The Unlearning Podcast is the co-hosted brainchild of a recovering academic and an academic in transition. For over a decade, Béalleka held tenure-track, university appointments in Literature, Gender and Africana Studies before realizing the harm this was causing her as a Black queer woman and changing course toward an artistic healing path. Her partner, Jeff Jaeckle–-a cisgender, white, queer, tenured professor–-has reinvented himself over his 16 years in academia, moving from canonical American literature to film studies and a productive editing career. The podcast features stories of recognizing systems that held them bound to beliefs that do not serve them, and the processes by which they continue to unlearn these beliefs.
Béalleka is a Kenyan-born, Portland-based writer, storyteller and “recovering academic.” For ten years as a university professor she taught African American literature, South Asian literature, American Studies, and Gender and Women’s Studies. Her scholarly work examines the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality in contemporary representations of American slavery. She is now independently employed as a cultural advisor and conducts workshops in unlearning stereotypes and divisive thinking via a process of education, self-reflection, accountability, and collective anti-racist, anti-sexist action. Béalleka is a frequent speaker at universities and international conferences and the recipient of two MacArthur Teaching and Research Fellowships. She has performed stories in BackFence PDX; Get Nervous; The Mystery Box Show; Mortified: Portland, San Francisco and Oakland; SLANT: Live Queer Storytelling; and Wildfang’s Free Speech: Stories by Badass Women.
Jeff Jaeckle was adopted as an infant by a 5th-generation Texan Catholic family into which he never quite fit, including his decisions to attend graduate school, leave Texas, and opt out of marriage, parenting, and organized religion. In addition to teaching at Portland Community College, he is an editor and media scholar who focuses on classical Hollywood, film sound, and romantic comedies. He is the editor of Film Dialogue and ReFocus: The Films of Preston Sturges; his next book, on filmmaker Barbara Kopple, will be released in 2018.