Dr Chris Watkin

  • For fuller information about me, including research interests, publications and postgraduate supervision, please visit  http://christopherwatkin.com/.

    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 forget which episode it is, but in season 3 of The West Wing Toby Ziegler declares one morning that he has nothing more to do in the day. It is a situation no doubt rare for a White House Communications Director, but  unheard of for a research academic. Here’s why: for a research academic work is ... Read more
  • In a previous post I introduced the very idea of Diagramming Derrida before explaining his notion of différance diagrammatically. In this post I set out to tackle the idea of “messianicity without messianism” and, more generally, Derrida’s characteristic motif of “x without x”, for example “religion without religion” or “God without God”. Messianism as Derrida understands it can be ... Read more
  • Sylvia Plath’s first and only novel The Bell Jar was published under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas in 1963 and released just weeks before she committed suicide in her London home. The novel is a first-person account of Esther Greenwood, a nineteen-year-old aspiring writer who whilst on a writing internship in New York begins to feel ... Read more
  • One of the sweetest time-savers I have discovered over my years as an academic is the Microsoft Word macro. Macros are ways to automate common tasks in Word. They save you time, clicks and button presses, all of which allows you to keep your mind on the content of your writing rather than its formatting. ... Read more
  • I’m writing a little book on Derrida which is intended to be accessible to non-philosophers, and one of the challenges is to explain Derrida’s thought both faithfully and clearly. I have decided to use diagrams as one way of helping readers to grasp what Derrida is saying and, equally importantly, what he isn’t saying. I ... Read more
  • Strange as it may sound, it is easy to drift along in academia without focus. You would think that, with the long hours and hard work involved in research and publishing, every academic would know exactly where they are going and the best way to get there. Not so. There are so many pressures on ... Read more
  • It might sound stupid: You know you want to embark on a research project, you might even know you want to pursue a career in academia, but you just can’t settle on an Honours/Masters/PhD project. In addition to asking the three key questions in research hack #2, I want to help you by providing a cheat ... Read more
  • In this second post on building your effectiveness as a researcher I want to share three key questions that can help you choose and refine a research project: What research do you enjoy? What research do you think is important? What research conversation do you want to join? Let’s take them one by one. 1. What research do you enjoy? Obvious, ... Read more
  • In this new series of posts I want to help you become better researcher and a better student by sharing with you some of the strategies and research hacks I have picked up over my years of conducting academic research and teaching graduates and undergraduates. In my own time as a student, PhD candidate, Junior Research ... Read more
  • Here is news of an exceptional event in Melbourne, with Marcel Gauchet on democracy, crisis, and–no doubt–Trump: 27 th January 2017, Time: 6.30 pm. RMIT University, City Campus School of Business and Law lecture theatre Building 13 Level 3 Room 9 Address: 379-405 Russell St, Melbourne. Map Event blurb: This event is part of the French Festival of Ideas (La Nuit des Idées), ... Read more