Dr Tae-Yeoun Keum awarded 2018 Leo Strauss prize

Tae-Yeoun KeumCongratulations to Dr Tae-Yeoun Keum, Christopher Tower Junior Research Fellow at Christ Church, who is the recipient of the 2018 Leo Strauss Award, presented by the American Political Science Association.

The Leo Strauss prize is awarded annually by the American Political Science Association for the best dissertation in the field of political philosophy. Dr Keum was chosen as the recipient of the award for her dissertation exploring Plato’s myths and their modern legacy, with particular focus on the political thought of More, Bacon, Leibniz, the German Romantics, and Cassirer. Political Science Now described it as an ‘elegantly written, adroitly constructed, and fully realized investigation of Plato and the meaning, significance, and viability of myths and mythology in political theory and modernity’.

Dr Keum said, “First and foremost I feel extremely lucky! But the award is also a tremendous honour, not only because of its stature and history, but because I have the utmost respect for the work of many of its past recipients (including Oxford’s very own Teresa Bejan, Associate Professor of Politics at Oriel College).

“I was especially gratified to read the statement from the judges and to learn that they had taken away from the dissertation exactly what I had hoped to communicate in it. I took a risk in my PhD and wrote a dissertation that starts with Plato and ends in the middle of the twentieth century, not because it’s especially scholarly, but because that was the dissertation I personally found it meaningful to write. It was really encouraging to hear from the judges that I somehow managed to strike a balance between scholarly rigour, and staying true to the rather grand ambition with which I’d jumped into the project as a young student.”

Dr Keum will travel to the US to receive the award at the end of the month. The dissertation that received the award forms the basis of the book that she is currently writing, Plato and the Mythic Tradition in Political Thought, which is under contract with Harvard University Press.

Prior to studying for her PhD at Harvard, Tae-Yeoun gained a BA in Humanities from Yale University and an MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History from the University of Cambridge, and since 2016 has been the Christopher Tower Junior Research Fellow at Christ Church. She has carried out undergraduate teaching in PPE Prelims, the history of modern political philosophy from Machiavelli to Nietzsche, and subjects in comparative politics and political science more generally. Her research interests include ancient political thought and its reception, 20th century German philosophy, and the intersection of political theory and literature.