BRET ROTHSTEIN, Associate Professor of the History of Art, and CAHI Research Fellow for 2012-13, is at work on a study of visual enigmatology. "The Shape of Difficulty: On the Character of Visual Challenges” investigates how mechanical puzzles and other objects challenge a viewer, even to the point of courting interpretive failure. A specialist in visual jokes and games, Professor Rothstein's publications have addressed topics ranging from the self-aware image in the fifteenth-century Low Countries to theories of contemporary puzzle design.
POWER AND LIMITS OF PROPAGANDA
JULIA ROOS, Associate Professor of History, and CAHI Research Fellow for 2012-13, has been studying the appeal and limits of atrocity propaganda in the aftermath of the Great War. The German campaign to spotlight the supposed “Black Horror on the Rhine” aimed to discredit the Versailles Treaty by accusing France’s colonial African occupation troops of raping Rhenish women and children. Initially successful, the campaign subsequently became the focus of post-war criticism of propaganda, revealing the direction of a new international peace order after 1924. Professor Roos’s project is titled “Atrocity Propaganda, New Popularized Foreign-Policy Discourses, and the Challenges to Reconstruction after World War I: The “Black Horror on the Rhine.”
CONTEMPORARY ISLAMIC THOUGHT
ASMA AFSARUDDIN, Professor and Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, and CAHI Research Fellow for 2012-13, is at work on a book titled “Contemporary Issues in Islam,” a series of linked essays analyzing the historical roots and parameters of intra-Muslim debates in the modern period around the issues of engaging modernity, Quranic hermeneutics, the politicization of Islam, women and gender, and interpretations of jihad. Professor Afsaruddin draws upon scripture, exegeses, legal texts, biographical dictionaries, historical works, and humanistic literature to reveal the dynamism and evolution of the Islamic intellectual tradition.
SCHOPENHAUER FOR THE PRESENT DAY
SANDY SHAPSHAY, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, and CAHI Research Fellow for 2012-13, is at work on a book titled “Degrees of Dignity, Schopenhauer's Ethical Thought.” Relatively neglected in Anglo-American philosophy, Schopenhauer is ready for a revival, argues Shapshay, who argues that when charitably understood and shorn of its thoroughgoingly pessimistic elements, Schopenhauer's ethical thought offers an attractive alternative to currently-dominant Kantian, social contract and consequentialist ethical theories. Most notably, it better captures the moral value of non-human animals and the environment as a whole, topics with which contemporary ethics is just starting to grapple.