My longest-standing research interest is in the field of French political fiction of the inter-war years. I have written a monograph on the female-authored political roman à these of the 1930s, and have published various articles related to this topic. This book, entitled Forgotten Engagements: Women, Literature and the Left in 1930s France, studies the work of five little-known female authors (Simone Téry, Edith Thomas, Madeleine Pelletier, Henriette Valet and Louise Weiss) who used fiction in various ways as a means to explore and express leftist political commitment (http://www.rodopi.nl/functions/search.asp?BookId=FAUX+291).
As a development of this research, I published a monograph on Irène Némirovsky, whose previously unpublished Occupation novel Suite française gained a wide readership in 2004 when it appeared in French, and soon in numerous translations. My book, entitled Before Auschwitz: Irène Némirovsky and the Literary Landscape of Inter-war France, [publication launch video] seeks to place Némirovsky’s œuvre as a whole within the context of inter-war French literary production in order to demonstrate the ways in which her identity as a literary star of the 1930s led her to produce a work such as Suite française. It seeks to counter potentially anachronistic readings of Némirovsky’s literary choices which approach her life and work retrospectively, that is, from the perspective of the Occupation period. It also investigates the contemporary reception of Suite française in terms of ongoing processes of memorialisation of the Vichy period.
My other research interests include Translation Studes and travel writing. I am a member of the steering Committee of the Birmingham Centre for Translation: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/bct/index.aspx
I am currently working on a project on the translation of French fiction about the Second World War, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The Second World War involved many nations and therefore many languages. Although our knowledge of the Second World War and the Holocaust is therefore mediated through translated texts, no sustained attempt has been made to read the literature of the war from the point of view of translation. In this project, analysis of key French literary works and their translation into English will shed light on the epistemological and representational problems of writing fiction about the trauma of war. It will address crucial ethical and political questions about cultural memory and cultural transfer. This project is an exercise in what Bella Brodzki (2007) calls reading 'translationally': using translation as a method of literary and cultural critique. The project will analyse a range of significant French war novels and their English translations, focusing on aspects of war and its memorialisation in which multilingualism and translation are strongly implicated. Reading translationally also implies paying attention to the material conditions of translation. The research will therefore pose sociological questions as well as poetic ones, considering circuits of transnational cultural exchange (such as publishing houses and literary critics) and the socio-historical contexts of writing and publication.
I am also researching political travel writing of the inter-war period in the context of a collaborative project (with Dr Martin Hurcombe and Professor Martyn Cornick) entitled 'The Totalitarian Temptation: Travel Writing and Political Engagement in inter-war France'. The project will look at the ways in which travel to countries under 'totalitarian' regimes (the USSR, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Salazar's Portugal and Spain under Primo de Rivera and Franco) shaped the political itineraries of inter-war French intellectuals, and it will analyse the structures, tropes, techniques and themes of political travel writing as a sub-genre of travel writing.