Research

Hiroshige,_New_Year's_Eve_foxfires_at_the_changing_tree,_Oji,_1857

My research interests are broadly philosophical, although they tend to overstep disciplinary boundaries to encompass literature, creative writing, anthropology and the social sciences. I am interested in particular in the relationship between philosophy and life as it is lived.

Believing that no one tradition has the monopoly on wisdom (or, thankfully, unwisdom), I am advocate for comparative and cross-cultural approaches to philosophy.

In particular, my current work draws upon Chinese and East Asian traditions of thought. Current interests include: the Wenxin Diaolong (文心雕龍), a Chinese text that explores the philosophy of literary creativity; Chinese conceptions of philosophy as the lived practice of wisdom; the Yijing (易經, more commonly known as the “I Ching“) as a philosophical and creative tool; and how it might be possible think about and write about philosophy beyond the gloomy and somewhat depressing clutches of the academic world.

On this page you can find out a bit more about my research, and find out more about some of my publications, and download some of my work. You’ll only find academic articles and book chapters on this page. For book-length works, go to my writing page.

I was previously Reader in Writing and Creativity at De Montfort University in Leicester, UK (until late 2016), and visiting professor in humanities at the Parami Institute in Yangon.

Between 2015 and 2016, I was a visiting scholar with the delightful people at the College of Literature and Journalism at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China. In China, I was developing my work on the Wenxin Diaolong (文心雕龍) and Chinese philosophical approaches to thinking through creativity.

I was awarded my PhD in anthropology from Staffordshire University (Naive Phenomenology: Thinking Ethics Through Stories) back in 2007. I also studied for an MA in anthropology at Durham University, and took my undergraduate in Fine Arts and Art History at Newcastle University.

I have a good working command of Chinese, French and Indonesian, and am currently working on developing my skills in Tibetan and Japanese languages.

Largely because I am cheap to run, and I can’t face the tedium of the paperwork, I don’t have many research grants to my name. But here are a couple.

In the summer of 2010, I was awarded a British Academy small research grant to travel to China, where I visited a number of universities (Shandong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou), as well as historical sites, temples and out-of-the-way towns, scouting out stories my novel, Sixty-Four Chance Pieces: A Book of Changes, based on the Yijing 易經.

In 2007, I was awarded an Arts Council grant for research towards my novel The Descent of the Lyre in Bulgaria, Vienna and Paris. The novel is now published by Roman Books (2012).

Here’s a selection of papers, some of which can be directly downloaded.

  • ‘Lies in Which Not Everything is False: Levinas, Philosophy and Fiction’, in In Fiction We Trust ed. Catalin Partenie (in Romanian), Polirom Press, 2016.
  • ‘Wonders Without Wonder: Divining the Donkey-Rat,’ in Wonder in Contemporary Artistic Practice, ed. Brown and Mieves, Routledge Advances in Art and Visual Studies, August 2016.
  • ‘Communicating Not-Knowing: Education, Daoism and Epistemological Chaos.’ China Media Research, 10, 2014. pp. 10-19. download
  • ‘Telling Tales About the Yijing.’ Jomec Journal 6, 2014. download
  • ‘Participation, Pattern and Change: Creativity in Liu Xie and Lucretius.’ NTU Studies in Language and Literature 29, 2013. pp. 1-23. download
  • ‘Invisible Museums and Multiple Utopias’ (with Elee Kirk). Museological Review no. 17, 2013. pp. 16-25.
  • ‘Storytelling the Yijing: Tales and Reflections on a Chinese Literature Machine.’ New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing, 9:2, 2012. pp. 135-146.
  • ‘What the Snorgh Taught Me About Emmanuel Levinas.’ Interdisciplinary Humanities, 29, 2012. pp. 85-98.

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