A Short Introduction to Our Coyle Scholar, Christopher Lydon

I stumbled upon Chris Lydon’s podcast, Radio Open Source, three years ago and was delighted to hear that he will be our Coyle Scholar this Fall. Lydon’s podcast is, in my opinion, the best that is available on the web. Anybody who enjoys a program like NPR’s Fresh Air, but wishes that it packed a little more intellectual punch, will be an instant fan of Radio Open Source. In particular, I am excited that he will be joining us at GFA because the ideas that he has explored over and over again through the interviews that he conducts are closely related to those that we are exposing to our students through the World Perspectives Program. His work is extremely interdisciplinary in nature, and he consistently returns to questions about the role of American influence (political, military and cultural) in the world. His talk “End of Innocence Abroad” on Tuesday, October 26th promises to be extremely interesting.As a part of the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, Lydon’s program covers enormous ground in what he refers to as “an American conversation with global attitude.” He interviews a lot of vanguard thinkers of our day from the arts, humanities and world affairs. Lydon himself is a rare and wonderful blend of the traditional intellectual and the forward-thinking technology guru. He is at once steeped in the classics and interested in the effect that Twitter is having on information. If you visit the Radio Open Source website or their I-tunes page you’ll see that in addition to his countless fascinating interviews, there are four “podcast series” in which Lydon returns to a given topic several times with a number of different interviewees. His four series are as follows:

The “Emerson: A Discussion” series features conversations with Harold Bloom as well as a discussion of The Shallows with Nicholas Carr (the reporter who wrote the polemic article “Is Google Making us Stupid” a few years ago in The Atlantic). It seems that only Lydon can pull Emerson into our contemporary interest in the effects of new media on our minds.

His series entitled “A Life in Music” has a host of interviews with scholars who have recently written on some of the giants of Jazz (in particular Monk, Coltrane and Ellington). This series also has a program on Ghanaian music and Latin jazz.

His recent series “Year of India” boasts discussions with Arundhati Roy (best known for her novel The God of Small Things) and Amartya Sen (1998 Nobel in Economics) as well as a fascinating series of programs recorded this summer during Lydon’s tour of India. I particularly enjoyed the following programs: “Real India: Social Entrepreneurship as a Family Affair”“Real India: A historian cautions on ‘the Indian century’” and “Real India: Nomita Gokhale: the revolution will be written!”
Finally, Lydon’s fourth “podcast” series is called “Whose words these are: Poets on poetry in our time”, and it features myriad conversations with contemporary poets about the craft of writing.

Below is an incomplete list of figures whom Lydon has interviewed in the last year or so. I pulled this list together, not because these are necessarily the most interesting programs on Radio Open Source, but because they perhaps represent the most widely recognized guests that Lydon has interviewed. In short, I heartily recommend that you explore what Radio Open Source has to offer, and that you take the time to hear him speak at GFA on October 26th.

Harold Bloom (Yale English scholar, author of The Western Canon and many others)
Paul Bloom (Yale Psychologist, author of How Pleasure Works)
Michael Lewis (author of Big Short)
Paul Harding (this year’s Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction for The Tinkerers)
John Mearsheimer (Foreign Policy scholar at the University of Chicago)
Ariana Huffington (Journalist, editor of the Huffington Post)
Andrew Bacevich (Boston University Foreign Policy scholar)
Nicholas Carr (author of The Shallows)
Amartya Sen (1998 Nobel in Economics, Harvard Development Economist)
David Remnick (Editor of The New Yorker, author of The Bridge, a biography of Obama)
Colum McCann (author of Let the Great World Spin)
Arundhati Roy (Indian activist and author of Booker-winning The God of Small Things)
Orphan Pamuk (Literature Nobel and giant of Turkish letters)
Howard Dean (Politician)
Joseph O´Neil (author of Netherland)
A Short Introduction to Our Coyle Scholar, Christopher Lydon

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