Interviews

Spencer Klavan Takes a Stand Against Woke Academia

The 'Young Heretics' podcaster defends western culture, freedom to think

Spencer Klavan’s new podcast takes a page out of Prager U’s playbook.

The latter’s YouTube channel promises, “We teach what isn’t taught.” Klavan’s “Young Heretics” podcast shares “lessons that have been taught less and less over the last 50 to 60 years,” the podcaster says, “But in reality they’ve been taught for millennia.”

They’re also under fire from the woke Left, something he hopes to combat one episode at a time.

“Young Heretics” leans on the wisdom of T.S. Eliot, John Milton and other intellectual giants to process modern life.

 

Klavan, son of author and Daily Wire podcaster Andrew Klavan, says people are “hungry” for a classical education, “without even knowing it.” It’s why he’s received a robust response to the podcast, now all of 12 episodes old. That also explains how a 30-plus minute program swiftly expanded to a full hour, and often longer.

“People are stick to death of Twitter, bite-sized pieces of content,” he says. It helps that the podcasting world isn’t chockablock with conservatives expounding on classical literature.

“I do believe if offers something unique,” the Oxford educated Klavan says of his podcast. “There isn’t an accessible, deep dive western culture show like ours.”

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Klavan, assistant Editor of the Claremont Review of Books, brings a rich, resonate voice to “Young Heretics” to match his academic chops. He doesn’t want the latter to nudge any potential listeners away, though. Great art, he says, belongs to the masses.

“I love when people say, ‘You know, I’m a fireman and nobody ever told me I could read Shakespeare or Milton … now. I’m actually going away and reading it,’” Klavan recalls. Classical literature is “food for the soul, not just an academic pursuit.”

“We think of literary art as this arcane thing. It’s been made into that by an incompetent academy,” he adds.

Freedom and the Fall of Man | Ep. 12

Klavan’s show regularly mines the past to speak to the present, letting historical truths wash over the listener. “Young Heretics” also hopes to relish the material in question while learning from it. He quotes C.S. Lewis, who once said, “A man can’t be always defending the truth; there must be a time to feed on it.”

“We spend so much time arguing that it’s O.K. to read Homer and Shakespeare. We don’t actually read Homer and Shakespeare,” he says.

“Young Heretics” is over the heads of very young listeners, but Klavan hopes those messages reach them eventually. Once you really grasp the glory of western culture it’s incumbent on parents to share it with their children, he says, especially as elementary and high schools remove critical lessons from their curricula.

FAST FACT: Spencer Klavan penned a Newsweek op-ed saying the Republican party stands in the way of total capitulation to the woke mob.

Klavan’s show is still young by podcast measures, but he’s particularly proud of Episode 6 -- “The Pride Before the Fall.” The installment looks at the “cycle of regimes” and the “rise and fall of different societies.” It sounds depressingly relevant as major American cities burn on a near nightly basis.

“It’s the kind of education I’m trying to offer, with a historical sweep to it,” he says.

When Klavan isn’t behind the podcast mic he’s engaged in intellectual chats with Papa Klavan.

“He’s a huge influence on me,” the son says, their conversations flowing like podcast brainstorming sessions. “It’s a joy that I’ve moved back to L.A. … we go on these long hikes and bat ideas back and forth.”

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