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John McKeane

  • French Programme Director 
  • Research Division Lead (Modern Languages and Linguistics)
  • Membership Secretary (Society for French Studies)


Miller G16

Building location

Miller Building

Areas of interest

My research is broadly based in French studies. My main area of expertise is in literary theory (deconstruction, post-structuralism, psychoanalysis) and continental philosophy (aesthetics, phenomenology). I also have interests in translation studies, which emerge from my extensive practice as a translator. Lastly, I am developing a project on education, in France and comparatively, and in this setting have published an article on the baccalaureate.

My D.Phil. (2011) looked at fragmentation and dialogue in the work of Maurice Blanchot, on whom I have published numerous articles. I am the co-editor of the collective volume Blanchot romantique (2010), and the translator of Christophe Bident’s ambitious 632-page Maurice Blanchot: a Critical Biography (2018).

Working on Blanchot and the Romantics led me to a thinker who also studied these figures, Lacoue-Labarthe. I published Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe: (Un)timely Meditations (2015) and am the author of numerous other pieces on this philosopher, poet, translator, and playwright. I have also published on Lacoue-Labarthe’s longtime collaborator Jean-Luc Nancy, and am the translator of various works on and by him, notably Adoration: the Deconstruction of Christianity, II (2013).

Lacoue-Labarthe dedicated much of his thinking to Greek tragedy, and ancient thought more generally has allowed some useful bypassing of the institutional barriers between theory and philosophy. I have published in this area on Lacoue-Labarthe, but also on Roland Barthes and Barbara Cassin.

In 2021 I co-edited a special issue of the journal Paragraph on Sarah Kofman and the Relief of Philosophy (2021). I am currently taking my interest in Kofman further by working on my second monograph, Sarah Kofman and Ancient Thought: Learning to Live at Last. This is under contract with OUP, and will examine Kofman’s readings of ancient thought via Nietzsche, as well as her interactions with her close collaborators Derrida, Nancy, and Lacoue-Labarthe. 


I teach a variety of French language and translation modules, as well as French and comparative cultural modules. I am also convenor of the following modules:

  • ML1EN1COMP ‘What is Comparative Literature?
  • FR2HTF 'How to Think in French'
  • FR3PM ‘French Popular Music and Society’


I graduated with a BA (first class), M.St., and D.Phil from the University of Oxford. I remained at Oxford for a JRF and various lectureships, also holding positions at Cardiff and Warwick before coming to Reading. Prizes I have won include the Junior Paget Toynbee Prize for Dante Studies and the Society for French Studies Prize Fellowship, and I was AHRC/ESRC visiting fellow at the Library of Congress.

Selected publications

Details of publications not listed below (translations, reviews, and others) are available at: