I hold a Personal Chair in French Cultural History. My main research areas are 20th-century Cultural History (especially Jean Paulhan and the Nouvelle Revue française), the life and work of Armand Petitjean, and Franco-British Inter-Cultural Studies, with a particular focus on the French presence in London.
I was born and brought up in Dorchester, Dorset, in the south of England. After school I spent a time working outside academia before returning to take a degree in French Cultural Studies at the University of Warwick, where I also studied for an MA in the 20th-century French Novel and my PhD on the Nouvelle Revue française, France’s leading cultural review, and representations of contemporary history and politics. Before coming to Birmingham, in 1995, I worked at the universities of Nanterre (Paris-X), Warwick, and Loughborough.
Most of my teaching is focused on lectures for Year 2 courses, Final-Year Translation, and my Y4 option, ‘From Dreyfus to Vichy’.
My research falls into two areas. In the area of French Cultural History, my work has focused principally on the monthly cultural review, La Nouvelle Revue française, in particular under the editorship of Jean PAULHAN (1925-1940; 1953-1968). After a first book, Intellectuals in History, The NRF under Jean Paulhan, Rodopi, 1995, I have published numerous essays both on Jean Paulhan and on the cultural and political status of the NRF. My most recent publication is the edition of Jean Paulhan–Armand Petitjean, Correspondance 1934-1968, Gallimard, 2010.
Following the publication of this correspondence, I am continuing to publish research on aspects of the life of Petitjean, including this discussion of his contribution – with Roger Caillois – to the rejuvenation of the Nouvelle Revue française:
My other area of research is Franco-British Cultural Studies. In numerous essays and articles, I have investigated,for example, how the British reacted to the Dreyfus Affair, how the British were perceived in areas of French popular fiction, and I’ve also worked extensively on how the BBC helped to prosecute the Radio War with Occupied France, using the papers of Emile Delavenay.
I am a founder-member and participant in Culture F-B, an AHRC-founded group of scholars from both sides of the Channel working on Franco-British Cultural History. Apart from rediscovering the importance of the Franco-British Exhibition of 1908, I have edited a collection of papers for the international journal Synergies,based on a conference we hosted here at Birmingham on the theme of the “War in the Inter-War”.
I have also worked recently on the life and achievements of Denis Saurat, former Director of the French Institute in London.
My latest venture is a British Academy-funded project, with Professor Debra Kelly,University of Westminster, on “The London French”, a historical and contemporary study of the huge French presence in the capital. In future we hope to be working with Birmingham’s Heritage and Cultural Learning Hub in an expanded version of this exciting project.