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Spoken Nerd: Criticism in Conversation


What does it mean when we get our cultural criticism through our ears rather than our eyes?

Culture podcasts such as Slate Culture Gabfest, The Final Cut, The Rereaders and The Canon are among the most popular in Australia and across the world. Many of these shows combine exhaustive analysis with robust debate of new books, films and music. They’re edging into the turf of serious cultural criticism – terrain formerly dominated by the written word.

In this midday conversation, we’ll chew over the form and craft of criticism, exploring new and evolving formats and the implications for artists, audiences and working critics themselves. Our panelists – who work across podcast, radio and prose – will weigh up the differences between conversational criticism versus the traditional model of the solo, written perspective.

Is it time we pushed snooty critics off their high horses and embraced more democratic forms of criticism, where competing views are aired and challenged? How important is the singular, informed, authoritative voice in arts opinion and coverage? And what does all this mean for critics, artists and audiences in the context of shrinking arts pages in newspapers?


Bhakthi Puvanenthiran

Bhakthi Puvanenthiran is the editor of ABC Everyday and currently working on her first work of fiction. She has previously been managing editor of Crikey News, covering politics and media, and held various editing roles at The Age, covering business, arts and entertainment.

Stephen Metcalf

Stephen Metcalf is Slate‘s critic at large and a host of the Culture Gabfest. He is working on a book about the 1980s.

Dana Stevens

Dana Stevens is Slate‘s movie critic. Previously, she wrote the Slate television and pop-culture column Surfergirl for two years. She has also written for the New York Times, the Washington Post Book World, Bookforum and the Atlantic. She has a PhD in comparative literature from UC–Berk... Read more

Mel Campbell

Mel Campbell is a freelance journalist and critic who co-hosts the fortnightly literature and culture podcast The Rereaders. She is a columnist on writing at Overland magazine, and a university lecturer and writer-for-hire on film, TV and media. Her first book was the nonfiction investigation Out of... Read more

Cerise Howard

Cerise Howard is a co-host of Plato’s Cave, a film criticism show broadcast live and podcast weekly by 3RRR. Her writing on film has appeared in Senses of Cinema, the Age, Big Issue, and in far farther-flung places besides, and she is a regular juror and panellist at film festivals and events ... Read more


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