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In 2019, AUP’s faculty members continued to display the versatility and momentum that makes them such a vital part of the University’s community. In addition to teaching, professors engaged in talks and panels, attended conferences, and contributed articles and publications to the academic milieu. Here, we highlight three such works, which take us from medieval France and the English revolution to modern-day democratic debates. The books – which cover political theory, philosophy and art history – show the interdisciplinary nature of AUP professors’ research and highlight how, through exceptional scholarship, faculty act as torchbearers for our global liberal arts curriculum.

Anna Russakoff’s book, Imagining the Miraculous: Miraculous Images of the Virgin Mary in French Illuminated Manuscripts, ca. 1250–ca. 1450, was published by the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies. She is an associate professor and chair of AUP’s Department of Art History and Fine Arts. The book examines the subtle ways in which illuminated manuscripts depicted the miraculous apparition of the Virgin Mary. A close visual analysis of such depictions allows Russakoff to explore how medieval artists conceived of the miraculous. The book, which includes detailed reproductions of the illuminations in question, explores how artists distinguished between icons and apparitions of the Virgin in their works. Russakoff uncovers ways in which these images can help us understand how icons of the Virgin in the era could have led people to believe in miraculous apparitions.

In October 2019, the philosophy major celebrated a double book launch. The first came from Julian Culp, an assistant professor in the Department of History and program coordinator for philosophy. Culp’s book, Democratic Education in a Globalized World: A Normative Theory, was published as part of the series Routledge International Studies in the Philosophy of Education. It looks at how democratic education can be used to counteract the impacts of globalization on democracy. By bridging what he views as a gap between political philosophy and the philosophy of education, Culp explores how a conception of global justice can inform democratic education. The book is critical of the views that global education policy should be geared toward maximizing individuals’ economic earnings or personal autonomy and argues that citizens’ conceptions of global justice should be the academic bedrock upon which education policy is constructed.

The second philosophy publication came from Professor Oliver Feltham, also of the Department of History. Destroy and Liberate: Political Action on the Basis of Hume was published by Rowman & Littlefield International. It draws heavily on David Hume’s “topology of the passions,” the idea that a person’s passions – the ideas and impressions they hold – draw them toward certain groups and away from others, which, in turn, leads to the formation of a hierarchy. To govern, said Hume, is to destroy and liberate – to promote wholeheartedly one idea at the expense of all other positions. Through a close reading of Hume’s The History of England, Feltham argues that the topology of passions is a way to understand democratic political action today. By criticizing Hume’s assertion that all political enthusiasm is sectarian, Feltham argues that democratic efficacy is measured in how speech acts are woven together in a topology of passions.

Miraculous images, democratic education, and the passions of Hume: these works are just a snapshot of the varied achievements of AUP’s faculty. Their innovative research enriches the global liberal arts curriculum within which our community immerses itself. The future of AUP is all the brighter for their commitment and creativity.