in the Department of Philosophy and Religion

Bryan Smyth

Bryan Smyth

Instructor of Philosophy


contact information



professional background

Ph.D., McGill University (2006)

D.E.A., Université Paris I (2003)

B.A., M.A., University of Waterloo (1999)

I also spent a year at the Institut für Soziologie, Karl-Franzens-Universität (Graz, Austria)



I have taught at the University of Mississippi since 2013. I previously taught at Mount Allison University and the University of Memphis, where in addition to undergraduate courses I offered several graduate seminars in my areas of specialization. Here at UM I have taught the following courses:

PHIL 101 Introduction to Philosophy

PHIL 328 Biomedical Ethics

PHIL 390 Feminist Philosophy



My research deals primarily with Critical Theory and phenomenology (especially the work of Merleau-Ponty, which foregrounds questions of embodiment), and how these traditions intersect with regard to nature and history. The basic questions that guide me have to do with historical agency in relation to systemic oppression, notably (but not exclusively) sexism and racism, and other forms of social injustice. Since very early on I have been inspired as a philosopher by how German historian Lutz Niethammer once glossed the point of his own discipline: “instead of subjecting individuals to the fiction of an objectively meaningful process or fobbing them off with all manner of aestheticized fragments, it seeks to do the groundwork of their historical self-understanding and their capacity for historical action.” Among other things, this leads me to interrelated (and somewhat unorthodox) interests in myth, heroism, and epigenetics.


published volumes

Merleau-Ponty’s Existential Phenomenology and the Realization of Philosophy (Bloomsbury Academic, 2014) [monograph]

The Sensible World and the World of Expression: Course Notes from the Collège de France, 1953 (Northwestern University Press, 2020) [translation with substantive introduction and extensive notes]


volumes in progress

Marxism, Phenomenology, and the Dialectical Horizons of Critique: New Perspectives [collection of 12 chapters co-edited with Richard Westerman, under contract with Lexington Books]

Investigations into The Literary Use of Language: Course Notes from the Collège de France, 1953 [translation with introduction and notes, under contract with Northwestern University Press]


volumes in the pipeline

Incarnating the Good: Rethinking Heroism as an Embodied Phenomenon [monograph]

Hyperdialectical Materialism: Nature and History in Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology [monograph]


An up-to-date list of my publications and work in progress can be found here.