The Podcast as Book Companion with Jill Fellows
By Amplify Network Date: June 21, 2022 Tags: Podcasting
Amplified is an audio blog series about the sounds of scholarship from our team here at the Amplify Podcast Network. This month I’m joined by Dr. Jill Fellows, faculty member in Philosophy at Douglas College to talk about her new podcast Gender, Sex, and Tech!, a podcast made in compliment to her forthcoming co-edited book collection under the same name. Fellows share her insights on ‘the podcast book companion’ and what makes the form such an exciting opportunity for scholars interested in taking their conversations beyond the page.
[00:00:00] [theme music]
Stacey Copeland: [00:00:00] Welcome to Amplified, an audio blog about the sounds of scholarship from our team here at the Amplify Podcast Network. I’m your host, Stacey Copeland. The published manuscript is often seen as the ultimate achievement for any scholar in the humanities and social sciences, the gold standard through which we best present our expertise. While the traditional peer reviewed book certainly holds great value for sharing ideas, some scholars like my guest today are also interested in how we might use digital tools like podcasting to extend our research beyond the text. In past episodes, we’ve talked to a variety of folks interested in digital tools and podcasting as scholarship. But my guest today, Dr. Jill Fellows, is thinking of scholarly podcasting in a bit of a different way as an open access extension of her forthcoming, edited collection, Gender, Sex and Tech. The podcast as book companion can be thought of as a subgenre of sorts in the world of academic podcasting, one being taken up as a way to continue the conversation beyond the written word. Co-editor of Gender Sex and Tech forthcoming July 2022 and host of the Gender Sex and Tech! Podcast, Dr. Jill Fellows joins us on the mic to share her insights on the podcast book companion and what makes this form such an exciting opportunity for scholars interested in taking their conversations beyond the page.
Jill Fellows: [00:01:54] Hi. My name is Jennifer Jill Fellows. I am a philosophy instructor at Douglas College and recently turned podcaster. I guess. Do I need more? That felt like enough. I don’t know (laughs).
Stacey Copeland: [00:02:07] That’s why I have you introduce yourself. Because it’s up to you how you would like to be introduced. [Jill: alright], Jill, you’ve been on our radar for a while here at Amplify, a wonderful early supporter of our work, which has been so great to correspond back and forth with you as we’ve developed what we want Amplify to be. And so it’s so great to be able to finally have you here on our Amplified Audio Blog series to talk about your brand new podcast and podcast project, Gender, Sex and Tech. I think the title does give us a certain sense – give away what the podcast might be about. But could you tell us a bit more about the podcast?
Jill Fellows: [00:02:42] Sure. So at the moment, the podcast project is, as the title suggests. What we do is we look at various technologies through an intersectional feminist lens to learn how these technologies are affecting social understandings of gender, sex, sexuality. It also gets into occasionally things like race and class and ability. And so it’s been really, really fun. It’s both material technologies as well as digital technologies. So there are 16 episodes lined up throughout the summer. They started at the start of May and they go until mid-August, one episode releasing every week. And the podcast also accompanies a text, a collection of essays that is due to come out at the end of July, and I’m hoping to add a few more episodes over the course of the next year so that next summer we can release a much shorter season than this summer. Just kind of adding to the conversation. As long as I can keep this going.
Stacey Copeland: [00:03:45] Outside of my work with Amplify, I’m a communication and media scholar, so needless to say, I was listening to this also just out of my own curiosity and interest in the subject matter, but I wanted to know, so 16 episodes. What made you want to make a podcast complement to your book manuscript? You know, the book manuscript is still upheld as the be all, end all of what you need to do to be a scholar in the world. [Jill: Right]. Which you did. But then you decided you wanted to make a podcast.
Jill Fellows: [00:04:15] Yeah, there are probably a lot of factors that went into the decision, so this might get a bit rambly, but rambly is good. First of all, I know that the manuscript is supposed to be the gold standard. I have a bit of a luxury because I work at a teaching institution, which means I’m not really beholden to the gold standard. I’m not an assistant professor. I’m not tenure route. That’s not how Douglas College operates. So that gives me, I think, in some ways more freedom when it comes to deciding how I want my work to be published or if I want my work to be published. So I got together with a colleague and we did do this book and it was fabulous and it was so much fun. But at the end of pulling the manuscript together, there were a few things that were happening and one of them was, kind of selfishly I didn’t want the conversation with these other authors to end. There’s me and my colleague Lisa and then 12 other scholars that we worked with, and I wanted to know more. Technology moves really, really quickly. Academic publishing moves really, really slowly (both laugh) and so selfishly the podcast was another way of touching base with all of these scholars to see what was going on in the areas they were looking at, what kind of things had changed, if anything, what research did they do that didn’t make it into the book or have they done subsequently. Those kind of things.
Stacey Copeland: [00:05:36] You frame it as selfish, but it also sounds important in the sense of one of the things podcasting is really good at, and that’s getting out conversations a bit quicker when you’re talking about something like technology, where innovation and changes move quite quickly.
Jill Fellows: [00:05:51] I mean, I guess I call it selfish… I guess my hope is that other people are also interested, right? (laughs) So another reason was that the book is designed with two audiences in mind. One is the classroom. It’s a textbook. It has pedagogical supports like discussion questions and things like that in the book. And the other audience is kind of a wider public. So it’s written for an undergraduate or non academic perspective. So we discourage people from using a lot of kind of graduate school jargon, for example, with the idea that I’m going to adopt this book and use it in the classroom in the fall. Having the podcast as a complement to the book that I can direct my students to, I thought would be very helpful as an additional pedagogical resource. I’m teaching a gender sex and tech class in the fall and it’s a flipped class, right? So when we get together in the class, we’re going to be doing discussions and workshops and projects. And so the podcast kind of serves as another way to disseminate information because I’m not going to be doing a lot of lecturing in the class. Also, the podcast, unlike the book, is Open Education, right? So there’s the book you have to pay for (laughs), but the podcast is out there and so I’m hoping that we can reach some of the other audience that we wanted to reach who may not be purchasing the book.
Jill Fellows: [00:07:12] Right? So they can still get this information through an open educational kind of tool through the podcast. And then if I can say one more reason, how do I want to frame this? I think academic writing is valuable. I think learning how to write in those kind of essay research paper structure can be quite powerful and quite valuable. But I think sometimes. We get pushed to think that that’s kind of the only way we can spread our knowledge or disseminate our research findings and it can be quite restrictive. It’s only one voice, right? So the thing that I found really rewarding in making this podcast is I was interviewing people who wrote in one style, but they shared their work with me in a completely different voice and a completely different style. And it’s the same work, it’s the same research. But when you have it in two different styles, I feel like that’s more accessible, that if you read the paper and you didn’t quite get something, maybe you’d get it through the conversation, or vice versa. If you’re listening to the conversation and you didn’t quite understand something, maybe you would get it in the paper. So I kind of liked having the two entry points. I mean, I certainly understand some of my colleagues work better after I conversed with them about it, and I’m hoping that that will translate to students and other interested parties as well.
Stacey Copeland: [00:08:29] That definitely resonates. Thinking about podcasting as one potential way of subverting some of the barriers to access to information, whether that is the price tag of textbooks which are there for the purpose of paying people to publish those books and to make them a reality in the system. But that does mean that it is sometimes a barrier for others who can’t afford that price tag and also barriers to access around language. Right? You’re talking about one of the key things that I think podcasting does well is make research a bit more conversational and accessible beyond the the more formal writing that usually an article or a book chapter takes. So thinking about access to knowledge with podcasting, the opportunities you are hoping to perceive and also put it into practise by using your podcast in the classroom. These are a lot of things to be thinking about in making your podcast, and so I wanted to talk a bit more about the process of making this podcast come into existence and some of the challenges that you came up against in digging into the world of scholarly podcasting.
Jill Fellows: [00:09:43] So I have what I call my fun podcast with another philosopher, a colleague of mine, where we apply philosophical theories to this video game that we’re both kind of geeky about. And we don’t have a lot of episodes. We’re both working at a teaching institution, we have a high teaching load, and so we thought we’d just put this out as we had the energy. But what that allowed me to do was really kind of learn things about, okay, how do I edit this thing? How do I add music to this thing? And I’m still learning. So I used that kind of fun podcast to try out to to road test a bunch of things. How do I get an RSS feed? How do I host? Because it’s a lot, right? It’s a lot. I already knew how to use some editing software because I’d done some podcast stuff in the classroom, but I’d never put one up that had an RSS feed that could be subscribed to by anybody, could be listened to by anybody. There’s a lot of great resources now, though. So one thing I did was I took Thompson Rivers University, ran a masterclass in podcasting that was open access. And that taught me a lot about how to do the hosting and how to think about adding music and adding sound, sound effects.
Stacey Copeland: [00:10:54] Shout out our amplify collaborator, Brenna Clarke Gray.
Jill Fellows: [00:10:56] Yeah, yes. Shout out to Brenna Clarke Gray. I’ve also – Brenna and I used to work together, so I knew her. So I sent her a lot of panicked emails like, okay, this isn’t working, how do I do this? And she was great. She’s been my podcasting enabler (laughs), helping me kind of find my feet in this world, which I’m still doing. And then another resource that I had an opportunity for, which was really great, was last fall I applied to the Marc Sanders Foundation for Public Philosophy, which is a foundation run out of the United States. And this is the first year they actually had podcasting fellowships, so they have op ed fellowships, long form essay fellowships. The whole idea is like, how do you get philosophical research to the public? And they did a Podcasting Fellows workshop and I was lucky enough to win a spot. So I went and learnt a lot about how to do kind of a narrative arc, how to do an intro editing, more stuff about editing and all that kind of stuff there, which was really, really great. The learning curve was not as steep as I thought it was though at the start. Once I kind of took it one piece at a time and I realized that there were all of these supports out there and now there’s, there’s another one because Amplify you have put out your own kind of open access text to help people. There’s a lot out there like people want other people to make podcasts is the sense I get.
Stacey Copeland: [00:12:15] Amazing to hear about another resource particularly for people in the philosophy field too.
Jill Fellows: [00:12:21] Oh and there’s the Humanities Podcast Network too. They’ve been really helpful.
Stacey Copeland: [00:12:24] Yes. Yeah. There is a real growing movement around podcasting that is really exciting to see. So what I found curious about yours thinking about this certain subgenre of scholarly podcasting, which is the podcast complement to the book manuscript, What were some of the particular questions you were thinking about in putting together your podcast as a complement to a book manuscript?
Jill Fellows: [00:12:49] I think the first thing that I wanted to make sure I did was that we didn’t just replicate what was in the book. So there is some overlap, right? People discuss many of the similar things that the research findings that they have in their chapter, but they often go beyond that. Like, I didn’t just want this to be a replay of the chapter. I really wanted it to be a complement. So that was the first thing that I had to think about. And then as somebody trained in philosophy, I had never interviewed anybody before, ever. Like I’d been doing this fun podcast with my colleague Kira, but that was conversational. I didn’t interview her, we just sat down and we chatted and we had a rough script of the things we wanted to talk about, but neither one of us was the interviewer. We were collaborating, so I was super intimidated at the start at this idea of like interviewing people when no one had ever trained me to interview anyone again. There were some resources that helped online. And then the other thing that really helped was I made an intentional decision. The first few episodes are people I know quite well. So some of the collaborators to the book, like for example, my colleague Lisa, who helped me edit the book, she’s the first person I interviewed. It is also the first episode of the podcast, so that worked well. But the other episodes I did record out of order because I contacted all the people I knew and I was like, ‘Hey, you are all my guinea pigs. I’m interviewing you first.’ And so by the time I did the fourth episode, I felt a little bit more comfortable sitting in the host’s chair, so to speak. The other challenge that I had that I had to talk to Lisa about was I wrote a chapter for this book. Was I going to interview myself? (both laugh)
Stacey Copeland: [00:14:29] Right. Yeah.
Jill Fellows: [00:14:31] So there is an episode coming up at the end of June. I think it’s scheduled to air where I had to invite somebody to interview me, which was actually kind of cool because then I got to sit on the other side a little bit and see what the experience was like for my guests, which I think was personally quite valuable. The other big challenge I had was figuring out how to source music, which I think probably everyone who does a podcast talks about because I asked everyone, How do I do this? And everyone was like, Yeah, okay. And it was particularly a challenge for us. For us. I keep saying ‘us’, but like I’m the only person doing this. I just like it sounds like I have a team. I don’t have a team.
Stacey Copeland: [00:15:12] You. Yourself. (laughs)
Jill Fellows: [00:15:14] I had a little bit of help with the transcripts from another person, which was great, but otherwise it was me and the one my colleague Lisa, who stepped in to interview me on one episode. Otherwise, it’s not in us, it’s me. The collective we. (laughs) Yeah. The other challenge I had was the music, and it was particularly challenging for me because the podcast is a complement to a book and because I’m an editor of the book. And so it’s reasonable to think that somebody might listen to it and decide to buy the book. That’s possible. So I couldn’t use some of the musical options that people suggested because I couldn’t guarantee that this wasn’t going to generate any kind of income. Right. So that became a bit of a challenge, what I ended up doing, and I don’t know that this is the best thing to do, but it worked for me as I ended up getting a subscription to Epidemic Sound. And so I’m using music from there because that way I’m covered. Yeah, and I do actually there library is pretty expansive.
Stacey Copeland: [00:16:11] You get some sound effects in there too, right? Yeah.
Jill Fellows: [00:16:14] Yeah. Which was great. I don’t use sound effects a lot, but there are a few where I do a little.
Stacey Copeland: [00:16:20] Little dabbling with some sound fun in your episodes.
Jill Fellows: [00:16:23] When I first started adding, I went hardcore into the sound effects and then I was like, Oh, this is this is starting to sound a little slapstick.
Stacey Copeland: [00:16:31] It is a style choice to make for sure.
Jill Fellows: [00:16:33] I had to recut a bunch of episodes where I was like, No, I don’t like this anymore.
Stacey Copeland: [00:16:38] This brings me to the question of, did you have to have a conversation with your press to navigate some of the the rights and clarity around the podcast, as you, I’m assuming, are the the sole owner of the podcast in that sense versus the book being published with the press, what kind of conversations did you have to have around making this podcast complement.
Jill Fellows: [00:17:01] So that not only is academic publishing really slow, but from my experience so far the podcast has been not as fast as I understand other podcast projects to be. I applied for an Ed leave, which is kind of like a sabbatical quite early on to get to do the podcast. Like, I couldn’t do this while working full time at this institution, but I spoke to the publisher when I applied for the leave, kind of at the same time, like, this is something I want to do. And I was a little bit concerned, but they were incredibly supportive. They were really excited. They were like, No, go. Go do it. Like go do it. Every conversation with Canadian Scholars Women’s Press was really positive. They’ve been an incredibly supportive publisher, and so it really became quite a non-issue. They said that they could try and figure out how to do hosting, but they’d never done anything like that before. And then I found out about Open Ed.ca and so I’m doing my hosting through there instead. And the publisher has on the. So if you if you buy the book, there’s a page, right? A web page accompanying the book that has all these links to different sources that might be useful to you because we reference things like YouTube videos in the book and TikTok accounts in the book. And so we have links that can be updated that direct you to these sources if you’re interested. And one of the links on there is a link to my podcasting page. But yeah, I’m I made the decision to host it all myself. So I have complete control over the podcast and over what goes up and how long it stays up and all that kind of stuff.
Stacey Copeland: [00:18:27] So you mentioned you’re using Open Ed as your hosting platform. What made you decide to go with open edit?
Jill Fellows: [00:18:32] I was asking two people how I should do this kind of hosting thing early on. So one of them is somebody we’ve already mentioned Brenna Clarke Gray, and the other person was my friend and colleague Clement Loo, and he has a podcast called Just Sustainability, which is about environmental philosophy and environmental ethics and sustainable practises. And so I asked them both, How do you do this? And he was like, Oh, get someone to host for you, because it’s really, really hard. And I was like, Yeah, it seems hard. And then Brenna said, Oh, no, no, it’s not that hard if you use Open Ed.ca Because everything’s already kind of set up. So you’re not setting it up from scratch, but you are still maintaining ownership and control. And so that seemed quite ideal to me because I didn’t want to do everything from scratch that looked really, really hard. But the idea that I have ownership, there were a few contributors to the podcast, people I interviewed who are on the job market, for example, or who are still finishing up their MA or still finishing up their undergrad. We have a few undergrad contributors, which is awesome to feature their research. And so there are people who they don’t know where their research direction they will go, they don’t know where their career will take them. So the fact that I could tell them, like if at any point we need to pull this down, we need to edit it. You want to change something? I can do that like I don’t have to go through any third party was just kind of an extra piece of mind.
Stacey Copeland: [00:19:59] Yeah. I mean, these are questions that we need to be thinking about when we’re publishing things online. Who actually holds the ownership rights? What are the Creative Commons re-use questions around the material you’re posting and where is it living? Right? What does that mean about where it’s being hosted or who has access, etc.? Thanks for coming and taking the time to talk about this and I’m looking forward to listening to more of the episodes of Gender, Sex and Tech! to come and to see what you end up doing with the next season too. [Jill:Yeah] I look forward to that as well.
Jill Fellows: [00:20:30] Sounds great. Thank you.
Stacey Copeland: [00:20:35] Thanks for listening to Amplified behind the scenes of scholarly podcasting coming to you each month from our team here at Amplify Podcast Network. If you have comments or additional thoughts on our conversation today or on any of our Amplify initiatives, please do reach out. We’d love to hear from you. Otherwise, I will catch you next month as we sit down with Dr. Ethel Tungohan to talk about her refreshingly down to earth podcast Academic Aunties, a podcast about surviving and maybe even thriving in the neoliberal academy.
[music up and out]
Jennifer Jill Fellows is a faculty member in the philosophy department at Douglas College, and a 2022 podcasting fellow of the Mark Sanders Foundation for Public Philosophy. She’s currently involved in two podcasting projects: one called Gender Sex and Tech: Continuing the Conversation, and the other known as Andraste’s Gadfly. Her academic research interests are in social epistemology and metaphysics of personhood. She particularly focuses on trust, expertise and marginalization in science and technology studies. In her spare time she enjoys camping, canoeing, baking and playing three-chord songs on her guitar. . . badly.
Gender, Sex, and Tech! Podcast – https://gendersextech.opened.ca/
Gender, Sex, and Tech! An Intersectional Feminist Guide (July 2022) – https://www.canadianscholars.ca/books/gender-sex-and-tech
Jill’s ‘fun’ podcast aka Andraste’s Gadfly – https://andrastesgadfly.opened.ca/
TRU Podcasting Masterclass – https://podcastmasterclass.trubox.ca/
Marc Sanders Foundation Public Philosophy Initiative – https://marcsandersfoundation.org/public-philosophy/philosophy-in-the-media/
Humanities Podcast Network – https://humanitiespodnetwork.org/
OpenEd.ca – https://opened.ca/get-started/
Epidemic Sound – https://www.epidemicsound.com/
Just Sustainability podcast – https://just-sustainability.com/
Intro + Outro Music: Pxl Cray – Blue Dot Studios (2016)
Written and produced by: Stacey Copeland