523 episodes

Vox Conversations brings you discussions between the brightest minds and the deepest thinkers; conversations that will cause you to question old assumptions and think about the world and our role in it in a new light. Join Sean Illing and his colleagues across the Vox newsroom for new episodes every Monday and Thursday.

Vox Conversations Vox

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.5 • 9.6K Ratings

Vox Conversations brings you discussions between the brightest minds and the deepest thinkers; conversations that will cause you to question old assumptions and think about the world and our role in it in a new light. Join Sean Illing and his colleagues across the Vox newsroom for new episodes every Monday and Thursday.

    The Fortress of Solitude saw it all coming

    The Fortress of Solitude saw it all coming

    Vox's Constance Grady talks with writer Jonathan Lethem about his 2003 work The Fortress of Solitude in this recording from a live Vox Book Club event. They discuss the prescient and still-relevant themes of the novel — like the issues of appropriation in art, gentrification, and superheroes, how Lethem approaches "realism" in his writing, and the role of music and comics in both his own life and the lives of his characters.
    Vox Conversations will be on summer break the week of July 4th, and will return on Monday, July 11th.
    Host: Constance Grady (@constancegrady), staff writer, Vox
    Guests: Jonathan Lethem, author
    References: 


    The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem (Vintage; 2003)


    "The Fortress of Solitude is a fraught and uneasy love letter to a vanished Brooklyn" by Constance Grady (Vox; May 20)


    "The Author Looks Inward: A Conversation with Jonathan Lethem" by Brian Gresko (LARB; Sept. 8, 2013)


    Another Country by James Baldwin (1962)


    Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann (1901)


    Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (1977)


    Enjoyed this episode? Rate Vox Conversations ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts.
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    Support Vox Conversations by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts
    This episode was made by: 


    Producer: Erikk Geannikis


    Editor: Amy Drozdowska


    Engineer: Patrick Boyd


    Deputy Editorial Director, Vox Talk: Amber Hall


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    • 39 min
    The Philosophers: Stoic revival

    The Philosophers: Stoic revival

    Sean Illing talks with author Ryan Holiday about Stoicism — a philosophy with roots in ancient Greece and which flourished in early imperial Rome — and how it can help us live fulfilling lives today. In addition to explaining what Stoicism is and how we can practice it, Holiday addresses the critical idea that Stoicism is a philosophy for elites, unpacks some of the parallels between Stoicism and Buddhism, and explains how being in touch with our mortality can relieve some of our modern anxieties.
    This is the fourth episode of The Philosophers, a monthly series from Vox Conversations. Each episode will focus on a philosophical figure or school of thought from the past, and discuss how their ideas can help us make sense of our modern world and lives today. Check out the other episodes in this series, on Albert Camus, Hannah Arendt, and pragmatism with Cornel West.
    Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews writer, Vox
    Guest: Ryan Holiday (@RyanHoliday), author; creator of Daily Stoic
    References to works by Stoics: 


    Zeno of Citium (c. 334 – c. 262 BC) (about whom much is known from Diogenes Laërtius, c. 3rd c. AD, in Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, VII)


    Epictetus (c. 50 – c. 125 AD): The Encheiridion (or Handbook) of Epictetus; The Discourses of Epictetus


    Seneca (c. 4 BC – 65 AD): Dialogues and letters



    Marcus Aurelius (121 – 180 AD): Meditations (Penguin Classics ; MIT Internet Classics Archive)


    Other references: 


    The Daily Stoic podcast with Ryan Holiday


    Lives of the Stoics: The Art of Living from Zeno to Marcus Aurelius by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman (Portfolio; 2020)


    Courage Is Calling by Ryan Holiday (Portfolio; 2021)


    Courage Under Fire: Testing Epictetus's Doctrines in a Laboratory of Human Behavior by James B. Stockdale (Hoover Institution Press; 1993)


    "Self-pity" by D.H. Lawrence


    The Stoic Life: Emotions, Duties, and Fate by Tad Brennan (Oxford; 2005)


    How to Be a Stoic by Massimo Pigliucci (Basic; 2017)


    Stoic Wisdom: Ancient Lessons for Modern Resilience by Nancy Sherman (Oxford; 2021)


    Enjoyed this episode? Rate Vox Conversations ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts.
    Subscribe for free. Be the first to hear the next episode of Vox Conversations by subscribing in your favorite podcast app.
    Support Vox Conversations by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts
    This episode was made by: 


    Producer: Erikk Geannikis


    Editor: Amy Drozdowska


    Engineer: Patrick Boyd


    Deputy Editorial Director, Vox Talk: Amber Hall


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    • 1 hr 5 min
    Station Eleven's creator on the end of the world

    Station Eleven's creator on the end of the world

    Vox’s Alex Abad-Santos sits down with Patrick Somerville, the creator and showrunner of HBO's critically-acclaimed series Station Eleven, adapted from the novel by Emily St. John Mandel. They talk about the weirdness of making a show about a pandemic during a pandemic, what it was like to craft the show's intricate web of storylines, and why Patrick's body of work — which also includes Maniac, Made for Love, and co-writing The Leftovers — tends toward the dystopian. There's also a reflective discussion about . . . hugs.
    Host: Alex Abad-Santos (@alex_abads), Senior Culture Reporter, Vox
    Guest: Patrick Somerville (@patrickerville), creator and showrunner, Station Eleven
    References: 


    Station Eleven, created for television by Patrick Somerville (HBO Max; 2021)


    Station Eleven, novel by Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf; 2014)


    "A syllabus for a new world" by Alissa Wilkinson (Vox; Jan. 13)


    "In Station Eleven, the end of the world is a vibrant, lush green" by Emily St. James (Vox; Jan. 10)


    Enjoyed this episode? Rate Vox Conversations ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts.
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    Support Vox Conversations by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts
    This episode was made by: 


    Producer: Erikk Geannikis


    Editor: Amy Drozdowska


    Engineer: Patrick Boyd


    Deputy Editorial Director, Vox Talk: Amber Hall


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    • 52 min
    The racist origins of fat phobia

    The racist origins of fat phobia

    Vox’s Anna North talks with Da'Shaun Harrison, the activist, author, and 2022 Lambda Literary Award recipient for their book Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness. Da'Shaun explains the ways in which society's anti-fatness is structural, and connected —historically and politically — to the structures of anti-Blackness that took root alongside slavery in America. Anna and Da'Shaun discuss common misunderstandings and myths about fatness, how these pathologies insidiously infiltrate the criminal justice system, and why Da'Shaun envisions a liberatory future in the idea of destruction.
    Host: Anna North (@annanorthtweets), Senior Reporter, Vox
    Guest: Da'Shaun Harrison (@DaShaunLH), author; editor-at-large, Scalawag
    References: 


    Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness by Da'Shaun Harrison (North Atlantic; 2021)


    "The past, present, and future of body image in America" by Anna North (Vox; Oct. 18, 2021)


    "The paradox of online 'body positivity'" by Rebecca Jennings (Vox; Jan. 13, 2021)


    Fearing the Black Body by Sabrina Strings (NYU; 2019)


    "CDC Study Overstated Obesity as a Cause of Death" by Betsy McKay (Wall Street Journal; Nov. 23, 2004)


    "Correction: Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000" (JAMA; Jan. 19, 2005)


    Killer Fat: Media, Medicine, and Morals in the American "Obesity Epidemic" by Natalie Boero (Rutgers; 2012)


    "The Bizarre and Racist History of the BMI" by Aubrey Gordon (Oct. 15, 2019)


    "Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: An American Grammar Book" by Hortense J. Spillers (Diacritics, 17 (2); 1987)

    Joy James: Captive Maternals


    Enjoyed this episode? Rate Vox Conversations ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts.
    Subscribe for free. Be the first to hear the next episode of Vox Conversations by subscribing in your favorite podcast app.
    Support Vox Conversations by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts
    This episode was made by: 


    Producer: Erikk Geannikis


    Editor: Amy Drozdowska


    Engineer: Patrick Boyd


    Deputy Editorial Director, Vox Talk: Amber Hall


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    • 54 min
    The fight for Ukraine — and democracy

    The fight for Ukraine — and democracy

    Sean Illing talks with historian and author Timothy Snyder about the war in Ukraine, the stakes for Europe and the rest of the world, and the battle between Putin's autocracy and democracy being waged. They also discuss the enduring importance of history — and of ideas — in shaping events in our world.
    Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews Writer, Vox
    Guest: Timothy Snyder (@TimothyDSnyder), author; Levin professor of history, Yale University
    References: 


    "The War in Ukraine Has Unleashed a New Word" by Timothy Snyder (New York Times Magazine; Apr. 22)


    On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder (Crown; 2017)


    The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America by Timothy Snyder (Tim Duggan; 2018)


    Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder (Basic; 2010)


    "Vladimir Putin's politics of eternity" by Timothy Snyder (The Guardian; Mar. 16, 2018)


    Black Rights/White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism by Charles W. Mills (Oxford; 2017)


    "Who is Putin really fighting? Maxim Trudolyubov on the Russian president's ruthless war of generations" (Meduza; June 6)


    Enjoyed this episode? Rate Vox Conversations ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts.
    Subscribe for free. Be the first to hear the next episode of Vox Conversations by subscribing in your favorite podcast app.
    Support Vox Conversations by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts
    This episode was made by: 


    Producer: Erikk Geannikis


    Editor: Amy Drozdowska


    Engineer: Patrick Boyd


    Deputy Editorial Director, Vox Talk: Amber Hall


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    • 54 min
    The war on trans people

    The war on trans people

    Vox’s Emily St. James talks with Chase Strangio of the ACLU about the assault on the rights of trans Americans taking place in many states across the country. They explain why laws that recently passed through state houses in Florida, Texas, and Alabama imperil trans people — or, in some cases, even criminalize their very existence. Chase and Emily discuss the ongoing legal battles to challenge these laws, the political and social obstacles facing the trans community, and how all Americans can help protect trans people through challenging some fundamental assumptions in our culture.
    Host: Emily St. James (@emilyvdw), Senior Correspondent, Vox
    Guest: Chase Strangio (@chasestrangio), Deputy Director for Transgender Justice, ACLU
    References: 


    "The time to panic about anti-trans legislation is now" by Emily St. James (Vox; March 24)


    "Florida's law limiting LGBTQ discussion in schools, explained" by Amber Phillips (Washington Post; April 22)


    "Alabama law criminalizing care for transgender youth faces federal test" by Kimberly Chandler (AP; May 5)


    "Explaining the Latest Texas Anti-Transgender Directive" by Alene Bouranova (BU Today; March 3)


    Obergefell v. Hodges (U.S. Supreme Court; 2015)


    Bostock v. Clayton County (U.S. Supreme Court; 2020)


    "The Courts Won't Free Us — Only We Can" by Chase Strangio (Them; June 1)


    "Rising Model Hunter Schafer Is Fighting for the Future of Trans Individuals On and Off the Runway" by Katherine Cusumano (W Magazine; March 21, 2018)


    "HB 500 — Barring Transgender Girls in Sports" (ACLU Idaho; 2020)


    Enjoyed this episode? Rate Vox Conversations ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts.
    Subscribe for free. Be the first to hear the next episode of Vox Conversations by subscribing in your favorite podcast app.
    Support Vox Conversations by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts
    This episode was made by: 


    Producer: Erikk Geannikis


    Editor: Amy Drozdowska


    Engineer: Patrick Boyd


    Deputy Editorial Director, Vox Talk: Amber Hall


    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 55 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
9.6K Ratings

9.6K Ratings

😉💙🙃 ,

6 June 2022. 😉💙🙃

As a parents it is our goal /job to raise androgynous boys and girls.
partly male and partly female in appearance; of indeterminate sex.

Cynthia Davis

false psychology ,

I am going to save this episode…

Because it helps bring a calm perspective to reflecting on the world’s past two years of anxious worry. Well done - both of you gentlemen did an amazing job! This was tremendously needed!

stingrayhall ,

Mind Boggling Bad

I usually love Vox Conversations, but the Racist Origins of Fatphobia was a doozy…. One softball question after another, none of the guest’s views were challenged AT ALL. Challenging guests is good, it allows them to back up their statements! Sean Illing is really good at this. With Harrison, I keep thinking, really? Are you sure? Was Tamir Rice fat? In no photo of him is that apparent. How was he lumped in with fat discrimination in policing? There are no health risks to being overweight at all? So that’s just a complete lie by the medical community? Body positivity only means you’re good as long as you lose the weight in the future? This episode was just embarrassing.

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