I am a graduate of the University of Oxford where I took my BA in French and German in 2004. I remained at Oxford for my postgraduate degrees, which were funded by the AHRC. In 2008, I was a French Tutor for the Oxford Sutton Trust Summer School, a scheme which I had attended as a pupil in 1999. In 2008-9, I was appointed to a Research Fellowship at Homerton College, University of Cambridge, to undertake postdoctoral research, before taking up my Lectureship at Birmingham in January 2010.
My research specialism is Francophone literature and culture. I have presented invited papers on my research in the UK, France and Canada, and have recently organised research events, conferences and workshops at Birmingham (2010), Cambridge (2009) and Oxford (2007, 2008).
I work primarily on Francophone Caribbean literature and culture, focusing on Martinique, Guadeloupe and Haiti, including Haitian diasporic authors living and working in Canada. I have also taught a range of authors and filmmakers from North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Canada and the Indian Ocean.
Between 2012-2014 I am Principal Investigator on the project “Caribbean Biopolitics of Literature. Shaping Life, History and Community through the Transformative Power of Literature” a research project awarded 209,033 EUROS by the European Commission FP7/Marie Curie scheme. For more information, see the project's blog http://caribiolit.wordpress.com/
I provide teaching and dissertation supervision for a number of M.Phil courses, focusing on Francophone Caribbean literature and culture and questions of identity. For courses where French is not a required component, materials are available in English:
Nations and their Neighbours
Sexuality and Gender Studies
Contemporary Literary Cultures
Heritage (Distance learning MA)
Prospective MA and PhD students from the UK and abroad are welcome to email me to discuss research proposals concerning projects on Francophone Postcolonial cultures.
My research and teaching focus on the French language in a global context, exploring the history of colonialism and how we can understand colonialism's legacy in the current era.
In particular, I investigate how literature, film and art raise challenging questions about globalisation, politics, the environment and exploitation. I also focus on strategies of resistance in postcolonial literature, asking how cultural figures explore and challenge power hierarchies and promote alternative perspectives and compassion - qualities which permeate the works I research and teach.
My book Childhood, Autobiography and the Francophone Caribbean (Liverpool University Press, 2013)examines a major modern turn in Francophone Caribbean literature towards the récit d'enfance, or childhood memoir, and asks why this occurred post-1990, connecting texts to recent changes in public policy and education policy concerning the commemoration of slavery and colonialism both in France and at a global level (for example, the UNESCO project La Route de l'esclave, the loi Taubira and the Comité pour la mémoire de l'esclavage). Combining approaches from Postcolonial Theory, Psychoanalysis, Trauma Theory and Gender Studies, and positing recognition as a central concept of postcolonial literature, it draws attention to a neglected body of récits d'enfance by contemporary bestselling, prize-winning Francophone Caribbean authors Patrick Chamoiseau, Maryse Condé, Gisèle Pineau, Daniel Maximin, Raphaël Confiant and Dany Laferrière, while also offering new readings of texts by Frantz Fanon, Joseph Zobel, Françoise Ega, Michèle Lacrosil, Maurice Virassamy and Mayotte Capécia. The study proposes a new methodological paradigm with which to read postcolonial childhoods in a comparative framework from areas as diverse as the Caribbean, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and particularly the Haitian diaspora in North America.
My 2012 article, 'Depicting Social Dispossession in Guadeloupe: Nèg Maron, Lettre ouverte à la jeunesse and the General Strike of 2009' , focused on questions of youth disillusionment and political action in Guadeloupe. This article shows that important works of contemporary literature and film anticipated the social and political themes which were raised during the general strike which paralysed the island of Guadeloupe in 2009.
Between 2012-2014 I am Principal Investigator on the major European project “Caribbean Biopolitics of Literature. Shaping Life, History and Community through the Transformative Power of Literature” The award has been used to fund a Marie Curie Intra-European Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dr Alessandro Corio. The project explores the intersections between race and métissage, power and violence in Caribbean literature. There is an active blog for the project: http://caribiolit.wordpress.com/
I am also an active founder member of the FRANCOPOCO Network.