Podcasts

Nerds in the Woods

October 23, 2020

Nestled among the tall pines in the heart of North Carolina, the National Humanities Center is a special place for scholars—a place where they can gather to think, study, and write—helping to deepen our understanding of the world and our place in it.

Join us as we take a series of virtual audio journeys through the intellectual woods with cohosts Robert D. Newman, Matthew M. Booker, Tania Munz, and Brooke Andrade as they survey some of the compelling topics being studied by historians and philosophers, scholars of literature, art, and other fields who come to the Center from all over the world.

In Our Image, Part 1: Building a Moral Machine


Alan Turing famously asked, can computers think? But can computers also feel? Can machines be designed to include a moral compass? Or, do machines always include the (often unexamined) moral assumptions of their designers? Episode host: Brooke Andrade. Interviewer: Robert D. Newman. Interviewees: Meredith Broussard, associate professor of data journalism, New York University; Chetan Dube, CEO, IPsoft; David Theo Goldberg, director, University of California Humanities Research Institute; and Elizabeth Langland, director, Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, Arizona State University.

In Our Image, Part 2: The AI Future is Now


Artificial intelligence challenges us to reconsider the powerful influence technologies have in our lives, the distinctions we make between human beings and machines, and to think carefully about how to deploy AI in ways that benefit humanity, reduce negative societal and environmental impacts, and encouraging human flourishing. Episode host: Brooke Andrade. Interviewer: Robert D. Newman. Interviewees: Paul Alivisatos, provost and executive vice chancellor, Samsung Distinguished Professor of nanoscience and nanotechnology, University of California, Berkeley; Tobias Rees, Reid Hoffman Professor at The New School of Social Research and director of the Berggruen Institute; Abby Smith Rumsey, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences; and Şerife (Sherry) Wong, artist, Icarus Salon and researcher at the Berggruen Institute.

Home Matters: Picturing and Understanding Place


This episode explores how understanding the ways that humans interact with their environments, both locally and globally, can help us confront contemporary ecological challenges. Episode host: Robert D. Newman. Interviewers: Robert D. Newman and Tania Munz. Interviewees: photographer Justin Cook, Joni Adamson (Fellow, 2018–19; 2016–17), and Stephanie Foote (Fellow, 2017–18).

Composed: Musical and Literary Connections Through the Ages


This episode explores the relationship between literature and music across time, specifically during the Italian Renaissance and in late twentieth-century America, and across and among genres, poetry and literary prose, ballads, rock music, and hip hop. Episode host: Matthew M. Booker. Interviewer: Robert D. Newman. Interviewees: Blake Wilson (Fellow 2016–17), Florence Dore (Fellow, 2008–09; 2016–17), and Professor A.D. Carson from the University of Virginia.

Dear Readers: What Happens When We Sit Down with a Good Book?


This episode invites us to think more deeply about the practice of reading by reflecting on the experiences of neurodivergent readers, exploring the bonds created among devotees of a favorite author’s work, and by considering insights made possible by computer-assisted reading. Episode host: Matthew M. Booker. Interviewer: Robert D. Newman. Interviewees: Matthew Rubery (Fellow, 2018–19), Ann Weirda Rowland (Center Trustee; Fellow, 2019–20), and Ted Underwood (Fellow, 2018–19).

Form & Function: The Arts’ Influence in the World Around Us


In this episode of Nerds in the Woods, we talk with three scholars about how form and function work together, investing objects with meaning and resonance in our lives, whether in art and architecture, literary forms, or the stuff of everyday life. Episode host: Robert D. Newman. Interviewers: Robert D. Newman, Joan Hinde Stewart, and Tania Munz. Interviewees: Hollis Robbins (Fellow, 2017–18), Sonja Drimmer (Fellow, 2019–20), and Elizabeth Otto (Fellow, 2017–18).

Black Power Politics: Tracing the Effects of a Movement


In this episode, we sit down with two scholars whose work complicates our understanding of black power politics and the scope of its influence outside of the U.S. cities with which it is most often associated. Episode host: Matthew M. Booker. Interviewer: Robert D. Newman. Interviewees: Jakobi Williams (Fellow, 2016–17) and Katherine Mellen Charron (Fellow, 2019–20).

Excursions: Revisiting the History of the Caribbean


This episode takes us on an intellectual voyage through the Caribbean, exploring its historical, political, and cultural importance over the course of the past several centuries. Episode host: Tania Munz. Interviewer: Robert D. Newman. Interviewees: Rebecca Goetz (Fellow, 2018–19), Marlene Daut (Fellow, 2016–17), and Matthew Smith (Fellow, 2018–19).