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Counterpoint Radio

Counterpoint radio features interviews with Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities Signature guests and other academics and thinkers who are trying to re-shape the national discussion of important issues. It serves as a sounding board to extend the conversations MOCH hosts on local radio, broadcasting on WKNO 91.1, WUMR, 91.7, and WYPL, 89.3.

To listen, please click on the links below. To podcast, please right-click and save the file to your computer.

Continental Philosophy and Race

Robert Bernasconi is a leading scholar of the modern philosophical canon. Together we discuss two titans of twentieth-century thought, Heidegger and Levinas, exploring what they teach us about the limits of philosophy and the opening of philosophy to an ethics that responds to human suffering. We also address how Bernasconi’s work in the critical philosophy of race is his own response to these issues on the basis of his experience living in Memphis. For more on Bernasconi, go here: (

The Politics of the Veil
Joan Scott is one of the recognized pioneers of gender studies in approaching the history of modern France. Together we discuss the series of high profile incidents excluding Muslim girls from public schools that eventually led to the law banning the wearing of the hijab in March 2004. We consider what this law means for the relationship of church and state, freedom of speech, institutionalized discrimination against those descendants of the former French colonies, and different gender systems in the Islamic world and the modern west. For more on Joan Scott, see her Wiki page: (

Fiftieth Anniversary of The Wretched of the Earth
We discuss the life and work of famed revolutionary writer Frantz Fanon with Lewis Gordon, perhaps the most famous living Africana existentialist and author of numerous works on Fanon. We explore the percolation of Fanon’s thought over time, why he is such a pivotal figure for critical race theory and postcolonialism, and how he fits into the emerging canon of Africana philosophy that Gordon has helped to shape. For more on Lewis Gordon, visit: (

Natural and Unnatural Disasters
Renowned non-fiction writer Simon Winchester discusses some of his bestselling books from the perspective of disaster studies. Winchester�s unique blending of science writing, travel writing, and history make his reflections on the connections between disasters and how they are understood compelling listening. The author of Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded, August 27, 1883 and A Crack in the Edge of the World (about the San Francisco earthquake of 1906) considers how religion has contended with science for explaining natural disasters. For more on Simon Winchester, visit: (

Human Rights in History
In a conversation with award-winning Columbia Professor of History, Samuel Moyn, we explore the myth of the deep history of human rights. Parsing the specific meaning of "human rights" today, Moyn distinguishes it from broader humanitarian notions, the legacy of natural rights and the Rights of Man, maintaining that as we understand it, human rights only emerged as recently as the 1970s. And he addresses why his revisionist history matters for how we understand the future of human rights. Moyn's book on the subject is The Last Utopia: For more on Moyn's book, visit: (

American Soldiers and the Liberation of Europe
In a discussion with Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Rick Atkinson, author of the epic history “The Liberation Trilogy” about the role of the United States military in the defeat of the Axis powers in Europe, we explore the myths perpetuated in popular culture about World War II and consider how a clear-eyed view of the conflict helps us to understand the contingencies that resulted in the American role in the victory against the Nazis. For more on Atkinson's history of World War II, visit: (

Bill Russell and the Basketball Revolution
In the wake of the death of local Memphis basketball star Lorenzon Wright, Dr. Aram Goudsouzian discusses his book, King of the Court: Bill Russell and the Basketball, which explores the evolution of basketball into a high profile professional sport, as well as the impact of Bill Russell on the civil rights movement. More generally, Goudsouzian explores the role of sports in shaping public attitudes about race and civic life in America. For more on Goudsouzian's book, go to: (website).

Bicentennial Celebration of the Independence of Latin America
As part of Hispanic Awareness Month and to commemorate the bicentennial celebration of Latin American independence, Jeremy Adelman, Walter Samuel Carpenter III Professor in Spanish Civilization and Culture at Princeton University discusses how Atlantic and Global history is changing how historians understand the Latin American past and its ramifications for our contemporary discussions of sovereignty and immigration. For more on Adelman, visit: (website).

Living Without God
Ronald Aronson, a leading scholar of existentialism, talks about his book Living Without God where he proposes a coherent worldview and morality that is independent of all theology. For more on Dr. Aronson go to: (website).

Lifting the Veil of Iran
Author and activist Danny Postel reflects on Iran’s 2009 elections and how they have affected the geopolitical climate as well as the challenges and opportunities that the election presents to leftists in America. Find more on Mr. Postel at: (website).

Worse than War
International bestselling author Daniel Jonah Goldhagen talks about his research on genocide and the anti-Semitism that powered the Nazi politics of eliminationism and the psychology of extermination in other instances of mass murder. For more on Dr. Goldagen go to: (website)

Paris Under Water
On the list of America’s Top Young Historians, Dr. Jeffery H. Jackson discusses the French engagement with jazz, alongside his new book Paris Under Water, about the largest natural disaster in French history, the great flood of 1910. For more go to: (website).

Green Shakespeare
Shakespeare scholar Dr. Scott Newstok discusses new approaches to the Bard, including eco-criticism and reflections on race. For more on Dr. Newstok go to: (website).

Women in Tennessee History
Women’s Studies scholars discuss women’s part in the making of Tennessee history, as well as the importance of Women’s History Month.

  • Lynda Sagrestano Ph.D. (website ),
  • Beverly Bond Ph.D. (website ),
  • Sarah Wilkerson Freemann Ph.D. (website).

Darwin on Trial
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward J. Larson discusses one of the most famous public debates about evolution in his account of the Scopes Monkey Trial, Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion, reflecting upon how it framed the ongoing controversy. For more on Dr. Larson go to: website

Overcoming Katrina
D’Ann Penner Ph.D., winner of the Congressional Black Caucus Award for Leadership in Journalism, discusses the recovery of New Orleans through the lens of race in her book Overcoming Katrina: African American Voices from the Crescent City and Beyond. For more on Dr. Penner please go to: website

Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities

Stephan Blatti, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Director

Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities
The University of Memphis
Scates 107
Memphis, TN  38152

PH: 678-3732

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Last Updated: 5/15/15