Welcome from the Chair
Gaile Pohlhaus
Dear Alumni and Friends:
I am writing to you as Interim Chair of the department while Dr. Elaine Miller is on a well-deserved research leave. First, I extend my best wishes to you and yours this holiday season! May 2024 bring you joy and continued flourishing.
We have been busy here at Miami over the past year. Christopher King left the department and is now living in Colorado, but we have also been joined by two visiting professors about whom you can learn in this issue of the newsletter. Among our faculty highlights, Michael Hicks continues to contribute important work on Wilfrid Sellars, and Pascal Massie has co-written an article with Mitchell Staude, whom some of you may remember from your 400/500 level classes which he audited as a retiree.
One of the more difficult things that happened this year is that Miami made the decision to eliminate funding for several MA programs, including French, History, Geography, and Philosophy. This decision was based on budget priorities and not the success of our program. Reflecting on the impact of the graduates of our MA program, I am so proud of what so many of you have accomplished. You are truly making a difference in the world.
Here are some highlights:
Tempest Henning '15
  • Tempest Henning ’15, Ph.D. Vanderbilt, Assistant Professor at Fisk University. Dr. Henning is author of fifteen published essays, including “When and Where I Carry: Black Women and the Second Amendment” in the journal Philosophy Today. She was recently chosen to deliver the inaugural Catherine Hundleby Keynote Address for the Association for Feminist Epistemologies, Methodologies, Metaphysics, and Science Studies and is currently editing a special issue on the politics of self-care for the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia.
Christine Wieseler '11
  • Christine Wieseler ’11, Ph.D. University of South Florida, Assistant Professor at California State Polytechnic University. Dr. Wieseler is author of thirteen published essays and co-editor (with Joel Reynolds) of the groundbreaking Disability Bioethics Reader, which brings the critical lens of disability studies to bear on the literature in bioethics. She recently delivered a keynote address to the World Congress of Bioethics in Basel, Switzerland and was interviewed by George Yancy for Truthout.
Shanti Chu '11
  • Shanti Chu ’11, Assistant Professor and Co-Chair of Philosophy at College of Lake County. In addition to teaching, Ms. Chu brings philosophical inquiry to the public through her ethical vegetarian food blog, ChiVeg, freelance articles for venues such as TimeOut Chicago, and a YouTube channel with eighty videos on various philosophical topics. She was recently interviewed for the podcast series Overthink and has been performing as a DJ in Chicago in her spare time.
Perry Zurn '08
  • Perry Zurn ‘08, Ph.D. DePaul University, Provost Associate Professor of Philosophy, American University. Dr. Zurn is author of over eighty-five published essays. He has produced three monographs, including Curious Minds: The Power of Connection, co-written with Dani S. Bassett, and four edited volumes. He is the co-founder of the Trans Philosophy Project and served as chair for the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on LGBT People in the Profession for five years. Dr. Zurn is currently a fellow at Cornell’s Society for the Humanities and a Visiting Scholar at University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Research in Feminist, Queer, and Transgender Studies.
These are just a few of our amazing MA graduates. We are grateful to have served so many wonderful students through our MA program over the years. We will continue to serve our BA students and know that our BA alums are out there making a difference in the world, too. If you get a chance, send us an email or swing by Hall Auditorium. We would love to hear from you!
Gaile Pohlhaus, Jr.
Professor and Acting Chair

Introducing Clayton Alsup
Clayton Alsup
Pascal Massie: Hello Clayton, and congratulations on the birth of your son, Otis! When was he born?
Clayton Alsup: Wednesday, Oct. 11.
PM: So, Clayton, you have been our visiting assistant professor in philosophy for two years now. What brought you to philosophy?
CA: When I went to college, I was a rare incoming philosophy major because all the course descriptions sounded like just what I wanted. After community college I went to Salisbury University. There is a wonderful philosophy department there.
PM: What are the questions or concepts or figures that interest you most in philosophy?
CA: I am interested in figuring out what it is to be a human being in a society that exists at a certain point of time and has a history. And yet, even though we're finite individuals existing in specific circumstances, it seems that we are capable of transcending these contingent circumstances to a certain extent, so that we can share experiences across societal boundaries, personal boundaries, even temporal boundaries — by reading historical texts for instance. Nevertheless, our contingent conditions seem decisive to some extent about the way we think and experience the world.
PM: Can you tell us about the classes you are teaching at Miami University?
CA: Right now, I am teaching Introduction to Ethics and Environmental Philosophy. I have redesigned my Intro to Ethics: so we started with Plato’s Protagoras, then we read all of Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy — partly because so much Plato is in it. We are shifting now to Schiller. I do not know how it will go. This is an experiment and the students are aware of it. I wanted to read someone in the romantic tradition because the students are influenced by romanticism without knowing it. So many of their views are colored by it.
Then we will read some Nietzsche and some Zhuangzi from the Chinese tradition. In the Environment Philosophy, we have spent a lot of time talking about the difference between nature and the human world. It seems that nature refers somehow to the non-human out there but at the same time it seems that we are part of nature. It is difficult to come up with a meaningful distinction. Students get it immediately. They talk about the distinction between nature and nurture but, at the same time, isn’t nurturing the most natural thing we do with children?
Introducing Kelly Swope
Kelly Swope
Pascal Massie: Hello, Kelly, thanks for coming. You are our new visiting assistant professor at Miami University. Could you tell us about your interests in philosophy?
Kelly Swope: Thanks for having me! In graduate school, I focused mainly on German Idealism and Romanticism (the post-Kantian period). My dissertation was an exploration of the concept of Bildung (education) in Hegel’s philosophical system. Whereas I had always understood Bildung as a humanistic concept, I discovered that, in Hegel’s time, this concept was circulating in scientific (biology, zoology, botany) texts as well. I sought to understand the resonances between human education and this more naturalistic meaning of Bildung.
PM: What have you been up to since you graduated?
KS: I have had to reimagine my academic work in part because of my life circumstances. I graduated right in the middle of the pandemic. There were few job opportunities then, and they tended to be more generalist teaching opportunities in ethics. I saw this as a chance to pursue new paths in my writing and research. My first job was at Xavier University in Cincinnati, and when I arrived there, I decided to focus on a couple of issues that were always of interest to me in graduate school but which I never had time to explore.
The first major project I undertook was a documentary podcast series that deals with an animal-related catastrophe that happened in Zanesville, Ohio, back in 2011. A man who owned a private collection of over fifty exotic animals, most of which were apex predators like big cats and bears, released them all from captivity in one night. The animals were later killed by local law enforcement out of fear for public safety. The ten-year anniversary of the event was in 2021 so I interviewed dozens of people who were affected by the event in hopes of better understanding its long-term legacies in Ohio animal law.
More recently, since starting at Miami, I have been going back to my intellectual roots in educational thought to critique current problems in U.S. public education. In general, I am trying to better understand the democratic mandate for public schooling in the United States. To me, this is one of the major political philosophy questions of our time, as we face the twin problems of economic inequality and civic polarization.
PM: And what do you teach here?
KS: At Miami I teach political philosophy, ethics, and philosophy of law.
Listen to Kelly’s podcast: https://www.lifeonthearkpodcast.com/
Alumni Notes
Halie White '20
It has been a long two years since my time at Miami! I greatly appreciated my time with you all. Since graduating from Miami University in the class of 2021, I have completed my M.A. at Colorado State University.
During my time there, I began working on philosophy of mind, phenomenology of embodiment, and Indian philosophy. I defended my master's thesis this past summer titled "Adaptive Disembodiment: Towards an Enactivist Theory of Body Schematic Sensorimotor Autonomy." In this work, most notably regarding its normative conclusion, I explore how body-based stigmas (racism, ableism, fatphobia, etc.) are lived in the body and create obstacles for movement that require adaptations to one's bodily subjectivity. I really enjoyed the project and look forward to continuing this kind of work.
I am currently working on my Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. My first semester is almost complete! It has been a wild ride moving to O'ahu, but beautiful as well. I am studying Indian philosophy more closely here, as well as continuing to work on philosophical topics around embodiment. I will be commenting on a paper at the Pacific APA in Portland in March 2024 and would love to connect with anyone else who will be present!
Julia Carroll '20
I'm still working at Amazon Advertising in sales as an Account Manager but recently got a level promotion at the company. I'm applying to law school right now and have almost all of my applications in! I'll be enrolling fall of 2024 and will certainly update the department on where I end up going. I'm very excited for this next chapter.
In the meantime, I will continue working and traveling as much as I can. Last year I went to Colombia and this past April I went skiing in Italy/Switzerland. I'm planning a trip to Japan this upcoming summer. Hope all is well at Miami!
Much has happened in my life since I graduated in 2010! I commissioned into the Air Force in 2012, and I've spent the last 11 years or so as a Space Operations Officer. When the Space Force became its own branch, I transitioned, so now I am a Major in the United States Space Force.
I have grown academically as well. To keep up my intellectual interests in philosophy while maintaining my career as an officer, I enrolled in an MSc philosophy program focused on Epistemology, Ethics, and Mind at the University of Edinburgh (thank you to Keith Fennen and Gaile Pohlhaus for all of their support). I wrote a thesis on Spinoza that aimed to articulate the metaethical implications of his system, working with Pauline Phemister.
As I was completing that program, I also applied to the Air Force's Advanced Academic Degree program, which funds officers to get master's degrees in-residence with a follow-on commitment to teach in the relevant department at the U.S. Air Force Academy. I applied to both the Philosophy and English Departments at the Academy -- as fate would have it, only English was taking applicants that year. I interviewed remotely over Zoom (both because of COVID-19 and I was stationed in the U.K. at the time), delivered a conference-style talk on two Shakespearian sonnets (44 and 45) analyzed through the mind-body perspectives alive and burgeoning in early modern culture, and apparently impressed them well enough. They offered me a sponsorship, I took it, and got in to the University of Virginia, where I completed an M.A. in English last December (with a concentration in World Religions, World Literatures). I wrote that thesis on the sacramental poetics of George Herbert, advancing a nuance to current scholarly discussions on the topic.
I now teach English 111 and 211 at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and overall, it's a very fulfilling job (see my ac profile here, apologies for the lack of photo). My interests have shifted slightly into early modern poetry and poetics, history of theology and liturgical practice, and the Bible as literature.
I hope all is well with Miami's Philosophy Department. I still have fond memories of my time there and always think back to them as pivotal moments for my intellectual growth and overall maturity. Cheers!
Kenneth S. Resnick '77
I graduated in August of 2023 with a Master of Arts in the Eastern Classics from the Graduate Institute at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Eastern Classics program probes the great works that are central to the philosophical, literary, and religious traditions of China, India, and Japan, and examines those works' most vital questions—questions that are fundamental to Eastern thought, Asian studies, and human nature.
I continue to reside in Santa Fe. I run a global consulting firm, ATRQ Global LLC, and was recently re-appointed by the city council to the Economic Development Advisory Board for the City of Santa Fe. Elisabeth and I also wish to announce the birth of our first grandchild, a girl, Goldie Gaudio Kirn, in August. Our granddaughter, daughter, and son-in-law are all doing well.
Faculty Notes
Michael Hicks
Pascal Massie
Clayton Alsup presented a Work-In-Progress talk entitled “Go On, Take the Money and Run: On (Not) Making and Breaking Promises to Banks” for our colloquium in September.
Michael Hicks had two pieces this year on new work on Wilfrid Sellars: a contribution to an author-meets-critics symposium on Luz Christopher Seiberth's book, Intentionality in Sellars: a Transcendental Account of Finite Knowledge; and a review of a new volume of papers on Sellars's practical philosophy: Ethics, Practical Reasoning, Agency: Wilfrid Sellars's Practical Philosophy, ed. Jeremy Randel Koons and Ronald Loeffler. He participated in a symposium on Sellars at the 2023 Pacific APA and is continuing historical work on Sellars's relationship to the Vienna Circle (one paper on Sellars and Carnap, another on Sellars and Schlick).
Pascal Massie presented a paper in April on the Metaphysics of Matter in Aristotle at the Ancient Philosophy Society Conference hosted by Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. He gave a talk at the Continental Philosophy of the Lower Eastern Midwest Seminar at Earlham College entitled Process and Individuation: On Speculative Realism and Becoming on October. He wrote “Reality, Virtuality, and Play” forthcoming 2024, Etudes Phénoménologies/ Phenomenological Studies and, in collaboration with Mitchell Staude “Ageing-in-the-World” forthcoming 2024, Continental Philosophy Review Vol. 8, 143-166.
Gaile Pohlhaus gave a paper at the University of Bern in Norway and at an epistemology conference in Bled, Slovenia. She was also invited to give a talk at a symposium on Jennifer Lackey's new book Criminal Testimonial Injustice, which took place over two days -- one day in Stateville maximum security prison and one day on Northwestern's campus.
Stateville Maximum Security Prison
Kelly Swope offers courses in political philosophy and ethics. Recently, he released a documentary podcast series titled Life on the Ark: The Zanesville Animal Catastrophe a Decade Later (2022), which explores the legal and moral legacies of a 2011 incident in which fifty captive exotic animals were killed by Ohio police after being released by their owner. This year he is working on a series of articles on U.S. education in which he attempts to reconstruct the democratic mandate for public schools in view of the contemporary problems of economic inequality, political polarization, and COVID-19 legacies.
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