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Weekly interviews about culture, literature and the arts
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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

Play

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?

The Custom House – Episode 5: Hark! Who Goes There? Locating the Self in the Stories We Tell

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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.

The Custom House – Writing on Pictures (Extended Conversation w/Jeffrey Wolin)

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This week we’ll be talking with photographer Jeffrey Wolin about how he integrates the written word into his portraits to make stories that are both deeply personal and broadly cultural. This extended cut includes a deeper discussion of Wolin’s Vietnam book as well as his companion project in which he pursued stories and portraits “from the other side of the story,” that is from a Vietnamese perspective.

Jeffrey Wolin mixes the word with the image to produce portraits that seem to stand as much as social and cultural commentary as they do Art and appear to turn the very subject of that portrait into commentary as well. Wolin’s recent books consist of portrait series that included Holocaust survivors (Written in Memory: Portraits of the Holocaust) and Vietnam War Veterans (Inconvenient Stories). He’s currently working on a series of portraits depicting Bloomington, Indiana residents from a section of the town called Pigeon Hill across a twenty-year span.

Examples of Jeffery Wolin’s work can be found here:
http://jeffreywolin.com/

The Custom House – Episode 4: Writing on Pictures

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This week we’ll be talking with photographer Jeffrey Wolin about how he integrates the written word into his portraits to make stories that are both deeply personal and broadly cultural.

Jeffrey Wolin mixes the word with the image to produce portraits that seem to stand as much as social and cultural commentary as they do Art and appear to turn the very subject of that portrait into commentary as well. Wolin’s recent books consist of portrait series that included Holocaust survivors (Written in Memory: Portraits of the Holocaust) and Vietnam War Veterans (Inconvenient Stories). He’s currently working on a series of portraits depicting Bloomington, Indiana residents from a section of the town called Pigeon Hill across a twenty-year span.

Examples of Jeffery Wolin’s work can be found here:
http://jeffreywolin.com/

The Custom House – Theocracy and Dystopia (Extended Conversation w/Purnima Bose)

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This week Purnima Bose discusses how Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale demonstrates how easily modern America might become a truly repressive theocracy. The extended cut includes a review of the plot of the novel as well as a discussion of the cultural milieu in which Atwood composed the narrative. There is also a brief discussion of how the movie adaptation with Natasha Richardson, Aidan Quinn and Robert Duvall alters the book’s ending.

America is a land founded on commercial ventures intended to gather in the riches of a virgin land but also upon the Puritan plan to set up a theocratic state. In this episode of The Custom House Purnima Bose, a professor in the International Studies Department of Indiana University, discusses how Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale demonstrates how easily modern America can become a truly repressive theocracy.

LINKS
http://storm-nemesis.blogspot.com/2013/05/one-and-one-and-one-and-one.html

The Custom House – Episode 3: Theocracy and Dystopia

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America is a land founded on commercial ventures intended to gather in the riches of a virgin land but also upon the Puritan plan to set up a theocratic state. In this episode of The Custom House Purnima Bose, a professor in the International Studies Department of Indiana University, discusses how Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale demonstrates how easily modern America can become a truly repressive theocracy.

LINKS
http://storm-nemesis.blogspot.com/2013/05/one-and-one-and-one-and-one.html

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