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.
- By Jess Phillips, Honours Candidate in Literary Studies, Monash University. Jess’s thesis explores the use of metaphor and simile in Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar to represent and describe the experience of madness. http://www.jessp.net The Red Tree is a picture book, written and illustrated by Australian artist Shaun Tan. It depicts a young, redheaded girl journeying from ... Read more
- I am delighted to announce that the paperback edition of French Philosophy Today is now (finally!) available for pre-order on Amazon. The U.S. site has it at $39.95 and most European sites set the price at around €25. Curiously, amazon.co.uk has the paperback at £150, which I assume is a mistake soon to be corrected. Here is ... Read more
- In a previous post I commended the virtues of planning your research, but one problem with such a laudable aim is that it only holds sway over one part of your life. Bluntly, you can plan all the work you like, but the rest of life has a habit of turning up unannounced and shredding ... Read more
- This is the final post summarizing some conclusions from Difficult Atheism, before this series launches out into new territory. In previous posts I have introduced the series, discussed a schema for distinguishing between different atheisms, sketched Alain Badiou’s interruption of the mytheme by the matheme and Jean-Luc Nancy’s “Christmas Projection”, and reflected upon Nancy’s own idea that ... Read more
- What is a theological concept? Part 4: Jean-Luc Nancy’s “something in Christianity deeper than Christianity”In the previous post I explored Nancy’s reading of Badiou’s interruption of the mytheme by the matheme as a theological moment in Badiou’s thought. But what about Nancy himself? Does his own atheism—for atheist he indeed professes to be, providing that atheism is understood in a way that avoids the Christmas projection—avoid theological concepts? In ... Read more
- What is a theological concept? Part 3: Alain Badiou’s interruption of the mytheme by the matheme and Jean-Luc Nancy’s “Christmas Projection”In this third post in the “what is a theological concept?” series I focus for the first time on a specific philosophical moment: Alain Badiou’s account of the interruption of the mytheme by the matheme. I am particularly interested in Jean-Luc Nancy’s reading of this Badiouian move, for Nancy sees in the interruption of the ... Read more
- In Difficult Atheism I offered a schema for understanding varieties of contemporary French philosophical atheism. In this post I want briefly to summarise that schema (adding some diagrams not included in Difficult Atheism), before going on to develop it further in the future. If you want to explore these ideas in greater length, please refer ... Read more
- How art can create a new future: Stephen Zepke’s Sublime Art forthcoming in the Crosscurrents seriesI am delighted to report that Stephen Zepke’s Sublime Art is nearing publication, with the cover now being proofed. How art can create a new future Sublime art exceeds the present. It is an undetermined expression that in coming into being creates new universals, new modes of life and new coefficients of freedom. Stephen Zepke tracks this movement from ... Read more
- My project to write a critical introduction to the thought of Michel Serres continues to advance, and one small piece of the extensive Serresian jig-saw puzzle is of course the distinctive way in which he approaches ecological questions. A couple of years ago I was delighted to be approached by Daniel Finch-Race and Stephanie Posthumus to ... Read more
- In this new series of posts I want to ask a question that is simple enough to pose: “what is a theological concept?” The question comes out of lines of inquiry I opened up in Difficult Atheism but wasn’t able to bring to a conclusion, as well as from reflections I have been pursuing since ... Read more