Russell Arben Fox
Russell Arben Fox has always used his full name for all professional–and sometimes even unprofessional–matters, because he likes it. “Russell” connects him to his father and his grandfather, to their fondness for the western art of Charles M. Russell, and to the wheat fields, pine trees, and rolling hills of the Inland Empire–centering on Spokane, Washington–where he grew up on a farm, milking cows by hand. “Arben” connects him to his maternal grandfather, a gentleman and Latter-day Saint who was raised in an all-Mormon village in southern Utah, but made a home for his family in Vernal, Utah, the heart of the isolated, dry, stark Uintah Basin, a region where most of his grandfather’s descendants still reside. “Fox” connects him to a convoluted genealogy stretching from Washington State to western Canada, Iowa, and before that to England, Ireland, and France–and now, with his marriage to Melissa Madsen, herself of product of Scandinavian pioneers who formed tight-knit Mormon settlements in Sanpete County in central Utah in the mid-19th century, the connection includes Denmark, Sweden, and even a dash of Norway. Connections are important to Russell; it is from them that communities are built.
Russell and Melissa have been married since 1993; they have four children, all daughters. Russell received a BA in political science and an MA in international studies from Brigham Young University, then went on to receive a PhD in political theory in 2001 from Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, where Stephen Schneck was his advisor. Along the way, he worked as a dishwasher, a newspaper reporter, and a bookseller. Since completing his degree and embarking on his very nearly life-long intention to be a college professor, he has lived and taught (often with terrible pay, but always full-time and with benefits, so he knows he’s been lucky) in Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Illinois, and now in Wichita, KS, where he runs the political science program at Friends University, a small Christian liberal arts school, the campus of which Russell is able to look out over from his third story office in the historic Davis Building. His wife and he somewhat miss the ten years they spent in the American South, just as he sometimes misses the West and she sometimes misses the beaches of California and Michigan where she grew up, but have come to realize that in a mobile world–one which has become such at least as much due to our own choices as to structural realities–coming to be at home in a place is often almost as much a matter of desire as circumstance. (Being pretty good at e-mail correspondence with distant friends and family hasn’t hurt either.) In any case, they love their circumstances now–the windy plains and brilliant blue skies of Kansas–and plan on grounding their daughters as firmly as possible in them.
Russell teaches all manner of courses dealing with American government, the Constitution, comparative politics, political ideologies, Asian history and culture (he lived for two years in South Korea as a church missionary), international relations, human rights, and so forth. He is currently working on various writing and research projects dealing with nationalism, Kansas populism, communitarianism, German romanticism, localism, Confucianism, Christian socialism, and a host of other long words. He also blogs, irregularly but always at too-great a length, at In Medias Res, where, when not geeking about pop culture or talking about recycling, bicycling, and gardening, he ruminates about the politics of the day and wonders if or how a socially conservative, economically progressive, communitarian populist like himself could fit into a world which must turn more localist if it is going to survive. The honor of being made a regular contributor to Front Porch Republic, for which he is very grateful, suggests to him that all his wondering may have done some good, after all.
See posts written by Russell Arben Fox.