Sometimes, the best ideas come from students gently ushering faculty into new territory. Such is the case with Nathalia Velez Ryan (MA ’19), a graduate of CU Denver’s English program, who presented a podcast as part of her master’s thesis. This podcast impressed her committee chair Gillian Silverman, who showed it to the department chair Philip Joseph, who decided the medium might be just the thing for exploring ideas related to literature and culture.
And voila! CultuteKlatsch was born.
The English Department explains that the CultureKlatsch podcast “extends our conversations about contemporary culture by sharing nuanced, perceptive commentary on the content that matters most.” What content matters most, you might ask. If you’re thinking it’s limited to Shakespearean villains and seventh-century libertines, you’re wrong. “CultureKlatsch examines media that’s most relevant to the current cultural moment,” the English department clarifies.
For example, the first episode is about The Handmaid’s Tale.
Podcast started as part of master’s thesis
But CultureKlatsch had humble beginnings. First, Nathalia had to teach herself to record and edit a podcast in order to create her master’s thesis project. A few Google searches eventually led her to a $25 microphone and her closet, which became her first recording studio since “soft surfaces absorb sound.” Things got more professional for CultureKlatsch production, however. The English Department purchased sound equipment to enhance recording quality.
Now Nathalia is a bona fide podcast producer. She edits using Audacity, and, interestingly, her English literature background helped her transition to the world of sound: “I love editing text, and I found that editing audio is quite similar; you take out the parts you don’t need and are left with all the best parts of the conversation.” As a perfectionist, she sometimes gets frustrated because you can’t “rewrite” what didn’t come out exactly right the first time, but she admits “that’s kind of the beauty of podcasting—you’re capturing a conversation as it happens, so it feels really authentic and accessible.”
The first episode of CultureKlatsch airs on Sept. 23. It discusses the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale, as well as the novel it’s based on—and its much-awaited sequel by Margaret Atwood titled The Testaments. Guest contributors to the first CultureKlatsch include professors Colleen Donnelly, Sarah Hagelin and Rodney Herring, who specialize in the history of women in literature, film studies, and contemporary and political rhetoric.
To celebrate the podcast debut, CultureKlatsch will host a launch party on Sept. 26 from 4 – 6 p.m. in the Zenith Room (6thfloor) of the Tivoli Building. There will be pizza and a live round-table discussion with Nathalia, professors Rodney Herring and Cate Wiley, and possibly a few students. The discussion will be recorded and live-streamed on Facebook. CultureKlatsch wants student and listener feedback: submit questions or thoughts about the first episode to cultureklatsch.com or Facebook (@Cu Denver English Department).
The English Department hopes that CultureKlatsch’s discussion of topical books, television and movies will “recreate those spontaneous conversations we all have in coffee shops.” Listen on Sept. 23 and let them know if their foray into new media is worth discussing over a cup of coffee.