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Thinking Nature Thinking

   School of Humanities

About the Project

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.

For informal enquiries about the project, contact Dr Frank Ruda ()

For general enquiries about the University of Dundee, contact

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.


Applicants must have obtained, or expect to obtain, a UK honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent for non-UK qualifications), and/or a Masters degree in a relevant discipline. For international qualifications, please see equivalent entry requirements here:

English language requirement: IELTS (Academic) overall score must be at least 7.0 (with not less than 7.0 in reading, listening, speaking or writing). The University of Dundee accepts a variety of equivalent qualifications and alternative ways to demonstrate language proficiency; please see full details of the University’s English language requirements here:


Step 1: Email Dr Frank Ruda () to (1) send a copy of your CV and an overview of your research interests, and (2) discuss your potential application and any practicalities (e.g. suitable start date).

Step 2: After discussion with Dr Ruda, formal applications can be made via our direct application system. When applying, please follow the instructions below:

In consultation with the supervisory team, candidates may choose whether to apply for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in English (3 Year) or the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Philosophy (3 Year) depending on their background and research interests:

·       Apply for a PhD in English

·       Apply for a PhD in Philosophy

Please select the study mode (full-time/part-time) and start date agreed with the lead supervisor.

In the Research Proposal section, please:

-       Enter the lead supervisor’s name in the ‘proposed supervisor’ box

-       Enter the project title listed at the top of this page in the ‘proposed project title’ box

In the ‘personal statement’ section, please outline your suitability for the project selected.

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project. The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees and living expenses, via external sponsorship or self-funding.
In addition to self-funding, this project could be submitted to the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities for consideration. The SGSAH funds UK students (full stipend) and EU students (fees only). If a funding application to the SGSAH is under consideration, the applicant will receive support and guidance on the application process from the supervisory team and the school's research postgraduate officer.

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