Middlebrow strivers like me love listening to the BBC show In Our Time. If you're perpetual question is "what, if anything, is up with...?", with topics from angels to the Glencoe Massacre, this is your show. Its panelists are limited to Brit academics, which is fine, though I wonder if such a show would ever go in the US. I am sure that we have a gigantic amount of underutilized academics who, if handled by a smart interviewer, could give a good account of themselves. Any volunteers to compete with the terrier-like Melvyn Bragg?
But that's not what set me off. Today I listened to a show about...the Frankfurt School (you'll have to scroll way down to find it). No one cares about the Frankfurt School any more (Horkheimer, Adorno, Benjamin, etc.), but they used to be big, particularly in parts of the university other than engineering, where I spent my time. Some interesting notions, but you get no mind cred for faking knowledge about them any more, so you genuinely have to be interested in no-longer-fashionable thinking about the cultural conditions of late capitalism to listen to that particular program.
But that's not what set me off either. It's the academic specialty of one of the guests, Esther Leslie (and, yes, I was pleased that she looks the way she does). She is Professor of Political Aesthetics at Birkbeck College, London. I would not have dared make that up, and am delighted to learn it exists. Not that I have any idea of what it is.