Maria O'Connor

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Senior Lecturer - Spatial Design & Postgraduate Studies

Phone: +64 9 921 9999 # 8652 / +64 27 6857665


Postal Address:
School of Art and Design
Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies
AUT University
Private Bag 92006
Auckland 1142
New Zealand


Ph.D. Literature & Philosophy, AUT University, 2007

Academic Appointments:

Programme Leader PhD & MPhil Programmes, School of Art & Design, AUT University
Senior Lecturer of Art & Design, School of Art & Design, AUT University

Memberships and Affiliations:

International Association for Philosophy & Literature
Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy
International Forums of the Lacanian Field
Centre for Lacanian Analysis, New Zealand
Oceanic Ecologies Lab (Aotearoa, NZ)
RMIT, Melbourne, Art, Knowledge and Globalization Research Cluster
Moving Image Group (AUT)

Description of Research:

Summary Statement of Research Interests

Dr. Maria O’Connor engages in practices of critical-poetic writing, filmmaking and audio-visual installation that express literary and philosophical underpinnings. Maria’s poetic approaches evoke her response and responsibility for a less oppressive and mastered way of living —this is her practice of ethics via aesthetics. Maria collaborates in experimental writings with friends (scholars) here and in Europe around performance in its joining up with philosophy, media arts, spatial design, theatre, film and other disciplines this term has come to expand.

Maria is an academic (AUT University, 2000—) and currently holds the role of Programme Leader for PhD and MPhil programmes (School of Art and Design). She supervisors in postgraduate research —mainly at PhD level, which work within a practice-led paradigm of research. These practices typically engage with research through concepts of Performance, from fields of choreography, scenography, theatre, filmmaking, spatial design, media arts and creative writing. Further, these supervision typically consist of practices with strong philosophical underpinnings that question ethical, political and aesthetic issues such as: climate change, rising sea levels, animality, sexual and indigenous difference, post-humanisms, and community. With a PhD in literature and philosophy (2007) that questions sexual difference and its relation to philosophical language, her ongoing creative explorations with particularly the essay-film genre critically and conceptually pursue aesthetics of encounter in relation to difference (animal, sexual, human).

Maria has published on the work of Jacques Derrida, Emmanuel Levinas, Martin Heidegger, Gilles Deleuze with respect to visual cultures and theory and approaches to design research, with a particular emphasis on post-humanist engagements with ethics. She has also published on the literary philosophy of Maurice Blanchot, literary-psychoanalytic thought of Nicholas Abraham and Maria Torok, and feminist writings associated with the works of Hélène Cixous and Luce Irigaray. She has also produced film and digital video works for exhibition, and has published in the field of film and philosophy.

Teaching Areas:

PhD and MPhil supervisions across: spatial design and architecture, performance studies, theatre, creative writing, essay-film, visual arts installation, which investigate through practice-led paradigms in relation to critical philosophical underpinnings.

Current Projects:

Cool of the Night: An experimental short essay-film that takes Maurice Blanchot’s literary-philosophical concept of radical passivity as an approach to a loose adaptation of (also) Blanchot’s novella Thomas the Obscure into the scene of an essay-film. The film is largely concerned with the relation between language and light as those predominant modalities for engaging viewers in(to) the essay-film encounter.

Drifts  … Writing Together:
A monograph publication to emerge out of a series of writings and responses, to and for, with and against, performance scholar Joe Kelleher (UK, Roehampton). It is a collaborative writing project, with Kelleher, around the performance of writing as an ethics of response and responsibility. It tentatively performs writing as an always reading. (Writing-)Reading becomes a way in which an event occurs through an appropriation of the other for the other, for others.
Cities of Empire: A suite of six 15 minute digital films on contemporary memory-traces of former capitals of empire, engaging the trace-structures of forgetting that open to a political crisis of sovereignty discussed, for example, in the writings of Giorgio Agamben and Antonio Negri.

Selected Refereed Presentations and Publications:

Book Chapters

O'Connor, M. (forthcoming). Between Time:Given Futures across Derrida and Deleuze (forthcoming 2015). In William Watkins (Ed.), Pluriversalism: Modernism, Multiplicity, Indifference. Lexington Press of Roman & Littlefield. (Series Ed. H. Silverman).
O'Connor, M. (forthcoming). Posed Solitude: A Poetics of Community (forthcoming 2015). In E. Grierson, H. Edquist, & H. Frichot (Eds.), Designing Design: Cartographies of Theory and Practice (forthcoming 2012). Lexington Press of Roman & Littlefield. (Series Ed. H. Silverman).
 O’Connor, M. (forthcoming early 2015)
Night Drifts (forthcoming 2015). In Elle August, Brent Harris, Rachel Boswell (Eds.), Posteering. The Physics Room, Christchurch.

Journal Articles

O'Connor, M. T. (2013) ‘Losing Face’: A Review Article for ATA Journal of Psychotherapy Aotearoa New Zealand, Special Issue: on Emmanuel Levinas and The Face of the Other, NZ Association of Psychotherapist (NZAP) Inc.
O'Connor, M. T. (forthcoming). Spatial Difference as Affect: thresholds beyond the rigidity of the binary interior/exterior. ACCESS: Critical Perspectives on Communication, Cultural & Policy Studies, 30(Thresholds and Transformations).
O'Connor, M. (2011, December) Canopy of the Upturned Eye: Writing on Derrida’s Crypt. Mosaic: a journal for the interdisciplinary study of literature, 44(4), 109-123, Special Issue on Freud After Derrida. Retrieved from
O'Connor, M. T.  & Yates, A. (2011, December). Taking Time in Studies in Material Thinking Journal. No. 5, Special Issue on (Im)materialising Time. Retrieved from
O'Connor, M. (2006).
Provocative Coincidences — The Question as Style's Dissimulating Face: Writing beyond the Aporias of the Subject. The International Journal of the Humanities, 4 (4), 67-70. Retrieved from
O'Connor, M. (2005). Some Kind of a Man. Access: Critical Perspectives on Communication, Cultural and Policy Studies, 24(1 & 2), 78-85.
O'Connor, M. (2005). What-ever-being: A Review on Giorgio Agamben's ‘The Open: Man and Animal’. Interstices: Journal of Architecture and Related Arts, 6, (Animal Impulse) 6, 116-118.
O'Connor Maria. (2003). A.I: Language/gender/difference: A Spurian reading of intelligence as artifice. In the Journal of 1st Global Conference: Artificial Intelligence Exploring Critical Issues. Vienna, Austria.
O'Connor Maria. (2003). Fault-erring: On the styles of margins (Blanchot/Heidegger). ACCESS Critical Perspectives on Communication, Cultural and Policy Studies, 22 (1&2), 95-103.

Journal Editor(Special Issue)

O'Connor, M. T. S., & Yates, A. (2011, December 30). (Im)materialising Time (Special Issue) Studies in Material Thinking, 5((Im)Materialising Time). Retrieved from


O'Connor, M. T. (2007). Ashes Without Reserve: Her Pro-nominal Tracings Of The Strictures Of Sexual Difference. (Doctoral Thesis, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand). Retrieved from

Conference, Symposia presentations

O’Connor, M. (2014)) Dark Light: Opening Scenes to Childhood Worlding, Film-Philosophy Conference: A World of Cinemas, Film and Media Studies, University of Glasgow, 02 Jul 2014 - 04 Jul 2014. Proceedings Editors: Martin-Jones D. 02 Jul 2014
O’Connor, M (2014) What IS Performance Philosophy? Colloque International Theatre Performance Philosopohie, Paris, 26 Jun 2014 - 28 Jun 2014. What is Performance-Philosophy. 26 Jun 2014
O’Connor, M (2014)
Animal Encounters: Roundtable and Responses Animal Encounters: Performance, Animality & Posthumanism, Drama Department Roehampton University, 31 May 2014 - 31 May 2014. 31 May 2014
O’Connor, M (2013)
Wildlife Refuge: Deleuze Studies Conference, Lisbon Portugal, 08 Jul 2013 - 10 Jul 2013. Deleuze Studies. 01 Dec 2013.
O’Connor, M (2013)
Imperfect Body: Scanz On Nature, New Plymouth, New Zealand, 01 Feb 2013 - 04 Feb 2013. Proceedings Editors: Clothier I. 25 Oct 2013
O’Connor, M (2013)
Dark Light: Writing Theatre. PSi 19 Performance Studies International, Palo Alto, USA, 26 Jun 2013 - 30 Jun 2013. Proceedings Editors: Mantoan L, Jakovljevic B. 28 Jun 2013
O’Connor, M (2013)
Night Time: Performing Performance Symposium (AUT), Auckland Art Gallery Auditorium, New Zealand, 19 Apr 2013.
O’Connor, M.T (2012)  “Night Moves, Darkness Felt”, 5th Annual International Conference in Film and Philosophy Conference, Kings College & Queen Mary College, in association with Kingston University, London, UK.
O’Connor, M.T. (2012) “Night Moves” Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy Conference The University of Auckland, Auckland N.Z.
O'Connor, M. T. (2011). An Immense Clip: Film, Philosophy and the Proximate Violence of Becoming. 4th Annual International Conference in Film and Philosophy. Liverpool, U.K.
O'Connor, M. T.  & Jackson, M. L. (2011). Desiccations (11 minutes, single channel) [Digital Film] College of Creative Arts, Massey University, Wellington.
O'Connor, M. T. (2011). Who Cares? Creative Research Practice in the Space of the University [keynote]. SCAPE Research Talks, College of Creative Arts, Massey University.
O'Connor, M. T.  & Khalid, R. (2011). The Hijab: Representation among Muslim Women in Malaysia. In ACAH/LibrAsia 2011 Conference. Osaka, Japan.
O'Connor, M. T. & Jackson, M. L. (2010). Desiccations: the darkness of light’s sweep (11 minutes, Single-Channel) [Digital Film]. UCL (University College London).
O'Connor, M. T. (2010). Canopy of the Upturned Eye: Writing On Derrida’s Crypt. In Freud After Derrida: An International Interdisciplinary Conference. Winnipeg, Canada.
O'Connor, M. T. (2010). Prelude: Desiccations, The Darkness of Light's Sweep. (Paper Presentation) Sexuate Subjects: Politics, Poetics & Ethics Conference. University College London, U.K.
O'Connor, M. (2009). Between Time: Given Futures across Derrida and Deleuze. In Invited Symposia (II) "Double Edges of Knowing: Becoming Present to a Horizon of Radical Questioning", at the International Association for Philosophy and Literature, 'Double Edges, Rhetorics-Rhizomes-Regions'. Brunel University, U.K.
O'Connor, M. (2009). Theories of Practice: An Ethics of Film Analysis. The Centre for Lacanian Analysis 2nd Annual Conference. Auckland, New Zealand.
O'Connor, M. (2008). Detours and Disasters, Signing the City Otherwise: Posed Solitude, A Poetics of Community. International Association for Philosophy and Literature 2008 Conference, Global Arts, Local Knowledge. Melbourne, Australia.
O'Connor, M. (2008). Perennially Homeless: Deconstruction—a disciplined non-belonging. The Derrida Today Conference. Sydney, Australia.
O'Connor, M. (2006). Provocative coincidences: The question as style's dissimulating face - writing beyond the aporias of the subject. In The Fourth International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities, Tunis, Tunisia.
O'Connor, M. (2006). Disagreement does not take place: On Blanchot's site of contestation [Presentation]. University of Auckland, Architecture School.
O'Connor Maria. (2003). A.I: Language/gender/difference: A Spurian reading of intelligence as artifice. In 1st Global Conference: Artificial Intelligence Exploring Critical Issues. Vienna, Austria.
O'Connor, M.
 & Jackson, M. (2003).
Between genders: Between genres. In Between Empires: Communication, Globalisation and Identity [Conference]. Auckland University of Technology,  Auckland, New Zealand.
O'Connor Maria. (2003). Ethics before the hand (S/he and difference). In S/He... Embracing/Wrestling Genders. Cultural Spaces for a Re-definition of the Political [Conference]. University of Bielsko-Biala, Poland.

Creative Works

Desiccations: The Darkness of Light's Sweep
Desiccations: The Darkness of Light's Sweep (11 Minute Film, Dec. 2010). Presented at UCL Bartlett School of Architecture, Sexuate Subject Conference (Dec 2010)

Dark Light
Dark Light, Essay-Film 2014 (Running Time: 74mins. In French, German and Italian with English Sub-titles). To view:

Dark Light (2014) is an essay-film concerned with themes of philosophy, aesthetics and animal. This genre has a potential for enabling viewers to freely cross between discourse and image, language and light. In a somewhat paradoxical move, the aesthetic strategy for Dark Light aims to initially develop a struggle between language and light, confounding a capacity to negotiate between image and text. Yet, coincident with its concerns for animality—both inside and outside ‘us’ humans—the film slows its encounters of language and image through a carefully orchestrated un-tethering of our desire for mastery. Dark Light thus defies closure or narrative suture. With /horse/ as its key motif, its animal-word, it attests to that strange, most uncanny animality of being-human. Composed through seven discrete poetic episodes—Kant, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Agamben, Derrida, Deleuze & Guattari—each episode inflects to the proper of a masculine tradition in Continental Philosophy, broaching a thinking of memory, nature, aesthetics, ethics and the animal, in the spoken languages of German, French and Italian. Another feminine voice acts as a spacing or interval between these episodes—a voice of sexual difference—responding to, countering and encountering the textual traces of the metaphysics of animal being.

For review of this work by international philosopher of aesthetics, Stephen Zepke, please visit:

Ecce Equus
Ecce Equus, Video-Installation Exhibition 2014, St Paul Street Galleries (Gallery Three)

Exhibitions / Presentations of Creative Works:

O’Connor, Maria. (2014) Dark Light, Single Chanel Digital Video ‘Essay-Film’ (Running Time 74 mins), Exhibited as an Installation at Animal Encounters: Performance, Animality and Posthumanism, University of Roehampton, London, 31 May 2014:
O’Connor, Maria.(2014) (2014) Dark Light, Single Chanel Digital Video ‘Essay-Film’ (Running Time 74 mins): Exhibited as film screening at Film-Philosophy Conference 2014: A World of Cinemas, University of Glasgow, Scotland, 2nd-4th July 2014 (see programme details for Dark Light screening on Day 3, 4th July, which included a response to the film by leading Film-Philosopher, Robert Sinnerbrink:
O’Connor, Maria. (2014) Dark Light, Essay-Film screening for the Centre of Lacanian Analysis, with response by Dr Irene Lee:
O’Connor, Maria. (2014) Dark Light, Essay-Film screening for CoLab Events (AUT):
O’Connor, Maria. & Jackson, Mark. (2010) Desiccations: The Darkness of Light’s Sweep, Digital Video Single Chanel, Running Time: 11:00mins, Exhibited at Sexuate Subjects: Politics, Poetics & Ethics, University College London, London, UK, 3rd-5th December 2010. Link to Desiccations on Vimeo: password: whirlwind

Completed Doctoral supervisions:

Rod Fee
The Assault on Mount B [Completed 2015]. A practice-led PhD in creative writing consisting of a novel and accompanying exegesis. The research deals with theoretical concepts of delusion, and thereby sets up critical relations across fiction, everyday and auto-biographic. It moves beyond postmodern critiques through an engagement with the concept of allegory through the philosophical writings of  Walter Benjamin, Jacques Derrida and Paul de Man.
Becca Wood
A Social Choreography for Aural Dwelling [Completed 2015]. This is a practice-led PhD engaging in fields of performance, choreographic and somatic epistemologies. With specific focus on sound it engages with an extension of embodied experience through working with digital and analogue prosthetic sounding devices for social choreographic performance. It does so also via an engagement with the writings of Rosi Braidotti, Giorgio Agamben and Andrei Lepecki.

Doctoral Supervisions in progress:

Emily O’Hara
Reveries and Resurrections: Writing Theatre, Spacing Spectacles: This research specifically addresses the agency of authoring space through the manifold inscriptions or writing practices that produce theatre as an expanded condition in the contemporary national and international scene. It starts off with the question or hypothesis of theatre as an eventing of living conditions (spectators, performers, social and cultural spaces, physical architectures and ritualised systems).
Britta Pollmuller Animated Encounters: How to encourage creativity through animation production. The thesis is the description of a model of how young people learn about animation and machinima and looks at three key themes: creativity, which is the process of developing original ideas that have value, media literacy which is the knowledge, skills and competencies that are required to use and interpret media, and culture which influences critical and creative behaviour. 
Christina Houghton Performance Ecologies: Diversity and difference through re-guiding imaginings of place and belonging. This research proposes to explore the complex relation of performance art to political ecologies as expressed in the term Performance Ecologies. More precisely as a choreographer and performance artist, also with a (Masters) background in science (zoology), art and science becomes for me a critical moment today, asking what relevant and educational conjunction exists between art and scientific practices.
Meifung Woo
Writing’s Other: Bring-Forth our poetic encounter within sites of literature and film practice: Can a creative and critical spatial writing practice raise questions around filmic encounters in terms of a practice of poetics in everyday living? How might a critical spatial writing and film practice provide the otherness of language to go beyond its own borders, where literature and film extend each other’s critical conceptuality?
Hannah Hopewell
Written Otherwise: A meditation on intertidal life. This practice-based, experimental research is a meditation on the urban intertidal field expressed across photography and textual play I describe as dark-amphibious writing. Outside any figure/ground structure of habituated seeing, the research performs a questioning of place representation and dominant signifying regimes of ecology. I interrogate such questioning with an economy of dis-anthropocentricism, and a speculative trajectory through ethics of care and indifference.
Simon Taylor
Theatre and Symptom: towards a symptom-based approach to theatre practice. The study researches the effects of a symptom-based approach on theatre practice. What is a symptom? The study conducts practical research towards a theatrical symptomology, engaging symptoms and their typology in the diagnostic process. It asks the secondary question, Does theatre itself present symptoms? What type of symptoms arises from its collective nature? The study extends the  line of enquiry of philosopher Gilles Deleuze's “critical and clinical” project that finds in writers diagnosticians far superior in literature to those found in medicine, or in psychiatry, for the detail of their symptomology and the rigour of their analyses.
Zana Bell Seeking Billie [working title]. A practice-led PhD in creative writing consisting of a novel and accompanying exegesis. The research examines notions of meta-fiction, through an exploration of biography of an early female Rhodesian pioneer re-told using fictional devices, metaphor and historiography with respect to Rhodesia’s colonization. Research questions engage with issues of sexual difference, migration and adoption, through a politico-cultural Maori indigenous lens with specific focus on notions of tūrangawaewae, nationhood and national identity. The novel examines the unreliability of both biography and memoir, and the writing of history in general.
Julia Reynolds Where is Narrative?: An Investigation of Scenographic Worlding in Relation to the Temporal Narrative Unfolding of Filmic Encounter [working title].  A practice-led PhD in digital film production, engaging the philosophical writings of Martin Heidegger on being-in-the-world, and the writings of Maurice Blanchot and Emmanuel Levinas on ontologies of the image.
Amanda Yates Ecological ontologies, situated practices and indigenous urbanisms. A practice-led PhD engaging contemporary questions of performance in relation to Oceanic space. The thesis works with the performativity of dialogical processes in order to investigate and draw out horizons for deep ecology. The philosophical writings of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari are influential in these explorations.

MA, MPhil Supervisions:

First Class Honours, Akil Kirlew (MPhil), Video Art: accelerationism and the reification of desire:

First Class Honours, Dorthe Sheffmann (MPhil), A Feminine Language in Cinema:

First Class Honours MPhil, Bendon Sellar (MPhil), The unconscious ruin: drawing minor architecture:

First Class Honours, MA, Sean Curham: Performing event in the everyday: regeneration as art:

First Class, MA Becca Wood: Making sense of no body:

First Class, MA, Annie Tatton: The Paradoxical event of apparel: lameness and the bifurcating catwalk:

First Class MA, Rose Jamieson: Through my body to your body and back:

First Class, MA, Sarah Romano, Is/Land Life:

First Class, MA, Emily O’Hara: Where do I lie:

First Class MA, Rachel Ruckstuhl-Mann: haerenga kōrerorero - choreographing sensing relations:

First Class Honours, MA, Fang-Yun Wei: Displaced Legacies: Folded Time and Space for an Architecture of Becoming:

First Class, MA, Trudy Lane: The Wonder Project: adventures in cross-pollinating perspectives on nature:

First Class Honours, MA, Yoka A J Van Dyk: Hyphenated Living: between longing and belonging, an exposition of displacement as liminality in the transnational condition:

First Class MA, Aaron Hurley: Movement and expression: a gestural spatial practice that explores the idiom of drawing: