Dr David Newheiser
Senior Research Fellow
Religion and Theology, Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry
Areas of expertise: religious ethics; Continental philosophy; philosophy of religion; political theology; gender and sexuality; history of Christian thought
HDR Supervisor accreditation status: Full
ORCID ID: 0000-0002-8024-7964
Location: ACU Melbourne Campus
My research explores the role of religious traditions in debates over ethics, politics, and culture. In my view, the study of religion and theology can clarify the context of contemporary debates, and it offers resources that anyone may draw on to address them.
I received a PhD in Religion from the University of Chicago and an MPhil in early Christian thought from Oxford. I joined the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry in 2015. I am available to supervise projects on religion + ethics / politics / culture, and I'm especially keen to work with students from underrepresented groups.
My interests are broad and interdisciplinary. My first book, Hope in a Secular Age, argues that hope is a discipline required to sustain commitment of any kind: personal, political, or religious. I am currently working on my second book, which considers the link between premodern miracle traditions and democratic imagination.
Alongside these larger projects I have written on secularism, sexuality, neoliberalism, love, and the intersection of theory and art. I have recently been reflecting on the inequalities exposed by the covid-19 pandemic – and the power of solidarity to address them.
I am the editor of several edited collections, including most recently The Varieties of Atheism (The University of Chicago Press, 2022). Together with my ACU colleague Dr Lexi Eikelboom, I am co-director of a project funded by the Templeton Religion Trust, “Spiritual Understanding in a Secular Age: Engaging Art as Religious Ritual.”
Edited journal issues
- (2022) “Hope in Turbulent Times,”Critical Research on Religion 10.3, 363-368.
- (2021) “How hope becomes concrete,”Critical Research On Religion 9.3, 349-352.
- (2020) “Why the World Needs Negative Political Theology,”Modern Theology 36.1, 5-12.
- (2020) “Desacralizing Political Theology: Dionysius the Areopagite and Giorgio Agamben,”Modern Theology 36.1, 76-89.
- (2018) “Derrida and the Danger of Religion,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 86.1, 42-61.
- (2016) “Foucault, Gary Becker and the Critique of Neoliberalism,” Theory, Culture & Society 33.5, 3-21.
- (2015) “Sexuality and Christian Tradition: Innovation and Fidelity, Ancient and Modern,” Journal of Religious Ethics 43.1 (2015), 122-145.
- 2021-2022 co-director (with Lexi Eikelboom), "Spiritual Understanding in a Secular Age," funded by the Templeton Religion Trust with colleagues from Oxford, Coventry University, and elsewhere.
- 2016-19 project leader, “Atheism and Christianity: Moving Past Polemic,” Australian Catholic University Research Fellowship, with colleagues from ACU, Yale, and KU Leuven.
- 2016-17 "Can hope combat marginalization?" Australian Catholic University Research Fellowship, with Vincent Lloyd (Villanova) and Linn Tonstad (Yale).
Accolades and awards
- (2022) Duncan Forrester Fellowship, University of Edinburgh: awarded to support a five-month research visit.
- (2021) Winner of The ATF Literary Trust Book Prize for Hope in a Secular Age: Deconstruction, Negative Theology, and the Future of Faith (Cambridge, 2019)
- (2020) Winner of The Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for theological promise for Hope in a Secular Age: Deconstruction, Negative Theology, and the Future of Faith
- (2021-) Australian Catholic University, Senior Research Fellow in the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry
- (2015-2020) Australian Catholic University, Research Fellow in the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry
- (2013–15) University of Texas at Austin, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas
- co-chair, Political Theology Program Unit, American Academy of Religion
- Publications Chair & Executive Committee member of the Australian Association for the Study of Religion
- Member of the Committee on the Public Understanding of Religion, one of the standing committees of the American Academy of Religion
International journal review panel
Peer reviewer for Bloomsbury; Fordham University Press; Oxford University Press; The Journal of the American Academy of Religion; Theory, Culture & Society; Modern Theology; The Journal of Religious Ethics; The Journal of Religious History; Political Theology; Svensk Teologisk Kvartalskrift; Colloquium; Religions; Sophia; Politics, Religion & Ideology; Jewish Studies Quarterly; Epoché; European Journal for Philosophy of Religion; Journal of Bioethical Inquiry
Grant agency review panel
Australian Research Council, Excellence in Research for Australia evaluation (in Philosophy and Religion & Religious Studies)
European Science Foundation, Junior and Senior Postdoctoral Fellowships (panel for Humanities: Philosophy and Ethics)
- “How a Bike Accident Changed Me, By a Philosopher of Hope,” The Conversation (19 Aug 2022).
- “Pandemic life and the chance of transformation,” ABC Religion & Ethics (3 May 2022).
- “Theology for Atheists,”Syndicate (20 Apr 2020).
- “Sustaining hope through coronavirus uncertainty,”ABC Religion & Ethics (9 Apr 2020).
- “The promise of negative political theology,” ABC Religion & Ethics (10 Mar 2020).
- "Law, Order, and Idolatry", ABC Radio National, Religion& Ethics program (26 July 2018)
- "Tradition, Novelty, and the Need for Discernment", The Living Church (29 January 2012), 19-22
- “Vulnerability and the Possibility of Progress,” University of Chicago Religion and Culture Web Forum (May 2010).
- “Varieties of Atheism” on RN Breakfast, ABC Radio National (7 Apr 2023).
- “Christmas in a secular society” on ultra106.5fm (22 Dec 2022).
- “Is hope necessary?” on God Forbid, ABC Radio National (23 Sep 2022).
- “How David was lost, then found” on Conversations, ABC Radio National (29 Aug 2022).
- “Rupture and Hope” on The Philosopher’s Zone, ABC Radio National (1 May 2022).
- “How’s your Soul? A look back on 2021” on Soul Search, ABC Radio National (12 December 2021)
- "Contemplating Hope", ABC Radio National, Soul Search (5 July 2020)
- "Theology for Atheists", Syndicate (20 April 2020
- "Politics and the Sacred", ABC Radio National, The Philosopher's Zone (21 April 2019)
- "How can we live with coronavirus uncertainty?", ABC Radio National, The Minefield (8 April 2020)
- "Should Christians and Atheists Get Along?", ABC Radio National, The Spirit of Things (29 July 2018)
Coverage & quotes