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.
- Over the coming days I will be posting brief, chapter-by-chapter summaries of the argument of my new book French Philosophy Today: New Figures of the Human in Badiou, Meillassoux, Malabou, Serres and Latour. Here is the main argument of Chapter 1, on Badiou. This first chapter probes the limits of Badiou’s “formalised inhumanism”. It argues that it is ... Read more
- In this Sunday’s Age and Sydney Morning Herald I’m quoted talking about robots, consciousness and DescartesWith the publication of my book on contemporary limits and transformations of humanity coming out next month I had the chance this week to talk with John Elder of The Sunday Age about the future possibility of rights for robots. John’s article came out today in The Sunday Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, with the title “What happens ... Read more
- In this episode I talk very briefly about the growing willingness to accept, from the mid 1990s onwards, that deconstruction is indeed ethical, before tackling the myth that Derrida is a relativist. I unpack the phrase “tout autre est tout autre” (“every other is wholly other”) from Derrida’s reading of Kierkegaard on Genesis 22 and ... Read more
- In January I had the pleasure of recording a series of three podcasts with the Reformed Forum discussing Derrida’s metaphysics, ethics and theology alongside ideas from the Reformed theological tradition. The first of the podcasts has just been released here. In this first podcast I introduce Derrida and debunk the myth that he thinks language is meaningless or that things can ... Read more
- As part of a new role helping develop and foster research in the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics (LLCL) at Monash, I am conducting an occasional series of interviews with colleagues about how their current research projects fit into the bigger picture of the questions and themes that run through their work. The ... Read more
- I am delighted to be able to report that my article “Rewriting the Death of the Author: Rancièrian Reflections” is finally available in Philosophy and Literature. Abstract: For decades now, critics of the “death of the author” thesis have worked themselves up about a paradox that supposedly undermines Barthes’s and Foucault’s treatment of the theme: these French ... Read more
- My article on Michel Serres, Biosemiotics and the “Great Story” of the Universe published in SubStanceMy article “Michel Serres’ Great Story: From Biosemiotics to Econarratology” has just been published in SubStance. It is available from institutions with a subscription to Project Muse here. Abstract: In four key but as yet untranslated texts from 2001-2009, Michel Serres builds on his earlier biosemiotics with an econarratology he calls the ‘Great Story’ (Grand Récit) of our universe. ... Read more
- 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