Photo of Dr Oliver Downing

Dr Oliver Downing

University Teacher Philosophy


Personal Statement

My main field of expertise is Continental philosophy. I am especially interested in perspectives situated in and around the intersection of the analytic and Continental philosophical traditions. I am particularly critical of the unstable meta-philosophical and sociological basis of the divide, and attentive to the possibility of overcoming that divide in order to produce a symbiotic and more holistic philosophical discourse. Within this broad field, I am principally interested in those theoretical perspectives from the traditions of Marxism, psychoanalysis and structuralism which acknowledge structuralist critiques of conventional notions of subjectivity without capitulating to hasty poststructuralist pronouncements on the death of the subject. More precisely, my research focuses on dialectical materialist ontologies and theories of subjectivity which – against the prevailing tendency of perspectives influenced by structuralism – seek to maintain a meaningful notion of subjectivity which can be applied to enrich and enliven our understanding of the subjective human experience. In this vein, I am principally interested in the work of Alain Badiou, Louis Althusser, Jacques Lacan, Jacques-Alain Miller, Jean-Paul Sartre, Slavoj Žižek, Mao Zedong, and – to a lesser extent – Giorgio Agamben, Étienne Balibar, Judith Butler, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Ernesto Laclau, Chantel Mouffe, Jean-Luc Nancy and Jacques Rancière. Ultimately, I am interested in how these more nuanced theories of subjectivity may: (i) open up the possibility of a more cohesive philosophical discourse which goes beyond the analytic-Continental divide; (ii) help clarify conceptual problems in the philosophical study of emotions, especially with regards to love; (iii) contribute to the further development of constructivist models of teaching and learning, and improve pedagogical practice; and, (iv) contribute to the refinement of psychotherapeutic approaches, models and/or techniques.

Prizes or Honours

  • 2nd Place Award (Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences) (Liverpool Doctoral College Development Programme’s Poster Day, 2015)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Training Support Grant (Arts and Humanities Research Council, 2014)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council Postgraduate Research Studentship (The Arts and Humanities Research Council and the University of LIverpool, 2013)

Funded Fellowships

  • UGA Franklin College-University of Liverpool Doctoral Student Short-Term International Research Fellowship (Franklin College, University of Georgia-Athens and the University of Liverpool, 2016)