Why does our culture place value in that which is deemed authentic or original? What happens when we find out that the thing we have enshrined as authentic is determined to be nothing more than a copy? How does our relationship to the ideas of authenticity and originality impact the decisions we make from what [...]

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There are times in our lives when we have no choice but to perform. The stakes are high, the pressure is on, the price of failure immense. It seems natural that most of us would try to minimize the amount of time that we spend in such anxiety-inducing situations. But what of those people who [...]

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In a certain sense, childhood is most acutely experienced in retrospect. As a child, it’s simply life as you know it. But, as an adult, childhood (both one’s own and the developmental category in general) takes on a kind of mythic significance and, perhaps, nostalgic appeal. In this episode of Off Topic we look at [...]

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This week on Off Topic, we take a close and critical look at the institution of marriage. Why do we do it? What do we hope it will be? What is it really? How has it changed?

In this episode:

Professor Stillman battles a pesky woodpecker, and in so doing, comes face to [...]

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The figure of the Genius looms large in our contemporary thinking about art and creativity. Art is a gift given to the masses by those fortunate few who are capable of creating something from nothing, of inventing forms and sounds that the rest of us simply couldn’t imagine. Well, maybe that’s overstating it [...]

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Stream or download this episode in its entirety below.

In this episode of Off Topic:

Professor Stillman confronts the ambiguities inherent in the snake’s side of the story.
Canadian novelist Peter Behrens discusses how the Irish established the template for what it means to be an immigrant in North America.
Duke [...]

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In case you missed the premiere episode of Off Topic on Friday night at 7pm, we’ve posted it here for you to enjoy at your leisure.

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News

StoryCorps
April 18, 2014 | NPR · In high school, Cristina Pena was afraid to tell her boyfriend, Chris Ondaatje, that she was HIV-positive. She needn’t have worried. More than a decade later, they’re still together.
 

AP
April 18, 2014 | NPR · Fed up with what they say is years of discrimination by the Shiite-led government, ordinary Sunnis have joined Islamist fighters. There are echoes of past conflicts, with a few important distinctions.
 

Maisie Crow
April 18, 2014 | NPR · Central High School in Tuscaloosa, Ala., was once considered a model of desegregation. Today, the school’s population is 99 percent black. One family’s story underscores three generations of change.
 

Arts & Life

BBC America
April 18, 2014 | NPR · Actress Tatiana Maslany talks with Morning Edition about the return of her BBC America series Orphan Black. On the show, she plays multiple roles, and advanced technology helps her pull it off.
 

Sony Pictures
April 17, 2014 | NPR · The film Heaven Is For Real tries hard to be about faith, but mostly winds up being about not bothering anybody. It’s a shame, because it’s a lost opportunity to say something interesting.
 

Meg Vogel/NPR
April 17, 2014 | NPR · On the eve of Easter and National Jelly Bean Day, let us probe the mysterious origins and unexpected ascendency of the humble candy. And to celebrate, we’ve sampled Jelly Belly’s newest flavors.
 

Music

April 17, 2014 | NPR · Aimee Mann and Ted Leo began performing together in 2012, when Leo was Mann’s opening act. Mann began joining Leo onstage during his set. Their debut album is “The Both.”
 

Courtesy of Republic Records
April 17, 2014 | NPR · The Secret Sisters’ new album, Put Your Needle Down, displays their sophisticated, timeless sound and the country-twang influences of their hometown, Muscle Shoals, Ala.
 

April 17, 2014 | NPR · A reader asks, “Will there be a place for cassette tapes in the future? What should I do with cassette tapes — especially those beloved mixtapes — that don’t have a place to live anymore?”
 

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