Dissertations

To Be More Fully Alive: John of the Cross and Judith Butler on Transformation of the Self

Heather M. DuBois

Theology & Peace Studies

My dissertation is a theory for intrapersonal praxis that enables solidarity, justice, and peace in the face of alienation, oppression, and violence. I combine the resources of a religious classic and a contemporary critical theory of subject formation to address identity-based impasse. Namely, I employ the spiritual guidance and mystical anthropology of John of the Cross and the ethics and philosophy of Judith Butler. Drawing from John, I describe transformation of the self in terms of virtue, vice, and practices of attentive receptivity. Drawing from Butler, I describe transformation in terms of socio-political power, psychic processes, and practices of critical inquiry. In addition, I employ the affect theory of Silvan Tomkins to explicate how patterns of thought, emotion, and behavior may be interrupted or maintained. With these elements, I develop an ecosystemic working theory of the transforming self, which I offer in contrast to the truncated modern identities diagnosed by philosophers Stephen Toulmin and Charles Taylor. Building upon this understanding of the transforming self, I recommend a set of dispositions and practices that can foster positive intrapersonal transformation in and through ambivalent socio-material resources.

The Soldier and Political Life

Caleb Hamman

Political Science & Peace Studies

My dissertation examines the political existence of the soldier in western civilization. I attempt to understand the place of the soldier in political life, as it has evolved from ancient times, to modernity, to the present day. Through readings of Homer and Thucydides; Machiavelli and Clausewitz; Carl Schmitt and Ernst Jünger; and Tocqueville and Hemingway, I analyze the types of political significance that have attached to the soldier across four historical moments. The historical studies set into relief the figure of the contemporary American soldier, whose essence—I argue—is to be an object of pity.