National Head of the School of Philosophy & Theology

Professor Renee Kohler-Ryan

BA(Liberal Arts - Phil), Master in Philosophy (Lic.), PhD

Phone: 02 8204 4171

  • Biography

    Professor Renée Köhler-Ryan (BA (Liberal Arts) The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, Merrimack, USA, Rome Italy; MA (Lic.) Philosophy, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven; PhD (Philosophy), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) is the National Head of the School of Philosophy and Theology at The University of Notre Dame Australia.

    Professor Köhler-Ryan has been with the University since 2011. Previous to this she was a researcher and academic assistant at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, where she earned a PhD in Philosophy under the supervision of Professor William Desmond. She teaches Aesthetics, Philosophy of the Human Person, and Political Philosophy, as well as courses that emphasise the importance of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. Her most recent book is Companions in the Between: Augustine, Desmond, and their Communities of Love, and her most recent article is “’The Hour of Woman’ and Edith Stein: Catholic New Feminist Responses to Essentialism” (Religions 2020). Forthcoming publications include a chapter on Catholic teacher formation, and a monograph on the Catholic Philosophical Imagination. Professor Köhler-Ryan also designed the Graduate Certificate in Catholic Thought for the formation of teachers who want to teach Studies in Catholic Thought.

    Professor Köhler-Ryan is on the Board of Directors of Mary Aikenhead Educational Ministries and is a member of the Mission and Identity Committee for Sydney Catholic Schools. She serves on the Reference Group for Studies in Catholic Thought, which reports to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. She is also a delegate for the Plenary Council of Australia.

  • Teaching Areas

    Philosophy of the Human Person
    Political Philosophy
    Medieval Philosophy
    Faith and Reason
    Philosophical Aesthetics

  • Research Expertise and Supervision

    Philosophical Aesthetics - of Art and Architecture
    History of Philosophy (particularly Medieval)
    Political Philosophy
    Catholic Intellectual Tradition, including Literature
    Philosophy of Culture

  • Book Chapters

    • "Shouts and Whispers: What Kind of Martyr Should a Catholic Writer Be?", Sandra Lynch & Nigel Zimmermann (eds.) Faith and Reason: Applications to Contemporary Problems (Wipf &Stock, 2015 (forthcoming)) to be published by Wipf and Stock.
    • "Thinking Transcendence, Transgressing the Mask: Desmond Pondering Augustine and Thomas Aquinas", Christopher Ben Simpson (ed.) Desmond and Theology: The Donation of WIlliam Desmond to Theology. (South Bend, IN: Notre Dame University Press, 2015 (forthcoming).
    • “‘No Block Creation’: Good and Evil in William Desmond’s Augustinian Philosophy of Elemental Order,” To Discern Creation in a Scattering World, Frederiek Depoortre and Jacques Haers (Eds) Leuven: Peeters Press, 2013 (pages 207-220)
    • “The Beginning that is Already and End: Finding the Significance of Labyrinthine Travel,” Chapter in: Philosophers of Travel, Alex Norman (Ed.), Cambridge Scholars Press, 2013
    • (co-authored with Sydney Palmer) “‘What Do You Know of My Heart?’ The Role of Sense and Sensibility in Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” Chapter 2 in: The Philosophy of Ang Lee, Robert Arp et. al. (eds), University Press of Kentucky, 2013; 41-63.
    • “Elemental microcosms: Sacred Space and the City,” In: The Sacred and the Metropolis, Ed. Walter Van Herck and Liliana Gomez, Continuum Press, 2012; 141-160.
    • “An Archaeological Ethics: Augustine, Desmond, and Digging Back to the Agapeic Origin,” In: Between System and Poetics: Themes in the Work of William Desmond, Ed. Thomas Kelly, Ashgate, 2007, 125-137.
  • Journal Articles and Proceedings

    • “Trees in the Garden: Thomas Aquinas, Catherine of Siena, and the Order of Justice”, Special Issue: “Gardens of Justice”, of The Australian Feminist Law Journal: A Critical Legal Journal, Volume 39 (2013) 3-20.
    • “Gifted Beggars in the Metaxu: a Study of the Platonic and Augustinian Resonances of Porosity in God and the Between,” In: Louvain Studies, Gregory Grimes (ed.), Vol. 36 (2-3) Summer-Fall, 2012; 256-281.
    • “De Profundis Clamavi ad Te Domine: the existential significance of depth for Berkeley, Merleau-Ponty and Desmond”, In: Yearbook of the Irish Philosophical Society, 2005, 237-253.
  • Conference Papers

    • “The Justice of Jeremiah’s Tears,” Philosophical Investigation of the Hebrew Bible, Talmud, and Midrash, Shalem Center – Institute for Advanced Studies (Jerusalem, Israel), July 24th, 2013.
    • “On Keeping Truth in Style: On the Tradition and Scandals of Roman Catholic Ecclesiastical Architecture,” Tradition: Friend or Foe of Freedom?, University of Notre Dame Australia (Sydney), July 4th, 2013.
    • “Liturgical Art and Architecture After the Council: What Works?”, The Great Grace: Receiving Vatican II Today, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, Australia, May 22nd, 2013.
    • “Reciprocal Nurturing at the Heart of Society: Motherhood vs. Surrogacy,” World Congress of Families (Sydney), May 18th, 2013.
    • “Toward an Anagogical Imagination: How Gothic Architecture Might Make Known the Things Unseen,” The Expressible and the Inexpressible, Biennial Conference in Philosophy, Religion and Culture, Catholic Institute of Sydney, October 7th, 2012.
    • “The Beginning that is already an end: Finding the Significance of Labyrinthine Travel,” Philosophies of Travel: Exploring the Value of Travel in Art, Literature, and Society, The Sydney Society of Literature and Aesthetics and the Department of Studies in Religion, University of Sydney, October 31st 2011.
    • “‘No Block Creation’: Good and Evil in William Desmond’s Augustinian Philosophy of Elemental Order,” 7th International LEST (Leuven Encounters in Systematic Theology) Conference: “To Discern Creation in a Scattering World”, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, October 30th, 2009.
    • “After God’s Own Heart”: The Interior Relationship Between God and David in the Books of Samuel,” The Bible and Philosophy: Rethinking the Fundamentals conference, The Shalem Center, Jerusalem, October 27th, 2009.
    • “Porous Being and Being Porous”, Study Day on God and the Between, Leuven, April 21st 2009.
    • “Elemental Microcosms: Sacred Space and the City”, UCSIA expert seminar: The Sacred in the Metropolis, University of Antwerp, March 24th, 2009.
    • “Enchanted Spaces of Imagination: Understanding Benedict XVI's Vision of Ecclesiastical Architecture”, The Grandeur of Reason: Religion, Tradition and Universalism, The Centre of Theology and Philosophy, Rome, Italy, September 1st, 2008.
    • “‘Man is in place from head to foot’: Creatio, Conversio, Formatio as the structure for an Augustinian Conception of Sacred Space”. Structure, Space, and Meaning: The Walls and Portals of Premodern Worlds, 31st International Patristic, Medieval and Renaissance Studies Conference, University of Villanova (USA), October 14th 2006.
    • “William James’s Idea of Crass Supernaturalism and its Consequences for the Religious Experience”, Belief and Metaphysics, Centre of Theology and Philosophy, Granada, Spain, September 16th 2006.
    • “Fear and Trembling’s Objective Correlative and Re-Creational Faith”, Religious Emotions: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, University of Antwerp (Belgium), 21st September, 2005.
    • “Berkeley and Desmond on Space”, Berkeley and Irish Philosophy, Kilkenny Castle (Ireland), 4th November, 2004.
    • “Sacrament and Space”, Phenomenology and Transcendence, The Centre of Theology and Philosophy, University of Nottingham (UK), 2nd September, 2005.
    • “An Archaeological Ethics: Augustine, Desmond, and Digging Back to the Agapeic Origin,” Irish Philosophical Association, Cork, December 29, 2002.
    • “From Cellar to Bedroom: Cartesian Method vs. Augustinian Sacramental Vision,” Illumination: Reason, Revelation and Science, Oxford University (UK), 24th July, 2002.
    • “A Room of Our Own: Community and the Space of Technology”, Philosophy and Technology, University of Essex (UK), 24th February, 2000.

    Discussion Papers Presented at Conferences:

    • “Shifting Centres: Sacred Space in St. Augustine’s Confessions,” IPSA (International Philosophy Students’ Association Doctorandi Lecture Series, K.U. Leuven, 20th February, 2002.
    • “Body, Cyberspace and Community,” Technology and the Arts, Arts Faculty, K.U. Leuven, February 15 2001.

    Conference Respondent:

    • Praxis and Freedom, K.U. Leuven, 8th–9th December, 2005.
    • Intersubjectivity and Embodiment: Perspectives from Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, K.U. Leuven, 14th-15th September, 2003.
    • Western Philosophy and its Relationship to Other Philosophical Traditions, K.U. Leuven, 24th-25th October, 2002.

    Colloquium Participant:

    • Third International Kierkegaard-colloquium Spring 2006, on The Concept of Dread, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 6th-7th May, 2006.