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Dr. Dennis Knepp

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What is the Passion Project Showcase? 
Big Bend started a quarterly event in Winter 2021 to feature the works of wonder that inspire members of our school community. 
Why have a Passion Project Showcase? 
At Big Bend, we are fortunate enough to be surrounded by talented and awesome people. Our school is full of faculty, administrators, staff, and students who are experts in a wide variety of areas. Their work is driven by excitement and curiosity, and we want to celebrate these love labors.



Down the Research Rabbit Hole Dennis Knepp: The Philosophical Life

William C. Bonaudi Library's Down the Research Rabbit Hole | Dennis Knepp : The Philosophical Life | Issue 3

Dr. Dennis Knepp



Dr. Dennis Knepp
Tuesday, November 9, 2021 at 6:30 - 8:00 pm





Here are a few images that help describe my family values growing up as a straight white male in Wichita, Kansas. Salt and pepper were the only spices used in my family. Hamburgers were fine dining. I drove a 1967 Camaro in high school and many of my friends also drove classic muscle cars. I also worked many hours running a lathe at my father's machine shop that did sub-contracting for Boeing.

Dr. Kneff images salt to fast old vintage cars.

I originally went to Wichita State University to study engineering but I was a terrible student because wasn't motivated. I eventually found a community at the Philosophy Department and spent a lot of time in the lounge of Fiske Hall drinking coffee and discussing ideas with other philosophy students. Here's Socrates after drinking hemlock. The other students introduced me to spices such as discovering Sriracha sauce at local Vietnamese restaurants that my family would never have gone to.

More Dr. Kneff images from mascots to hot sauce.

I met my sweetheart, Jennifer McCarthy, at a St. Patrick's Day party during our first year of graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. I focused my education on being a generalist in my field so that I could teach as many different courses as possible. Since 2000, I've been the full-time faculty member of both the Philosophy and the Religious Studies Departments at Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake, Washington. Through hard work l've achieved a Ph.D. and a senior tenured position. I am known on campus as someone who will speak up when I see a problem. Jen and I married in 2000 just before moving here and starting our own family. Here's an image from Monday of us taking our two teenage kids to the airport to fly to Las Vegas to see their grandparents and aunties while we do the ESCALA training this week. And lastly is an image they sent just yesterday while we were in Day 1. 

More images of items that Dr. Knepp has lived and loved.



Dennis Knepp list of Pop Culture Publications, April 2020.

I’ve long been interested in presenting philosophical ideas to a broader audience and so this is a list of my publications that were meant for the public. I challenge myself to write about a different topic each time. Most of these are published by John Wiley & Sons or the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series edited by William Irwin.


“A Phenomenology of Christmas,” a five-part series, Columbia Basin Herald, December 2004. Each essay was an examination of Christmas     through one of the five senses.

“Bella’s Vampire Semiotics” in Twilight and Philosophy: Vampires, Vegetarians, and the Pursuit of Immortality, John Wiley &   
            Sons, Inc., 2009. I use Bella’s discovery that Edward is a vampire to introduce the triadic semiotics of Charles Sanders 
            Peirce. Available at the Willliam C. Bonaudi Library.

“’You’re Nothing But a Pack of Cards!’: Alice Doesn’t Have a Social Contract” in Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy:
            Curiouser and Curiouser, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2010. I justify Alice’s rejection of the guilty verdict of the sham trial
            using the social contract theories of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.

“Why We Enjoy Reading about Men Who Hate Women: Aristotle’s Cathartic Appeal,” in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and
            Philosophy: Everything is Fire
, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2012. I use Martha Nussbaum’s interpretation of Aristotle’s
            theory of catharsis to understand why we enjoying reading violent stories about abused people rather than stories of
            nice people doing nice things. Available at the William C. Bonaudi Library.

“Bilbo Baggins: the Cosmopolitan Hobbit,” in The Hobbit and Philosophy: For When You’ve Lost Your Dwarves, Your Wizard,
            and Your Way, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2012. I use Biblo’s appreciation of other cultures outside the Shire to introduce
            Kwame Anthony Appiah’s theory of cosmopolitanism. Available at the William C. Bonaudi Library.

“Gods, Drugs and Ghosts: Finding Dionysius and Apollo in Black Sabbath and the Birth of Heavy Metal,” in Black Sabbath and
            Philosophy: Mastering Reality
, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2013. Series editor William Irwin requested that I write about
            drugs and Black Sabbath and so I used it to introduce Nietzsche’s analysis of Apollo and Dionysius in the birth of       
            ancient theater. This is my most experimental published writing. Available at the William C. Bonaudi Library., 

“Superman Family Resemblance,” in Superman and Philosophy: What Would the Man of Steel Do?, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.,
            2013. I use the different variations of Superman to introduce Wittgenstein’s concept of a family resemblance.
            Available at the William C. Bonaudi Library.

“’We have an indigenous population of humanoids called the Na’vi’: Native American philosophy in Avatar,” in Avatar and
            Philosophy: Learning to See, 
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2014. I use the Na’vi to introduce contemporary Native
            Americans philosophers and Scott Pratt’s Native Pragmatism. Available at the William C. Bonaudi Library.

“Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication,” in Steve Jobs and Philosophy: For Those Who Think Different, Carus Publishing
            Company, 2015. I use Steve Jobs’ theory of design aesthetics to introduce Slavoj Žižek’s interpretation of the Hegelian
            dialectic. Available at the William C. Bonaudi Library.

“The Mind of Blue Snaggletooth: The Intentional Stance, Vintage Star Wars Action Figures, and the Origins of Religion,” in The
             Ultimate Star Wars and Philosophy: You Must Unlearn What You Have Learned, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2016. I use
             playing with action figures as an introduction to Daniel Dennett’s philosophy of mind and his speculations about the
             origins of religion. Available at the William C. Bonaudi Library.

“Merciful Minerva in a Modern Metropolis,” in Wonder Woman and Philosophy: The Amazonian Mystique, John Wiley & Sons,
             Inc., 2017. I use the Greek mythology found in Wonder Woman to introduce Hegel’s philosophy of history. This
             became the basis for a public lecture at the Salon Series at the Moses Lake Museum and Art Center.
             Available at the William C. Bonaudi LIbrary.

“Remembering, Reminding, and Forgetting with Leonard Shelby, in The Philosophy of Christopher Nolan, Lexington Books,
             2017. I use Leonard Shelby’s tattoos in Nolan’s Memento as an introduction to the triadic semiotics of Charles Sanders
             Peirce as a means of finding knowledge but then undercut that search with Plato’s critique of writing found in
             his Phaedrus.