The Casual Academic-logo

The Casual Academic

Arts & Culture Podcasts >

In-depth literary discussion with the pretence. Just good books. Literature podcast based in Madrid, Spain. We provide in-depth literary discussion without the pretence. Consulting secondary literature and unafraid to tackle great works and their ideas, our goal is to compress in-depth discussion of literature into a digestible format that won't cost you $60,000 and soul-crushing debt.

In-depth literary discussion with the pretence. Just good books. Literature podcast based in Madrid, Spain. We provide in-depth literary discussion without the pretence. Consulting secondary literature and unafraid to tackle great works and their ideas, our goal is to compress in-depth discussion of literature into a digestible format that won't cost you $60,000 and soul-crushing debt.
More Information


Madrid, Spain


In-depth literary discussion with the pretence. Just good books. Literature podcast based in Madrid, Spain. We provide in-depth literary discussion without the pretence. Consulting secondary literature and unafraid to tackle great works and their ideas, our goal is to compress in-depth discussion of literature into a digestible format that won't cost you $60,000 and soul-crushing debt.




Episode 29 - Memory, Perception & Fairytales in Tatyana Tolstaya's "White Walls"

In this episode, we marvel at Tatyana Tolstaya's collection of stories, "White Walls," and focus our discussion on topics such as memory, time, perception, art and fairytales (just to name a few). We also, shamelessly, heap relentless praise on her prose and brilliant use of language that she employs to create her woeful and comic worlds. We hope you enjoy the episode, and we want to give a special thanks to NYRB Classics for collaborating with us during our Overlooked Authors Series. As...


Episode 28 - Untouchability, Inaction and "The Seventh Seal" in U.R. Ananthamurthy's "Samskara"

Overlooked Authors on The Casual Academic has begun! We discuss our first featured book, U.R. Ananthamurthy's classic "Samskara: A Rite for a Dead Man," translated by A.K. Ramanujan. Our conversation centers on the binary Ananthamurthy sets between the arcane and the modern, religion vs. rationalism, and action vs. inaction in a very Indian context. We also dive into one of Ananthamurthy's major influences, Ingmar Bergman's classic film "The Seventh Seal," and how our featured author found...


Aside #23 - Overlooked Authors Series with NYRB Classics

On Aside #23, we discuss our upcoming series on overlooked authors! The next four episodes will feature: Samskara: A Rite for a Dead Man - U.R. Ananthamurthy White Walls - Tatyana Tolstaya Thus Were Their Faces - Silvina Ocampo Notes of a Crocodile - Qui Miaojin We talk about why we chose each author and what about them piqued our interest. Overlooked Authors Month is brought to you in part by the NYRB Classics. Check out their awesome selection of books here:...


Episode 27 (Pt. 2) - Gender, Sexuality & Race in Carson McCullers' "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter"

On Part II of our 27th episode, Alex and guest Zak Breckenridge continue their discussion on Carson McCullers' 1940 novel "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter," focusing on how gender, sexuality and race are presented in the book and through its characters. Enjoy! ***As always, you can find us on instagram, twitter and facebook, or email us at Also, check our website for a bibliography of the episode, articles, and a catalogue of all our...


Episode 27(Pt.1)- Southern Gothic Limits, Low Modernism & Politics in "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter"

On our 27th episode, Alex talks with returning guest Zak Breckenridge about Carson McCullers' 1940 novel "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter". We had to divide the episode into two parts because, well, we got so into the conversation that it ran for an hour and 40 minutes. On this first part, we talk about the problematic nature of place the novel in the genre of Southern Gothic, the differences between High & Low Modernism, and the role socialism plays in the politics of the novel. Enjoy!...


Aside #22 - Environmental Humanities & an intro to Carson McCullers' "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter"

On this Aside, returning guest Zak Breckenridge joins Alex in a conversation on the emerging academic field of Environmental Humanities, and their first reactions to our new featured book "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" by Carson McCullers. Many questions are raised for the full-length episode, including Race, Gender, and Politics. Join in on the discussion! Are you a fan of McCullers' work? Let us know at - email - facebook & instagram - @thecasualacademic...


Episode 26 (Pt. 2) - Postcolonial Problems, Decay & Flux in V.S. Naipaul's "The Enigma of Arrival"

On this episode, we focus on the last three sections of Naipaul's novel, "Ivy," "Rooks," and "A Ceremony of Farewell." Within these three sections, we explore the controversy surrounding Naipaul's status as a postcolonial writer, and how such elements are woven into the latter half of "The Enigma of Arrival." As the title says, we also dive into one of our favorite topics - decadence - but also how that can morph into an understanding of flux and transition, and how all of that is...


Aside #21 - Xmas Holidays and Our Favorite Reads of 2017

Merry Christmas from The Casual Academic! Well...more like Happy New Year! We're just in time with our top reads from 2017 - eight books (four from each of us) that come highly recommended, six of which come with full-length episodes and Asides from yours truly! Do you have a favorite TCA read from this year? Let us know on all those social media platforms, or email us at We hope you all have a great NYE, and best wishes for 2018. Cheers, Jake and Alex Twitter-...


Episode 25 (Pt.1) - Some Changes, Narrative Games & Our First Impressions of "The Turn of the Screw"

On our 25th episode, we are inaugurating a structural change to The Casual Academic. Think of it as an experiment with the goal of making your listening experience the best it can be. We've decided to divide our episodes on our featured books into two parts: part 1 is a general discussion of the novel, the writer, and our initial impressions and questions. Part 2 is a more in-depth discussion in which we interact with secondary literature that critically analyzes the work. Pick your...


Aside #19 - Intro to Henry James & Our Top Creepy Tales

On our newest Aside, we introduce our new featured author Henry James, whose infamous novella "The Turn of the Screw" we'll be reading for our next episode. After that, we have a bit of a guessing game as to what are our respective top three creepy stories. Spoiler alert: Jake wins. We also posted a new article on our website talking about the stories we've picked, with links so you can read 'em (if you haven't already) and let us know what you think! Happy Listening, Jake & Alex


Episode 24 - R.L. Stevenson, Plotting & Immortality in Adolfo Bioy Casares' "The Invention of Morel"

Hello! We are very excited to present our full-length episode on Adolfo Bioy Casares' beloved novella "The Invention of Morel." Apart from our blatant enthusiasm over his writing, we talk about the influence of Robert Louis Stevenson on Casares & his buddy Borges, as well as discuss into the roles fantastic and detective plotting play in the imaginative worlds of both writers. The plot is so mind-boggling in this book that we don't want to give any spoilers here, although in the episode it...


Aside #18 - Argentine Literature, Borges & an Intro to Adolfo Bioy Casares' "The Invention of Morel"

TCA is back in full gear! On this Aside, we introduce one of our favorite recent reads, Adolfo Bioy Casares' "The Invention of Morel." Listen for a discussion on Argentine literary history and its relationship to politics & identity; Casares' relationship with Jorge Luis Borges, and the role of the fantastic in his work. Finally, we preview the topics that will be covered in our full-length episode. Don't forget to check out: - our instagram @thecasualacademic for upcoming episodes, our...


Episode 23 - Belief, Con Artists & The American Soul in Neil Gaiman's "American Gods"

We're back with a brand new episode, after some delay caused by the ever-dreaded summer camp schedule - just kidding, we love escaping the big city, but it's good to be back and talking about Neil Gaiman's "American Gods," a novel loved by many and recently adapted to TV. It was a lighter turn for us, but we still enjoyed Gaiman's perspective on U.S. culture and its relationship to myths touching religion, identity and the long-established character of the grifter, or con artist. There is...


Episode 22 - Science in Sci-Fi, Aliens, and a Critique of Democracy in "The Black Cloud"

Special guest Shawn Moksvold joins me to discuss Sir Fred Hoyle's "The Black Cloud." We talk about real science in Science Fiction and our conceptualization of aliens. We also think about Fred Hoyle's unique criticism of democracy. If you thought "The Handmaid's Tale" was scary in how it pertains to today, you won't want to miss this episode! *Note: What happens when you try to record in 105 F heat and the A.C. is broken? This episode! We apologize for the occasional background noises....


Aside #15 - A Special Guest, "Good" Science Fiction & Our Imminent Death

In this Aside, special guest Shawn Moksvold joins me to talk about our upcoming episode on Fred Hoyle's "The Black Cloud." We introduce Shawn, talk about Science Fiction in general and why it is maligned, and then preview Hoyle's novel. BE SURE NOT TO MISS: Shawn and I finally settle the great debate on which is a better Sci-Fi movie: Mars Attacks or Independence Day.


Speculative Fiction, Language and Survival in Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale"

In this episode, special guest Zak Breckenridge joins us to talk about Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale." We discuss the power dynamics of language in a dystopia, survival, and maintaining a sense of self. Plus, we consider how exactly to categorize the novel or if that is even important as well as try to navigate through all the internet noise surrounding this book/television show. If you liked the novel or the show and are fed up with disingenuous internet opinions, don't miss this...


Aside #14 - Lit Hub, Environmental Humanities & an Intro Discussion on "The Handmaid's Tale"

On our new Aside, Zak Breckenridge is back on the show with us to talk about getting featured on LitHub, the emerging academic field of Environmental Humanities, and of course help us introduce our new featured book "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood. We mention some of the questions we'll be exploring on our full-length episode, and shamelessly gush about how much we love Atwood's 1985 novel. WARNING: we have purposely avoided all talk about the new Hulu series adaptation, and the...


Episode 19 - Narrative Techniques & The Thing Itself in Clarice Lispector's "Near to the Wild Heart"

Brazilian Literature Month at The Casual Academic is in full swing! On this episode, we discuss the debut novel of Clarice Lispector, "Near to the Wild Heart." We talk about her unique narrative style, it's break with institutionalized novelistic forms in Brazil, and of course "the thing itself." If you are interested in approaching Brazilian literature, this is the place to start. you can send us your thoughts, questions and ideas about Clarice's novel and our discussion at...


Aside #12 - Brazilian Lit Month, an introduction to Clarice Lispector & "The Hour of the Star"

The Casual Academic's Brazilian Literature Month has officially started! You might say, isn't it March 20th? Well, you would be right, but we operate on a calendar the likes of Borges would appreciate. On this Aside, we speculate on the reasons why Brazilian Literature isn't the powerhouse it should be, and we present our two featured authors - Clarice Lispector and Machado de Assis. We briefly discuss the life and work of Lispector, and Alex shares his experience reading "The Hour of the...


Special - Live Recording of the Launch of Literary Zine "La Errante," from Desperate Literature

The recording of the launch event of La Errante, A Journal of Art & Literature based out of Madrid, Spain. The event was recorded live last Friday (10/4/2017) at the bookstore Desperate Literature in Madrid. The event was a total success and a lot of fun. It was a true pleasure to be able to be in a place with so many amazing people. We are very proud to be able to present this recording to all of our listeners. You'll hear Layla Benitez-James, Martha Sprackland, Robert Greer, Emma...