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.
- 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
- This is the second 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 2 continues exploring the contemporary permutations of the host capacity account of humanity with ... Read more
- 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