Current research

Catalogue of Research in Iris Murdoch Studies

In discussing the route to moral behaviour, Murdoch argues that the pursuit of intellectual truths is akin to the quest for goodness. In the process she writes an affirmation, indeed a paean for scholarship:

I think there is a way of the intellect, a sense in which intellectual disciplines are moral disciplines [...] If I am learning, for instance, Russian, I am confronted by an authoritative structure which commands my respect. The task is difficult and the goal is distant and perhaps never entirely attainable. My work is a progressive revelation of something which exists independently of me. Attention is rewarded by a knowledge of reality. Love of Russian leads me away from myself towards something alien to me, something which my consciousness cannot take over, swallow up, deny or make unreal. The honesty and humility required of the student - not to pretend to know what one does not - is the preparation for the honesty and humility of the scholar who does not even feel tempted to suppress the fact that damns his theory [...] But apart from special contexts, studying is normally an exercise of virtue as well as of talent, and shows us a fundamental way in which virtue is related to the real world.

EM, 373

In the spirit of the above quotation, Iris Murdoch Archive is creating a catalogue of ongoing research into Murdoch's life and letters. The merits of such a resource are manifold; to mention a few, it functions as a research dissemination tool for scholars already working in the area whilst also enabling younger researchers, embarking on their own investigations, to forge contacts with more established critics. Primarily, this catalogue functions as an interface of knowledge, facilitating the continued growth of this rich area of research on, arguably, Britain's most important twentieth century author.

To date, a good number of scholars have forwarded abstracts of their current work and these include projects concerned with Murdoch's attack on Nihilism and her thinking on religion and moral imagination. Another strand of research represented in the catalogue as it currently stands pertains to the issue of gender in Murdoch's writing. Studies exploring the relationship between her philosophy and fiction also assert themselves, as does scholarship on her affinities with continental thinkers and writers, for example, her erstwhile lover, Elias Canetti.

However, there are undoubtedly many other such affinities under exploration and many more of very interesting lines of intellectual enquiry which would benefit from being networked to the wider research community. If you are interested in letting us know what your area of interest is, (by adding your details to the catalogue) please forward a short abstract of your research project with your name, institutional affiliation and an email address to Elaine Morley.