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Dr Hannah Marije Altorf

Reader - Philosphy

Dr Hannah Marije Altorf

Tel: 020 8240 4851

About Research Media


Hannah Marije Altorf is Reader in Philosophy at St. Mary’s University. In 2016-2017 she was Research Fellow at University College Southeast Norway.

Her research expertise can be divided into two related phases. Her earlier research focuses on the philosophical work of Iris Murdoch and the notion of imagination. It explores Murdoch’s understanding of human beings as ‘imaginative fantasising animals’, using the work of Michèle le Doeuff. She have a published a monograph (Iris Murdoch and the Art of Imagining, Continuum 2008) as well as several articles. Together with Mariëtte Willemsen she translated Murdoch’s The Sovereignty of Good into Dutch (Over God en het Goede, Boom 2003). Recently, she has returned to Murdoch’s work, also because there is renewed interest in what is now called the Wartime Group: Anscombe, Foot, Midgley, Murdoch and Warnock (see especially (In Parenthesis)).

More current research examines the practice of philosophical dialogue and public philosophy more generally. Hannah has published a number of articles on dialogue and regularly facilitates Socratic dialogues for the PPA (Philosophisch-Politsiche Akademie) in Germany, as well as other organisations (such as for instance the Philosophy Foundation). She was also a judge in the UKs very first Philosothon.

Hannah regularly give lectures and facilitate workshops for diverse audiences, on Murdoch, Etty Hillesum, etc.

In her spare time, Hannah plays the viola. A few years ago the orchestra she is part of (North London Sinfonia) featured on Radio 3, participating in Making Music’s Adopt a Composer Scheme.

Academic and Professional Qualifications

  • PGCHE, distinction, St Maryʼs University, Strawberry Hill.
  • PhD, Centre for Literature, Theology and the Arts, University of Glasgow. Thesis: ʻIris Murdoch and the Art of Imagination: Imaginative Philosophy as Response to Secularismʼ
  • MA (doctorandus) highest distinction, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Thesis: ʻOpgesloten in een notendop: over de ontologische status van verzinselen aan de hand van de Sofist van Platoʼ. [Bounded in a Nutshell: On the Ontological Status of Fictions With a Close Reading of Plato's Sophistes].
  • Propedeuse (first year diploma), Faculty of Mathematics, University of Leiden, the Netherlands.



Main Areas of Research / Scholarship

  • Imagination and the Philosophical Imaginary 
  • Iris Murdoch
  • Hannah Arendt 
  • Philosophical Dialogue

Grants / Awards / Bursaries (chronological)

  • Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies:
    • Mini-Project ʻSocratic Dialogue in Educationʼ, June 2010 to June 2011.
    • Mini-Project ʻPhilosophical Dialogue as a Form of Assessmentʼ, June 2009 to June 2010.
  • Society for Religion, Literature, and Culture, reimbursement of travel expenses, accommodation and conference fee:
    • XVth conference, Oxford, 23-26 September 2010.
    • XIVth conference, Aarhus, Denmark, 17-19 October 2008
  • Stichting Catharina van Tussenbroek:
    • grant to attend IAPl-conference, Helsinki June 2005
    • grant to attend Twentieth World Congress Philosophy, Boston, 10-16 augustus 1998.
  • University of Glasgow, University Scholarship, October 2000–September 2003.
  • Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Glasgow, several grants to attend conferences 2001-2003.
  • Radboudstichting, the Netherlands, grant to attend the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Religion (AAR), Nashville, Tennessee, 18-21 November 2000.

External Involvement (Consultancy / Professional Bodies / External Examining)

  • 2011 - date: Member of the Public Philosophy Network
  • 2008 - date: Member of the Aristotelian Society
  • 2005 - date: Member of (British) Society for Women in Philosophy (SWIP)
  • 2000 - date: Member of the International Society for Religion, Literature and Culture (SRLC)
  • 1999 - date: Member of the Iris Murdoch Society


  • 2008, M. Altorf. Iris Murdoch and the Art of Imagining. London: Continuum. [Reviewed in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (2009), Literature and Theology (2009), Religious Studies (2009), Journal of Religion (2011), Heythrop Journal 2011, The European Legacy (2011)]
  • 2003 I. Murdoch. Over God en het Goede, vertaald en ingeleid door M. Altorf en M.F. Willemsen [translation of The Sovereignty of Good, with introductory essay]. Amsterdam: Boom. [Reviewed in: NRC Handelsblad (2003), Filosofie Magazine (2003)]

Edited Volumes

  • 2016c ‘The Art of Dialogue’, Special edition of Arts and Humanities in Higher Education [published Online First]


  • ‘Iris Murdoch’. D. Pritchard (ed.), Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy. Oxford University Press (2018).

  • ‘Voetnoten bij Plato: Pleidooi voor het schrijven van wijsgerige dialogen’ (Footnotes to Plato: On Writing Philosophical Dialogues).  Algemeen Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte 110.1 (2018), pp. 97-112.

  • ‘(In Parenthesis) Workshop, Durham, 17-18 March 2017: Musings from a participant’. Iris Murdoch Review 8 (2017), pp. 83-85.

  • ‘Creating a Common World through Dialogue: Reflections on Arendt and Nelson’. D. Staude, E. Ruschmann, C. Münch (eds.), Understanding the Other and Oneself. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018, pp. 92-104.

  • 2016b ‘Dialogue and Discussion: Reflections on a Socratic Method’, Arts and Humanities in Higher Education. [published online, paper copy forthcoming]
  • 2016a   ‘The Art of Dialogue: Introduction’, Arts and Humanities in Higher Education.
  • [published online, paper copy forthcoming]
  • 2015    ‘Rereading Jewish Thinkers’, Patterns of Prejudice 49.3, pp. 315-316 [review] 2014     ‘Iris Murdoch and Morality’, The European Legacy 19.4, p. 496. [review]
  • 2013c ‘Calypso’s Oath’, The European Journal of Women’s Studies 20.2, pp. 221-223 [review] 2013b ‘Selling Socrates, or the Unexamined Life and the University’. Diskurs 9.1, pp. 12-35. 2013a   ‘Iris Murdoch, or What It Means To Be A Serious Philosopher’, Δαιµων: Revista
  • Internacional de Filosofía 60, pp. 75-91.
  • 2012    ‘De retoriek van Kerst’ NRC Handelsblad 24 December 2012. [opinion piece]
  • 2012    with A. Van den Hout, ʻRandomised response: Het belang van privacybescherming bij het verzamelen van dataʼ. STAtOR 3-4, pp. 33-36.
  • 2011c ‘Socratic Dialogue in Education’. [Report for funding, published online and still consulted regularly]
  • 2011b ‘Initium ut esset, creatus est homo’: Iris Murdoch on authority and creativity’. Text Matters: A Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture, pp. 92-105.
  • 2011a   ‘After cursing the library: Iris Murdoch and the (in)visibility of women in philosophy’.
  • Hypatia 26.2, pp. 384-402.
  • 2010    ‘On Written Dialogue as a Form of Assessment’. Discourse 10.1, pp. 153-172. 2010            ‘Socrates, Apologie’. Humanistische Canon. [
  • logos_paideia/socrates] [Encyclopedia article]
  • 2009b ‘Thinking in between Walls: An Imaginary Visit to Descartes’ Room’. F. Vidal (ed.). Bloch Jahrbuch 2009: Tagträume gegen Mauern. Talheimer, pp. 241-255.
  • 2009a ‘Feminists and Fools: Imagination and Philosophy of Religion’. P.S. Anderson (ed.), New Topics in Feminist Philosophy of Religion. Dordrecht: Kluwer, pp. 3-16.
  • 2008    ‘Hipparchia’s Choice’, Literature and Theology 22.3, pp. 372-374 [review]
  • 2007    ‘Reassessing Murdoch in the Light of Feminist Philosophy: Michèle Le Doeuff and the Philosophical Imaginary’. A. Rowe (ed.) Proceedings of the Second Iris Murdoch Conference. Houndsmill, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, pp. 175-186.
  • 2005    ‘Filosofische verbeelding: Over winkelwagentjes, grasvelden en de vrouw als onbegrijpelijke afgrond’ [Philosophical Imagination: On Meadows, Trolleys and Woman as an Inexplicable Abyss.] Wijsgerig Perspectief 45-1, pp. 22-30.
  • 2005    ‘The Body in the Text: Iris Murdoch’s Embodied Writing Style in The Sovereignty of Good’, D. Bird, Y. Sherwood (eds.), Bodies in Question: Women on Gender, Religion and Text. Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 147-159.
  • 2004    ‘De verbeeldende wijsbegeerte van Iris Murdoch’ [Iris Murdoch’s Imaginative Philosophy], Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte 96-1, pp. 40-52.
  • 2000    ‘‘An Eye To Endure the Vision of the Divine’ (Sophistes, 254a): Systematic and Literary Ways of Expressing Divine Reality’, J. Bekkenkamp (et al.) (eds.), Missing Links: Arts, Religion and Reality. Frankfurt: Lit Verlag/ASCA, pp. 183-198.
  • 1994    ‘Een dansende profeet’ [A Dancing Prophet, on Nietzsche’s Also Sprach Zarathustra], Filosofie 4, pp. 35 – 36.

N.B. In 2016 I changed my name to Hannah Marije Altorf. Earlier work is published under Marije Altorf.

Book Reviews

  • ‘Rereading Jewish Thinkers’, Patterns of Prejudice 49.3 (2015), pp. 315-316.

  • ‘Iris Murdoch and Morality’, The European Legacy 19.4 (2014), p. 496.

  • ‘De retoriek van Kerst’ NRC Handelsblad 24 December 2012. (opinion piece)

  • ‘Calypso’s Oath’, The European Journal of Women’s Studies 20.2 (2013), pp. 221-223
  • 2010 review of Bethania Assy, Hannah Arendt - An Ethics of Responsibility, in: Pir XXX (4), pp. 235-236.
  • 2009 review of M. Laverty, Iris Murdochʼs Ethics, in: Pir XXIX (5), pp. 352-354.
  • 2008 review of Le Doeuff, Hipparchiaʼs Choice, in: Literature and Theology. 22: pp. 372-374.
  • 2007 review of C. Bekker, Rechtvaardigheid, onpartijdigheid, gender en sociale diversiteit, in: Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies. 1: 90-92.
  • 2006 review of M. Pellikaan-Engel, Het recept van Calypso: klassieke teksten in een hedendaags filosofisch perspectief, in:
  • 2005 review of S. Stoller, V. Vasterling, L. Fisher (eds), Feministische Phänomenologie und Hermeutik, in: Tijdschrift voor Gender Studies. 3, pp. 90-92.

Conference Presentations / Performances / Radio Broadcasts

  • 2018 ‘Iris Murdoch and the Virtuous Peasant: The Everyday in Philosophy’. Royal Institute Lecture, London Series, November.

  • 2018 ‘Who was Kitty?’ (Workshop on Anne Frank and Cissy van Marxveldt). FPS and FRS, London, April and May, 2018.

  • 2018 ‘Iris Murdoch: Writer, Philosopher, Film Star’. London, 30 January.

  • 2017 ‘The Fire and the Sun: Reflections on Murdoch and the History of Philosophy.’ ‘Women in Parenthesis’. Durham University, 18 March. [by invitation]

  • 2016 ‘Philosophy and Rhetoric: Retelling the Old Story’, Royal Institute of Philosophy lecture, St. Mary’s University, 29 September.
  • 2016 ‘Creating a Common World by Understanding the Other and Oneself: Reflections on Arendt and Nelson’. ICPP, Bern, 5 August.
  • 2016 ‘Hannah Arendt’, Rosh Chodesh, Finchley Progressive Synagogue, 8 February.
  • 2015 ‘Arendt, Herzberg en Mulisch: Eichmann in Jerusalem herlezen’, University of Nijmegen, 8 December.
  • 2015 ‘Hannah Arendt and Leonard Nelson: Socratic Practice Creating a Common World’, ‘Hannah Arendt: Forty Years Later’, Science Po, Paris, 4 December.
  • 2015 ‘Reflections on Arendt and Nelson’, Buskerud and Vestfold University College, Drammen, 4 November.
  • 2015 ‘Etty Hillesum: The Thinking heart of the Barracks’, Rosh Chodesh, Finchley Progressive Synagogue, 16 July. [by invitation]
  • 2015 ‘What is Public Philosophy? Reflections on Arendt, Dialogue, and Rhetoric’. PPN, San Francisco, 12 June.
  • 2014 ‘The Film I Would Like to See Next: Reflections on Biography and Gender’. ‘An Afternoon with Iris: Life Thought, Writing’, University of East Anglia, 6 December. [by invitation]
  • 2014 ‘Debate or Dialogue: The Issue of Consensus’. ISRLC, University of Leuven 18-20 September.
  • 2014 ‘Arendt, Mulisch and Herzberg: Rereading Eichmann in Jerusalem’. Centre for Philosophy of History, St. Mary’s University, 6 May.
  • 2014 ‘Iris Murdoch: A Life of Philosophy and Literature’, Barnes Philosophy Club, 12 February. [by invitation]
  • 2014 ‘Philosophical Dialogue as Assessment’, HEA workshop ‘Assessment: Group Effort, or Individual Achievement, Or: I can’t Believe It Is Not Group work, St. Mary’s University, 4 February.
  • 2013 ‘Imagination as a Form of Resistance: Arendt and the Practice of Socratic Dialogue’, Conference ‘Women, Truth, Action’, Helsinki, 10-12 October 2013.
  • 2013 ‘On Arendt and Imagination’, A One-Day Symposium on Ricoeur and Arendt, Oxford 20 June 2013. [by invitation] 2012 ʻIris Murdoch: An Intellectual Biographyʼ. Seminar "Filosofia i Gènere", University of Barcelona. 30 October [by invitation]
  • 2012 ʻDialogue and Rhetoric: Socrates in the Universityʼ. Centre for Theology, Literature and the Arts, University of Glasgow, 8 February 2012 [by invitation]
  • 2011 ʻReflections on Nelsonʼs Socratic Method: Engaging Philosophy Studentsʼ “Advancing Publicly Engaged Philosophy” Washington 6-8 October.
  • 2011 ʻSocratic Dialogue in Educationʼ, Foundations for the Future greenwich 13-14 July.
  • 2011 ʻSocratic Dialogue in Educationʼ, Joint Session, Brighton 8-11 July
  • 2011 ʻIris Murdoch and the Sublimeʼ, Critical Theory and Spiritual Practice-Seminar, Oxford 27 January [by invitation]
  • 2011 ʻSocratic Dialogue in Educationʼ, Miniproject Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies, Leeds, 19 January
  • 2010 ʻThe Two-in-Oneʼ: Arendt on Self as Otherʼ, ISRLC, Oxford, 26 September 2010
  • 2010 ʻReflections on Philosophical Dialogueʼ, School of Theology, Philosophy, ad History, St. Maryʼs University College, 28 April
  • 2010 ʻReligion and imagination: A Thought experimentʼ, Centre for Theology, Literature and the Arts, University of Glasgow, 11 March [by invitation]
  • 2009 ʻHannah Arendt and The Human Conditionʼ, Critical Theory and Spiritual Practice- Seminar, Oxford 28 May [by invitation]
  • 2009 ʻIn Tallisʼ Kitchenʼ, Critical Theory and Spiritual Practice-Seminar, Oxford 5 February [by invitation]
  • 2009 ʻReflections on Philosophical Dialogueʼ, University of Glasgow, 8 January
  • 2008 - ʻMetaphysics and Storiesʼ. ISRLC, Aarhus, 17-19 October.
  • 2008 - ʻWomen and Philosophyʼ. Celebrating Michèle le Doeuffʼs 60th birthday, Oxford 14 July.
  • 2008 - ʻAfter Cursing the Libraryʼ. Joint Session, University of Aberdeen, 11-13 July
  • 2008 - ʻAfter Cursing The Library ... Women and Philosophy. A Case Studyʼ. ʻBreaking Boundaries, Forging Connections: Feminist Interdisciplinary Theory and Practiceʼ. Mount Saint Vincent Univeristy, Halifax, Novia Scotia, 11-13 April
  • 2007 - ʻWomen and Philosophyʼ. ʻSexing the Textʼ, University of Glasgow, 7 December.
  • 2006 - ʻImaginative Thinking: Exploring the Historical Roots of Female Fancyʼ. IAPH, Rome, September.
  • 2005 - ʻGood Literature and Ethical Imagination: On the Importance of Literature for Murdochʼs Moral Philosophyʼ, ʻIris Murdoch at the Intersection of Ethics and Literatureʼ, IAPL Annual Conference
  • 2004 - ʻThe Challenge of a Fool: Michèle Le Doeuff on Imagery and Interpretationʼ, 12th Conference of the International Society for Religion, Literature and Culture, Uppsala, Sweden, October
  • 2004 - ʻReassessing Murdoch in the Light of Feminist Philosophy: Michèle le Doeuff and the Philosophical Imaginaryʼ, Second Iris Murdoch Conference ʻMurdoch: A Reassessmentʼ, Kingston, London September. 

Conferences organised

  • 2017 Organiser of panel ‘But what has this got to do with gender? Rereading The Fire and the Sun’, Eight Biennial Iris Murdoch Conference. Chichester, September
  • 2016 - Organiser of panel on ‘Dialogue’, International Society for Religion, Literature, and Culture. Glasgow, September
  • 2014 - Organiser of panel on ‘Dialogue’, International Society for Religion, Literature, and Culture. Leuven, September
  • 2011-Present - Co-organiser RIP Lectures St. Maryʼs University College.
  • 2010 - Organiser of panels ʻSpirituality and Reconciliationʼ, ʻHigher Educationʼ, International Society for Religion, Literature, and Culture. Oxford, September.
  • 2008 - Organiser of panel Teaching Philosophy/Theology. International Society for Religion, Literature, and Culture. Aarhus, October.
  • 2008, 2009, 2011 - Chair of International Womenʼs Day committee. St. Maryʼs University College, March.
  • 2006 - Organiser of panel ʻChanging Spacesʼ. International Society for Religion, Literature, and Culture. Stirling, October.
  • 2000 - Member of organising committee International Society for Religion, Literature, and Culture. Nijmegen September.

Additional Conferences and Courses Attended

  • 2011 - Valuing Philosophy Degrees: Employability in Higher Educationʼ, Birmingham, September.
  • 2009 - A-Level and Above, Oxford July
  • 2006 - 2008, PGCHE, St Maryʼs University College
  • 2005 - present, bi-annual Staff Development Day, St Maryʼs University College
  • 2002 - Post Graduate Teaching Training Module, University of Glasgow

PhD Supervision

  • April 2016 – present Co-Supervisor, ‘“Stepping into the same stream twice”: narrative and identity in mid-Victorian biography’ (PhD)
  • Jan 2013 – present Director of Studies, ‘A Matter of Dignity: Kierkegaard and Levinas on responsibility and suffering through addiction’ (PhD)
  • Dec 2012-Sept 2013 Director of Studies, ‘Catholic Social Teaching in the Contemporary Church - towards a Radical and Prophetic Methodology’ (PhD)
  • Jan 2008-2016 Director of studies, ‘Making Sense of Senseless Acts: A Study of Contemporary Evil-Doers Based on Arendt’s Ideas of Thinking, Willing and Judging’ (PhD)
  • Sept 2008-2010 Director of studies, ‘Meaning and Truth: A Study of Arendt’s The Life of the Mind’ (MPhil, not completed])
  • Jan 2008-May 2011 Director of Studies, ‘Desire in Contemporary Catholic Theology and Christian Sexual Ethics’ (PhD)
  • June 2011-present I supervise one or two dissertations for the MA Bioethics and Medical Law each summer.


Hannah has reviewed books and articles for Routledge, The British Journal of Aesthetics, Theology and Literature.

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