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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Professor Ian James

Photo of Ian James
Professor of Modern French Philosophy and Literature
Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages & Linguistics
Contact details: 
Telephone number: 
(+44) (0)1223 334852 (Downing)

King's College
King's Parade



Professor James' research focuses on twentieth-century and contemporary French literature and philosophy.

He has written extensively on contemporary French philosophy and also on the reception in France of German thought (Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Husserl, and Heidegger). He has written on the work of specific thinkers, most notably Jean-Luc Nancy, Catherine Malabou, Bernard Stiegler, François Laruelle, and Paul Virilio. His research has also focused on the interplay between philosophy and other areas of knowledge (e.g. aesthetics and artistic or literary practice, but also political thought). His most recent book, The Technique of Thought (2019), explores the relationship between post-deconstructive French philosophy and the sciences in order to elaborate its own distinctive form of philosophical naturalism. Professor James is also an editor of Paragraph: A Journal of Modern critical Theory.

Professor James’ current and future research will focus on three distinct but related projects. The first engages with biodeconstruction, semiotics, and biological theory in order to further develop the ‘post-continental’ naturalism elaborated in The Technique of Thought. The second focuses on narrative and on a reconfiguration of literary naturalism via critical readings of Marcel Proust and Pascal Quignard. The third will develop Nancy’s thinking of community in order to elaborate the concepts of ‘open community’ and of bio-community. His next book, Rethinking Literary Naturalism: Proust and Quignard After Life, is the result of the second of these projects and is forthcoming with Liverpool University Press. Download details of recent and forthcoming articles and chapters related to these three projects (PDF, 115 KB)

Professor James welcomes inquiries from potential MPhil and PhD students with research interests relevant to his interests.

Teaching interests: 

Twentieth- and twenty-first-century French philosophy

Literary, critical, and aesthetic theory

Twentieth- and twenty-first-century French literature and culture.

Comparative literature and culture


Research interests: 

Twentieth-century and contemporary French philosophy.

The interplay of philosophy with other areas of knowledge (scientific thought and theory, aesthetic theory and practice, the political).

Twentieth- and twenty-first-century French literature and culture, in particular Marcel Proust and Pascal Quignard.

Spatial theory and representations of spatiality in literature.


Recent research projects: 

Science and Technology in Recent and Contemporary French Philosophy.


Published works: 


The Technique of Thought: Nancy, Laruelle, Stiegler and Malabou After Naturalism (Minnesota University Press, 2019)

The New French Philosophy (Cambridge: Polity, 2012)

Paul Virilio (London: Routledge, 2007)

The Fragmentary Demand: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Jean-Luc Nancy (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006)

Pierre Klossowski: The Persistence of a Name (Oxford: Legenda, 2000)


Edited Volumes

Thought’s Exposure: Critical Essays on Jean-Luc Nancy, with Patrick ffrench, Oxford Literary Review, Volume 27, 2005

Whispers of the Flesh: Essays in Memory of Pierre Klossowski, with Russell Ford, Diacritics, Volume 35, No. 1, Spring 2005

Lucidity: Essays in Honour of Alison Finch, with Emma Wilson (Oxford: Legenda, 2016)