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Professor Catherine Pickstock

Professor Catherine Pickstock

Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity

Office Phone: 01223 763002



I took up my current appointment in 2018, having previously been Professor of Metaphysics and Poetics (2015-2018). Before that, I was variously a Research Fellow, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, University Lecturer and University Reader at the Faculty of Divinity and Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

In 1999, I co-founded a critical international theological movement, Radical Orthodoxy (with John Milbank and Graham Ward), recently dubbed ‘the Cambridge School’. This movement began as an essay collection Radical Orthodoxy: A new theology (London: Routledge 1998), 2 book series (Radical Orthodoxy, Routledge, and Illuminations, Blackwell), several series of workshops and conferences, an online journal, a research centre; there have been countless published and online responses (see for example and, conference responses etc.).

I am also engaged in collaborations with researchers from a range of disciplines, including English, modern and medieval Languages, International Relations, architectural theory, comparative literature, history and philosophy of science, as well as projects with composers, stone letter-carvers and liturgists.


Subject area and speciality

Philosophy of Religion specialists:
  • The application of linguistics to theories of religious language, analogy and liturgy, with a consideration of the implications of this interaction for linguistics itself
  • A critical consideration of postmodern philosophy in relation to the re-interpretation of premodern theology
  • A reconsideration of the Platonic tradition in interaction with the Biblically based faiths, in particular the question of theurgy and understandings of the soul

Research Interests

My research is concerned with the relationship between theology and philosophy, and of both to language, poetics and the history of ideas. In After Writing (1998) and later articles, I apply modern linguistics to theories of religious language, analogy and liturgy, and consider the implications of this for the relation of language to reality.

Since 2001, through 67 peer-reviewed articles, two further monographs, Thomas d’Aquin et la Quête Eucharistique (2001) and Repetition and Identity (2013) (see recent online symposium, a co-authored (with John Milbank) monograph, Truth in Aquinas (2001) and a collection of unpublished essays, Povijest Osjetilnog Viška [The Surplus of Matter] (2011), my work has developed a number of lines initiated in After Writing. In particular, these works develop critical consideration of postmodern philosophy in relation to the re-interpretation of pre-modern theology and metaphysics; reconsideration of the Platonic tradition (especially with Neoplatonic notions of ‘theurgy’ as the ritual performance of truth), and traditional understandings of the soul in relation to current debates about mind. Repetition and Identity engages with literature and aesthetic theory to problematize the distinction between hermeneutics and metaphysics, arguing that the aporias arising from the necessity of repetition to constitute identity can be resolved theologically. 


Undergraduate Teaching

Lecturing and supervising in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics (Tripos Paper A8), Meta-ethics, on “the Good” (B11), Metaphysics (2001-2007, 2018-) (C11); the Messiaen Paper (Music Tripos)


Graduate Teaching

MPhil teaching: modules in Philosophical Theology (themes ‘emergence’, ‘the given’, ‘truth’, ‘repetition’, ‘event’), and cross-Faculty MPhil module (with Dr Heather Webb in Modern and Medieval Languages) ‘Gesture, Perception, Event’.


PhD supervision

I supervise graduates across a wide range of areas in philosophical theology, ancient and mediaeval philosophy (especially Plato, Aquinas and Duns Scotus), postmodern and critical theory (from Kierkegaard to Deleuze). 


Other Professional Activities

Editorial work and service to the discipline

I am guest-editing two special issues of international peer-reviewed journals: “Ritual”, International Journal of Philosophy and Theology (with Simone Kotva and Jacob Sherman, 2018, including graduate student contributions); and “Repetition”, Modern Theology (2020), and, together with a group of graduate students at the Divinity Faculty, Cambridge University, I am editing a collection of interdisciplinary interpretations of the Akedah, or binding of Isaac (Cambridge: Lutterworth Press, 2018), following a collaborative year-long themed seminar D Society series planned and run with graduate students.

I am Associate Editor of Modern Theology, and serve on several journal and book series Editorial Boards. I have served on the AHRC Peer Review College, and as UoA co-ordinator for REF 2014 and REF 2020, and as Athena SWAN lead for the Faculty of Divinity.

Current Projects

My two current monograph projects, Aspects of Truth and Platonic Poetics (Oxford University Press, and Paris: Ad Solem Press) are due for publication in 2018, and continue the above developments into specific areas; Aspects of Truth attempts to build a theological critique of contemporary analytic and continental negotiations of truth, whilst Platonic Poetics, a longer-term project which I have been working on for 27 years and has now reached completion, considers the ‘theological’ dimension of the Platonic dialogues, and tests the hypothesis that a close reading of these aspects of Platonic philosophy yields a less dualistic metaphysics than when the theological dimension is elided.

I have also written a play, based on Aquinas’ De Veritate, forthcoming with New York, Angelico Press in 2018, entitled Fabula Rustici.

Other Publications

'Beauty and the Beast': Inferno XXXI, Purgatorio XXXI, Paradiso XXXI

Interview on CBC Radio.

The Confidence of Theology: Frontiers of Christianity in Britain Today.



Current students and supervisors can access the Faculty’s Moodle page by clicking on the image below.