Philosophy & Religion

My graduate work is primarily in philosophy and religion, two disciplines that ask the big questions about life. The theme of participation has been central to my research, and generally, an inquiry into the relation between theory and practice, or ideas and action in the world. Discussing virtue before the accusers who would sentence him to death, Socrates famously said that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” The purpose of asking the big questions is not to accumulate knowledge, but to live better by being better to one another and to ourselves.

Acting a Part in the Ecstatic Love of the Divine – My dissertation examines participation from the Presocratics and Plato, through Dionysius the Areopagite and Maximus the Confessor, to the theological turn in French phenomenology and Richard Kearney, building off the historical groundwork laid in the comprehensive exams below.

Acting a Part in the Ecstatic Love of God – The second comprehensive exam traces the history of participation from Plato to Maximus the Confessor.

More than Kind and Less than Kin – The first comprehensive exam studies the history of apophasis running from Plato to Dionysius the Areopagite.

Participation, Mystery, and Metaxy in the Texts of Plato and Derrida – My master’s thesis explores Derrida’s engagement with Plato on the themes of participation and performance.

Creative Difference – This essay compares the work of Derrida and Whitehead, reading several areas of unexpected agreement between these thinkers on both epistemological and ontological fronts.

Literature & Interdisciplinary

Majoring in English as an undergraduate, literature has always been close to my heart. I have also spent time with French literature, especially during my studies in Paris. The exploration of values, relationships, and meaning is critical for the project of becoming oneself. As John Keats wrote: “Call the world, if you please, the Vale of Soul Making. Then you will find out the use of the world.” Also included are essays inquiring further afield, into music, visual art, art history, and cosmology.

Imagination, Perception, and Technologies of Participation – This essay examines William Wordsworth’s The Prelude alongside the ideas of Owen Barfield.

La tension essentielle: un dialogue entre spleen et idéal – This essay in French is a study (mémoire) of the poet Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal.

When Light Crosses One’s Mind – This essay looks at how conceptions of light reflect the minds from which they emerge, illuminating diverse western historical epochs.

Composition en triplées – This essay in French is an interdisciplinary treatment of the painter Nicolas de Staël, the poet René Char, and the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.