Michael Lackey

University of Minnesota – Morris — Morris, MN

Recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship (2001-02), Michael Lackey teaches English at the University of Minnesota, Morris.  He has earned M.A. degrees in philosophy, German, and English, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Kentucky, and he has taught at the University of Siegen (Germany), SUNY-Brockport, Wellesley College, and the University of Minnesota, Morris.  He has published articles in numerous journals, including African American Review, Philosophy and Literature, Journal of the History of Ideas, Modern Fiction Studies, Journal of Speculative Philosophy, Journal of Modern Literature, and Comparative Critical Studies.  University Press of Florida has recently published the paperback version of his book, African American Atheists and Political Liberation: A Study of the Socio-Cultural Dynamics of Faith and his book was named a “Choice Outstanding Academic Title” for 2007. 

Lackey’s work is heavily informed by two separate and seemingly divergent schools of thought: postmodernism and rationalism.  As a postmodernist, he holds that all truth systems (philosophy, psychology, biology, sociology, etc.) are human-constructed fictions, but as a rationalist, he is a staunch defender of logic, reason, and empiricism.  In essence, he claims that science is one of the most sophisticated and useful fictions humanity has constructed.  In recent years, he has been trying to demonstrate that it is possible to reconcile postmodernism and humanism and that postmodernists and humanists are more alike than unalike.

His new book project (Modernist God States: A Literary Study of the Theological Origins of Nazi Totalitarianism) is on Hitler and the Nazis.  In this book, he opposes one of the dominant interpretations of intellectual and political history, which holds that the West, since the Enlightenment, has been becoming increasingly more secular.  Scholars who have adopted this approach claim that Hitler and the Nazis are the logical product of secularization, atheism, and humanism.  By stark contrast, Lackey has been trying to demonstrate that secularization has only taken hold in very elite circles, mainly among academics, scholars, and intellectuals.  As for the general population, it has actually become increasingly more religious, but in ways that are significantly different from pre-Enlightenment versions of religion.  Based on his findings, Lackey argues that the only way to understand Hitler and the Nazis is to take into account the new conceptions of religious subjectivity that started to flourish and dominate among the general population in the early part of the twentieth century.  Understanding these new conceptions sheds new and considerable light on Hitler’s and the Nazis’ religious conception of the political.

Michael can be reached via e-mail at lacke010 [at] umn [dot] edu