A publication of the Department of English & Philosophy at Drexel University


Welcome to the   In Conversation With… series, podcasts featuring guests from around the world. Led by a Drexel University instructor and participated in by students from various disciplines across the University, we hope these conversations cause you to start your own.

We encourage suggestions from any professors or students; if there’s anyone suitable for the podcast, we’d love to hear from you. Contact associate producers Devon Powers (djp74@drexel.edu, Culture and Communication) or Dan Driscoll (driscoll@drexel.edu, English and Philosophy).

An Episodic Meditation With…Michael Martone

In “Homer on Homer, Or a Bunch of Stuff that Happens”, Martone discusses anecdote, melodrama, twists and turns of fate, surprise endings, gods from machines, the point, the plot, and many more literary devices.

Michael Martone has continuously pranked the writing world throughout his 35 year career. In 1988, his AAP membership was temporarily revoked after they discovered his first two books, a prose collection titled Alive and Dead in Indiana and a poetry collection titled The Flatness and other Landscapes, were identical. He’s published a collection of fictional contributor’s notes, fictional interviews with his mentor Kurt Vonnegut, and travel articles of fictional landmarks. He inherited his great-grandmother’s fortune-telling shop in New York and occasionally tells impromptu fictional fortunes, particularly fictional hauntings. Read his (fictional) Wikipedia page for more, as well as this interview discussing robot sex slaves.

Martone has published hundreds of fiction pieces. He works as an English Professor at the University of Alabama. He has won two Fellowships from the NEA, a grant from the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and nine writing contests. His most recent book is 2011’s Four for a Quarter, about four fifth beetles, four tie knots, four retellings of the first Xerox, and the sex lives of the Fantastic Four.

In Conversation With…Major Jackson

Poet Major Jackson, author of Hoops and two other collections of poetry, joins DPG In Conversation With… as he discusses the craft of poetry, the human struggle of growing up in Philadelphia, and its influence on his acclaimed work. Professor of English Rachel Wenrick heads the discussion, accompanied by Drexel students Margaret Leoffler (English), Francisco Santoni (English), Victor Batarseh (Environmental Engineering) and Professor of Mathematics Pavel Grinfeld.

“At heart, it’s about the people,” Jackson says of Hoops. “It’s the portrait of Philadelphia that was honest and true to my experience.” In his work, Jackson concerns himself with portraying the moment and chronicling the past with vivid language, atmosphere, and a recollection of the saints to whom he dedicates his work to; childhood friends, Hank Gathers (former college basketball player), Gwendolyn Brooks. At its heart, his poetry details autobiographical memories of despair and the leap towards hope. In 2011, Hoops was selected as the reading program selection for all incoming freshmen at Drexel University.

In Conversation With…Christopher Payne

Photographer Christopher Payne’s book, Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals, is discussed in DPG In Conversation With… Leading the discussion is Drexel Professor of Psychology Eric Zillmer along with Drexel students Stephanie Brooks Holliday (Psychology), Leah Bank (Photography), and Tyler Howie (Photography) as they examine the lost world of asylums, the “self-sufficient, self-contained communities” that stand as a memento of a lost era and lost lives.

After his first book, New York’s Forgotten Substations: The Power Behind the Subway, Payne was in need of a new project “to fill the creative void.” A close friend directed him to state mental hospitals, and now, the rest is history. This discussion picks up on Payne’s initial foray into photography and his extraordinary work in capturing the world of asylums (literally meaning safe place, or safe haven), once places of refuge, but now, crumbling structures that tell of a forgotten history.

In Conversation With…Peter DiCola

Peter DiCola, a law professor at Northwestern University and co-author of Creative License: The Law and Culture of Digital Sampling, joins DPG In Conversation With… for a discussion of popular music, digital sampling, and law. DiCola, Professor Devon Powers (Culture & Communication), and students Bharat Bansal (Business) Christopher Manzi (Business), Tyler Sanchez (Business), Michael Rodino (Music Industry), and Zack Weinstein (Music Industry) discuss how the introduction of the art of sampling also led to the copyright and licensing laws that stifle this expression.

The conversation introduces “the dizzying array of characters” that make up this broken system, from Run DMC (“Walk This Way”) to Danger Mouse (“The Grey Album.”) The technology and sampling laws of this ever-evolving industry are discussed in terms of past, present, and future, along with the competing financial and creative interests that shape our current musical culture and Drexel’s own music industry entity, MAD Dragon Records.

In Conversation With… Mat Johnson

Drexel Publishing Group was excited to invite award-winning author Mat Johnson to be part of its first ever podcast. Mat Johnson, author of novels such as Pym and Hunting in Harlem, joined co-director of the Drexel Publishing Group and co-editor of Painted Bride Quarterly, Kathleen Volk Miller; Bridget Gawinowicz, a DPG intern and Psychology major; Kelly Collett, a Mechanical Engineer major; and Ryan Park and Stanley Wright both from Communication, in a live, unscripted, conversation. Take a listen.