Associate Professor James Phillips
Associate Professor

Associate Professor James Phillips

MA in Comparative Literature and Critical Theory (Monash), PhD in Philosophy (UTas)

Arts,Design & Architecture
School of Humanities & Languages

I have been at UNSW since 2006, first as a Vice-Chancellor's postdoctoral fellow, then as an ARC Australian Research Fellow (2007-2011), before taking up a combined research-teaching position in Philosophy in the School of Humanities and Languages.

I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Queensland, undertook an MA in Comparative Literature and Critical Theory at Monash University, and was then awarded my Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Tasmania in 2002.  During my doctoral studies I spent nine months in Innsbruck as an OeAD scholar and six months in Potsdam as a DAAD scholar.  I have since then been a visiting research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh and a resident associate at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina.

Apart from the publications listed below, I have also translated two books: Christoph Menke, Tragic Play: Irony and Theater from Sophocles to Beckett (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009) and Alexander García Düttmann, Philosophy of Exaggeration (London: Continuum, 2007).

+61 2 9065 1055
369 Morven Brown
  • Books | 2019
    2019, Sternberg and Dietrich: The Phenomenology of Spectacle, Oxford University Press, USA,
    Books | 2007
    Phillips JA, 2007, The Equivocation of Reason: Kleist reading Kant, Original, Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA
    Books | 2005
    Phillips JA, 2005, Heidegger`s Volk: Between National Socialism and Poetry, Original, Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA
  • Book Chapters | 2021
    2021, 'Barrie Kosky's Grotesques and the Ecstasy of Theatre', in Phillips J; Severn JR (ed.), Barrie Kosky’s Transnational Theatres, Springer, Cham, pp. 137 - 155,
    Book Chapters | 2021
    2021, 'It Begins with the Theatre: Barrie Kosky’s Workshop', in Phillips J; Severn JR (ed.), Barrie Kosky’s Transnational Theatres, Springer, Cham, pp. 1 - 30,
    Book Chapters | 2019
    2019, 'Metaphor and the Unprecedented: Byron's 'Darkness' and Responding to Ecological Disaster', in Collett A; Murphy O (ed.), Romantic Climates: Literature and Science in an Age of Catastrophe, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 159 - 171,
    Book Chapters | 2019
    2019, 'Metaphor and the Unprecedented: Byron’s ‘Darkness’ and Responding to Ecological Disaster', in Romantic Climates: Literature and Science in an Age of Catastrophe, Springer International Publishing, pp. 159 - 171,
    Book Chapters | 2009
    Phillips JA, 2009, 'Beckett's Boredom', in Essays on Boredom and Modernity, edn. 1, Rodopi, Amsterdam, pp. 109 - 126
    Book Chapters | 2008
    Phillips JA, 2008, 'Glauber Rocha: Hunger and Garbage', in Phillips J (ed.), Cinematic Thinking, edn. 1, Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA, pp. 90 - 108
    Book Chapters | 2008
    Phillips JA, 2008, 'Introduction: What Can Cinema Do?', in Phillips J (ed.), Cinematic Thinking, edn. 1, Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA, pp. 1 - 9
  • Edited Books | 2021
    Phillips J; Severn JR, (ed.), 2021, Barrie Kosky's Transnational Theatres, Springer, Cham,
    Edited Books | 2008
    Phillips J, (ed.), 2008, Cinematic Thinking: Philosophical Approaches to the New Cinema, Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA,
  • Journal articles | 2022
    2022, 'Kant, the Canon, and Pleasure's Transcendental Sociability', College Literature, 49, pp. 682 - 710,
    Journal articles | 2022
    2022, 'The Troubling Relationship between Pleasure and Universality in Kant’s Impure Aesthetic Judgements', Kant-Studien, 113, pp. 219 - 237,
    Journal articles | 2021
    2021, 'Finitude and the Precritical Imagination: Heidegger's Confrontation with Idealism in Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics and its Bearing on his Philosophy of Art', Southern Journal of Philosophy, 59, pp. 606 - 628,
    Journal articles | 2020
    2020, 'Beauty is a Fact under Siege: John Ruskin as Critic in a State of Ecological Emergency', Journal of Victorian Culture, 25, pp. 63 - 76,
    Journal articles | 2020
    2020, 'Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops To Conquer: The Stakes of Shame and the Prospects of Politeness', ELH: English Literary History, 87, pp. 999 - 1023,
    Journal articles | 2020
    2020, 'The Rules and Politics of Storyworlds: Fictionalizing the Everyday in E. F. Benson’s Mapp and Lucia Novels', Philosophy and Literature, 44, pp. 52 - 65,
    Journal articles | 2018
    Phillips J, 2018, 'Jacques Tati and the Unbound Gag: Notes for a Cinematic Phenomenology of Judgement', Film International, 16, pp. 54 - 65,
    Journal articles | 2018
    Phillips JA, 2018, 'The Eternal Return of the Same and the Missed Opportunity of Heidegger’s Nietzsche: Sacrificing the Perspectivism of Moods to the History of Being', Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy, 22, pp. 141 - 158,
    Journal articles | 2018
    Journal articles | 2017
    Phillips J, 2017, 'The Cuckoo’s Egg in Honneth’s Hegel-Inspired Theory of Recognition: The Hobbesian Myth of Autonomy Revisited', Critical Horizons, 18, pp. 19 - 32,
    Journal articles | 2017
    Phillips JA, 2017, 'Straddling the Senses of a Contested Term: A Comment on the Use of ‘Aesthetic’ in Mohan Matthen's ‘The Pleasure of Art’', Australasian Philosophical Review, 1, pp. 90 - 94,
    Journal articles | 2016
    Phillips J, 2016, 'For the unruly subject the covenant, for the Christian sovereign the grace of God: The different arguments of Hobbes' Leviathan', Philosophy & Social Criticism, 42, pp. 1082 - 1104,
    Journal articles | 2016
    Phillips JA; McMahon J; Burns Coleman E; Macarthur D; von Sturmer D, 2016, 'Between philosophy and art: A collaboration at The Lock-Up, Newcastle', Australasian Journal of Popular Culture, 5, pp. 135 - 150,
    Journal articles | 2016
    2016, 'Anti-Oedipus: The Ethics of Performance and Misrecognition in Matsumoto Toshio’s Funeral Parade of Roses', SubStance, 45, pp. 33 - 48,
    Journal articles | 2015
    Phillips J, 2015, 'Hegel and Heidegger on the Essence of Beauty: Plotting a Trajectory from Kant's Third Critique', Philosophy Today, 59, pp. 23 - 36,
    Journal articles | 2015
    2015, 'Arendt and Deleuze on Totalitarianism and the Revolutionary Event: Among the Peoples of the Fall of the Berlin Wall', Deleuze Studies, 9, pp. 112 - 136,
    Journal articles | 2014
    Phillips J, 2014, 'Agamben's Limbos: Robert Walser and the Refugee', Textual Practice, 28, pp. 289 - 303,
    Journal articles | 2014
    Phillips JA, 2014, 'Instead of a Preface: Dostoevsky and Philosophising', The Dostoevsky Journal: an independent review, 14, pp. i - vii
    Journal articles | 2014
    2014, 'Sovereignty's Ontological Indecision: Derrida and Heidegger on the Other Line (Between the Human and the Animals)', SubStance, 43, pp. 68 - 82,
    Journal articles | 2013
    Phillips JA, 2013, 'Between the Tyranny of Opinion and the Despotism of Rational Truth: Arendt on Facts and Acting in Concert', New German Critique, 40, pp. 97 - 112,
    Journal articles | 2013
    Phillips JA, 2013, 'Jean-Luc Nancy's Fraternal First Philosophy of the "With": Rethinking Communion', Theory and Event, 16,
    Journal articles | 2013
    Phillips JA, 2013, 'Mimesis and Justice: The Realism of Vidas Sêcas', Culture Theory and Critique, 54, pp. 183 - 193,
    Journal articles | 2012
    Phillips JA, 2012, 'Eric Rohmer's Die Marquise von O..., or Marriage Under Ambiguous Circumstances', Monatshefte für deutschsprachige Literatur und Kultur, 104, pp. 232 - 243
    Journal articles | 2012
    Phillips JA, 2012, 'The Practicalities of the Absolute: Justice and Kingship in Shakespeare's Richard II', ELH - English Literary History, 79, pp. 161 - 177,
    Journal articles | 2012
    2012, 'The Case for a Convergence of the Beautiful and the Sublime: Kant. Aesthetic Form and the Temptations of Appearance', The Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, 43, pp. 161 - 177,
    Journal articles | 2012
    2012, 'The Fates of Flesh: Cinematic Realism Following Bazin and Mizoguchi', Angelaki - Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 17, pp. 9 - 22,
    Journal articles | 2011
    Phillips JA, 2011, 'Placing Ugliness in Kant's Third Critique: A Reply to Paul Guyer', Kant - Studien, 102, pp. 385 - 395,
    Journal articles | 2010
    Phillips JA, 2010, 'Restoring Place to Aesthetic Experience: Heidegger's Critique of Rilke', Critical Horizons: Journal of Social and Critical Theory, 11, pp. 341 - 358,
    Journal articles | 2010
    2010, 'Wordsworth and the Fraternity of Joy', New Literary History, 41, pp. 613 - 632,
    Journal articles | 2008
    Phillips JA, 2008, 'In the Company of Predators: Beowulf and the Monstrous Descendants of Cain', Angelaki - Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 13, pp. 41 - 51,
    Journal articles | 2008
    Phillips JA, 2008, 'Marriage in Jane Eyre: From Contract to Conversation', Bronte Studies, 13, pp. 203 - 217,
    Journal articles | 2008
    2008, 'After Blanchot: Literature, Criticism, Philosophy', International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 16, pp. 106 - 110
    Journal articles | 2007
    Phillips JA, 2007, 'The Two Faces of Love in Wuthering Heights', Bronte Studies, 32, pp. 96 - 105,
    Journal articles | 2006
    Phillips JA, 2006, 'Life in Space: William Burroughs and the Limits of the Society of Control', Literature and Aesthetics, 16, pp. 95 - 112
    Journal articles | 2005
    Phillips JA, 2005, 'Dying is not Death: The Difference between Blanchot`s Fiction and Hegel`s Concept', Colloquy, 10, pp. 57 - 68,
    Journal articles | 2004
    Phillips JA, 2004, 'Beckett's Boredom and the Spirit of Adorno', Samuel Beckett Today/Aujourd`Hui, 14, pp. 251 - 260,
    Journal articles | 2004
    Phillips JA, 2004, 'From Radical to Banal Evil: Hannah Arendt against the Justification of the Unjustifiable', International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 12, pp. 129 - 158,
  • Conference Papers | 2003
    2003, 'Beckett's boredom and the spirit of Adorno', in Uhlmann A; Houppermans S; Clement B (eds.), AFTER BECKETT D'APRES BECKETT, EDITIONS RODOPI B V, AUSTRALIA, Sydney, pp. 251 - 259, presented at Samuel Beckett Symposium on After Beckett/d Apres Beckett, AUSTRALIA, Sydney, 06 January 2003 - 09 January 2003,

I am currently engaged in two book projects.

The first project is a monograph dealing with Busby Berkeley and his work as a filmmaker and choreographer for Warner Bros. It addresses the ways in which spectacle operates politically and aesthetically in the 1930s (the era of Walter Benjamin's aestheticisation of the political has lessons for the present). Among other topics I investigate the cinematic construction of escapist spaces, the difference between utopian models and utopian affects, the borrowings between factory assembly lines and the dance-drilled body, and the standing and options of women under patriarchal capitalism.

The second is a longer-term project in the field of German aesthetics. It examines the continuities and ruptures between Kant’s treatment of the beautiful and the sublime and Heidegger’s exposition of the world-founding character of the work of art. The question I wish to address is the exact nature, extent and debts of the transition from Kant’s focus on pleasure to Heidegger’s focus on world. It is in Kant’s attempt to account for the pleasure of the sublime that Heidegger in Vom Wesen des Grundes professes to discern a breakthrough to a more radical problematic of the concept of world. Yet even as he acknowledges Kant’s innovation in the treatment of world, Heidegger plays down its expository context through his neglect of the question of pleasure. Kant’s distinction between cognitive and aesthetic judgement has no precise counterpart in Heidegger’s philosophy of art. That the sublime is an aesthetic judgement and the idea of the world is accordingly revealed in and by pleasure entails a set of qualifications for Kant’s concept of world that Heidegger does not retain for his own account of the world-founding character of the great work of art. For Kant, the idea of totality or world intervenes when the imagination falters in the mathematically sublime; it encompasses an object whose size overwhelms our capacity for a comprehensive perception. In the experience of the sublime the Kantian idea of the world, which in the first Kritik counts as an a priori frame of experience, is itself experienced, albeit in the medium of pleasure. This drawing of the world into experience reworks the transcendental-empirical distinction and thus effects a transition between the Kant of the Kritik der reinen Vernunft and the Heidegger of Sein und Zeit. My contention is that Heidegger’s historicising of world has an unavowed debt to the Kantian sublime, since it is in the pleasure of the latter that Kant’s own conception of the transcendental a priori is rethought and its abstractness disputed.




Research Committee Member - School of Humanities and Languages


My Research Supervision

Michael Thatcher on Heidegger's philosophies of art and difference

Finnegan Hassey on Arendt's concept of nationalism (co-supervisor: Jess Whyte)

My Teaching

I teach political philosophy, aesthetics and the history of German philosophy.