April 1, 2013 (REVISED July 17, 2013) Jean Elshtain Named Kluge Chair in Modern Culture

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Mary Lou Reker (202) 707-5027

UPDATE: Jean Elshtain's tenure has been postponed

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has appointed Jean Bethke Elshtain, a professor at the University of Chicago, to the Kluge Chair in Modern Culture at the Library’s John W. Kluge Center.

Elshtain will spend five months at the Library of Congress researching her forthcoming book “Movies and the Moral Life.” Her tenure starts April 1.

She will examine half a century of film, from the period around 1950 to 2000, looking specifically at Westerns and “the relationship between violence, law and liberty.” Her research will also examine whether “any military films, or war movies as they are most often called, help us to probe the question of loyalty?”

Elshtain said, “For better or for worse, film has served as a central figure in the forming of America and her distinctive culture.”

Considered one of America’s foremost public intellectuals, Elshtain is the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, with appointments in Political Science and the Committee on International Relations. She is also a Visiting Distinguished Professor of Religion and Politics at Baylor University.

Elshtain writes frequently for journals of civic opinion and lectures widely in the United States and abroad on themes of democracy, ethical dilemmas, religion and politics, and international relations. She also sits on the Scholars Council of the Library of Congress.

She has written and edited numerous books, including “Sovereignty: God, State, and Self” (2008), “Public Man, Private Woman: Women in Social and Political Thought” (1981), “Augustine and the Limits of Politics” (1996), and “Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World” (2003).

From her childhood in the small village of Tinmath, Colo., (population 185), Elshtain has ascended to become a renowned international scholar, recipient of nine honorary degrees and Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The Kluge Chair in Modern Culture is a distinguished senior research position in residence at the Library appointed by the Librarian of Congress. Using research facilities and services at the Library, the scholar is expected to focus on modern arts and media and their impact on societal development, using the Library’s music, film, architecture, literature, multi-media and folklore collections.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world's best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library's rich resources, and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For more information about the Kluge Center, visit www.loc.gov/kluge/.


PR 13-064
ISSN 0731-3527