• Philosophy and Critical Theory

    philosophy and critical theory

Our research in European philosophy focuses on continental ontology and on the utopian strand in critical theory. We seek to further develop this strand and apply it to further our understanding of human existence, culture and sociality. We aim to better understand and articulate the place of the future orientation in human life. Thinkers and scholars such as Bloch, Adorno, Benjamin and Jameson provide the bedrock upon which a range of research activities are being developed that all seek to articulate structures of oppression, ideology and the inevitable revolutionary, liberating tendencies and events that break open these structures, in the big and in the small, in the communal and the individual, the natural and the cultural. We work in areas of concrete socio-cultural and political practice, often involving non-academic partners such as community organisations, art centres and schools, but we also devote our time to strictly theoretical and philological work, for example in the ‘Bloch Bibliothek’, a project of many years that makes the works of one of the key utopian materialists of the previous century, Ernst Bloch, available in English, with commentaries and monographs on his thought. For there is a primacy of praxis, but a priority of theory.

Our work relates critical theory to other strands in continental thought, such as the philosophy of time of Bergson, ontological approaches in Russian philosophy and Marxian approaches and is interdisciplinary in orientation, connecting philosophy and cultural theory to language studies, linguistics and literary studies, to arts practice, psychoanalysis and even to social science.

Since its formation in 2010 the Research Group Philosophy and Critical Theory has acquired over £200,000 in external funding and works with partners across the UK and abroad.

Expertise and Subject Areas

  • Philosophy
  • Modern Languages


  • Our AHRC funded research project ‘The Time of the Clock and The Time of Encounter’ investigates cultures and experiences of temporality and is a pilot demonstrator project for impact in the humanities.
  • We have worked closely with Woodend Barn Arts Centre, Aberdeenshire.
  • We have worked closely with Holmewood School, London.
  • We are engaged in a number of co-inquiries with a range of communities and community organisations.

Publications and Outputs

See UCLan’s Clok repository for an extensive and up-to-date list of publications of our research grouping.

  • J. Siebers, ‘Front’; ‘Grund’; ‘Logos/Logikon’; ‘Noch-Nicht’; ‘Novum’; ‘Ultimum’ in B. Dietschy, D. Zeilinger & R. Zimmerman. (eds.), Ernst Bloch Wörterbuch, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 2012.
  • E. Fell, Duration, Temporality, Self: Prospects for the Future of Bergsonism, Oxford: Peter Lang 2012.
  • J. Siebers and E. Fell, An Exploration of the Relation between the Concepts of ‘Community’ and ‘Future’ in Philosophy, AHRC research report 2011.

The research group is closely involved in publishing the journal Empedocles: European Journal for the Philosophy of Communication.

Events and News

Visit our project websites for up-to-date information about events:

Courses and Postgraduate Study


Dr Elena Fell is a philosopher, specialising in ontology, the philosophy of time and the philosophy of communication. Elena has published on Bergson, subjectivity, communication and memory.

Additional Information

"But there are two packs: the one above, hardly alive, screaming of course, yet dried up and dimmed. Empty like a finished wineskin. And then the other: the one from below, grubby for sure, but how! Open-hearted, but also lurking: wants to attack. Dried-up pack: how the bullets will whistle around your ears!"

Ernst Bloch

Related Research Projects

2012- : Bloch Bibliothek: A series of translations with commentaries of the works of Ernst Bloch currently not available in English translation, and monographs on Bloch’s philosophy. General Editor. Brill Publishers (Historical Materialism Book Series). First volume planned for 2014. Partner institution: Ernst Bloch Study Centre, University of Sheffield

2010-2013: Critique of materialist reason. The utopian metaphysics of Ernst Bloch. Uclan Livesey Award.

2012-2015: The meaning of work through the lens of Ernst Jünger’s Der Arbeiter: translation and commentary. With Laurence Hemming (IGRS) and Bogdan Costea (University of Lancaster).

2013-2014: Communicating wisdom. AHRC grant AH/K006479/1. PI. Partners: Department of English and Department of Education, University of Sheffield; Rotherham Youth Services.

2013-2014: Ways of knowing in collaborative research. AHRC grant AH/K006568/1. Co-I. Partners: PI Helen Graham, School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds; University of Manchester; University of Sheffield.

2013-2014: Philosophy and religious practice research project. University of Liverpool.

2013-2014: In conversation with more-than-human communities. AHRC grant AH/K006517/1. Project Partner. Lead University of Manchester. 7 partner institutions.

2012-2013: The time of the clock and the time of encounter: pathfinders for connection. AHRC grant AH/J006637/1. PI. Partners: Prof Anne Douglas, Gray School of Fine Art, Robert Gordon University; Dr Michelle Bastian, CRESC University of Manchester; Dr Chris Speed, University of Edinburgh, Holmewood School, London and Woodend Barn Arts Centre, Banchory, Aberdeenshire.

2012-2013: Temporal belongings. AHRC grant AH/J006653/1. Co-I. Partners: PI Dr Michelle Bastian, University of Manchester. Co-I Prof Graham Crow, University of Southampton.

2011-2012: A philosophical exploration of the relation between the concepts of ‘community’ and ‘future’. AHRC grant AH/I00670X/1.