During the spring semester, Hamilton College awarded AHI Undergraduate Fellow Marta Johnson from Austin, Texas, the Katharine Eckman ’09 Internship. The internship, established in memory of Katharine C. Eckman (Hamilton Class ’09), provides a generous summer stipend for a student interested in politics, government, and public policy.
Ms. Johnson, an economics major at Hamilton College, recently concluded her internship, which she used primarily to help the AHI in planning future programming centered on the theme of “limited government” for the 2011-2012 academic year. In particular, she has been preparing to lead a group independent study on Bertrand de Jouvenel, a twentieth century French political theorist who ranks as one of the great anti-totalitarian thinkers of the twentieth century.
A charter member of the Mont Pelerin society, Jouvenel possessed a remarkable range of erudition. His magnum opus consists of a trilogy: On Power (1945), Sovereignty (1955), and The Pure Theory of Politics (1963). These volumes (more than 1100 pages collectively) range widely over Western history, philosophy, and political theory from antiquity to modernity. Jouvenel’s scholarship combines a powerful critique of radical individualism, social contractarianism, and of modern utopian illusions about progress with deep reflections on the origins of totalitarianism and the meaning of justice and the common good. During her internship, Ms. Johnson read Jouvenel’s trilogy and planned themes and assignments for the group independent study. Ms. Johnson also opened communication with AHI senior fellow Daniel Mahoney of Assumption College, who will be a featured speaker in the class. Dr. Mahoney is the author of the only English-language biography of Jouvenel.
During the internship, Ms. Johnson also had the opportunity to participate in the AHI’s annual Summer Conference. She performed logistical work for the conference and other AHI events; her tasks ranged from conversing with visiting scholars, to operating the AHI’s on-site bookstore, to emergency repair of a pair of collapsed drapes. Before returning to her home town of Austin, Texas, Ms. Johnson received from Professors Doug Ambrose and Chris Hill, an inscribed copy of volume one of History and Women, Culture and Faith: Selected Writings of Elizabeth Fox-Genovese (University of South Carolina Press, 2010). Until her death in 2007, Professor Fox-Genovese, a prize-winning scholar and conspicuous public intellectual, was a charter member of the AHI’s board of academic advisers.