profile icon

Sean Gaston

Culture And Communication
arts & humanities
arts & humanities - other topics
humanities, multidisciplinary
literary theory & criticism
literary criticism
the literary character
Sean Gaston's Profile Picture

Sean Gaston

Primary Interest
Concepts of World
Sean Gaston's Profile Picture

Sean Gaston


Sean Gaston was born in Melbourne in 1967 and grew up in America and Britain, spending much of his peripatetic childhood in alternative communes and collectives. He began his studies in philosophy, history and English at the University of Melbourne in 1987.

He gained his B.A. Hons. in English in 1990, his M.A. in 1994 and his PhD in 1999. His M.A. focused on Derrida's reading of Hegel. His doctoral thesis examined concepts of disinterest – taken as the opposite of self-interest – in seventeenth and eighteenth-century Britain. He was a major scholar at Ormond College, University of Melbourne (1988) and recipient of a Commonwealth Scholarship (1992).

He was Senior Lecturer and then Reader in English at Brunel University London from 2006-2017. He was a Visiting Scholar at Wolfson College, University of Oxford, in 2017-2019.

He has published six monographs on the work of the philosopher Jacques Derrida (1930-2004). In Derrida and Disinterest (2005), he examined the rethinking of ideas of disinterest as an ethical concept. The Impossible Mourning of Jacques Derrida (2006), written in the wake of Derrida's death in 2004, focused on the necessary gaps in philosophy, literature and history that both invite bridging and refuse any possible closing of the gap.

In Starting With Derrida: Plato, Aristotle and Hegel (2007), he addressed concepts of 'starting with' that must always start again by moving backwards to move forwards. In Derrida, Literature and War: Absence and the Chance of Meeting (2009), a range of philosophical and literary works are used to dispute the idealisation of a pure absence in philosophy and to examine in its place the chances of the chance meeting that can also become a duel or a war-like encounter. In 2011 he edited the collection Reading Derrida's Of Grammatology.

In 2013, he published The Concept of World from Kant to Derrida, which focused on the treatment of the concept of world in Kant, Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger and Derrida.

In addition to his work on Derrida, he has published articles on a range of literary, cultural and philosophical questions, including imprudence in the eighteenth-century novel; exile and tradition in the twentieth century; Shakespeare and biography; the limits of eighteenth-century concepts of sympathy and custom; ideas of pity and the use of animal fables in moral philosophy; the construction of the literary character in the 1790s; George Eliot and religion in the space of literature.

His most recent publication is Jacques Derrida and the Challenge of History (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019). This monograph argues that Derrida's work on context, memory and narrative can be treated as the basis for a distinctive historiography.

He is currently working on two projects, a collection of essays, Derrida and the Impossibility of Sympathy, and a monograph, Matisse and the Limits of Philosophy. Forthcoming publications include: 'Arendt and World "as space for politics" ' in The World in Theory (EUP, 2021); 'And Don't Forget Phenomenology', Derrida Today (2021).

Scholarly Works

Displaying the 37 most recent scholarly works by Sean Gaston.

Honours, Awards and Fellowships


Commonwealth Scholarship

Australian Research Council


Marion Boothby Prize

University of Melbourne


Felix Rabb Prize

University of Melbourne


Major Scholar

Ormond College, University of Melbourne


Fellow of the Hermeneutical Research Group of the University of Barcelona


Fellow of the London Graduate School






Culture And Communication


Doctor of Philosophy

University of Melbourne

Master of Arts

University of Melbourne

Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

University of Melbourne

Bachelor of Arts

University of Melbourne