Dr Emma Wagstaff MA, MPhil, PhD

Photograph of Dr Emma Wagstaff

Department of Modern Languages
Senior Lecturer in French Studies

Contact details

Ashley Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I came to Birmingham in 2006, and am based in the Department of Modern Languages. Among a range of teaching and research interests, I am particularly keen to promote the study of French literature and the visual arts, and the interactions between them.


  • BA (Hons) in Modern and Medieval Languages (French and German), 1998 (MA 2003)
  • MPhil in European Literature, 1999
  • PhD, ‘Time and Forgetting in the Work of André du Bouchet, Philippe Jaccottet and Bernard Noël’, 2003


I studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, where I did an undergraduate degree in French and German, followed by an MPhil in European Literature and a PhD in contemporary French poetry, supervised by Jean Khalfa. Before coming to Birmingham as Lecturer, I taught at Trinity College, Cambridge and at the université Paris XII Val-de-Marne, and was a Research Fellow in French Literature at St. John’s College, Cambridge.


I teach on a range of courses in French Studies and European Studies, with a particular focus on translation, modern texts and visual art.

My final-year specialist option is on links between modern French writers and artists, including writing that responds to painting, texts that take visual form, and art criticism by poets.

I contribute to the second-year modules ‘Cinema, media and visual culture’, ‘Renaissance to Realism’ and ‘Politics, Culture and Society’. I enjoy language teaching, and have taught year 2 core language and year 4 prose translation into French.

Postgraduate supervision

I have supervised an M.Phil dissertation on bande dessinée and would be very glad to hear from students wishing to pursue Masters or doctoral research in the areas of modern French poetry and word-image interactions.

I have also supervised projects and dissertations by students taking the MA in Translation Studies, and have acted as internal examiner for PhD and MA dissertations.


I have two main areas of interest in modern and contemporary French Studies: poetry, and the relationship between literature and the visual arts.

My first book, Provisionality and the Poem: Transition in the work of du Bouchet, Jaccottet and Noël, was published by Rodopi in 2006. Writing Art: French Literary Responses to the Work of Alberto Giacometti (Peter Lang, 2011) examines poetic and critical responses to Giacometti’s work by major literary figures from Breton to Bonnefoy.

I have published articles and presented papers on poetry, poésie critique and the livre d’artiste. I am co-editor with Stephen Forcer of a special issue of Nottingham French Studies on The French Avant-Garde (2011), and have co-edited, with Hugues Azérad, Michael G. Kelly and Nina Parish, two companion volumes on modern and contemporary French poetry: Poetic Practice and the Practice of Poetics in French since 1945 (double special issue of French Forum, 2012) and Chantiers du poème : Prémisses et pratiques de la création poétique moderne et contemporaine (Peter Lang, 2012).

I co-organised an AHRC-funded international network (2012-2015) on contemporary French poetry and its interdisciplinary connections. Activities included study days on poetry in relation to politics, philosophy, translation, new technologies, visual art, music and performance. They were accompanied by poetry readings, a practical translation workshop, an exhibition, and a concert. Please see the network website for further details.

Other activities

I regularly speak at the Society for French Studies annual conference and other occasional conferences, and review articles and manuscripts for journals and publishers including The Modern Language review, Nottingham French Studies and University of Wales Press.

I am Programme Lead for French Studies at Birmingham.


Sole-authored books

  • Writing Art: French Literary Responses to the Work of Alberto Giacometti(Oxford: Peter Lang, 2011)
  • Provisionality and the Poem: Transition in the Work of du Bouchet, Jaccottet and Noël(Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2006)

Edited books and special issues

  • with Hugues Azérad, Michael G. Kelly and Nina Parish, Chantiers du poème : Prémisses et pratiques de la création poétique moderne et contemporaine (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2012)
  • with Hugues Azérad, Michael G. Kelly and Nina Parish, Poetic Practice and the Practice of Poetics in French since 1945( = French Forum, 37, 1-2 (2012))
  • with Stephen Forcer, The French Avant-Garde(= Nottingham French Studies, 50,3 (2011))  

Articles in refereed journals

  • (with Nina Parish), ‘Pierre Lecuire: Assessing the Coexistence of the material and the virtual in his Modernist publishing project’, Word & Image, 32, 2 (2016), 143-52 ISSN 0266-6286.
  • '"Le temps rhumain": Time in the Work of Philippe Beck', in Poetic Practice and the Practice of Poetics in French since 1945, ed. by Hugues Azerad et al (= French Forum, 37, 1-2 (2012), pp. 223-235)
  • with Stephen Forcer, 'Dedication and Friendship in Two Livres d'artistes: Parler seul (Tzara-Miró) and Vivantes cendres, innommées(Leiris-Giacometti)', in The French Avant-Garde, ed. by Forcer and Wagstaff (= Nottingham French Studies, 50,3 (2011), pp. 103-16) 
  • with Stephen Forcer, Introduction, in The French Avant-Garde, ed. by Forcer and Wagstaff (= Nottingham French Studies, 50,3 (2011), pp. 1-11
  • ‘Des matières, non des images: Bernard Noël’s Creative Art Criticism’, French Studies, special issue on ‘New Ekphrastic Poetics’, ed. by Susan Harrow (=French Studies64, 3 (2010)), pp. 290-301
  • ‘Loss and Presence in three Poetic Texts of Mourning’, French Forum, 32, 1-2 (2007), 137-52
  • ‘Ponge and du Bouchet on Giacometti: Art Criticism as Testimony', Modern Language Review, 101 (2006), 75-89
  • ‘The Creative Gesture: Bernard Noël's Poetry and Art Criticism', Dalhousie French Studies, 71 (2005), 53-63

Chapters in books and short articles

  • ‘La musique dans l’œuvre récente de Philippe Beck’, Nu(e), 60 (2016), pp. 55-67 ISSN 17916038
  • ‘Montrer le temps : La poésie d’André du Bouchet’, in (In)effacer : L’œuvre et ses fins (Paris: Hermann, 2015), ed. by Michael Brophy, ISBN 9782705690304 pp. 288-99
  • ‘ "Le livre est d’abord une actio"?’, in Nu(e) (2014), pp. 291-94, ISSN 17916038
  • ‘André du Bouchet’, The Literary Encyclopedia (2014)
  • ‘ “Ce qui demeure”: L’éphémèreand André du Bouchet’, in Charles Forsdick and Andy Stafford (eds), La revue: The Twentieth-Century Periodical in French (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2013)
  • ‘André du Bouchet: “Accidents”’, in Twentieth-Century French Poetry: A Critical Anthology, ed. by Peter Collier and Hugues Azérad (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), ISBN 978-0-521-71398-6, pp. 163-69.
  • (With J. Khalfa) ‘Poetry', inEncyclopedia of Modern French Thought, ed. by Christopher John Murray (Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2004)
  • ‘André du Bouchet and Pierre Tal Coat: Sous le linteau en forme de joug', in The Dialogue Between Painting and Poetry, ed. by J. Khalfa (Cambridge: Black Apollo Press, 2001), pp. 105-126
  • ‘L'Étrangeté: André du Bouchet, Philippe Jaccottet and Translation', Mantis, Stanford University, 2 (2001), 121-137

Book Reviews

I regularly review books for the Modern Language Review, Modern & Contemporary France and French Studies.


Modern and contemporary French poetry; links between French writers and artists; Alberto Giacometti