PhD project

Thinking Nature Thinking

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Application deadline

30 June 2024

The project is located at the intersection of philosophy and poetics, between the conceptual labor of exploring and the poetic labor of inventing the idea of nature. The project asks: how do we speak of, what do we speak of, and what do we expose, when we talk about, refer to or think of nature? The project aims to examine how it is possible to work through and account for all the things we invest, libidinize, imply and presuppose when we think nature (itself). It is a peculiar concept, because it immediately tends to naturalize itself. For this purpose, the present project begins from the assumption that “nature” is a non-natural (i.e. cultural) creation. The project will allow to investigate the means and modes through which nature, 'now', at least, appears to be one of the most natural(ized) concepts. What does the modelling of and how do the story-telling modes which give rise to this so-called natural or naturalized formation make invisible, even if often through their over-visibility? How do we naturalize what is not-natural, especially when we speak of, poeticize, think of or conceptualize nature? This has immense consequence for whatever we take to be human nature.

The present project thereby aims to examine the natural(ized) assumption that there is and exists a (consistent and inherently unified, a substantial) nature – by investigating the multiple ways in which ‘nature’ is inherently constituted by non-natural or de-natural (and today undoubtedly capitalist) processes and by taking note of the fact that these processes seem, 'naturally', to resist and persist even after being identified, critiqued, or analyzed. Do we unavoidably presuppose that there is (a) nature? How can we examine the modes, forms, and media in which we presuppose? To begin from the assumption that “nature” is a concept, and hence not natural, means to think through the ways philosophy and poetry can contribute to making us understand what we imagine to be nature. The project in this way aims to tackle from a different starting point questions of contemporary ecological politics and political ecology – traversing and working through the dominant imaginations of nature and by taking seriously that “nature remains a problem” (Hegel).

Creative Practice or Writing based as well as Philosophical and theoretical project proposals are welcomed.

This project is suitable for applicants for a PhD in English or a PhD in Philosophy, depending on the background of the candidate.

Diversity statement

Our research community thrives on the diversity of students and staff which helps to make the University of Dundee a UK university of choice for postgraduate research. We welcome applications from all talented individuals and are committed to widening access to those who have the ability and potential to benefit from higher education.

How to apply

  1. Email Dr Frank Ruda to:
    • Send a copy of your CV
    • Discuss your potential application and any practicalities (e.g. suitable start date).
  2. After discussion with Dr Frank Ruda, formal applications can be made via our direct application system. 

Candidates should apply for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in English and Creative Writing or the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Philosophy.

Learn how to apply for a research degree


Principal supervisor

Second supervisor


Reader in English Literature +44 (0)1382 384536