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Research in French Studies – University of Reading

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Research in French Studies

Building facade, VersaillesTo enable the French Studies strand of the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies to offer its students the widest possible choice of modules and making it the leading research department it is the research interests of our full-time staff is of a wide and varied nature, covering the areas of history/politics and literature/cultural studies, they have a wide chronological span, ranging from medieval and Renaissance to contemporary culture.

The French strand of the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies is also a part of Réseau-F, a cross- institutional partnership between the Universities of Reading, Warwick, Southampton, Sheffield and QMUL. It is a partnership for the support of research activities among postgraduate students and early career researchers in these institutions. 

Research Centres

All postdoctoral researchers and research students in French Studies are associated with 'Réseau-F' (formally called the 2001 Group), whose members currently include Reading, Exeter, Oxford Brookes, Queen Mary College, Southampton (lead institution), Surrey and Warwick (lead institution). Réseau-F holds regular study days at the different member institutions

Staff research interests

The main areas of staff research activity are given below. These are also the main areas in which we provide postgraduate research supervision.

Medieval and Renaissance literature and culture

  • Medieval Occitan literature, didactic and moralising literature in French and Occitan, translation, word and image Dr Catherine Leglu 
  • Comparative Medieval literature, codicology, Breton folklore, French cultural studies Professor Francoise Le Saux
  • Renaissance poetry and thought, Du Bellay, exile literature, Renaissance Cento-writing in both Latin and the vernacular Professor G. Hugo Tucker

Modern and Contemporary French history and politics

  • Early-modern France, politics and fiscal history, the French Revolution Professor Joel Felix
  • French party politics; especially the Gaullist Party, French governement Porfessor Andrew Knapp
  • Cultures of War and Conflict: Professor Hilary Footitt. 
  • History of children's literature and publishing, women's writing, the cultural and religious history of modern France Dr Sophie Heywood

Modern French and Francophone literature and culture

  • Beckett studies, literature and philosophy, critical theory, French feminism Professor Mary Bryden
  • French Language, Twentieth-century French comparative literature, the Algerian novel in French 
  • Twentieth-century and contemporary French and Francophone literature, Women's writing, feminist and postcolonial theory Dr Julia Waters

Staff research activities and collaborations

Professor Mary Bryden

Professor Mary Bryden is Research Advisor to the Samuel Beckett Research Circle, Tokyo, Japan, and British Representative for the Association por la Foundation Samuel Beckett in France. Her recent AHRC-funded Research Fellowship, 'The Transnational T E Lawrence' (2010-11), involved collaboration with colleagues at Universities in Britain and America (especially Bristol and Memphis), the organisation of a special session at the Annual Convention of the Modern Languages Association of America in Seattle (January 2012), and consultation of archive materials in London; Oxford; Cambridge; Paris; the Huntington Library, California; Brown University, Providence; the Harry Ransom Humanities Center, University of Texas at Austin; University of Southern Illinois at Carbondale; University of Victoria, British Columbia.

Professor Joël Félix

Professor Joël Félix is part of a research group called the CSG (Contractor State Group), which is based at the University of Navarre (Spain) and involves a total of 22 academics from 10 countries, including from the UK (LSE, UCL, Swansea, Dundee, Greenwich, and Westminster), from the US, Canada, Netherlands, France, Germany, Portugal, Japan, Spain, and Sweden.

Professor Hilary Footitt

Professor Hilary Footitt's AHRC 'Languages at War' project was partnered with Southampton University, and the Imperial War Museum, London, and had MoD representation on its Advisory Group. The current AHRC 'Languages and International NGOs' Network has the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) as a partner, and includes representatives from the International Red Cross, and the International Rescue Committee. She is co-editor of the new 'Languages at War' book series (Palgrave Macmillan).

Dr Sophie Heywood

Dr Sophie Heywood is part of the Leverhulme international network, 'Diasporic Literary Archives', which has established partnerships with The Beinecke Rare Book Room and Manuscript Libraryat Yale University; Il Centro di Ricerca sulla Tradizione Manoscritta de Autori Moderni e Contemporanei in Italy; I'Institut Mémoires de l'Edition Contemporaine (IMEC) in France; The National Library and Archives Service of Nambia; and a prominent archivist from Trinidad and Tobago.

Professor Andrew Knapp

Professor Andrew Knapp was CI for an AHRC-funded project entitled 'Bombing, States and Peoples', in Partnership with the Universities of Exeter and Newcastle. A resultant book, Forgotten Blitzes: France and Italy under Allied Air Attack, 1940-1945, co-edited by Professor Knapp, is about to appear with Continuum. He is currently preparing a follow-up funding bid.

Professor Catherine Léglu

Professor Catherine Léglu is currently developing research links with the University of Ovideo - (from which we currently have a visiting research fellow) - and with the Occitan section of Montpellier 3. She is currently completing a co-edited volume for Longman-Pearson Group with a colleague in the History Department at Nottingham. Her ongoing Leverhulme Trust-funded project has a link with Sheffield (IT and Support), as well as advisory members at Sheffield and Birmingham.

Dr Sara Poole

Dr Sara Poole has recently been consulted, as an expert on the songs of Georges Brassens, on the content of forthcoming recordings of selected translations of Brassen' work, by the Connecticut singer-songwriter Joe Flood. Her introduction to his translations will shortly appear on his website, alongside the downloadable version of the pieces.

Professor Françoise Le Saux

Professor Françoise Le Saux is involved in a collaborative project with Professor Denis Hüe and Dr Françoise Laurent of the Université Blaise Pascal in Clermont-Ferrand, on Wace's hagiographical poems. She is also part of an international research team on the Brut tradition, based in France, and led by Hélène Tetrel, with European funding.

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