The Seed Field
The Seed Field
Mar 30, 2022
Stuck On Autopilot, We Ignore Daily Injustices. Can Art Shake Us Awake?
Play • 37 min

The idea of “defamiliarization” says that we sometimes become so used to our world that we grow numb to it. It takes powerful art to remind us of how strange an experience the opera can be, or how cruel it is that our society forces people to live without shelter on the freeway on-ramps. In this episode we interview the novelist and professor Alistair McCartney about his recent seminar on the Russian theorist Viktor Shklovski and his theory of “defamiliarization.” We talk about what exactly this term means, how it plays out in the works of Leo Tolstoy and Toni Morrison, and how this practice can be used both in and outside of literature to create a more empathetic world.

Visit Antioch’s website to learn more about the programs Alistair teaches in: the MFA in Creative Writing and the BA in Liberal Studies.

Learn more about Alistair’s writing and find links to buy his novels on his personal website

You can read the essay, “Art as Technique,” in Viktor Shklovsky: A Reader.

This episode was recorded February 2, 2022 via and released March 30, 2022. 

The Seed Field Podcast is produced by Antioch University.

The Seed Field Podcast’s host is Jasper Nighthawk, and its editor is Lauren Instenes. Special thanks for this episode goes to Karen Hamilton and Melinda Garland for their contributions.

To access a full transcript and find more information about this and other episodes, visit To get updates and be notified about future episodes, follow Antioch University on Facebook.

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