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.
- My review of Kevin Hart’s Poetry and Revelation has now been published in the latest edition of the Los Angeles Review of Books. the exquisite chapter on silence is worth the price of the book by itself. Read more
- Mastering a language is not like learning any other Arts faculty subject: to learn a language is to immerse oneself in a way of experiencing and engaging with the world, not to assimilate a body of knowledge or even a methodology. Language and culture are the means through which we experience anything at all, not ... Read more
- No-one working in academia today needs me to point out the importance of the impact agenda, nor the way in which it coaxes us to understand the value of our work in particular ways and take it in particular directions. In this post I want to explore one narrow but important set of questions within ... Read more
- A couple of years ago I had the privilege of teaching in a joint Monash-Warwick undergraduate unit examining the theme of identity across the arts, humanities, social sciences and sciences. My own contribution was a seminar on the work of Catherine Malabou, entitled ‘If my brain is damaged, do I become a different person? Catherine Malabou and neuro-identity’. ... Read more
- I just received my copy of French Philosophy Today in paperback. You can find it on Amazon here. Alain Badiou, Quentin Meillassoux, Catherine Malabou, Michel Serres and Bruno Latour: this comparative, critical analysis shows the promises and perils of new French philosophy’s reformulation of the idea of the human. See here for chapter summaries. Read more
- If you are planning to follow my live-streamed paper on Michel Serres and alterity on Periscope this coming Tuesday, you might want to download the handout that will be distributed to seminar participants. Here it is: The handout contains fourteen quotations and two diagrams to which I will refer in the course of the paper. During the paper ... Read more
- First of all, some good news: Deakin have given me the go-ahead to live stream my seminar on Michel Serres next Tuesday. Thank you Daniela! This morning I tested streaming live video in Twitter and discovered a few things that you might find useful if you’re planning to tune in (as we used to say in ... Read more
- I’m planning to tweet live video of my research seminar on Michel Serres and the Question of Alterity next TuesdayNext Tuesday I will be giving a seminar at Deakin Univesity, Melbourne, on Michel Serres’s understanding of alterity. The paper comes from the first chapter of my book on Michel Serres, on which I have been able to do some more work recently. I’m trying to get permission from Deakin to tweet a live video ... Read more
- Research Hacks #23: Three Microsoft Word macros for quick mark-up of articles, essays and thesis chaptersI have the pleasure of reading a lot of student essays and supervising a number of research students, and over the years I have found that marking up an essay or thesis chapter before I read it helps me to focus and read effectively. The technique also speeds up the reading of articles in Microsoft ... Read more
- After a few posts on planning and presenting research findings, it’s time to return to the core of the research process: understanding, ordering and refining ideas. Let’s think of a particular research scenario: you have to come to terms with a new theory in your discipline. This is a phase of research that can sometimes ... Read more