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MA Student Research

At Stony Brook University's M.A. Program in Philosophy and the Arts, our graduate students produce a broad array of philosophical work that is both focused and original, in a learning environment which prizes creativity as much as intellectual rigor.  Below, you will find sketches of our students' current philosophical and aesthetic projects. Representative of the plurality of research foci fostered in our department, our students are supported and encouraged to qualitatively differ in their readings, interests, and voice. Even still, each research focus opens onto a saturated texture of inquiry and thinking that has been exploratorily expanded and incisively honed through their graduate work -- a philosophical sharpening process undertaken with professors and students alike, both inside and outside the classroom.

2021 Cohort
José Almanzar
B.A. in Philosophy and Psychology

My areas of interest are quite vast and ever-changing, which works in perfect synchrony with the interdisciplinary style of the M.A. program at Stony Brook. I have always had a strong interest in phenomenology, particularly exploring mental health and the way we experience events such as depression and anxiety. My goal is to provide an alternative approach to cope with and understand these mental “disorders” by coupling the phenomenological experience with modern neuroscientific research on the brain. My work also focuses on the phenomenology of time and consciousness in Husserl and Bergson (among others), as well as how it intersects with modern quantum mechanics. I aim to elucidate on what Levinas calls the “psychic life” and the implications it has on our conscious experience. Recently, I have also developed a keen interest in Wittgenstein and how social context shapes language. In the coming semesters I hope to ameliorate my understanding of analytic philosophy, particularly regarding the ways in which language affects our socio-political culture. I am grateful that the MA program has been able to accommodate seamlessly to the multi-faceted approach in my thinking, and aim to continue to develop my intellectual interests.

Addison Hinton
Graduate from University of Mary Washington with Departmental Honors in Philosophy, Spring 2020

My work focuses on elucidating a Hegelian ethic as it is found in the Phenomenology of Spirit. I work to explicate a Hegelian ethical order by which its relevancy in modernity is established through its very transcendence of such modern ideals. I am primarily interested in the application of a Hegelian ethic to contemporary ideologies and structures concerning the social and the political. I work towards a reconciliation between a Hegelian ethic and contemporary feminism in particular, focusing my current research on Judith Butler’s reading of Hegel’s Antigone. I also approach the concept of the ethical, as that which demands to be made actual, through an analysis of the sublime in Hegel’s Lectures on Fine Art. As such, I hope to have added some clarity and contextualization to a work that is otherwise considered an outlier in Hegel’s overall systemic thought.

Libby Sibley
B.A. in History at the University of Virginia, 2010

My research interests involve the intersection of philosophy, particularly political philosophy and the philosophy of religion, and psychoanalysis, particularly Lacanian psychoanalysis. I am interested in the drives and desires of the subject and how these drives and desires interact with the potential for political and social collectivization, transformation, and ethical behavior.

Wenshu Zheng
M.A. in Comparative Literature and World Literature, 2018-2021

Extending from my previous research on khôra, my philosophical focuses converge on the relationship between temporality and phusis as well as between factuality and ananke. To be more specific, I am interested in: (1) exploring new possibilities of Derrida’s deconstructive practices from the tradition of eros, besides techne; (2) how Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of flesh can contribute to the discussions around space and time; (3) various forms of necessity combined with temporal considerations, e.g., pre-determinacy, contingency or after-facticity, etc.; (4) a feminist perspective that concentrates on reproduction and its related ethics of hospitality; (5) drawing parallels between East and West, e.g., investigating possible conversations between (i) Taoist and Chan texts and (ii) contemporary continental philosophy.

2020 Cohort
Alyssa Haney
B.A. in Philosophy, Drexel University 2017

My research interests are at the intersections of phenomenology, existentialism, and bioethics. More concretely conceived, I have strong interests in how phenomenological (supplemented by existential) inquiry can mutually inform and interact with bioethical investigations. Of my projects at Stony Brook, my work has been concerned with the phenomenological, ethical, aesthetic, and social dimensions of illness. My phenomenological methodology examines illness as a pre-reflective, subjective human experience as it is lived prior to its theorization by medical science. Phenomenology exposes the particularity of an individual’s undergoing of illness and thus allows the complexity of this individual’s experience to become intelligible in all its textured specificity. I am an advocate for further inclusion of first-person embodied perspective within the discipline. Aside from these interests, I have strong interests in how philosophy can inform our understandings of love, friendship, and laughter.

Qilu Ma
B.A. in Humanities and Fine Arts

My research interests embrace the philosophy of time, the philosophy of art, political philosophy, and neo-materialism. I am particularly interested in investigating a hidden link between temporality, political issues, and art, in which art acquires the potentiality to disclose and resolve certain dilemmas within democracy implied by time. Simultaneously, I am also interested in whether contemporary achievements in neo-materialism, especially based on quantum physics, can clarify this hidden link and provide support to art as a recognition and solution to socio-political issues. My recent concerns are focused on questions raised by the status of living with the past (or the dead) as a mode of our existence in the world revealed by temporality. The problem of living with the past pushes me to think about whether it is possible for us to live with the past without being predetermined by it and whether our constant and inevitable interaction with the past can be expanded and lead to a transgression of the threshold for encountering the other, not only the ‘human other’, but also the ‘non-human other’. Ultimately, what concerns me most is how artworks that relate to the past, such as monuments, concretize the possibility of the effacement of predetermination about living with the past and in encountering of otherness.

2019 Cohort
Justin Hill
B.A. in Philosophy with a minor in Sociology, Summa Cum Laude

My research interests stem from the perplexity of “becoming-with” and explore outward from the nexus of aspectual personhood. By aspectual personhood, I intend the relationships between (i) subject and self (especially pan-selfhood); (ii) body and environment; (iii) affect and belief; (iv) belief and perception; (v) phenomenality and materialism; (vi) formal language and the ineffable; (vii) qualitative languages and direct experience; and (viii) rote dogma [passivity] and enacted intellectual intuition [activity]. My interest in this nexus takes on a variety of shapes and foci, but what I write is grounded in emphases on process, practice, co-constitution, diversity, lived experience, and affective necessity, with a strained ear toward any possibilities for meaningful communication (such as qualitative languages and the aesthetic communication of semiotic affect). An overarching goal of my work is to open discourse on communitarian personhood — that is, the subject’s experience (of the Itself) as continuously constituted by the subject’s community and environment, which (in aspectual conjunction) can no longer be conceived of as separate and distinct from the subject. Most recently, I have become interested in jazz improvisation and the flow state to investigate practices of experiencing flow between inner and outer and between the subject and the pan-self (i.e., the Itself). Finally, I continue a practice of Buddhism, which is deeply intertwined with my experiential research on flow, tantra, samadhi, ineffability, and communitarian personhood. I aim to draw on as many systems of thought as possible to approach the ineffable and to cultivate, for myself and others, the inner beauty of mental experience through profundity and subtlety. To speak allusively, I wish for the music to always sound this good, rich with timbre and texture.