Dr Patrick Bray

Dr Patrick Bray

Associate Professor


Faculty of Arts & Humanities

Joined UCL
4th Sep 2019

Research summary

     My research interests span a variety of topics in nineteenth- and twentieth-century French literature and culture that explore the limits of what we call literature - especially visual culture, space, narrative literature, literary theory, scientific discourse, and the relationship between text and image.

     My current book project, Proustian Iterations: Conceptualizing the Literary Event, looks at how twentieth-century French literature and thought has grappled with the uniqueness of Proust's work.
     I have recently completed two book projects. The first is a monograph, The Price of Literature: The French Novel's Theoretical Turn (March 2019, Northwestern University Press), which examines the presence of theory in the French novel, something that Proust likened to leaving a price tag on a gift. I show how literature's freedom to represent anything at all has meant, paradoxically, that it cannot articulate a coherent theory of itself - unless this theory is a necessarily subversive literary representation (what I call the novel's theoretical turn).
The second recent book project is an edited volume on the work of Jacques Rancière for Bloomsbury Publishing, Understanding Rancière, Understanding Modernism, published in 2017. The volume includes contributions from eighteen scholars from disciplinary backgrounds as diverse as the subjects of Rancière's thought such as French literature, Philosophy, English, Art History, Films Studies, and feminism. The volume concludes with an extended interview I conducted with Rancière about the problematic notion of modernism and disciplinary concerns in the contemporary academy.
     My first book, The Novel Map: Space and Subjectivity in Nineteenth-Century French Fiction (Northwestern University Press), argued that nineteenth-century French novels negotiate the relationship between the self and the world as a function of space. In the first-person works of Stendhal, Nerval, Sand, Zola, and Proust, cartographic images situate the narrator within an imaginary space that is at odds with the narrative structure of the novel.  


Originally from California, I studied French at Cornell University in New York and then at Harvard University. I have held academic positions at Indiana University, the University of Illinois, and most recently at the Ohio State University, were I was Professor of French. I am Editor-in-Chief of H-France Salon.