Professor Timothy O'Leary
Head of School

Professor Timothy O'Leary

Arts,Design & Architecture
School of Humanities & Languages

Timothy O’Leary is a philosopher who has worked and studied in Ireland, Paris, Hong Kong, and Australia.

His research is in the area of contemporary European philosophy, in particular the work of Michel Foucault. He has published 2 monographs, co-edited 3 volumes (with 1 more coming soon), guest-edited 2 Journal Special Issues, and published many journal articles and book chapters on topics including the work of Michel Foucault, the relations between ethics and aesthetics, the ethical dimensions of literature, and philosophical approaches to happiness. He is co-General Editor of the New Critical Humanities book series with Rowman & Littlefield International. In 2022 he published a co-edited collection of essays "The Ends of Critique: Methods, Institutions, Politics" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2022):

In his position as Head of the School of Humanities & Languages at UNSW, he is particularly keen to promote the critical role of the study of humanities and languages in our contemporary world of splintered politics, structural racism and inequality, and a global environmental crisis. He is a UNSW Diversity Champion for Gender; and an LGBTIQ+ Ally. 

Before coming to UNSW in 2018, he taught philosophy for 17 years at the University of Hong Kong, where he also served as Associate Dean of Arts (Research & Postgraduate), the Head of the School of Humanities, and an elected member of HKU Council.


+61 2 9065 7458
Room 276 Morven Brown Building
  • Books | 2011
    O'Leary T, 2011, Foucault and Fiction The Experience Book, Bloomsbury Publishing
    Books | 2006
    O'Leary T, 2006, Foucault and the Art of Ethics, Continuum, London
  • Book Chapters | 2022
    O'Leary T, 2022, 'Critical Vivisection: Transforming Ethical Sensibilities', in O'Leary T; Thiele K; Kaiser BM (ed.), The Ends of Critique: Methods, Institutions, Politics, Rowman & Littlefield, London,
    Book Chapters | 2014
    O'Leary T, 2014, 'Raymond Roussel', in Lawlor L; Nale J (ed.), The Cambridge Foucault Lexicon, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 676 - 679,
    Book Chapters | 2011
    O'Leary T, 2011, 'Foucault', in Schrift AD (ed.), History of Continental Philosophy, volume 6, University of Chicago Press, Chicago
    Book Chapters | 2010
    Falzon CA; O Leary T, 2010, 'Introduction: Foucault’s Philosophy', in O Leary T; Falzon C (ed.), Foucault and Philosophy, Wiley-Blackwell, Hoboken, pp. 1 - 16,
    Book Chapters | 2010
    O'Leary T, 2010, 'Re-thinking Experience with Foucault', in O'Leary T; Falzon C (ed.), Foucault and Philosophy, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 162 - 184
    Book Chapters | 2010
    O'Leary T, 2010, 'Rethinking Experience with Foucault', in Foucault and Philosophy, pp. 162 - 184,
  • Edited Books | 2022
    O'Leary T; Thiele K; Kaiser BM, (eds.), 2022, The Ends of Critique: Methods, Institutions, Politics, Rowman & Littlefield, London
    Edited Books | 2013
    Falzon C; O Leary T; Sawicki J, 2013, A Companion to Foucault, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Oxford,
    Edited Books | 2010
    O Leary T; Falzon CA, 2010, Foucault and Philosophy, Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, U.K.,
  • Journal articles | 2019
    Jackson L; O'Leary T, 2019, 'Education and the Hong Kong umbrella movement', Educational Philosophy and Theory, 51, pp. 157 - 162,
    Journal articles | 2017
    O'Leary T, 2017, 'Critique, ethics, and the apparatus of experience: A foucauldian framework', Frontiers of Philosophy in China, 12, pp. 120 - 136,
    Journal articles | 2008
    O'Leary T, 2008, 'Foucault experience literature', Foucault Studies, pp. 5 - 25,
    Journal articles | 2008
    O'Leary T, 2008, 'Foucault's turn from literature', Continental Philosophy Review, 41, pp. 89 - 110,
    Journal articles | 2008
    O'Leary T, 2008, 'Governing the tongue: Heaney among the philosophers', Textual Practice, 22, pp. 657 - 677,
    Journal articles | 2005
    O'Leary T, 2005, 'Foucault, Dewey, and the experience of literature', New Literary History, 36, pp. 543 - 557,
    Journal articles | 1996
    O'Leary T, 1996, 'Foucault, politics and the autonomy of the aesthetic', International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 4, pp. 273 - 291,

My research has been funded by a large grant from the Hong Kong Research Grants Council.

* I recently published a co-edited volume: K. Thiele, B.M. Kaiser, T. O'Leary (eds). 2022.  The Ends of Critique: Methods, Institutions, Politics. London: Rowman & Littlefield:

* I am currently working on a long-term project on concepts of "sensibility" in ethics and literature. This will develop some ideas from the work of Jacques Rancière, combined with a reading of various works of literature ranging from Henry James and Virginia Woolf to Anna Burns and Annie Ernaux. 

* I am involved in the work of an international research group called Terra Critica, based at the University of Utrecht and including researchers from a range of humanities disciplines based at universities across Europe, the United States, and Australia.

* I am co-General Editor of the series "New Critical Humanities" at Rowman & Littlefield International.



My Research Supervision

I currently co-Supervise PhD students working within a range of disciplines, in the areas of ethics, comparative Chinese-Western philosophy, literature and embodiment, and social theory.