Dr Ward Blanton
Reader in Biblical Cultures and European Thought
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I came to the University of Kent in 2013, after spending most of my early career at the University of Glasgow. I received my PhD in Religious Studies from Yale University in 2004, working with biblical scholars, historians of ideas, and continental philosophers to try to map new ways of understanding the shared genealogies and competitive struggles of biblical studies and philosophy within European academic contexts. My work during that period (cf. Displacing Christian Origins: Philosophy, Secularity, and the New Testament) was often focused on the ways common tags like critical thought, modernity, or the secular seemed to slip into something more rhapsodic, religious, or strangely biblical than we tend to imagine.
Later work took up this ancient/modern issue of ‘Jerusalem and Athens’ (often by way of Berlin, Paris and Rome) through a focus on Paul the apostle as a figure of continental philosophy and psychoanalytic cultural theory (cf. Paul and the Philosophers; A Materialism for the Masses: Saint Paul and the Philosophy of Undying Life; or my work on Stanislas Breton and Pier Paolo Pasolini). I am currently working on an ancient philosophical commentary on Paul’s letter to the Romans and trying also to develop a new philosophical and religious genealogy of the ‘securitization’ of religion or the militarization of affective sociality (e.g., with logics of auto-immunity). As is typical for me, this latter work is deeply engaged with the writings of Hegel and Heidegger, as well as with encounters with this tradition in Jacques Derrida, Peter Sloterdijk, Slavoj Žižek, Roberto Esposito, and Alain Badiou.
As Karl Marx famously declared, modern models of cultural critique and political revolution were premised upon ideas and tactics associated with the critique of religion. In that sense, the modern critical study of the Bible (just for a start) exerted a profound influence on a modern culture of criticism, whether religious, social, or political. I am very interested in this history and the ongoing legacies of radical philosophical and cultural critique it nourished. As we continue to wrestle with the force of markets, religions, and social hierarchies in relation to difficult questions about human freedom, a creative rethinking of this tradition of textual and cultural critique remains as important as ever.back to top
Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository
Ward Blanton teaches modules on gods and government, and on the philosophy of religion.back to top