Professor Catherine Pickstock

Photo of Professor Catherine Pickstock


Official Fellow; Director of Studies in Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion
Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity


I am the co-founder of a critical international field-changing theological movement, Radical Orthodoxy (with John Milbank and Graham Ward, London: Routledge, 1999), 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 TELOS and Wikipedia, conference responses etc.).

I am also engaged in research 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 on projects with composers, stone letter-carvers and liturgists.

Teaching Interests

Undergraduate Teaching

Undergraduate teaching: lecturing and supervising in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics (Tripos Paper A8), Meta-ethics, on “the Good” (B11), Metaphysics (C11), Love and Desire (D1d); occasional lectures for Music Faculty and English Faculty.

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).

Current PhD students:

  • Silvianne Aspray, The Fate of Participatory Ontology in the Reformation
  • Ragnar Mogård Bergem, Thinking Under the Guillotine: Hegel and the Trial of Reason [advisor]
  • Ryan Pepin, Dante’s Paradiso and Durational Structures [based in Modern and Medieval Languages; co-supervised with Dr Heather Webb]
  • Victor Emma-Adamah, Being as Movement and Manifestation: French spiritualism and the possibility of a Christianised ‘ontology’
  • Ruby Guyatt, Nothingness and its relation to silence and love in Søren Kierkegaard
  • Sebastian Milbank, A Kierkegaardain reading of citizenship in Dante’s Commedia
  • Blake Allen, A Philosophical Poetics of Beauty with reference to S. T. Coleridge


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.

I am currently completing two monographs, Aspects of Truth, and Platonic Poetics.