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Laura McMahon

Assistant Professor

 702K Pray-Harrold

734 487-0853


Ph.D. in Philosophy, Villanova University (2015)
M.A. in Philosophy, University of Guelph (2010)
B.A. in English Literature and Philosophy, McGill University (2009)

Professional Associations/Memberships

Representative Courses Taught

PHIL 100 Introduction to Philosophy
PHIL 225 Philosophy & Society
PHIL 260 Existentialism
PHIL 310W Aesthetics
PHIL 390W Phenomenology
PHIL 332W: History of Philosophy: 19th-Century
PHIL 470W/570: 20th-Century European Philosophy


Interests and Expertise

Professor McMahon’s research interests are in Phenomenology and Existentialism, Social and Political Philosophy, Ancient Philosophy, and Feminist Philosophy. She is currently completing a book manuscript on the resources of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological philosophy for understanding the nature of political life. Future projects will include research into the kinds of interpersonal and political environments most conducive to character development, primarily through engagements with the philosophies of Aristotle and of John Dewey.

While her teaching interests are broadly reflective of her research interests, Professor McMahon is generally interested in engaging with works from throughout the history of philosophy in order to engage students at all levels in becoming philosophical about their own experience and about the world they live in.

Selected Publications

“ ‘Thinking According to Others’: Expression, Intimacy, and the Passage of Time in Merleau-Ponty and Woolf,” Phenomenology and the Arts, eds. Peter Costello and Licia Carlson (Rowman & Littlefield, forthcoming).

“Phenomenology as First-Order Perception: Speech, Vision, and Reflection in Merleau-Ponty,” Perception and Its Development in Merleau-Ponty’s Philosophy, eds. Kirsten Jacobson and John Russon (University of Toronto Press, forthcoming).

“The Phantom Organic: Merleau-Ponty and the Psychoanalysis of Nature,” Chiasmi International 16 (2014), 275-90.

“Home Invasions: Phenomenological and Psychoanalytic Reflections on Embodiment Relations, Vulnerability, and Breakdown,” The Journal of Speculative Philosophy Vol. 28, no. 3 (2014), 358-69.


Vulnerability and Security: Merleau-Ponty on Personal and Political Life. 

Professional Presentations 

“The ‘Great Phantom’: Merleau-Ponty on Habit, Group Life, and Political Solidarity,” Eastern Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association (Washington, D.C., January 6-8, 2016)

“Habits of Autonomy: Merleau-Ponty, Feminist Philosophy, and the Virtue of Vulnerability,” Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (New Orleans, October 23-25, 2014); philoSOPHIA (Pennsylvania State University, May 1-4, 2014)

“Home Invasions: Embodiment, Vulnerability, and Breakdown in Merleau-Ponty,” Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (University of Oregon, October 24-26, 2013)

“The Phantom Organic: Merleau-Ponty and the Psychoanalysis of Nature,” International Merleau-Ponty Circle (Duquesne University, September 26-28, 2013) [*Winner of the M. C. Dillon Award for best paper by a graduate student]; Canadian Society for Continental Philosophy (Institute of Christian Studies/University of Toronto, October 10-12, 2013).

“Knowing the Difference: Eros and Writing in Plato’s Phaedrus,” Pennsylvania Circle of Ancient Philosophy (Duquesne University, February 16-17, 2013)

“ ‘We Have Yet to Become Human’”: Reappropriating Universal Human Rights with Judith Butler,” On the Concept of Life in Ancient Greek Philosophy, Participants’ Conference, Collegium Phaenomenologicum (Cittá di Castello, Italy, July 7-8, 2012)

“Positioning Foucault: Critique in the Face of the Blackmail of the Enlightenment,” Actuality and the Idea, (Princeton University, May 11-12, 2012)

“Phenomenology as First-Order Perception: Speech, Vision, and Reflection in Merleau-

Ponty,” Re-approaching the Foundations of Phenomenology (New School for Social Research, March 30-31, 2012)

“The Philosophical Life as the Practice of ‘Dying and Being Dead’: Plato’s Phaedo and the Death of Socrates,” Plato and the Experience of Philosophy (University of Guelph, November 11-12, 2012) 

“ ‘There is Still Life’: Torture, Vulnerability, and the Body,” Global Justice, the Environment, and the Economy, Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy (University of Victoria, October 14-16, 2011) [*Winner of CSWIP’s award for the best paper by a graduate student]

“Commitment to Time: Eros, Narrativity, and Authenticity,” Philosophy and Interpersonal Relations (University of Guelph, November 12-13, 2010)

“Ways of Seeing: Towards a Phenomenology of Implication,” Bodies in the World (University of Guelph, March 13, 2010)