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.
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- At this year’s Australasian Society of Continental Philosophy conference I had the pleasure of responding to Gregg Lambert’s new book Return Statements: The Return of Religion in Contemporary Philosophy. I chose to focus on the very idea of the “return of religion”, its multiple senses, and their potential conflicts. The paper is downloadable from academia.edu and ... Read more
- Pleasant surprise waiting for me at work this morning: Catherine Malabou’s Before Tomorrow to review for @NDPReviews. I worked with the French for the two chapters on Malabou in French Philosophy Today, and I’m looking forward to the translation. Read More... Read more
- I’ve just learned that French Philosophy Today will shortly join Difficult Atheism on Edinburgh Scholarship Online. This, I hope, will come as good news to at least some of those who have been in touch with me about the price of the hardback edition. Read More... Read more
- The latest issue of Derrida Today includes a review of my Difficult Atheism by Christina Smerick. You can read the whole review online for free here. Watkin’s thesis is bold and unapologetic, and shapes the path of his reading and thinking with intense focus. His main concern, bordering on a battle cry, is that the ground gained by atheism is ... Read more
- French Philosophy Today has just been reviewed over at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. Here are some highlights: Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s famously defined philosophical production as concept creation. If they are correct, then Watkin’s work is not just a scholarly commentary of philosophy but also itself an inventive philosophical work. If Alain Badiou, the first French ... Read more
- This is the sixth in a series of posts providing short summaries of the chapters in my latest book, French Philosophy Today: New Figures of the Human in Badiou, Meillassoux, Malabou, Serres and Latour. For further chapter summaries, please see here. Chapter 6 considers the figure of the human that emerges in Bruno Latour’s An Inquiry into Modes of ... Read more
- This is the fifth in a series of posts providing short summaries of the chapters in my latest book, French Philosophy Today: New Figures of the Human in Badiou, Meillassoux, Malabou, Serres and Latour. For further chapter summaries, please see here. With Michel Serres’s universal humanism (Chapter 5) the argument returns to the question of host capacities in order, ... Read more
- This is the fourth in a series of posts providing short summaries of the chapters in my latest book, French Philosophy Today: New Figures of the Human in Badiou, Meillassoux, Malabou, Serres and Latour. For further chapter summaries, please see here. Chapter 4 turns to the question of human identity over time in Malabou. After setting out the stakes ... Read more
- Just published: Nancy and Visual Culture. Here is the abstract for my chapter, entitled “Dancing Equality: Image, Imitation and Participation”. ‘We are facing a very new demand in terms of art’ remarks Nancy in Allitérations, ‘the demand that art be “made by everyone”’. And yet we also know very well that the arts require individuality, singularity and ... Read more
- This is the third in a series of posts providing short summaries of the chapters in my latest book, French Philosophy Today: New Figures of the Human in Badiou, Meillassoux, Malabou, Serres and Latour. For further chapter summaries, please see here. The transition from Badiou and Meillassoux to Catherine Malabou leads us away from a host capacity ... Read more
- My review of Ignaas Devisch’s Jean-Luc Nancy and the Question of Community now available on the H-France websiteMy extended review of Ignaas Devisch’s excellent Jean-Luc Nancy and the Question of Community has just been published on the H-France website. The PDF can be downloaded here. Read More... Read more
- On August 5 at 11am I will have the pleasure of speaking at the Melbourne University of Divinity philosophy seminar on the subject “Varieties of Contemporary Atheism: Badiou, Nancy, Meillassoux”. The talk seeks to synthesise and develop some of the main lines of thinking from Difficult Atheism and to open the argument of the book to ... Read more