Philip Wood

WEBSITE(S)| French Studies | European Studies | Cinema and Media Studies

Philip Wood teaches in the areas of ancient and modern philosophy, French literature from the nineteenth century to the present, French cinema, North and West African and Caribbean novels and cinema in French between 1960 and the present, the challenges of trans-cultural comparative gestures relative to non-Western cultures, and major works of the European canon from Homer to Dante. He was educated at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, the University of York, UK, and at Yale, a geographical and intellectual journey that also reflects his research interests, from anthropology and French and English literature to logic, metaphysics, and psychology.

Wood, a former fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies, is the author of Understanding Sartre (1990), an introductory volume for the general reader. He is currently working on several projects involving forms of conscious experience that suspend concepts of a self or personal identity as these have been presented in very different domains—from aesthetic theory, religious mysticism, phenomenology and post-structuralism to current research in the neurosciences and the philosophy of mind. He suggests that these forms of experience provide a space of freedom in relation to the functional subjectivities of contemporary neoliberalism. The common aim of these projects is a strong theoretical defense of the humanities within a context of globalization. Against this background, Wood engages with contemporary debates about “universalism” and “universals” (e.g. the work of Etienne Balibar, Jacques Derrida and François Jullien).

At Rice, Wood serves as the Program Advisor for the European Studies program and he is also a core faculty member of the program in Cinema and Media Studies.

1. Books and Edited Volumes

  • Ed. with Jean-Joseph Goux, Terror and Consensus: Vicissitudes of French Thought (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998).
  • Understanding Jean-Paul Sartre (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1990).

2. Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Life ‘After the Subject’—the Example of Aesthetic Ecstasy,” Manifold (Winter 2009), 56-70.
  • “Beyond the Simulacrum of Religion versus Secularism: Modernist Aesthetic ‘Mysticism’; Or, Why We Will Not Stop Revering ‘Great Books’,” Religion and Literature 37 (Spring 2005), 93-117.
  • “‘Democracy’ and ‘Totalitarianism’ in Contemporary French Thought, the ‘Death’ of the Subject, the Heidegger Scandal and Ethics in Poststructuralism,” in Jean-Joseph Goux and Philip Wood (eds.) Terror and Consensus: Vicissitudes of French Thought (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998), 74-103.

Recent Courses

  • FREN 407 Cinema in French
  • FREN 324 From Decolonization to Globalization
  • FREN 312 Major Literary Works and Artifacts of Post-Revolutionary France
  • EURO 101 Introduction to European Literature and Culture I

Research Areas

Modern French Literature and Philosophy; Consciousness Studies and Theories of Subjectivity; Aesthetics; Globalization


PhD, Yale University

Advisory Role

Program Advisor, European Studies


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