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School of Politics and International Relations

Dr Caroline Williams, BA (Manchester), PhD (Wales)


Visiting Senior Research Fellow

Office Hours: By appointment


Dr Caroline Williams is a member of the School's political theory team. Before joining QMUL, she held teaching posts at the University of Southampton, and then at the University of Leeds.

Caroline’s research interests cut across political theory, philosophy, the history of ideas, and critical theory. She is working to develop creative points of convergence and connection between different kinds of theory within, and beyond, the study of Politics.  To this end, in May 2013 Caroline established the TheoryLAB within the School out of which a number of exchanges, collaborations, events and reading groups are now beginning to emerge.

Undergraduate Teaching

  • POL100 Introduction to Politics (Level 4)
  • POL308 Ideology and Political Critique (Level 6)
  • POL326 Theories of the Self (Level 6)


Research Interests:

My research lies in the field of continental political philosophy with a particular interest in conceptions of selfhood and subjectivity. I also have a research specialism in Spinoza and philosophies that utilise and develop his thought, as well as Althusserian and post-Althusserian political theory.

My first book Contemporary French Philosophy: Modernity and the Persistence of the Subject (Continuum, 2001) interrogated some of the most influential positions in contemporary critical thought (from Althusser to Derrida) on the position of the subject in order to contest the view of critics who argue for the disappearance or ‘death' of the subject. My broader aim was to situate contemporary discussions within a broader series of problems finding their origins within modern and early modern philosophy, particularly Spinoza and Nietzsche.

My current research extends this project and focuses on the contribution of Spinoza to contemporary philosophy and political theory.  It examines the intersection of his politics and his philosophy, specifically the Ethics, and utilises this to reconfigure questions of the subject, imagination, power and freedom. Click here for podcast of my contribution to the ‘Spinoza and Bodies’ Conference.



Contemporary French Philosophy: Modernity and the Persistence of the Subject, (London, Athlone, 2001)

Journal articles

‘Affective Processes without a Subject: Rethinking the Relation between Subjectivity and Affect with Spinoza’ Subjectivity Vol 3 no3, 2010, p.245-262

‘Thinking the Political in the Wake of Spinoza: Power, Affect and Imagination in the Ethics ' Contemporary Political Theory , 6, 2007 pp.349-369

'Reading Spinoza Today', Contemporary Political Theory , 1/3, 2002, pp.371-388

Book chapters

‘Structure and Subject’ in Iain MacKenzie and Robert Porter eds The Edinburgh Companion to Poststructuralism (Edinburgh University Press, 2014)

‘Althusser and Spinoza: the enigma of the subject’ in Katja Diefenbach, Sara R. Farris, Gal Kirn and Peter Thomas eds. Encountering Althusser: Politics and Materialism in Contemporary Radical Thought (Bloomsbury, 2013) pp.153-163

‘Thinking the Space of the Subject between Hegel and Spinoza’ in Hasana Sharp and Jason E. Smith eds Between Hegel and Spinoza: A Volume of Critical Essays (Bloomsbury, 2012) pp.170-185

‘Subjectivity without the Subject’: Thinking beyond the subject with/through Spinoza’ in Beth Lord ed Spinoza Beyond Philosophy (Edinburgh University Press, 2012) pp.11-27

‘Castoriadis: Thinker of the World’ in Jon Simons ed Contemporary Critical Thinkers J.Simons ed (Edinburgh University Press, 2010) pp.93-109

‘Politics and Ethics’ in John Mullarky and Beth Lord eds The Continuum Companion to Continental Philosophy (Continuum, 2009) pp.109-126

'Spinoza: Politics, Power and the Multitude' in T. Carver and J. Martin (eds), The Palgrave Guide to Continental Political Philosophy , Basingstoke , Palgrave, 2006, pp.17-31

'The Subject and Subjectivity' in A.Finlayson and J.Valentine (eds), Introducing Post-Structuralism to Political Studies , Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2002, pp.23-35

'Ideology and Imaginary: Returning to Althusser' in I.MacKenzie (ed.), Ideology After Post-Structuralism,London , Pluto Press, 2002, pp.28-42.


Caroline Williams and David McInerney ‘Althusser and the Persistence of the Subject' (interview) Borderlands Vol 4, No 2, 2005

Essays on ‘Castoriadis', ‘Althusser' and ‘Self/Subject' in C. Murray (ed.), The Companion to Twentieth Century French Thought,Fitzroy Dearborn, 2004

‘Jacques Lacan - Structuralist Psychoanalysis' in The Edinburgh Encyclopaedia of Continental Philosophy ed. Simon Glendinning (Edinburgh University Press, 2000) pp.548-557

Selected Conference Papers

Invited speaker: ‘The subject: Between Hegel and Spinoza’ International Symposium, McGill University, Montreal, April 2010

‘Affective Processes without a Subject: Rethinking Spinoza’s Bodypolitic’ BISA, Leicester, December 2009.

Invited speaker: ‘Althusser and Spinoza’ at ‘Encountering Althusser’ Jan van Eyck Academy, Maastricht (October 2009)

Invited speaker: ‘Thinking Beyond the Subject with/through Spinoza’ presented at the first Spinoza Network Conference ‘Spinoza and Bodies’ Department of Philosophy, University of Dundee, September 2009. Click here for podcast

Invited speaker: ‘Another Politics, Another Subject’ Research Colloquium, University of Aberystwyth 20-22nd April 2009


I welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in any of the broad areas of my research.

I have recently supervised the following successful PhD projects:

Clayton Chin, Pragmatism, Liberalism and the Conditions of Critique: The connection between philosophy and politics in the work of Richard Rorty, 2012

Ljuba Castelli, Ontology and Politics in Spinoza: Individuation, Affectivity and the Collective Life of the Multitude,  2011

Paul Rekret, Relationality, Polemics and  Incommensurability: Thinking the Political in Derrida and Foucault, 2009

John Grant, An Anatomy of Dialectical Critique, 2007

Alexandra Coletta, Sexual Difference in Italian Feminism, 2005

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