Ashley Woodward

(01382) 384439
Lecturer in Philosophy



Dr Ashley Woodward obtained a B.A. (Hons) at LaTrobe University and a PhD in philosophy at the University of Queensland. He has taught in philosophy programs at a number of Australian universities, including the University of Queensland, Monash University, University of Melbourne, University of Tasmania, and Swinburne.  

He has also taught in a number of creative arts programs, including the School of Creative Arts, the Centre for Ideas at the Victorian College of the Arts, and the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music at the University of Melbourne, and the art history and theory program in the School of Art at RMIT.  He is a founding member of the Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy and is an on-going editor of Parrhesia: A Journal of Critical Philosophy.  He is also a member of the Scottish Centre for Continental Philosophy:

Research Interests

Research Interests

Dr. Woodward is currently working on three main research projects: existential meaning and philosophy of art.  His research focuses these questions within the tradition of Continental European Philosophy through the work of Nietzsche, and his later reception and influence.  Nietzsche calls the problem of existential meaning “nihilism,” and considered art to play an essential role in its overcoming.  Dr Woodward is interested in how problems of meaning formulated by Nietzsche were taken up by later thinkers such as Heidegger, Sartre, and Camus, and broadly speaking within the tradition called existentialism. Much of his research has however focused on more recent formulations of this problem, in the context of poststructuralism, and in particular in the works of Lyotard, Baudrillard, Vattimo and Deleuze.

He is interested in the role of art in the production of existential meaning, and in the question of its relation to philosophy.  He is most sympathetic to those approaches which refuse to reduce the meaning of art to philosophy or theory, and is interested in practical and experimental approaches to how art and philosophy can encounter each other in a mutually respectful and productive manner.

He is a member of the Scottish Centre for Continental Philosophy:

AHRC funded studentships are available in his research areas - more details.

Dr. Woodward is currently working on four main research projects:

Acinema(s): Aesthetics and Film in the Philosophy of Jean-François Lyotard

This project seeks to focus attention on Lyotard’s writings on aesthetics and cinema, and examine their implications for philosophy of film. What is at stake is how film can best be understood as an art, and this will be brought out by examining the way in which Lyotard’s thought challenges that of dominant contemporary approaches, such as the Lacanian. The project will include two new translations of essays by Lyotard on film, a conference to be hosted by the University of Dundee and funded by the Scots Philosophical Association, and a special journal issue devoted to the topic.

Lyotard’s Philosophy of Art

A book which will provide general scholarly outline of Lyotard’s aesthetic theory and philosophy of art, seeking to place his position in the history of aesthetics and in relation to contemporary philosophies of art, through critical contrasts with figures such as Adorno, Merleau-Ponty, Danto, Bourriaud, Deleuze, and Ranciére. It will also seek to assess critically Lyotard’s views both in relation to relevant recent developments in theories of perception, recent developments in art theory (such as neuroaesthetics) and in relation to dominant trends in contemporary art practice (asking questions such as: just how contemporary was Lyotard’s philosophy of art? Does it stand up to the findings of recent research, and can it help us to understand recent and emerging trends in the arts?).

Continental Philosophy of Information

This project aims to highlight the most significant perspectives on information in the Continental philosophical tradition and bring them into critical dialogue with the recent Philosophy of Information spearheaded by Luciano Floridi (which is mainly “analytic” in orientation). It will include studies of thinkers such as Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Simondon, Atlan, Lyotard, Deleuze and Guattari, Baudrillard, Virilio, Stiegler, and Luhmann. The great value of the continental perspectives is that they tend to be more critical of information, and to examine it in dimensions neglected by the analytic tradition, such as the ontology of information and its socio-political impact. However, there is frequently also in these thinkers a lack of rigorous understanding of information theory, and its varieties and recent developments. The aim of this project is to produce a synthetic critical perspective on information which emerges from this staged encounter between the continental tradition and contemporary Philosophy of Information.




  • Lyotard: The Inhuman Condition. Reflections on Nihilism, Information, and Art. ( Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016)
  • Understanding Nietzscheanism (Chesham: Acumen, 2011).
  • Nihilism in Postmodernity: Lyotard, Baudrillard, Vattimo (Aurora, Colorado: The Davies Group, 2009).

Edited Books

  • Gilbert Simondon: Being and Technology, ed. with Arne de Boever, Alex Murray, and Jon Roffe (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012).
  • Interpreting Nietzsche: Reception and Influence (London and New York: Continuum, 2011).
  • The Continuum Companion to Existentialism, ed. with Jack Reynolds and Felicity Joseph (London and New York: Continuum, 2011).
  • Sensorium: Aesthetics, Art, Life, ed. with Barbara Bolt, Felicity Colman, and Graham Jones (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007).

Book Chapters

  • “Testimony and the Affect-phrase” in Rereading Jean-François Lyotard, ed. by Heidi Bickis and Rob Shields (Surrey: Ashgate, 2013).
  • “Klossowski’s Nietzsche” in Interpreting Nietzsche: Reception and Influence (London and New York: Continuum, 2011).
  • “Existentialism and Poststructuralism: Some Unfashionable Observations” (with Jack Reynolds), in The Continuum Companion to Existentialism, ed. with Jack Reynolds and Felicity Joseph (London and New York: Continuum, 2011).
  • “The An-Denken of Existentialism: Vattimo’s Heidegger and the Aesthetics of Living” in Heidegger and the Aesthetics of Living, ed. by Vrasidas Karalis (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008).
  • “Deleuze and Suicide” in Deleuzian Encounters: Studies in Contemporary Social Issues, ed. by Anna Hickey-Moody and Peta Malins (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).
  • “Immaterial Matter” in Sensorium: Aesthetics, Art, Life, ed. with Barbara Bolt, Felicity Colman, and Graham Jones (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007).
  • “Pragmatics and Affect in Art and Commentary” in Traversals of Affect: On Jean-François Lyotard, ed. Claire Nouvet, Julie Gaillard, and Mark Stoholski (London: Bloomsbury, 2016).
  • “Nonhuman Life” in Deleuze and the Non/human, ed. Jon Roffe and Hannah Stark. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

Journal Articles

  • “A Sacrificial Economy of Images: Lyotard on Cinema”, Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities (Forthcoming. Accepted December 2013.)
  • “Deleuze, Nietzsche, and the Overcoming of Nihilism”, Continental Philosophy Review, 46.1 (2013), 115-147
  • “The End of Time”, Parrhesia, 15 (2012), 87-105
  • “Nihilism and the Sublime in Lyotard”Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 16:2 (2011), 51-71
  • “Camus and Nihilism”, Sophia, 50:3 (2011)
  • “The Verwindung of Capital: On the Philosophy and Politics of Gianni Vattimo”, Symposium: The Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy, 13:1 (2009), 73-99
  • “‘Weak Thought’ and Its Discontents: Engaging the Philosophy of Gianni Vattimo”Colloquy: Text, Theory, Critique, 15 (2008)
  • “Was Baudrillard a Nihilist?”, The International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, 5:1 (2008)
  • “New Technologies and Lyotard’s Aesthetics”, Litteraria Pragensia, 16:32 (2006), 14-35
  • “Answering the Question, ‘What is an Event?’”, antiTHESIS 16 (2006), 12-25
  • “Nihilism and the Postmodern in Vattimo’s Nietzsche”, Minerva: An Online Journal of Philosophy, 6 (2002), 48-66 
  • “Becoming-animal in Shaffer’s Equus,” Deleuze Studies vol. 9, no. 2 (May 2015): 231-256.
  • “Nihilism Now and Nietzsche’s Zarathustra,” The Agonist vol. VIII, nos. 1&2 (Fall 2014 – Spring 2015): 38-68.

Reference Works

  • Entries for The Lyotard Dictionary, ed. by Stuart Sim (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011).
  • Entries for The Baudrillard Dictionary, ed. by Richard G. Smith (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010).
  • “Jean-François Lyotard”The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2002. 

Book Reviews

  • Kiff Bamford, Lyotard and the figural in Performance, Art and Writing in H-France Review (forthcoming)
  • Keith Crome and James Williams (eds.), The Lyotard Reader and Guide in Philosophy in Review, 28:2 (April 2008), 105-7
  • C. Nouvet, Z. Stahuljak and K. Still (eds.), Minima Memoria: In the Wake of Jean-François Lyotard in Philosophy in Review, 27:5 (October 2007)
  • Gianni Vattimo, Dialogue with Nietzsche in Philosophy in Review, 26:4 (August 2006)
  • Jean Baudrillard, Passwords and Jean Baudrillard, Fragments: Conversations with François L’Yvonnet in antiTHESIS, 15 (2005), 216-19
  • Gillian Rose, Paradiso, Dundee University Review of the Arts, March 2016

     Ian James, The New French Philosophy in Parrhesia 20 (2014): 134-139. 

     Kiff Bamford, Lyotard and the figural in Performance, Art and Writing in H-France Review Vol. 14, no. 15 (Feb 2014): 1-5.


Other Reviews

  • Reflections from the Tay: Twentieth Century Scottish Art from the Collection in Dundee University Review of the Arts
  • The Look of Love in Dundee University Review of the Arts
  • Cut and Paste: Investigating the Materiality of Information in Dundee University Review of the Arts

Art Writings