Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Darrin Hicks, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Christina Foust

Third Advisor

Joshua Hanan

Fourth Advisor

Trace Reddell


Argumentation, Neurogovernmentality, Neuroliberalism, Podcasts, Radiolab


Over the past 10 years, the practice of podcasting has migrated from the margins of technological conferences to a central role in popular culture. Podcasting is an Internet-based broadcast medium that relies on Real Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds--a peer subscription service--to automatically retrieve and upload content to a portable MP3 player. In light of its growth and popularity, I ask, "what is the podcast's political potential?" In this project, I argue that the podcast has the potential to serve as an instrument of liberal and neurological reasoning. My project will pursue this line of inquiry by asking three research questions: first, what is the cultural history of the podcast? Second, what are podcasts' political potential? And finally, what are the ethics of critical podcast argumentation? To answer these questions, I will attend to the popular and critically acclaimed podcast, Radiolab.

In contrast to technological histories that revolve around the figure of the inventor, I will write a history of the "podcast present." This method requires attention to the localized moments that become inscribed into podcasting and dictate its use. First, I explore the Duke iPod experiment, which is largely viewed as a watershed moment for podcast pedagogy, enabling podcasting to become educational. Second, I locate the podcast within a historical conjuncture. Additionally, this section theorizes Radiolab acts as a "listening technology" that entrains neurological and liberal sensibilities. Finally, I attend to Radiolab's "yellow rain" controversy, which problematizes neurological and liberal dispositions by demonstrating how they can court epistemological injustice.

On the theoretical level, this project registers the recursive relationship between new media and argumentation to clear a space for new tactics to engage this shifting political terrain. I extend argumentation scholarship by updating traditional argumentative concepts and by inventing new heuristics to accommodate emerging digital practices. This dissertation also intervenes in digital media studies by exploring how political projects and programs recruit new media. On a practical level, this project advocates that podcasts are beneficial instruments that provide citizens with new procedures to adjust their habits and dispositions.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Justin M. Eckstein


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

196 p.


Communication, Mass communication