of dialectic that the book proffers and its general condemnation of the culture industry by
Ryan and Todd explore the notion of biopower, as first advanced by Michel Foucault and then developed by Giorgio Agamben. They discuss how biopower relates to Marxism and to the dialectical understanding of the law.
In this episode, Ryan and Todd discuss the philosophical divide between Martin Heidegger and Hegel, taking as their starting point Heidegger's conception of Dasein. They explore the relationship between Dasein and subjectivity, as well as the d
Ryan and Todd work through the main ideas in the five seasons of the television series Breaking Bad, with a special focus on the final season. They discuss the show's commentary on capitalism, its conception of evil, and the significance of Wal
Ryan and Todd offer their interpretation of the television series Twin Peaks: The Return. After Ryan explains the role of the series in peak tv, they explore what the final season of the series has to say about the structure of fantasy and our
This episode unpacks the reasons that drove Jacques Lacan to invent the four discourses in Seminar XVII and then analyzes the structure of each discourse. Ryan and Todd also touch on Lacan's development of the capitalist discourse. They conclud
Ryan and Todd devote a third and final episode to Joan's Copjec 1994 classic Read My Desire, focusing the entire time on the final chapter in the book, "Sex and the Euthanasia of Reason." They address Copjec's critique of Judith Butler and work
In this second of three episode devoted to Joan Copjec's Read My Desire, Ryan and Todd focus on Copjec's insights into the strength through weakness of the populist leader, the role of anxiety in politics, and the role that film noir plays in e
In this special requested episode, Ryan and Todd recount their experience of graduate school. They discuss the difficulties of engaging in theory and their attempts to carve out a theoretical path nonetheless. This is a singular episode where t
Ryan and Todd devote this episode to unpacking Joan Copjec's groundbreaking first book, Read My Desire. In this first part of a two part series, they focus on the first four chapters of the book, devoting most of the episode to an explication o
Ryan and Todd devote this episode to unpacking Joan Copjec's groundbreaking first book, Read My Desire. In this first part of a two part series, they focus on the first four chapters of the book, devoting most of the episode to an explication o
Ryan and Todd discuss the emergence of Slavoj Zizek's first book in English, The Sublime Object of Ideology. They work through its impact and historical significance. They then work through the ideas of the book as Zizek develops them--a new th
In this episode, Ryan and Todd delve into the life and thought of relatively unknown theorist Alexandre Kojeve, who they claim may be the most influential thinker--for better or worse--of the 20th century. Kojeve basically directed the reading
In this episode, Ryan and Todd conceptualize narrative structure in psychoanalytic terms, addressing how the master signifier, the subject supposed to know, the objet a, the object of desire, and the quilting point manifest themselves in the co
In this episode, Ryan and Todd trace the concept of alienation from its theorization by Hegel, through its development in Marx, to its elaboration in Sartre and Lacan. They focus on Hegel's positive twist to this typically negative concept, and
This episode is the fourth in a series of episodes that Ryan and Todd are devoting to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. Here, we go through what Hegel understands by the term "reason" and how it develops in this major section of the book.
In this episode, Ryan and Todd are joined by guest cohost Mari Ruti to discuss the relationship between feminism and psychoanalysis. Delving into the problems of desire and power, they question how psychoanalysis might contribute to the feminis
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