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

Phoebe Boswell for NPR
October 31, 2014 | NPR · Did you know about the bat-demon of Tanzania? Or the Japanese girl who haunts school bathrooms? We’ve rounded up some spooky stories that come from different cultural contexts. The chills translate.
 

October 31, 2014 | NPR · The Temple Mount, sacred to both Muslims and Jews, was closed Thursday following the attempted assassination of a right-wing Jewish activist. More than 1,000 security personnel have been deployed.
 

AP
October 31, 2014 | NPR · Blaise Campaore, who ruled the West African country for 27 years after he seized power in a coup, agreed to resign after riots in the capital demanding his ouster.
 

Arts & Life

Getty Images
October 31, 2014 | NPR · Dolores Umbridge, enemy of the boy wizard, gets profiled in a new story from Rowling on Halloween. Also: Goodnight Moon goes bilingual, and a campaign for diverse books turns to crowd-funding.
 

October 31, 2014 | NPR · Kenneth Turan reviews Nightcrawler, a thriller set in the “nocturnal underbelly” of Los Angeles. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a young man who discovers the world of L.A. crime journalism.
 

October 31, 2014 | NPR · In 1965 the work of six local painters went on exhibit at the now-defunct Washington Gallery of Modern Art. The show launched a movement, and the painters’ work now hangs in major museums. One of those artists, now 97, lives in Arlington, Va.
 

Music

Courtesy of Strut Records
October 31, 2014 | NPR · With costumes inspired by Egyptian symbolism and science fiction, the late jazz innovator’s band plays an out-of-this-world set in the NPR Music offices.
 

Courtesy of the artist
October 31, 2014 | WXPN · The Scottish soul singer, a best-seller in Europe, plays songs from his new album, Caustic Love.
 

Courtesy of the artist
October 30, 2014 | NPR · The song is the exuberant sound of a novice exploring the possibilities of alternative electronic dance music with no real rule book or manual at his disposal.
 

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