Pop, the Question is a spirited dialogue about popular culture. Hosted by Dr. Melinda Lewis, the series engages in conversations with guests about the ways in which popular culture intersects with their academic fields of study and research.
- Season 1-Episode 1: The Cult of the Superhero Movie
Superhero fans, actors, and production companies are chasing down the next big hit, but at the risk of over-saturating the market for comic book screen adaptations. Host Dr. Melinda Lewis and guest Ann Alexander discuss the increasing popularity and financial ramifications of superheroes and their universes.
- Season 1-Episode 2: The Gift of Kick-Ass
The 1988 Oscar-nominated film "Die Hard" challenged preconceptions of the action film genre and what constitutes a Christmas film. It delivers a powerful (holiday) punch, while also unpacking the institutionalization of the Christmas spirit. Drs. Melinda Lewis and Kevin Egan embark on an analysis of this Christmas classic, and even discover a few stocking stuffers in the process.
- Season 1-Episode 3: Serendipity in Science
In the 19th Century, the pursuit of truth and holistic understanding of science were hot new trends. Little known Russian scientist Sergei Vinogradskii was one of the hippest cats, with his microbe work paving the way for the emerging fields of microbiology and ecology. Dr. Lloyd Ackert joins Dr. Melinda Lewis to till fertile ground related to the role of serendipity in scientific discovery, theories of mutual aid and Darwinism, and how microbes have impacted life and culture.
- Season 1-Episode 4: Celebrity Crushes
A celebrity crush is a rite of passage for people all over the world. The emotions are real, while the relationships typically are not. Host Dr. Melinda Lewis flirts with this cultural phenomenon alongside six guests, revealing myriad ways in which fans crush on those in the spotlight.
- Season 1-Episode 5: All How You Frame It
A cartoonist draws inspiration from a spectrum of influences. For graphic novelist and educator Jamar Nicholas, city life, popular comic strips, and reality TV all inform his creations. Host Dr. Melinda Lewis and the artist discuss his graphic novels, social themes at play, and his affinity for The Real Housewives and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
- Season 1-Episode 6: This Thing is Gonna Blow
While archeologists have Indiana Jones, geologists have Harry Dalton, Pierce Brosnan’s character in the 1997 volcano extravaganza Dante’s Peak. The film laid the groundwork for scientific representation of volcanology in mainstream culture, and made an impact on how emergency agencies prepare the public for disaster. Host Dr. Melinda Lewis and aspiring volcanologist Nick Barber grapple with what Dante’s Peak gets right, what it gets wrong, and how popular culture shapes the way audiences interact with their natural environment.
- Season 1-Episode 7: Indie, Eclectic, Undefinable
When the music industry emerged from the shadows of AM radio and found itself in the hardcore punk music mosh pit of the late 20th Century, fans followed suit and got involved on their own terms. Music industry professor and Jade Tree Records co-founder Darren Walters went from listener to active participant, supporting the work of artists on the ground level for the past three decades. Host Dr. Melinda Lewis spins tales with Walters about the evolution of the music industry, the place of an indie label in mainstream culture, and the influence of popular rock bands like Rush and Duran Duran on a thriving counterculture.
- Season 1-Episode 8: Sweatpants & Stilettos
Keeping Up With the Kardashians has pivoted reality television and social media to reinvent how audiences gain access to celebrity lives. With Kim at the center of it all, the Kardashians and Jenners work relentlessly to enhance their image, the public’s consumption practices, and even the indelible impact on culture and society. Host Dr. Melinda Lewis and superfan Jenny Carolina-Bell explore this influence and the evolution of pop culture’s first family.
- Season 1-Bonus Episode: Guilty Pleasure Songs
Music is instrumental to self-exploration, identity, and how we socialize. This includes songs filed under the category of guilty pleasure, where earnest tastes in music somehow prove misaligned with what's considered the acceptable or cool social standard. In a special live episode wrap-up to Season 1 of Pop, the Question (recorded for the 6th Annual Philadelphia Podcast Festival), Dr. Melinda Lewis digs deep in the crates with pop music fans Ann Alexander, Dr. Katie Barak, and Jenny Carolina-Bell to unearth some of their greatest hits of all time.
Listen on iTunes
Listen on SoundCloud