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Prof Catharine Abell

Fellow in Philosophy

Professor of Philosophy of Art, Faculty of Philosophy

Introduction

I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia. I did my undergraduate degree in philosophy and French at the University of Adelaide, followed by Honours in philosophy. I then did a PhD in philosophy at Flinders University. After temporary lectureships at Macquarie University and the University of Adelaide, I started a permanent lectureship at the University of Manchester in 2006. Shortly afterwards, I took leave to complete a three-year Macquarie University Research Fellowship in Sydney. After returning to the UK, I was Senior Lecturer then Reader at Manchester before moving to Oxford to take up my current position at Queen’s in 2019. I have held visiting appointments at the EHESS in Paris, the University of Sydney, and the University of British Columbia.

Teaching

I teach philosophy to undergraduates in all years at Queen’s. I teach the ‘General Philosophy’ first-year paper, and the option papers ‘Knowledge and Reality’ and ‘Aesthetics’. I am happy to supervise graduate work in a broad range of areas in the philosophy of art and aesthetics.

Research

My research addresses issues at the intersection of the philosophy of art, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind. Much of it concerns fundamental issues about the representational arts, including the nature of depiction, and of cinematic and photographic representation. I am also interested in the nature and value of art, the expression of emotion, and the nature of genre. In my recent book, Fiction (Oxford University Press, 2020), I develop an account of fiction as a social practice, providing original explanations of the nature of fiction, the norms governing its understanding and interpretation, and the nature of fictional entities. I have recently embarked on a new research project, the aim of which is to determine the nature of artistic media and styles and their interpretative and evaluative roles.

Publications

For a list of my publications, please see my PhilPeople website.