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My undergraduate and postgraduate studies were at the University of Oxford. I graduated from Keble College, Oxford, with an MA in Modern Languages (French and Linguistics) in 1995. After a year studying for an MSt in Research Methods, I was awarded my DPhil on the novelist and writer François Mauriac in February 2000. I was a Laming Junior Fellow at Queen's College, Oxford between 1999 and 2001, before joining Durham University as Lecturer in French in September 2001. I took up the Carnegie Chair of French at the University of Aberdeen in September 2013. I have been Head of the School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture (January 2016-August 2019), and Director of GWW, the George Washington Wilson Centre for Visual Culture, which is based in the School (September 2013-January 2016).
My research focuses especially on the cultural history of post-war France, as it lives through the twin dramas of modernisation and decolonisation. I explore how literary and visual culture articulates, echoes and represents those dramas, and the role played by cultural production in the broader economy of France during the period. In the past few years, my work has turned increasingly to the nature of the photographic image and its role as part of a visual economy of meaning. My first book focused on the novelist and writer François Mauriac, and his emergence as an intellectual and figure of moral authority during the 1950s and 60s. Working with Dr Joe McGonagle (University of Manchester), I completed an AHRC-funded project in 2011 investigating the representation of the Franco-Algerian relationship from the time of French Algeria to the present day. As part of the project, we curated the exhibition New Cartographies: Algeria-France-UK at Cornerhouse in Manchester. Our book, Contesting Views: The Visual Economy of France and Algeria, was published by Liverpool University Press in May 2013.
My current work pursues a long-standing interest in spatial planning, urban space and modernisation in post-war France. I am working in particular on the state-led planning and modernisation of the Gaullist and post-Gaullist eras, and the ways in which space was produced and reconfigured as a result. I have explored how a range of writers and photographers, such as Raymond Depardon, Annie Ernaux and Jean Rolin, have responded to and evoked the consequences of these processes.
I would be very happy to hear from potential postgraduate students interested in topics related to any of my research areas.