Dr Russell Cousins

Department of Modern Languages
Honorary Senior Lecturer

Contact details

Ashley Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I have research interests in Zola’s fiction, French Cinema and  screen adaptation. My publications include studies on Zola, various aspects of the cinema and  together with Ron Hallmark and Ian Pickup, I have published books and articles  on studying in France.


  • 1973. PhD (1973) The genesis of Zola’s L’Argent, University of Birmingham
  • 1966.  BA Hons French, University of Birmingham.


After two years of research in Paris and study at the Sorbonne I was appointed a Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham. I initiated film studies in the university and have held the following positions:  Chair of the Birmingham Film Society,  BFI  Film Lecture panel, BUFVC committee, Vice-Chair BAUT, Sub-Dean Faculty of Arts, Deputy Head French, Member of Senate and Arts Faculty boards.


In the French department, I have taught widely on the department’s undergraduate, MA and MPhil (B) programmes, and have supervised postgraduates.

Postgraduate supervision

I have supervised theses on Duhamel, Maupassant and French/ Hollywood cinema.

Find out more - our PhD French Studies  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My main research interest lies in the work of Emile Zola and screen adaptations. My current  project (‘Zola’s soundtracks and aural structures’) is to investigate Zola’s use of sound in the evocation of location and the metaphorical weight given to his creations in the Rougon-Macquart series. 

Articles and reviews have appeared in the following journals: Literature/Film Quarterly, Bulletin of the Emile Zola Society, Francophonie, Les Cahiers Naturalistes, Excavatio, French Studies Bulletin, Higher Education Quarterly. Reviews have appeared in The Modern Language Review, British Journal of Canadian Studies, Bulletin of the Emile Zola Society, Viewfinder, CILT Bulletin, ASM&CF Newsletter.

Other activities

I am  a member of the editorial advisory board for the international Zola journal, Excavatio and play an active role the  Emile Zola Society at the French Institute, London. Conference papers have been given at Aston, Bath, Besançon, Birmingham, Cambridge Edmonton Glasgow, Jaen, Leicester, London, Loughborough, New York, Oxford, San Francisco, and Warwick . I have also worked as a HEFCE subject specialist for French and Communication and Media Studies, and held several external examinerships. I have regularly lectured at, and given courses in, other UK universities.

  • National Lyttelton Theatre (2007).Presentation  with Susan Harrow of Zola’s Therese Raquin and discussion with the audience.



  • Film versions of Zola’s novels for the English reader, Bulletin of The Emile Zola Society. (2022)


  • (Co-authored with R E Hallmark & I Pickup) Studying and Working in France, 2ndedition, Manchester University Press, 2007,  pp 357
  • (Co-authored with R E Hallmark & I Pickup) Studying and Working in France, Manchester University Press, 1994, x + 314 pp
  • Zola. Thérèse Raquin, Critical Guides to French Literature, No 95, London, Grant & Cutler,1992, 87 pp.
  • (Co-authored with RE Hallmark and I Pickup). A Student Guide to French Universities, Birmingham Modern Languages Publications, no 2, x + 196 pp

Chapters in books

  • Zola's industrial soundscapes: acoustic elements in Germinal and La Bête humaine in Minogue, V. and Pollard, P. (eds.), Rethinking the Real: Fiction art and theatre in the time of Emile Zola (London: Emile Zola Society, 2014) pp. 119-130 
  • Jean de Florette in Powrie, P. (ed) The Cinema of France (London, Wallflower Press, 2006) pp 185-194
  • Antoine’s version of La Terre: an experiment in naturalist filmmaking in Gural-Migdal, A and  Singer , R (eds) Zola and Film: essays in the art of adaptation. (London, McFarland, 2005) pp15-26
  • Ideology and focalisation in Gervaise: the Aurenchébost treatment in Gural-Migdal. A. and Singer, R. (eds) Zola and Film: essays in the art of adaptation. (London, McFarland, 2005) pp132-147
  • Was Judas a woman? Re-inventing Zola for the Cinema in Thompson, H. (ed) New Approaches to Zola (London: Emile Zola Society, 2004) pp.111 –120
  • Images de la femme chez Zola: la galerie synoptique de l’Argent in Baron, P. (ed), Femmes et Littérature, Annales de l’Université de Besançon, vol. 749, 2003, pp131-144
  • The heritage film and cultural politics: Berri’s Germinal (1993) in Powrie, P (ed) French Cinema in the 1990s: Continuity and Difference, OUP, 1999, pp. 25-36
  • Le Voreux: mine ou monstre? La question de la focalisation dans Germinal de Zola et trois versions filmées, in Baron, P (ed) Aspects de la critique, Annales de l'Université de Besançon, vol 88,1997 pp.57-72.
  • Zola and the cinema: the early versions of Germinal, in Pollard, P. (ed), Emile Zola Centenary Colloquium 1893-1993. London, Emile Zola Society, 1995, pp 113-126.
  • Autour de Zola, Lang et Human Desire, in Woollen, G. (ed) La Bête humaine: texte et explications, University of Glasgow Fench and German Publications, 1990, pp. 83-99
  • Literature and Film: a structuralist approach to adaptation and narrative in Hayward, S (ed) European Cinema Conference papers, AMLC press, 1985, pp 122-40.
  • ‘Un Saccard nouvelle forme’: the genesis of the protagonist’s role in Zola’s L’Argent, in Burns, C.A. (ed) Literature and Society, Birmingham, 1980, pp 66-78.

Critical essays

  • Cinéma (Naturalisme au), in Becker,C.. et Dufief, P-J. (eds.) Dictionnaire des naturalismes, (Paris, Honoré Champion, 2017) vol.1 pp.215-219 (ISBN  978-2-7-7453-3438-1)
  • Filmographie du naturalisme, in Becker, C., et Dufief,P-J. (eds.) Dictionnaire des naturalismes, Paris, Honoré Champion, 2017) vol.1 pp.426-430  (ISBN 978-2-7-7453-3438-1)
  • Berri’s film adaptation of Germinalin Smethurst, C.: Germinal (2ndedition) Glasgow Introductory Guides to French Literature, No 39, 2005, pp 59-66
  • Un Chapeau de paille d’Italie, pp. 48-49; La Folle de Chaillot pp. 115-116; Marius pp. 197-198;Orphée pp.215-217; Les Parents Terribles pp.223-224; La Rondepp.250-251; Tartuffe (pp.295-297);Topazepp.307-309; Volpone pp.320-321 in Tibbetts, J.C and Welsh, J.M (eds), The Encyclopedia of Stage Plays into Film (New York: Facts on File, 2001)
  • L'Arroseur arrosé pp 79- 80; La Bête humaine pp 119-122; Le Boucher pp 165-67; Le Voyage dans la lune pp 1298-1300; pp 1353-55 in The International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers (4th edition) Vol 1. Films eds S and T Pendergast:Gale Research, St James Press, London and Detroit, 2000
  • Jean Eustache, pp.302-304; Louis Lumière pp 631-633; Claude Miller pp 683-86; Jean Rouch pp 849-52  in The International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers (4th edition) Vol 2. Directors eds S and T Pendergast ,Gale Research, St James Press, London and Detroit, 2000
  • Danielle Darrieuxpp 314-316; Jean Gabin pp 459-461; Annie Girardot pp 487- 488; Isabelle Huppert pp 591-594; Michèle Morgan pp 862-864; Philippe Noiret pp 900-903;Gérard Philipe pp 962-964; Michel Piccoli pp 966-968; Micheline Presle pp 986- 988; Jean-Louis Trintignant pp1216-1218 in The International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers (4th edition) Vol 3. Actors and Actresses, eds S and T Pendergast, Gale Research, St James Press, London and Detroit,2000
  • Henri Alekanpp 13-15; Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bostpp 35-38; Raoul Coutardpp 184- 186;Jean d'Eaubonne; pp 206- 208; Henri Decaëpp 209- 211; Marcel Fradetalpp 291 -293;Maurice Jaubertpp 433-435; Lazare Meerson; pp 580-582; Alexandre Mnouchkinepp 610- 612; Bruno Nuyttenpp 644-645; Jean-Paul Rappeneaupp 711-713;Claude Renoir, pp 719-720;Charles Spaakpp 807-809; Alexandre Traunerpp 866-868.inThe International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers (4th edition) Vol 4 Writers and Production Artists , eds S and T Pendergast,  Gale Research, St James Press, London and Detroit, 2000 

Journal articles

  • Diegetic and non-diegetic sound discourse in Zola’s Nana, Excavatio  vol xxxi, 2019, pp. 1-10
  • Zola, la nouvelle Babylone et l'apocalypse séculariséeLes Cahiers naturalistes, vol. 88, 2014, pp. 169-179
  • Capital ventures and venture capital in La Curée and L'Argent; the hedonistic Paris of  financial speculation in sight and sound, Bulletin of the Emile Zola Society, nos. 47-48, 2013,  pp.3-12
  • Shifting the focus: Zola’s sound discourse in Thérèse Raquin, Bulletin of the Emile Zola Society,  nos. 41-42, 2010, pp. 8-13
  • Narrative fragmentation and coherence in La Débâcle: the soldier and the civilian as surrogate narrators, Bulletin of the Emile Zola Society,  nos. 22-29, 2010, pp. 8-13
  • Revisiting Decadence: Vadim’s version of Zola’s La Curée, Literature/Film Quarterly vol 32 no 4, 2004, pp. 265-271
  • The Rougon-Macquartat eighteen frames per second: early screen ‘picturizations’ of Zola’s fiction, Bulletin of the Emile Zola Society,  no.26, 2004, pp. 26-34
  • Antoine’s version of La Terre: an experiment in naturalist filmmaking. Excavatio, vol 17, nos 1-2, 2003, pp. 94-105
  • Teaching Realist literature through film: the example of Germinal. CILT Occasional Papers, vol.1, 2003, pp 5-8
  • A qui La Faute? Re-subverting the subversive: Franju’s reworking of Zola’s Garden of Eden story. Excavatio vol. xv, nos 3-4, 2001, pp 63-73.
  • Zola’s shifting narrative perspectives: the challenge to the filmmaker. Bulletin of the Emile Zola Society, no. 23, 2001, pp 24-31
  • Adapting Zola for TV: the example of Jacques Rouffio’s l’Argent. Excavatio, vol. xii, 1999, pp 153-161.
  • One of our number is... Germinal. Traducing Zola in fiction and film title. Bulletin of the Emile Zola Society, no. 17,1998, pp. 9-14
  • Nana as star vehicle: the Christian-Jaque/Martine Carol version of Zola's novel. Excavatio, vol IX, 1997, pp.172-82
  • The Serialization and publication of L'Argent: the genesis of a literary event in France and in England, Bulletin of the Emile Zola Society, no. 14,1996, pp 9-14
  • The marketing and reception of Claude Berri's Germinal. Bulletin of the Emile Zola Society, no. 12,1995, pp 3-11
  • Sanitizing Zola; Dorothy Arzner's problematic Nana, Literature/Film Quarterly, vol 23, No 3,1995 pp 209-215
  • The Allégret/Spaak Germinal: film mineur ou film minable ? Bulletin of the Emile Zola Society, no. 11, 1995, pp 3-13
  • Refracting Zola: The cinematic prisms of René Clément and Roger Vadim, Bulletin of the Emile Zola Society, no. 7, 1994, pp 14-22
  • Ideology and focalisation in Gervaise: the Aurenchébost treatment, Excavatiovol. 2, 1993, pp 1-10
  • Co-authored with RE Hallmark and I Pickup. European student exchanges: the litre and the pint pot?, French Studies Bulletin, no. 45, pp.17-l9
  • Perceptions of Paris in nineteenth century realist texts, Francophonie, no 7,1993, pp. 28-31
  • Filmographie de l'Affaire Dreyfus,Les Cahiers Naturalistes, vol 66,1992, pp. 323-4
  • Co-authored with RE Hallmark and I Pickup. Evaluating Year Abroad Study Programmes, Higher Education Quarterly, vol, 46, no 1, 144-147
  • The Dreyfus Affair and the Cinema, Bulletin of the Emile Zola Society, no. 3, 1991, pp 11-1
  • A Dreyfus Filmography,Bulletin of the Emile Zola Society, no. 3,1991, pp 13-14
  • Zola's mutating narratives: from Pot-Bouilleto the House of Lovers. Bulletin of the Emile Zola Society, no. I, 1990, pp. 11-13
  • With C.A. Burns. Lettres inédites d'Emile Zola à Ernest Vizetelly(1900-1902).Les Cahiers Naturalistes, vol 64, 1990, pp. 105-33
  • Didactic voices and surrogate moralists in Zola's fiction. Francophonie, no 1, 1990,pp 44-48
  • Co-authored with RE Hallmark and I Pickup. Preparing for the Year Abroad: savoir faire or laissez faire? French Studies Bulletin, no. 36, 1990, pp. 14-16
  • Co-authored with RE Hallmark and I Pickup. Inter-University Co-operation and ERASMUS. Higher Education Quarterlyvol 44, no 1, 1990, pp 82-97
  • Recasting Zola: Gérard Philipe’s influence on Duvivier’s Pot-Bouille, Literature/Film Quarterly, vol 17 no 3, 1989, pp 142-48
  • With CA Burns Lettres inédites d’Emile Zola à Ernest Vizetelly(1894-99) Les Cahiers Naturalistes, vol 63, 1989, pp 51-90
  • Adapting Zola for the silent cinema :the example of Marcel l’Herbier, Literature/Film Quarterlyvol 12 no 1 pp 42-49
  • Film and French studies, University Vision, vol. 15, 1976, pp 14-2

Web publication

  • Zola et le cinéma, Filmographie, Filmographie de l’Affaire Dreyfus, France à la carte, Institut Français,1998