“Taking Rites Seriously: Law, Politics, and the Reasonableness of Faith”
Dr. Francis J. Beckwith, professor of philosophy

In “Taking Rites Seriously” Beckwith argues that religious beliefs and believers are sometimes mischaracterized by judges and legal scholars who are critical of the role of religion in politics and in the formation of the law. He carefully addresses contentious legal and cultural questions over which citizens often disagree. These topics include the rationality of religious belief, religiously motivated legislation, human dignity in bioethics, reproductive rights, and evolutionary theory.

“Shakespeare’s Political Wisdom”
Dr. Timothy Burns, professor of political science

Among the many themes that appear in the plays of William Shakespeare are the ideas of justice and the proper exercise of power. Burns interprets five Shakespearean plays to reveal the guidance these works can provide to our contemporary political life. “Shakespeare’s Political Wisdom” was named a winner of the 2014 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Titles award.

“Sacrificing Childhood: Children and the Soviet State in the Great Patriotic War”
Dr. Julie deGraffenried, associate professor of history

During the Soviet Union’s Great Patriotic War, the Stalinist vision of a state-nurtured “happy childhood” was upended as children faced deprivation, violence and death. By chronicling the wartime experiences of children and the role of the state in shaping their worldview, deGraffenried fills a neglected niche in the history of the Soviet Union and World War II.

“Elegy on Kinderklavier”
Arna B. Hemenway, M.F.A., assistant professor of English

Hemenway’s debut work is a collection of short stories and a novella. Many of the stories involve soldiers who are serving, or recently returned home from serving, in Iraq. The novella tells the story of a young couple whose son has a terminal brain tumor. “Elegy on Kinderklavier” was awarded the PEN/Hemingway Award for a Distinguished First Work of Fiction, the nation’s most prestigious award for debut fiction.

“The Price of Valor”
Dr. David A. Smith, senior lecturer of history

When he was 17 years old, Audie Murphy lied about his age so that he could enlist in the Army and help in the fight against Nazi Germany. From there, he became the most decorated hero of World War II. “The Price of Valor” is the first biography to cover Murphy’s entire life, from his single-handed stand against the Germans at the Battle of Colmar Pocket to his later struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and his tragic death at age 45.

“Congress, the Supreme Court, and Religious Liberty: The Case of City of Boerne v. Flores”
Dr. Jerold Waltman, professor of political science

When Catholic Archbishop Patrick Flores was denied a building permit to expand St. Peter’s Church, he probably never imagined he was setting in motion a chain of events that would culminate in a landmark piece of American jurisprudence. But Flores’ dispute with the City of Boerne, Texas, began a legal battle that would end with the U.S. Supreme Court invalidating provisions of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Waltman uses this conflict as the backdrop for a broader examination of the current state of religious liberty debates in the United States.

“The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade”
Dr. Philip Jenkins, distinguished professor of history

At the one-hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, Jenkins explores the powerful religious dimensions of the so-called “war to end all wars.” Jenkins reveals how the widespread belief in angels and apparitions, visions and the supernatural was a driving force throughout the war and how this belief shaped all three of the major religions—Christianity, Judaism and Islam—paving the way for modern views of religion and violence.