Tae-Yeoun Keum wins Edward M Chase Prize at Harvard University

Christ Church Junior Research Fellow Tae-Yeoun Keum recently returned to Harvard to graduate with a PhD in Political Theory, and was also awarded the 2017 Edward M Chase Prize for her dissertation entitled ‘Plato and the Mythic Tradition in Political Thought’.

The Edward M Chase Prize is one of three dissertation prizes awarded annually by Harvard's Department of Government to dissertations defended that year across the field of political science. The Chase Prize recognizes 'the best dissertation on a subject relating to the promotion of world peace’. Tae-Yeoun’s dissertation covered the reception of Plato’s myths in modern political thought, reconstructing a tradition of authors who took inspiration from Plato’s myths to investigate the place of myth in political thought more generally. She explained, ‘While Plato’s legacy, often equated with the history of Western philosophy itself, is conventionally taken to be a rational and critical enterprise divorced from myth, I show that an alternative Platonic tradition challenges the prevailing tendency in modern political theory to dismiss myth as merely irrational’.

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 the history of modern political philosophy from Machiavelli to Nietzsche and subjects in comparative politics and general political science.

Her research interests include ancient political thought and its reception, 20th century German philosophy, and the intersection of political theory and literature. She is currently working on research into political myth, focussing on narratives about political events or conditions that are taken for granted and which do not lend themselves easily to critical scrutiny, and questioning whether a political theory committed to rational ideals can afford a place for narratives such as these. Her dissertation formed part of wider research examining Plato’s myths and their modern legacy in the political thought of More, Bacon, Leibniz, the German Romantics, and Cassirer.