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Weekly interviews about culture, literature and the arts
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The Custom House – Agassiz, Inc. (Extended Conversation w/Christoph Irmscher)

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This week, Doug speaks with biographer Christoph Irmscher about the legacy of Louis Agassiz, one of the most influential men in the development of the practice of science in America. This extended cut includes more biographical details as well as a deeper look at Agassiz’s involvement in the so-called Emancipation Commission as epistolary adviser to one its appointed leaders, Samuel Gridley Howe, revealing that, as Irmscher puts it, you can be an abolitionist and still be racist.

Louis Agassiz, a co-discoverer of the Ice Age, is often portrayed as a racist proponent of miscegenation and a failure as a theorist of human development–as the scientist who refused to see species in the light of Darwinian evolution on religious grounds. But as our guest the biographer Christoph Irmscher shows, Louis Agassiz was one of the most influential men in the development of American Science.

The Custom House – Episode 2: Agassiz, Inc.

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This week, Doug speaks with biographer Christoph Irmscher about the legacy of Louis Agassiz, one of the most influential men in the development of the practice of science in America.

Louis Agassiz, a co-discoverer of the Ice Age, is often portrayed as a racist proponent of miscegenation and a failure as a theorist of human development–as the scientist who refused to see species in the light of Darwinian evolution on religious grounds. But as our guest the biographer Christoph Irmscher shows, Louis Agassiz was one of the most influential men in the development of American Science.

The Custom House – Episode 1: Babo’s Razor

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This week: Jonathan Elmer, director of Indiana University’s College Arts and Humanities Institute discusses Herman Melville’s novella, Benito Cereno, a masterful exposure of 19th century cultural presumptions in the American slave nation.

This week on The Custom House, Doug looks at how we use our reading experiences as tools for thinking in a conversation with Jonathan Elmer, the Director of Indiana University’s College Arts and Humanities Institute. The two inspect Benito Cereno, a novella by Herman Melville, where nothing is as it seems to the blinkered American ship Captain Amasa Delano as he finds himself in the middle of a slave rebellion aboard what appears to be a crippled Spanish slaving ship.

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