As an undergraduate I read Modern and Medieval Languages (French and German) at Jesus College, Cambridge from 1998-2002, with a wonderful year in Paris as part of my study. In 2002-03 I completed an MPhil in European Literature and Culture, with essays on Derrida and Calvin (a fascinating combination), and a dissertation on Paul Ricœur’s work on justice. I then received AHRC funding to complete a PhD from 2003-2006, which became the book Phenomenology or Deconstruction? (Edinburgh, 2011).
After that I spent a year without a regular job, supervising and teaching at various colleges in Cambridge and applying for Junior Research Fellowships. I am very grateful to Magdalene College for the opportunity to work as the Lumley Junior Research Fellow from 2007-09, giving me the chance to get underway with the project that became Difficult Atheism. Gradually working my way further up Castle Hill, I then took up a temporary university lectureship in French and fellowship at Murray Edwards College (formerly New Hall) in Cambridge from 2009-11, before moving with Alison my wife to Melbourne in 2011 to take up a senior lectureship in French Studies at Monash University. Difficult Atheism and my primer on the history of Western thought and culture entitled From Plato to Postmodernism (Bloomsbury, 2011) came out that year.
My current research spans theological, anthropological and ecological themes in contemporary French thought. One project, provisionally entitled The Human Remains, critiques the figure of the human in contemporary French materialist philosophy (with chapters on Alain Badiou, Quentin Meillassoux, Catherine Malabou, Michel Serres and Bruno Latour). I am also working on the first sole-authored scholarly introduction in English to the thought of Michel Serres, a pioneering genuinely cross-disciplinary thinker crucial to debates in eco-philosophy and the relation between the arts and the sciences, among many other areas. I edit the international monograph series Crosscurrents for Edinburgh University Press, exploring the development of European thought through engagements with the arts, humanities, social sciences and sciences. The series welcomes book proposals from prospective authors.
In addition to teaching into French core units from beginner to advanced levels at Monash, I coordinate a French elective called “Whatever Happened to Truth? French Literature, Thought and Visual Culture” and the literary studies capstone unit “Literature and Modernism”. I teach on philosophical and literary themes at Honours and postgraduate levels, and have been known to provide ad hoc lectures for the Religion and Theology programme.
In addition to teaching and research duties I currently serve as Honours coordinator for the school of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics (LLCL) at Monash, and run the fortnightly “Work in Progress” seminars at which Honours students and lecturing staff present side by side on their latest research. It is one of the most rewarding and satisfying parts of my job.
- I have added a new “Accumulator” test to Vocab Book, the Excel-based vocabulary learning tool I made last year. The new test simulates a tried and tested learning method: Imagine a vocab book in two columns with English words or phrases on the left and their target language translations on the right. At school I was taught to learn ... Read more
- Anzac Day reflection: “I have a body of war… And so I have a soul of peace”. Translation of a passage by Michel Serres from Le Sens de l’infoOn Anzac day, here is a personal reflection on war from the philosopher Michel Serres. It comes from the very first edition of Le Sens de l’info, his weekly 6 minute live radio broadcast with Serres and Michel Polacco every Sunday on national French radio. The first episode was broadcast on September 5, 2004, entitled “Les États-Unis de George ... Read more
- The final chapter of The Human Remains addresses Bruno Latour’s modes of existence project and work on Gaia in relation to Serres, Malabou, Meillassoux and Badiou’s accounts of the human. I couldn’t resist quickly drawing attention to one striking Neitzschean resonance in Latour’s We Have Never Been Modern. One passage in NM struck me as reading inescapably like a “translation” (to ... Read more
- We have always been plastic: Catherine Malabou with Gregory of Nyssa and Giovanni Pico della MirandolaWith much coffee and the huge kindness and indulgence of my wife I have just finished the first complete draft of my book on figures of the human in contemporary French thought. The project formerly known as The Human Remains has evolved into the argument that one of the most comprehensive and productive ways to understand ... Read more
- My article on Jean-Luc Nancy and dance entitled “When I think, I dance” has been translated into Korean and appears serialised in issues 243 and 244 of Dance Magazine MOMM. Many thanks to Philipa Rothfield and Yewoon at DanceMOMM for their collaboration. A longer title for the article would be “When I think I dance I don’t dance, but ... Read more
- New interview with Jean-Luc Nancy available online, along with “Quando penso, danzo”: Italian translation of my short essay on NancyThe Italian translation of my piece on Nancy and dance, originally written for Melbourne’s Dancehouse Diary, is now available at logoi.ph, a new online philosophy journal. The inaugural issue also contains an interview with Jean-Luc Nancy entitled “Art Singular Plural”, available in Italian and English. My thanks to Annalisa Caputo for inviting me to be part ... Read more
- Recently I interviewed Leemon McHenry about his book The Event Universe: The Revisionary Metaphysics of Alfred North Whitehead (UK) (US), the newest addition to the Crosscurrents series. The book is available for pre-order and scheduled for publication in July. Leemon’s other books can be found here. Click here for the full interview. Read More... Read more
- I’m currently writing the introduction to The Human Remains, discussing the figure of the human in New Materialist thought. I thought I would share the table I drew up of all the thinkers identified as part of the new materialism in different monographs and collected volumes. I have excluded individual journal articles from the list ... Read more
- I am delighted to make available the address given by Emma Wilson at the launch of the latest volume in the Crosscurrents series, Amaleena Damlé‘s The Becoming of the Body. The launch took place at the Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London, on 20 June this year as part of the “Celebrating Publications in ... Read more
- Over at Marx&Philosophy, Bryan Cooke (whom I had the pleasure of meeting at last year’s Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy conference) has posted a review of Difficult Atheism. The opening paragraph gives a flavour of the review’s tone and also of Bryan’s style, which, for all the right reasons, is best left undescribed: Christopher Watkin’s thoughtful, learned ... Read more
- Over on my personal site I’ve just posted an update on the progress of my current book The Human Remains. The short version is that it has divided to become two books, the second entitled Humanity After God. Read More... Read more
- Difficult Atheism now on kindle in the US and UK (with real page numbers!) For those of a more traditional disposition, the paperback edition is still reassuringly present on amazon.co.uk. Read More... Read more
- A new review of my Difficult Atheism has just been published in The Heythrop Journal 55:4 (2014): 755-756. To read the review’s final paragraph and my response, please follow this link. Read More... Read more