USAO faculty dig into research; new books out

Dr. Zach Simpson (left) and Dr. James Finck (right) both saw new books published in 2012. Several other members of USAO’s faculty published articles, book chapters and presented at conferences throughout the year.

USAO faculty dig into research; new books out



With three new books – on the Civil War, local history and aesthetic living – plus scholarly articles in peer reviewed journals, faculty at the University of Science and Arts are engaged in research when not in the classroom.


Dr. James Finck, assistant professor of American history, had two books published in 2012.


In July, Arcadia Publishing released Images of America: Chickasha, a book written by Finck in conjunction with USAO alumna Gennifer Majors, of Morrilton, Ark., and the Grady County Historical Society.


The book features a wealth of photographs from Chickasha’s rich past with historical context provided by Finck and Majors.

In December, Savas Beatie, a publisher that specializes in historical titles, released Finck’s Divided Loyalties: Kentucky’s Struggle with Armed Neutrality During the Civil War.


Drawing deeply from primary sources including letters, journals, newspapers, government documents and published reports, Finck shines new light on Kentucky’s neutral stance during the first two years of the Civil War.


Finck, who earned his doctorate from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 2008, has been a member of the faculty since 2011 and is the co-founder and co-chair of the USAO Summer History Symposium.


Dr. Zach Simpson, assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies, saw his first book, Life as Art: Aesthetics and the Creation of Self from Nietzsche to Foucault released in 2012 from publisher Lexington Books.


The book attempts to solve the question of how people can “live their lives like a work of art.”


To do so, Simpson uses the work of a number of contemporary philosophers who saw art as an inspiration to live a better and more just life.

He published two other peer-reviewed articles in 2012,  “Evolution and Religion” for the Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion (Vol.3) and “The Truths We Tell Ourselves: Foucault on parrhesia” for the May edition of Foucault Studies.


Simpson, who occupies the Brad Ableson Religious Reconciliation Chair at USAO, earned his doctorate in philosophy of religion and philosophy from Claremont Graduate University in 2009.


He has been a member of USAO’s faculty since 2009.


Both Finck and Simpson are scheduled to deliver short, public talks on their respective books followed by a book signing.


Finck’s and Simpson’s presentations are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in room 124 of Davis Hall on Feb. 20 and March 13, respectively.


Both presentations will be followed by a book signing event in the Nesbitt gallery.


Simpson co-authored an article last year with Dr. Stephen Weber, professor of music, titled “The Interdisciplinary Arts and Ideas Performance Model: Philosophical, Psychological, Pedagogical, and Practical Perspectives.”


The article was published in The Visual and Performing Arts: An International Anthology: Volume II from the Athens Institute for Education and Research.


Weber, who earned his doctorate from Texas Tech in 1993, is the chair of the arts and humanities division. He has been on the faculty at USAO since 1995.


Weber received the Board of Regents Award for Superior Teaching in 1997. He received the Board of Regents Award for Scholarly Activity three times in 1998, 2003 and 2011.


Dr. Lee Hester, associate professor of American Indian Studies, has recently had two works published: “American Indians, Transhumanism and Cognitive Enhancement,” which was included in the book, The Routledge Companion to Religion and Science; and “Truth and Native American Epistemology,” which appeared in Philosophy Matters.


In addition, Oxford University Press is scheduled to publish two additional works by Hester this year: “Choctaw Notions of Sovereignty,” and “The Conference as a Paradigm of Intercultural Communications;” both of which will be included in Philosophy and Aboriginal Rights: Critical Dialogues.


Hester earned his doctorate from the University of Oklahoma in 1999 and has been on the faculty at USAO since 2000.


Dr. Dex Marble, vice president of academic affairs, says that these efforts that go above and beyond teaching in the classroom are representative of the high level of scholarship that USAO prizes in its faculty.


“The expectation for students graduating from this institution is that they should be able not only to learn and synthesize information from different disciplines but also to communicate those findings to their peers and, indeed, the general public,” Marble says.

“Our publishing faculty provides the most important kind of model to our student body, namely modeling by example. Their contribution to the university is invaluable and we honor them for those efforts.”