The Ivory Tower Boiler Room Podcast

The Podcast Episodes

(Content Warning: discussions about sexual assault and trauma)

Aaron Hamburger, writer of Nirvana Is Here, talks with Andrew about how he approached writing a novel that explores Queer desire, trauma, and Jewish identity in the segregated suburbs of Detroit. Aaron’s book has been highly praised and won the Bronze Medal in the 2019 Foreword Indies Book Awards. 

“Combine the sensuality and haunting nostalgia of Andre Aciman’s Call Me By Your Name with the raw emotion of Kurt Cobain’s songwriting, then set it to a 90s-era grunge soundtrack, and you’ve got Nirvana Is Here.”

Follow Aaron Hamburger on Instagram, @aaronhamburger1.  

To learn more about Aaron and his work, explore his website:

To purchase Nirvana is Here head on over to:

To listen to Charlie Thurston read Nirvana is Here, head to Audible:

Watch the Zoom video of this interview on our Patreon,

Robert Jones Jr. joins Andrew, Mary, and Ceren in The Ivory Tower Boiler Room to discuss his 2021 New York Times bestselling novel, The Prophets. He provides a behind the scenes discussion of how this much talked about Black queer love story came to be. Our discussion dives deep into who Robert turns to for literary inspiration, specifically Harriet Jacobs, Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison. He explains the musicality of his prose, and you’ll be surprised with one of the major inspirations. As Robert says, his novel really “needed to sing”! There is much to ponder and reflect on in this episode and be ready for many important book suggestions. 

As author Marlon James reminds us on the cover of The Prophets, Robert Jones Jr.’s Black queer love story is “Glorious…What the American novel is, should do, and can be.” 

Follow Robert Jones Jr. on Instagram, @thesonofbaldwin and Twitter, @SonofBaldwin. Make sure to follow Robert Jones Jr.’s Son of Baldwin which is a social-justice, social-media community that he created and curates on Facebook, @SonofBaldwin

To purchase The Prophets head here:

To hear actor Karen Chilton beautifully read The Prophets head to Audible:

Listen to our entire unedited interview with Robert Jones Jr., including an extra 40 minutes of discussion! So head on over to our Patreon page:

For our last 2021 Ivory Tower Boiler Room interview, Andrew is joined by Dr. Bryant Simon, writer of Boardwalk of Dreams (2004) to talk all things nostalgic and historic about Atlantic City, New Jersey. The conversation ranges from Atlantic City’s late-19th-century to its 21st-century history. A few topics include the history of the Miss America pageant, how Atlantic City became a middle-class resort city, its racially segregated history, its Jewish American history, its LGBTQ+ history, and how to categorize Atlantic City now? Dr. Simon even breaks down the Boardwalk Empire series! This is a must listen for all who want to learn more about the history of a city that Andrew holds near and dear, Atlantic City. 

To find out more about our guest, Dr. Bryant Simon, head on over to his Temple University page: Follow Dr. Bryant Simon on Twitter, @BryantSimon. To purchase Boardwalk of Dreams either click the title (remember it’s a hyperlink) or head here:

And while you’re at it, make sure to order Dr. Simon’s Everything But the Coffee: Learning about America from Starbucks (2011):

Josh reveals the behind the scenes of working in Hollywood as a publicist and now as a Hollywood producer. He then discusses his writing process for both Porn Again and Enemies Closer. Josh’s discussion about coming out leads Andrew and Josh to openly discuss their approach to consuming pornography and the importance of sexual education. Follow Josh Sabarra on Instagram, @joshsabarra, Twitter, @JoshSabarra, and Facebook, /JoshSabarraAuthor. Head on over to his website where you can purchase his catchy merchandise:

To purchase Porn Again: A Memoir go here: To purchase Enemies Closer go here: If anyone wants signed or personalized copies, they’re available by calling Barnes & Noble at The Grove in LA or through Book Soup in LA.

Andrew highly recommends the Audible versions of Josh’s books as well (Josh reads Porn Again!) so head on over to:

To order Robert Jones Jr.’s The Prophets go here:

Andrew and Mary are joined with creative writer, Micah Nemerever who provides a deep dive into his 2020 novel, These Violent Delights. They get into the queer Jewish themes in his book as well as such vivid psychological thriller moments. Andrew and Mary may still be having Hitchcockian nightmares! While asking intense questions about where violent tendencies stem from, there is also a lot of humor and lightness, like Micah surprising Andrew and Mary with a special furry friend. 

Check out Micah Nemerever’s personal website! Follow Micah Nemerever on Instagram, @micahnem and Twitter, @nemerevermore.

To purchase Micah’s These Violent Delights go to Words Matter Bookstore. And head on over to Audible to hear Michael Crouch read These Violent Delights

Follow Lev AC Rosen on Instagram, @levacrosen, and Twitter, @LevACRosen. You can find Camp at Words Matter Bookstore. And, you can listen to his audiobook (read by Drew Caiden) on Audible

To find Lev’s other books mentioned in this episode (including Jack of Hearts) head over to his personal website!

Andrew is joined by Dr. Dustin Friedman, Associate Professor of Literature at American University. Follow Dr. Dustin Friedman on Twitter, @dustin82, and Instagram, @dustinfriedman. You can purchase Dustin’s book, Before Queer Theory at Words Matter Bookstore.

Thanks for “Sagittarius” Sophie! Check out Anne Sophie Andersen’s Seasons promo video. Composer: Anne Sophie Andersen (follow her on Instagram, @anne_sophie_andersen), Dancer: Daisy Payero, Video: Cecilie Beck Kronborg (follow her on Instagram, @ceciliebeckofficial

That’s My Opinion! The Real Story Behind the Real Housewives with Brian Moylan

President and Founder of The Housewives Institute, Brian Moylan pulls back the curtain on the Real Housewives, and there are so many topics we cover from the current season of Salt Lake City, to the Beverly Hills reunion, the last season of New York, and the upcoming Ultimate Girls Trip. Follow Brian on Instagram and Twitter, @brianjmoylan. Make sure you check out Brian’s book The Housewives: The Real Story Behind the Real Housewives (2021). And, indulge in listening to his audiobook (he reads it!). Check out Brian’s Vulture articles and sign up for his Real Housewives newsletter. And, listen to his current podcast, The 12 Gays of Christmas

To read the exchange between Eboni K. Williams and Brian Moylan click on their names. Read Brian’s recent, NBC News, op-ed on Bravo and structural racism

Thanks to Meghan Buckley, for her Real Housewives obsession and for being this week’s guest co-host. You can follow Meghan on Twitter and Instagram

Steven Rowley’s The Guncle, Our November Book Club

We thank you all for listening and please check out our show notes (click our hyperlinks)! Follow Steven Rowley on Instagram, @mrstevenrowley. You can purchase The Guncle from Words Matter Bookstore in-person or online (an independent bookstore in Pitman, NJ). And, remember that Steven reads his own audiobook so check it out on Audible! Make sure to head on over to Steven’s website

Gail Crowther on the Rebellion of Sylvia Plath & Anne Sexton Content Warning: discussions about mental health, suicide, and sexual abuse  

Follow Gail Crowther on Instagram and Twitter, @crowther_gail, and you can purchase her book, Three-Martini Afternoons at the Ritz: The Rebellion of Sylvia Plath & Anne Sexton at Words Matter Bookstore. And, if you would like to listen to the audiobook, it can be found on Audible. Listen to Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton read their poetry! Thanks to my guest co-host, Kelsey Dufresne who you can follow on Twitter and Instagram, @kvdufresne. 

Brenda Harris’s Journey from a Pig Farm to the Opera House Check out Brenda’s site to learn more about her work and hear her different repertoire. Follow us on Instagram, @ivorytowerboilerroom and Twitter, @ivoryboilerroom. We’d love to hear from you so email us at Check out Mary’s new Instagram page, @truecrimeinacademia. Thanks to Anne Sophie Andersen for our October theme song “Scorpio.” Thanks to the Des Moines Metro Opera for the audio of Brenda as Elektra in Strauss’ opera.

Dr. Lavelle Porter on The Blackademic Life and Antiracist Pedagogy Dr. Lavelle Porter joins Andrew and guest co-host, Adam Katz to discuss his 2019 book The Blackademic Life: Academic Fiction, Higher Education, and the Black Intellectual. Check out the episode notes.

Let the Record Show, a Conversation with Sarah Schulman Sarah Schulman joins Andrew to discuss her 2021 book Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993. Check out the episode notes.

P.J. Vernon’s “Bath Haus,” Our October Book Club Author Interview P.J. Vernon joins Andrew and guest co-host, Mary DiPipi to discuss his 2021 book Bath Haus: A Thriller. We welcome P.J. as our first Ivory Tower Boiler Room Book Club author, and we couldn’t have picked a more fitting book to start off our October season. Check out the episode notes.

Peculiar Affairs in Academia with Dr. Michael Nevradakis
Dr. Nevradakis’ interview acts as a sort of “Professor Is In” case study. He opens up about what to do when your academic advisor falls off the map, and how to figure out a fulfilling academic pathway when the odds are stacked against you. He gets into the dreaded sense of imposter syndrome and paranoia that PhD students are faced with and how to work through this. Episode notes, including a link to Dr Nevradakis’ podcast are available here.

The Professor is In Meets The Ivory Tower Boiler Room
The Professor Is In team, Dr. Karen Kelsky and Kel Weinhold join Adam and Andrew in the Ivory Tower Boiler Room. Their discussion centers on ending gaslighting and how to push for more equity in academia. Click here for show notes and episode details.  

Teaching and Writing to Transgress
Andrew is joined by Drs. Kimberly Cox, Shannon Draucker, and Doreen Thierauf to discuss the behind the scenes of academic editing.  Don’t miss the companion special episode linked below, featuring a recording of Andrew reading his article. Click here for additional show notes and read the complete journal here.

Andrew Reads His Article “Talking Back to Walt Whitman…”
In this special episode Andrew reads his article “Talking Back to Walt Whitman…” You can read the article here.

(A Special Rebroadcast) The Performing Arts During a Pandemic with Renee Chambers Liciaga
We celebrate Broadway’s reopening with Renee Chambers Liciaga’s October 2020 interview “The Performing Arts During a Pandemic.” View show notes and photos here. A video version of this interview is also available on YouTube.

(Season Finale) Our First Year is in the Books an Open Mic Poetry Event
We celebrate our first birthday with open mic poetry events both in person and online. Enjoy readings from Ivory Tower Boiler Room fans and contributors of original work and work from other favorite poets. For more about the poets and the event, check out this blog post. Interested in writing for us? Send us an email.

Happy First Birthday to the Ivory Tower Boiler Room
Revisit our very first episode with us.

Coming Out Twice: a Queer Jewish Writer’s Identity with Lev Raphael (Part III)
Part III of Andrew and Erika’s conversation with award winning author Lev Raphael, where conversation focuses on the mainstreaming of queer culture, and on generational trauma–queer and otherwise. Find episode notes and additional information here.

How to Write a Sex Scene A Conversation with Lev Raphael (Part II)
Part II of Andrew and Erika’s conversation with Lev Raphael includes conversations about writing sex scenes, queer literature books that are or should be) turned into films, and more. Show notes available here, along with links to Lev Raphael’s mentoring program Write Without Borders.

The Age of…Dr. Sheila Liming’s Digital Humanities and Edith Wharton Work (and Much More)
An interview with Dr Sheila Liming about archival research, teaching and coping with budget cuts. For more information, a link to Dr Liming’s article “My University is Dying” and video of her musical performances, check out the show notes here.

Lev Raphael: On Being (and Not Being) a Queer Jewish Writer (Part 1)
Part I of Andrew and Erika’s conversation with award winning author of 27 books, Lev Raphael, about paying attention to details, getting away from your roots, and transmitting history without transmitting trauma. Read more about the episode and find links to Lev Raphael’s website and mentoring program in the show notes.

Special Episode: Dr. Helana Darwin’s #MeToo PhD Series (Part Two)
Content Warning: Sexual Abuse, Grooming, and Suicidal Ideation
The Ivory Tower Boiler Room brings you an interivew with award-winning author, mother, scholar, and qualtatie research specialist Dr Helana Darwin where she shares her story of abuse at the hands of her own dissertation advisor. Find resources and show notes here and visit Dr Darwin’s website, here.

Backstage with Jesse Green, the Chief Theater Critic for The New York Times
Jesse Green, Chief Theater Critic for The New York Times brings his wisdom about writing, theater and journalism to the Boiler Room during a conversation with Adam and Andrew. Episode notes are available on our blog.

Special Episode: Dr. Helana Darwin’s #MeToo PhD Series (Part One)
Content Warning: Sexual Abuse, Grooming, and Suicidal Ideation
The Ivory Tower Boiler Room brings you an interivew with award-winning author, mother, scholar, and qualtatie research specialist Dr Helana Darwin where she shares her story of abuse at the hands of her own dissertation advisor. Find resources and show notes here and visit Dr Darwin’s website, here.

July Round Table: What is a Teacher? What is a Classroom?
Mary, Andrew, Adam and Erika sit down and talk about what teaching means to each of them, what a classroom really is, and the different roles education has played in their lives. See recommendations for favorite films and books about education and other show notes on the blog.

Should You Go to Grad School? A Discussion with Dr Natalie Morse
Adam and Andrew chat with Dr Natalie Morse, founder of the academic consultig business For the Love of Grad. Find show notes and more information about Dr Morse’s business here.

The Closet in the Library: A Broadview Press Book Launch of the Victorian Era Anthology
Adam and Andrew talk with editors Kate Flint and Jason Rudy about the newest edition of Broadview Press’ Victorian Era anthology with an emphasis on how this edition ampliefies queer, Jewish, BIPOC and female voices. Find links to the book, information about the editors and digital humanities resources for teaching Victorian studies through a positive, race conscious lens, see the episode notes.

Two Writers are Better than One
Stony Brook Alumni Kathryn and Ula Klein join Andrew and Adam to talk all things LGBTQ+ academic and creative writing. For links to Ula and Kathrn’s writing see the show notes.

(A Pride Month Special) The Real Housewives of Academia
Take a humorous, behind the scenes peek at what goes on behind the Boiler Room door.

Erika and Andrew’s Endnote to the Pride 2021 Roundtable
Some final thoughts on the queerness and allyship discussion. For more information and importan allyship resources, see the show notes available here.

Queerness and Allyship (Part II)
A conversation between Andrew, Mary, Adam and Erikaabout queer literature, Pride, allyship and queer mentors. For links to resources and media mentioned in this episode, see the notes available here.

Pride 2021: Queerness and Allyship-An Ivory Tower Boiler Room Round Table (Part I)
Andrew, Adam, Mar and Erika check in and talk about what Pride means to them, LGBTQ+ media and LGBTQ+ literature. For links to materials and poems discussed in the episode, visit our show notes.

Happy Birthday Walt Whitman (a 202nd Birthday Extravaganza)
A celebration of the poet Walt Whitman, brought to ou in partnership with The Walt Whitman Initiative. For more informaion about The Walt Whtiman Initiative and other resources, visit our show notes page.

Inside the Boiler Room: The Writers’ Round Table (Part II)
Adam, Andrew, Erika and Mary talk about what drives their writing passions and about who their audiences actually are.
Find information about the episode, and a link to the YouTube video here.

Inside the Boiler Room: The Writers’ Round Table (Part I)
Andrew, Adam, Mary and Erika sit down for a conversation about what it means to each of them to be a writer.

Where the STEM and Humanities Meet: Two Humanities Guys and a Physicist Walk into a Zoom
Dr Thomas Videbaek joins Adam and Andrew to talk about “viscous fingering” and art. For images to explain more, see here and here.

The Poetry Playhouse (an inagural event)
A virtual poetry reading of favoriet poems by Ivory Tower Boiler Room members and friends. For more information about the poems in this episode, see the notes here.

(Spring Season Premier) Overture to the Spring Season

Grad School Interrupted: A Discussion of Mental Health in the University in 2 Parts (Part II)
Content Warning: Content Warning: This episode contains intense discussions about depression, anxiety, trauma, sexual assault, violence, and other mental health issues
For a list of mental health and sexual assault resources curated by The Ivory Tower Boiler Room Team please click here.

Grad School Interrupted: A Discussion of Mental Health in the University in 2 Parts (Part I)
Content Warning: Content Warning: This episode contains intense discussions about depression, anxiety, trauma, sexual assault, violence, and other mental health issues
For a list of mental health and sexual assault resources curated by the Ivory Tower Team, Please click here.

Freed Verse: A Conversation on Academia and Public Engagement with Dr. Karen Karbiener
For more about Dr. Karbiener, see her bio. For texts discussed in this episode, and other notes, click here.

Repurposing Your PhD with Adam Capitanio

(Special Episode) Pulling Back the Curtain on Writing During the Apocalypse
A visit with some of the writers who have participated in The Ivory Tower Boiler Room’s writing group, and a discussion about goals for 2021. For more about the goals and participants click here.

Starting from Paumanok with Caitlyn Shea (Part II)
Caitlyn continues her conversation about adapting to virtual programming at the Whitman Birthplace, discussing Whitman during a period of racial and social justice movements, and her work as a professional artist.

Starting from Paumanok with Caitlyn Shea (Part 1)
Caitlyn Shea is the Event and Media Director at the Walt Whitman Birthplace and talks to Andrew and Adam about programming during a pandemic and about her work as an artist.

(Part Two) Sing We and Chaunt It: Continuing our Conversation with Emily O’Brien
Emily O’Brien, musician and teacher joins Adam and Andrew in the Boiler Room for a conversation. You can view her website here, and her YouTube chanel here.

(Part One) Sing We and Chaunt It: Continuing our Conversation with Emily O’Brien
Emily O’Brien, musician and teacher joins Adam and Andrew in the Boiler Room for a conversation. You can view her website here, and her YouTube chanel here.

Running AMOC with Matt Aucoin (or Matt and Andrew Geek Out Over Whitman)
Composer, conductor, pianist and 201 MacArthur Fellow Matt Aucoin visits The Ivory Tower Boiler Room. For show notes, please click here.

(Special Episode) Poetry and Healing During the COVID Crisis with Dr. Susan Scheckel
Dr. Susan Scheckel’s talk explores why readers are turning, now more than ever, to Whitman’s poetry in the 21st century, and asks “why does Whitman’s Spirit feel so relevant right now in 2020?”
Dr Scheckel’s presentation is available for viewing here.

Bonus Recap Episode: The Cambridge Companion to the Ivory Tower Boiler Room
Adam and Andrew discuss the themes and interviews that happened in Season One. Think of this as our Cliffs Notes to Season One.

Balancing Academics and Motherhood in a Time of Protest
We continue our discussion with Dr. Shi Huiwen as she describes balancing academics and motherhood while face to face with protests. For more about the events that were taking place in Hong Kong, see resources here and here.

Dr. Shi’s Reflections and Illuminations on Organization, Academics, Motherhood, and Civil Unrest
Dr Shi Huiwen visits the Boiler Room and takes Andrew and Adam on a journey through theory where they discuss Seamus Heaney, Walter Benjamin, and the difficulties of writing a dissertation while pregnant. You can find Dr Shi’s bio and other links here.

Showing Up for Your Community with Lisa Aamodt
Lisa Aamodt is the Limud Education Director at Congregation Tifereth Israel. In this episode, Andrew and Adam discuss Lisa’s innovative strategies for connecting the students at her Hebrew School during the pandemic. This is an important conversation about what we value as educators.
Find additional information and resources here.

Growing up in a Hamlet (with Dr. Bente Videbaek)
This week our guest shares her unusual path to her doctorate and her unique approach to teaching/mentorship. For episode notes and book recommendations, click here.

This week’s guest, Joe Labriola’s interests may seem unrelated, but as you’ll learn, they make sense once you get to know him.  Find show notes and information here.

What’s the difference between “urban” and “metropolitan”? Let’s ask Dr. Sophia Basaldua-Sun.
Dr. Basaldua-Sun is an independent scholar of Comparative Literature. Episode notes include a glossary and bibliography.

(Special Episode) The Performing Arts During a Pandemic (with Renee Chambers Liciaga)
Andrew’s former director, Renee Chambers Liciaga is a professional dancer, choreographer, and performing arts educator who speaks to how to approach the performing arts during the pandemic. She discusses how she choreographed Disney’s Tarzan outside at the Elmwood Zoo in Norristown, PA. Photos and videos are available here.

If It’s Not Awkward, It’s Not Anthropology with Shweta Krishnan
Shweta Krishnan, PhD candidate in Anthropology at George Washington University Joins Adam and Andrew to talk about her fieldwork and about how bafflingly difficult it can be to do anthropological research in a way that is respectful towards the people you are writing about.
Find a bibliograph and glossary here.

Queer People in Shared Spaces with Stephanie Bonvissuto
Stephanie Bonvissuto, a scholar from Stony Brook’s Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her research explores how culture grows out of shared spaces, and in particular how queer and gender-nonconforming people have been excluded from those spaces.

Surviving a PhD Program in the U.S. with Shruti Mukherjee
PhD wisdom says don’t change your dissertation committee. Shruti from Stony Brook’s Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies talks about the frustrations of being an international student in a US graduate program and about changing her committee not once, but twice.

Literary History from a Non-European Perspective with Ignacio Choi
We welcome Ignacio Choi, a scholar of Comparative Literature to The Ivory Tower Boiler Room.

Welcome to the Ivory Tower Boiler Room

About The Podcast

Every Monday our podcast features a Public Humanities interview which includes writers, scholars, performers, and artists.

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