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Author Archives: WFHB Archivist

The Custom House – Episode 10: “The Ruins of Biblical Hegemony: A Tale Told at Qumran”

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On this episode of The Custom House we’ll find out how the multifaceted world of the early Jewish literary imagination has been flattened and relegated to serving only as a signpost pointing toward the Bible.

In this episode of The Custom House on WFHB we speak with Eva Mroczek, Assistant Professor in the Jewish Studies and Religious Studies Department at Indiana University about how the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran reveal a dynamic Jewish literary imagination limited by the hegemonic gravity of the biblical canon.

The Custom House – Bringing Down the House: Force and Guile in Milton’s Samson Agonistes (Extended Conversation w/Penelope Anderson)

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On this episode of The Custom House we’ll investigate the claims of Milton’s Samson as he argues his holy dispensation as a divine right to be violent and deceitful in marriage as in war.

In this episode of The Custom House we turn to 17th century English poet John Milton for an assessment of love and marriage, or perhaps of lust and betrayal as presented in his play Samson Agonistes published in 1671. On hand to assist us in this is Penelope Anderson an assistant professor in the English Department here at Indiana University whose research aims to show the longstanding historical intersections between the legal and conceptual frameworks of political prisoner, slave, and subjected woman, in order to reveal a new genealogy of human rights articulated in their suspension.

This extended cut includes two more readings of the text. One is a back-and-forth between Samson and Dalila, lines 732-996; the other comprises lines 1629-1659 where a messenger describes Samson pulling down the pillars supporting the “theatre” (in Milton’s word; the biblical word is “house”).

The Custom House – Episode 9: “Bringing Down the House: Force and Guile in Milton’s Samson Agonistes”

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On this episode of The Custom House we’ll investigate the claims of Milton’s Samson as he argues his holy dispensation as a divine right to be violent and deceitful in marriage as in war.

In this episode of The Custom House we turn to 17th century English poet John Milton for an assessment of love and marriage, or perhaps of lust and betrayal as presented in his play Samson Agonistes published in 1671. On hand to assist us in this is Penelope Anderson an assistant professor in the English Department here at Indiana University whose research aims to show the longstanding historical intersections between the legal and conceptual frameworks of political prisoner, slave, and subjected woman, in order to reveal a new genealogy of human rights articulated in their suspension.

The Custom House – Episode 8: “Who Has the Right to Judge?”

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On this episode of The Custom House we’ll use the work of political theorist Hannah Arendt to try to understand how committing heinous crimes against our neighbors can, under the right conditions, simply be considered normal.

In this episode of The Custom House we speak with Ben Robinson, associate professor in the German Department at Indiana University, about discretion and judgement. We use the work of Hannah Arendt to think about how we understand the concepts of evil, the ideal, and identity in the “post-Eichmann” age of socialized banality.

The Custom House – Who Has the Right to Judge? (Extended Conversation w/Benjamin Robinson)

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On this episode of The Custom House we’ll use the work of political theorist Hannah Arendt to try to understand how committing heinous crimes against our neighbors can, under the right conditions, simply be considered normal. In this episode of The Custom House we speak with Ben Robinson, associate professor in the German Department at Indiana University, about discretion and judgement. We use the work of Hannah Arendt to think about how we understand the concepts of evil, the ideal, and identity in the “post-Eichmann” age of socialized banality. The extended cut includes discussions of Arendt’s Vita Active detailed in her book The Human Condition. We understand how a totalitarian state (be it governmental, i.e., the Leviathan, or an inverted “social/commercial engine” as described by Sheldon Wolin) collapses human work into mere labor. Arendt understands real freedom as Action and this is primarily action at some risk in the polis. This is distinguished against the risklessness of social media and “like” button.

The Custom House – Hannibal Lecter to the Dark Tower Came: The Poetry of Robert Browning (Extended Conversation w/Ivan Kreilkamp)

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On this episode of The Custom House we examine the many moods and personae of poet Robert Browning, the Victorian master of “selves,” whose work not only inspired Modernist poets like T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound but also gave us Stephen King’s Gunslinger, Eminem’s “Stan” and the psycho-epicure Hannibal Lecter.

In this episode of The Custom House we speak with Ivan Kreilkamp, associate professor of English at Indiana University, about the poetry of Robert Browning. Browning’s Duke, in what is probably his most famous poem “My Last Duchess,” reaches into our own moment to find analogues in Hannibal Lecter and Eminem’s “Stan.” We’ll explore many of his other poetic personae as well as explore the nightmare quest landscape traveled by his “Childre Roland” in search of the Dark Tower–that defining poetic triumph. This extended cut includes discussions and readings of several more poems all from Browning’s most acclaimed single volume Men and Women published the same year as Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, 1855. These include “Andreal del Sarto,” “Fra Lippo Lippi,” “Karshish,” and “Cleon.”

The Custom House – Episode 7: “Hannibal Lecter to the Dark Tower Came: The Poetry of Robert Browning”

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On this episode of The Custom House we examine the many moods and personae of poet Robert Browning, the Victorian master of “selves,” whose work not only inspired Modernist poets like T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound but also gave us Stephen King’s Gunslinger, Eminem’s “Stan” and the psycho-epicure Hannibal Lecter.

In this episode of The Custom House we speak with Ivan Kreilkamp, associate professor of English at Indiana University, about the poetry of Robert Browning. Browning’s Duke, in what is probably his most famous poem “My Last Duchess,” reaches into our own moment to find analogues in Hannibal Lecter and Eminem’s “Stan.” We’ll explore many of his other poetic personae as well as explore the nightmare quest landscape traveled by his “Childre Roland” in search of the Dark Tower–that defining poetic triumph.

The Custom House – On the Banality of Pest Control (Extended Conversation w/Lisa Sideris and Christoph Irmscher)

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We explore both the lyrical and ethical heart of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring as we ask what are the ecological and moral effects of the banal and continued daily use of chemical pesticides in our Earthly Garden.

In this episode of The Custom House we speak with Lisa Sideris, Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University and Christoph Irmscher, Provost Professor of English at Indiana University, about the ways Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring examines issues of authority and expertise and the drive to control nature through applied science as an abdication of our moral responsibility to life. This is the Faustian bargain struck in an attempt to control nature that Carson sets against the “simple looking” of the observer in nature in a mood of humility wonder.

The extended cut includes two more selections from Carson that the guests discuss and explicate with Doug. Also, we end the podcast with the opening of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major in tribute to Carson. Lisa Sideris shared this bit of a letter that Carson wrote upon completing Silent Spring: “I took Jeffy into the study and played the Beethoven Violin Concerto, one of my favorites, you know. And suddenly, the tensions of 4 years were broken and I got down and put my arms around Jeffy and let the tears come.”
(Jeffy is her cat.)

Also of interest:
http://www.wfhb.org/news/custom-house-agassiz-inc-extended-conversation-wchristoph-irmscher

The Custom House – Episode 6: On the Banality of Pest Control

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We explore both the lyrical and ethical heart of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring as we ask what are the ecological and moral effects of the banal and continued daily use of chemical pesticides in our Earthly Garden.

In this episode of The Custom House we speak with Lisa Sideris, Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University and Christoph Irmscher, Provost Professor of English at Indiana University, about the ways Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring examines issues of authority and expertise and the drive to control nature through applied science as an abdication of our moral responsibility to life. This is the Faustian bargain struck in an attempt to control nature that Carson sets against the “simple looking” of the observer in nature in a mood of humility wonder.

Also of interest:
http://wfhb.org/news/the-custom-house-agassiz-inc-extended-conversation-wchristoph-irmscher/

The Custom House – Hark! Who Goes There? Locating the Self in the Stories We Tell (Extended Conversation w/John Eakin)

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We enlist the aid of noted scholar of autobiography, John Eakin, as we seek to answer Andrew Bird’s question: where exactly does the self reside, in your head or between your sides, and who, exactly, will decide its true location?

In this episode of The Custom House we try to locate our mysterious “me” within the commonplace act of telling stories. To guide us through this dark wood of many trails is an expert in the storying self, John Eakin, Ruth N. Halls Professor Emeritus of English at Indiana University, whose most recent book is Living Autobiographically: How We Create Identity in Narrative (Cornell University Press, 2008). And it’s the “commonplace” or dailiness of “identity practice” that is even more intrinsic than such an institutional practice as that of the school assignments that bookend this very act of life-composition: Write your autobiography…Write your obituary. It’s how we practice that “life in the middest” that makes us who we are at any given moment.

This extended cut includes some of Eakin’s own biography as he discusses how he came to find professional room for the study of autobiography in academia. We also explore how we define self outside of memory–a loss of remembered life, of our past, also excludes our friends and loved ones: that is, how are you recognizable to others outside of the physical?

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