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Seattle University


Celebrating Our Authors

Written by Mike Thee
January 11, 2010
Pictured from top: Hazel Hahn, Theresa Earenfight and Gordon Miller.

The announcement from the history department said it all—“It’s raining books.”

Indeed it is. Three of the department’s faculty—Theresa Earenfight, Gordon Miller and Hazel Hahn—came out with new books during fall quarter.

Now it’s time to celebrate their great achievements with a reception this Thursday, Jan. 14, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Casey Atrium. All faculty and staff are invited.

Earenfight’s new book is titled The King’s Other Body: María of Castile and the Crown of Aragon. Queen María of Castile, the wife of Alfonso V, king of the Crown of Aragon, governed Catalunya in the mid-15th century while her husband conquered and governed the kingdom of Naples. It was a political arrangement that was unusual for its time. As the book’s publisher, University of Pennsylvania Press, describes, “Such legitimately sanctioned political authority is remarkable given that she ruled not as queen in her own right but rather as Lieutenant General of Catalunya with powers equivalent to the king’s.”

“María does not fit conventional images of a queen as wife and mother,” the description continues. “(I)ndeed, she had no children and so never served as queen-regent for any royal heirs in their minorities or exercised a queen-mother's privilege to act as diplomat when arranging the marriages of her children and grandchildren. But she was clearly more than just a wife offering advice: she embodied the king's personal authority and was second only to the king himself.

She was his alter ego, the other royal body fully empowered to govern. For a medieval queen, this official form of co-rulership, combining exalted royal status with official political appointment, was rare and striking.” 

Hahn’s book, Scenes of Parisian Modernity: Culture and Consumption in the Nineteenth Century, which is published by Palgrave McMillan, examines the history of consumption in Paris.

As described at Arts & Sciences, “Hahn emphasizes the tension between art and industry and between culture and commerce, a dynamic that significantly marked urban commercial modernity that spread new imaginary about consumption. She argues that Parisian consumer culture arose earlier than generally thought, and explores the intense commercialization Paris underwent.”

Miller’s book, published by MIT Press, takes up some unfinished business begun by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Miller explains, “Goethe’s Metamorphosis of Plants, which was first published in 1790, has exerted a notable influence on biological science during the past two hundred years, in spite of the fact that it remained an unfinished project during that time.” Miller says Goethe always wanted the book to be illustrated, but this had never been adequately done. “So my main purpose in undertaking this project was to satisfy this desire of Goethe’s with my photography, in the hope of making his botanical book more understandable and accessible to a wider audience.” Miller also wrote an introduction and an appendix that describe Goethe’s distinctive scientific approach, which he says “has received renewed interest in recent years and has important implications regarding our larger relationship with the natural world.”