Bethel professors juggle teaching and scholarship

September 13, 2012 | 11 a.m.

 Mark Bruce, Angela Sabates and Lex Thompson add to book list by Bethel professors

News | Linnea White for The Clarion

Bethel professors juggle teaching and scholarship

Professor Mark Bruce spent the last few years completing his book, "The Anglo-Scottish Border and the Shaping of Identity." | Erin Gallagher

Believe it or not, professors do much more than teach. They research, give presentations, write papers and in some cases write entire books. Several Bethel professors’ books are coming out this fall. Here is just a sample of their work.

Mark Bruce from the English department just received a copy of his book "The Anglo-Scottish Border and the Shaping of Identity." This anthology explores the relationship between Medieval England and Scotland, featuring articles from respected contemporary scholars. At the beginning of the project, he and co-editor Katherine Terrell made a list of their dream scholars to write for the book. “We pretty much got our dream team list of contributors,” Bruce said.

There is plenty of published information about English border relationships in the Middle Ages, but Bruce and Terrell noticed that little attention is given to Scotland, which is strange to Bruce because “it was a very violent place for several hundred years.” Bruce and Terrell organized a conference panel about the Anglo-Scottish border. They were fascinated by the subject and were curious how others in medieval studies would respond. The positive response prompted them to write a book. Now, five years after first discussing the idea and after two years of concentrated work, Bruce has a copy sitting on his bookshelf.

Angela Sabates from the psychology department also saw a gap in scholarship. The result was "Social Psychology in Christian Perspective: Exploring the Human Condition." This is the first textbook to look at social psychology from a Christian worldview.

Currently, the field of social psychology is mostly reductionistic and naturalistic, according to Sabates. Researchers and experts in the field assume that humans are simply natural and material animals. Sabates said, “My goal was first to reach the students in Christian institutions who were unwittingly in a sense being conditioned in a narrowly reductionisitic way.”

Sabates admits that the secular world may see her book as “only relevant to a narrow sub-group of the population.” She sees the textbook as a service to Christian students and scholars. Although she would like secular scholars to be challenged by her perspective, her primary goal is to serve fellow Christians. “My fundamental hope is that Christian scholars of all sorts can see that the ideas that stem from faith are not inferior or less ‘scientific’ than the ideas that stem from another assumption.” 

Professor Lex Thompson from the art department also has a newly released book: "Cave Drawings." Thompson explained that the book is an artist book, meaning that, “The book as a whole is a single artwork.” "Cave Drawings" features photographs and pencil drawings of caves.

Unlike Bruce and Sabates, Thompson did not work through a publisher. He explained that artist books “tend to be produced the way art is produced,” which often means the artist works independently. There are 100 copies of Cave Drawings. Thompson’s earlier artist books were made with three and seven copies, but sometimes, Thompson said, there could be thousands of copies of an artist’s book. “I probably have ten copies left at this point,” he said. “They’re almost gone…which is good. You want them to be gone.” 

Bruce and Sabates say that teaching and writing a book at the same time is sometimes difficult. “You do feel like you’re doing quite a juggling act when you’ve got your classes to teach and deadlines on a project like that to work on,” Bruce said. To make time for it all, Sabates noted that “a great deal of my work happened very, very late at night.”

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