KJ Shepherd is a Ph.D. historian whose research focuses on the history of American standardized testing and the “test preparation” industry it spawned. Along with trading stories about the horrors of teaching the SAT, we have a blunt talk about what’s happening in the history discipline: the impossibility of finding full-time jobs, the humiliation of the application process, the “alt-ac” lie, and much more. But we also discuss the wider historical moment we’re in, and how rising generations of non-tenured Ph.D.’s are shaping the future of scholarly work and public engagement.
Eli Valley is a comic artist and writer with an intense, visceral aesthetic that perfectly captures the rotten politics of our age. His acclaimed anthology Diaspora Boy: Comics on Crisis in America and Israel features a broad sample of his work over the past ten years. In this conversation we talk about his influences, both politically and artistically, and explore the historic and current role of counterculture in building left solidarity against fascism.
Liz Ryerson is a musician, writer, and teacher whose work explores the ideological and aesthetic landscape of video games and cult media. Her podcast The Blood Zone features her critical ideas about niche/independent media, from indie game design to music and cinema. In this conversation, we discuss the wider politics of the gaming and media world, including #Gamergate and other reactionary burblings, and trade ideas about leftists treading the stagnant cultural waters of late capitalism.