UoA 52: French

Over the census period the Department has undertaken a substantial renewal of its staff. The retirements of Baker, Calder, Burch (2005) and Harrison’s departure (2005) have enabled us to appoint two professors (Britton, 2003; Hanrahan, 2006) and two lecturers (Inston (early career researcher), 2005; Moreau, 2007). The Department also created a new non-research active post of Language Teaching Co-ordinator and a second lectureship with a view to reducing the teaching load of research-active staff and freeing up money for the creation of a Staff Research Fund, used for departmental support for research. These appointments testify to UCL’s support for the Department in a period of national retrenchment. In making them, our strategy has been geared to enhancing our research performance and sustaining our longstanding commitment to maintaining high quality research across the broadest possible area.

Our current research profile reflects the importance we attach to contributing to a wide variety of fields within French Studies: all periods of French literature, sociopolitical, film and francophone studies. We consider this breadth to be essential to the continuing health of the discipline. In particular, we have been careful to preserve our strengths in the early periods of French literature: our four most recent lectureships (Moreau, Inston, Macdonald and Gilbert) have been appointed in pre-20th-century areas; the AHRC awards made to Gilbert and MacDonald in 2006-7 promoted work in medieval and Renaissance literature. The appointments of Britton, Hanrahan, Inston and Moreau have increased our investment in the following areas: francophone/postcolonial studies (Britton, Harrison until his departure in 2005, Haddour), gender studies (Hanrahan, Gilbert, Matlock), political studies (Inston, Marlière) and early modern studies (Moreau, Inston, Macdonald). Hanrahan’s appointment also strengthens the Department’s existing commitment to critical theory, especially psychoanalytically based theory, in the work of Leak, Mathews, Gilbert, Britton, Matlock and Worton.  Our emphasis is largely on individual research, but, within the deliberately broad framework referred to above, common interests provide a basis for collaboration between colleagues. Thus Lack and Matlock have over the census period developed a major focus on film studies, and Mathews and Worton have jointly edited volumes of poetry in the Bloodaxe series. We anticipate a fruitful collaboration between our two most recent appointees (Moreau and Inston) around 'libertinage' in the 17th and 18th centuries. We also have a particular strength in literature and the visual (Matlock, Mathews and Worton) and contemporary critical theory; unusually, this latter extends beyond those working on 20th-century metropolitan literature: we have specialists in medieval, 17th-century, 18th-century, film and francophone literature whose research is also actively concerned with critical theory.

Individual members of the Department are also involved in collaborative work with colleagues elsewhere in the UK and internationally. Leak plays a prominent role in the UK Society for Sartrean Studies, organising conferences supported by the French Institute (2001, 2002), and editing Sartre Studies International since 2000.  Mathews is a member of the Hermes Consortium, which brings together colleagues from Belgium, Holland, Portugal, Denmark, Germany, Spain and the US; the organising panel of Hermes has been invited by Rodopi to act as the editorial board of a new series entitled TEXTXET and devoted to comparative literature. Worton has during the census period co-organised six international conferences, on the new technologies for the arts and humanities, gender issues in a cross-cultural context, masculinities, and medical humanities.  Hanrahan is a member of the international  research network ‘Presence After Poststructuralism’, based in Trondheim, and associate member of the Centre d’Etudes Féminines et d’Etudes de Genre(s) based at the U. of Paris 8; Marlière has been an associate CNRS research fellow (2001-3) and a research fellow at the Centre d’Etudes Politiques sur l’Europe du Nord (U. of Lille, 2003-5). Matlock is involved in collaborative work with colleagues at the U. of Paris 1 and Montpellier 2 on the history of the press and cultural history, and with colleagues at Les Cahiers du Cinéma on film theory in the U.S. and France. Mercer has been invited to join a Norwegian government-sponsored international research group ‘Arctic discourses’, based at the U. of Tromsø. Moreau organised three seminars around the theme of 'La liberté de parole au tournant des XVIème et XVIIème siècles' at the ENS-LSH in Lyon. Some of the publications arising from these collaborations are returned in RA2.

Our collective participation in interdisciplinary research has during the RAE census period above all centred on the AHRC-funded Centre for the Study of Literatures of Africa and Asia (2001-5), a joint initiative of UCL and SOAS: Worton was on the Management Committee, and Mathews on the Advisory Board. Worton, Mathews, and Haddour have co-led research strands within the centre, and Mathews (2002-5), Britton (2003) and Harrison (2003) have given papers at the conferences organised by these strands. Mathews organised four international conferences, one in collaboration with the State University of Rio de Janeiro with additional funding from CAPES in Brazil. This work has already resulted in a number of publications: see RA2, Worton, for instance; and Mathews strand has produced a collective volume Translation, Trauma, Tradition: the Classic and the Modern, accepted in principle by OUP. Mathews has also been actively involved in setting up UCL’s Centre for Intercultural Studies which, while primarily focused on graduate teaching, is also developing into a major focus for staff research, organising international seminars addressed by Homi Bhabha (2005) and Rosi Braidotti (2006); and has, together with a colleague from the Slade, co-organised a series of four events at Tate Modern on electronic poetry and its relation to modernist painting (2006). Matlock organised panels at the MLA annual conference in 2001, 2002, and 2003 which brought together historians, art historians, cultural studies specialists, and philosophers. Worton co-organised a conference on research in Medical Humanities at UCL in 2004. Moreau is a member, along with colleagues in Oxford, Lyon and Toronto, of an interdisciplinary research group working at the intersection of literature, the history of ideas and the cultural history of science. The first manifestation of this collaboration will be an international conference, organised by Moreau, in Lyon in February 2008: 'Les lumières en mouvement: la circulation des idées au XVIIIème siècle'.

In addition to the AHRB/C and British Academy grants cited under RA4, the Department  is associated with three major external awards for research funding: through Worton as  Director of the UCL Mellon Programme which was awarded  £487,299 for 2002-7 and has a further £641,304 for its second programme (on ‘Translations/transpositions’, 2006-11);  and Mathews as a member of the organising panel of the Hermes Consortium, which received €65,000 from the ESF for a conference on ‘Literature for Europe’ in 2007. Hanrahan was awarded a Senior Fellowship (2003-4) by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Download full text of the RA5a statement for French (pdf 120Kb)

Staff names below link to submitted publications:

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Page last modified on 19 jan 08 11:46


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