Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty Profiles

National University of Singapore
10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260

Office: AS3 05-07
Email: phihjc@nus.edu.sg
Tel: 6516-3898
Homepage: http://profile.nus.edu.sg/fass/phihjc/
| Brief Introduction | Teaching Areas | Current Research | Research Interests | Publications | Other Information

Brief Introduction Top

John Holbo received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, in 1999. His dissertation was on Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. He joined the Philosophy Department at NUS in 2000 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2009.

Teaching Areas Top

John Holbo is currently (sem 2, 2013-4) teaching GEM1004FC "Reason and Persuasion". The module is being taught using the Coursera platform and is simultaneously being offered, on Coursera, as a free MOOC (massive, open, online course). Anyone can take it! Isn't that amazing?

His textbook, of the same title - featuring three dialogues by Plato: Euthyphro, Meno, Republic, book I (plus commentary) - is available for free viewing and download.

Current Research Top

John Holbo is perennially working on a book on philosophy and literary theory that he hopes will someday see the light of publication; also, he has a paper on ethics and the imagination that really should be published someday. He is also writing on political philosophy - the relationship between liberalism and conservatism; and on aesthetics - the nature of pictures, and the significance of this question in various areas. Last but not least, he is trying to get his old dissertation on Wittgenstein into some sort of publishable shape, after all these years.

Research Interests Top

Literary theory and philosophy; political liberalism; Nietzsche; philosophy of film; Wittgenstein; pictures and pictoriality; open source/electronic publishing and, in general innovative publishing models in the humanities.

Publications Top



  • "Zizek and Liberalism: The Napoleon of Nothing Hill" in Mind the Gap: An Examination of the Work and Reputation of Slavoj Zizek, edited by David Pickus and Marko Zlomislic (Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 2012) [forthcoming]
  • "Redefining Comics" in Meskin and Roy (eds) The Art of Comics: A Philosophical Approach (Wiley Blackwell, 2011)
  • "Graphs, Maps, Trees, Fruits of the MLA" in Reading Graphs, Maps, Trees: critical responses to Franco Moretti, 3-15
  • "Judging Books By Their Covers - or - Chance Favors the Prepared Meme" in Graphs, Maps Trees: critical responses to Franco Moretti 92-104
  • "Conservatism and Liberalism, in Political Practice and Theory", in Levinson and Williams, eds., American Conservative Thought and Politics (Nomos [this project has been delayed but should come out soon]
  • "Dewy's Difficult Recovery - Analytic Philosophy's Attempted Turn", in Democracy As Culture, eds. Tan Sor Hoon, John Whalenbridge (forthcoming SUNY, 2007)
  • "Theory's Empire: Making Sense of the Theme"; "Bill the Butcher as Educator"; "Conceptualization and its Vague Contents"; "Nussbaum v. Butler, Footnotes", in Holbo, ed., Framing Theory's Empire (Parlor Press, 2007) [download a free PDF here.]
  • "Mooney Minus the Polemic", in Holbo, ed., Looking For A Fight - Is There A Republican War On Science? (Parlor, 2006), pp. 27-36. [download a free PDF here.]
  • "Bats Aren't Bugs II: Goldberg Variations", in Barbara O'Brien, ed, Blogging America: Political Discourse in a Digital Nation (Franklin, Beedle, and Assoc.), 2004.


  • co-editor, Reading Graphs, Maps, Trees: critical responses to Franco Moretti (Parlor Press, 2011) [view free online here]
  • editor, Framing Theory's Empire (Parlor Press, 2007) [download a free PDF here.]
  • editor, Looking For A Fight? - Is There A Republican War On Science? (Parlor Press, 2006) [download a free PDF here.]


  • "Derrida the Philosopher: Man, Myth or Boojums" in Some Versions of Differance, A Workshop on Deconstruction, ed. John Whalen-Bridge. CAS Research Papers Series, vol. 34, ed. Antonia Rappa, Vineeta Sinha, Lionel Wee (2001), pp. 19-27.


  • "Corsair Affairs", in Minnesota Review (issue 69, 2008).
  • Shakespeare Now: The Function of Presentism at the Critical Time in Literature Compass 5/6 (2008): 1097-1110
  • "On Zizek and Trilling", in Philosophy and Literature 28 (2004), pp. 430-440. [download a preprint PDF here.]
  • "Moral Dilemmas and the Logic of Obligation", American Philosophical Quarterly, 39, no. 3 (2002), pp. 259-273. [download a preprint PDF here]


  • "The Two Cultures: Reflections on Reading at Risk", Forum: A Publication of the ALSC (Winter 2005), ed. M. Bauerlein pp. 22-24


  • review of Christopher Grau (ed.) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Routledge 2009), forthcoming in The British Journal of Aesthetics
  • review of Amanda Anderson, The Way We Argue Now, in The Philosopher's Magazine, 34 (2006), pp. 86-7
  • review of Stern and Szabados, eds., Wittgenstein Reads Weininger, in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 2005.02.10 (2005). Link.
  • review of Gibson and Huemer, eds., The Literary Wittgenstein, in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 2005.06.02 (2005). Link.


  • "Corsair Affairs", presented at "The Internet, Publishing and the Future of Literature" (ALSC Annual Conference 2007).
  • "Form Follows the Function of the Little Magazine". MLA Annual Conference, 2006. Download a PDF draft of the talk.
  • "Zizek and the Limits of Philosophical Composition", the MLA Annual Conference, 2005. Link to the text of my talk.
  • "The Advantages and Disadvantages of Adaptation For Life", ALSC Annual Conference, 2004. Download a PDF draft of the talk.

Other Information Top

John Holbo is perhaps best known as an academic blogger. He blog at Crooked Timber. He is also an editor for Parlor Press.

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