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reed magazine logoSpring 2009

Two Professors Receive Tenure

The board of trustees has granted tenure to two Reed professors: Margaret Scharle, associate professor
of philosophy and humanities; and Benjamin Lazier, associate professor of history and humanities.


Margaret Scharle

Margaret Scharle has been teaching at Reed since 2003. Her interests include ancient Greek philosophy and ethics. She is particularly intrigued by Aristotle’s insights into explanation and causation, and what role those insights can or should play in contemporary science. One reason she likes teaching at Reed, she says, is that “you never have to convince Reedies that it’s worth studying Aristotle and Plato. Students here are interested in pursuing philosophy in order to contemplate the truth, without demanding an immediate payout.”

Meg earned her Ph.D. in philosophy from UCLA in 2005; an M.A. in philosophy from UCLA in 1997; and a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 1995. She has published articles in several journals, including Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Apeiron, and Phronesis.

Benjamin Lazier has been teaching at Reed since 2005. His field is European intellectual history, with special interests in technology, social action, and religion. He recently published a book, God Interrupted, which traces the role of theology in European thought between the world wars and after (see Faculty Publications). His current projects focus on the biological organism in twentieth century thought, and on the history of what it means to look back at the Earth from beyond.

“I try to combine historical with philosophical inquiry so that students can think more deeply about what they see every day,” he says. “I’ve taught at Berkeley, the University of Chicago, and Reed, and I can say that Reed students are the most intellectually engaged of any group I’ve encountered, hands down.”

Benjamin earned his Ph.D. at UC Berkeley in 2002, and has held fellowships at universities in Berlin, Freiburg, and Jerusalem and at Stanford. Outside the classroom, he is an avid swimmer and ceramic artist.

Faculty Publications

God Interrupted

Benjamin Lazier, associate professor of history and humanities at Reed and recipient of the 2008 John Templeton award for theological promise, has written his first full-length book, God Interrupted: Heresy and the European Imagination Between the World Wars (Princeton University Press, 2008). Lazier’s work explores the European interwar disputes about the divine and heresy, and their postwar ramifications. In his introduction, he explains that his work “asks that we appreciate theology as a vehicle for commentary on the political, aesthetic, and philosophical present common to us all.” His book also offers fresh perspective on the stories of three prominent Jewish intellectuals—Hans Jonas, Leo Strauss, and Gershom Scholem—who played a significant role in shaping Europe’s understanding of the interplay between faith and reason. Appendices include sources from contemporaries of interwar Europe and other historical sources.

God Interrupted

Crystal Williams, associate professor of creative writing at Reed, has completed her third collection of poems, Troubled Tongues (Lotus Press, Inc., 2009), which has already won the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award for 2009. For Williams, nothing is off-limits, as her poetry explores a plethora of different forms and subjects, ranging from streams of consciousness about happiness, to more structured poems that grapple with racial violence. Her work aches with a profound understanding of the human condition and insight into the foibles of modern existence.

God Interrupted

Peter Rock, associate professor of creative writing at Reed, has published his sixth novel, My Abandonment (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), which chronicles the story of a 13-year-old girl and her father who inhabit an elaborate cave shelter in a nature preserve in Portland, Oregon. The novel—inspired by a true story tells through the voice of its young protagonist, Caroline—a tale of human loss and redemption, and of survival and hope, at the edge of civilization. In the spirit of Jon Krakauer’s Into The Wild, Peter Rock’s My Abandonment gives a voice to the outsiders of society, living off the grid, for whom the city is the true wilderness.

—Colin Chapman ’10

reed magazine logoSpring 2009