Broadly speaking, my expertise falls into the areas of Francophone Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Comparative Studies (particularly with a Caribbean focus), World Literature, Sexuality and Gender Studies, Ecocriticism, and Translation Studies. My students at Undergraduate and Graduate level work with me on aspects of literature (including Translation) and/or visual culture that fall into one - or more - of those areas.
I studied for my BA in French & German at Trinity College, Oxford (2000-2004), and as an Erasmus student at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn. As an Undergraduate, I was a Trinity College Scholar, received the University of Oxford Undergraduate Heath Harrison Prize for French and was also awarded a national prize, the Peter Kirk Travel Scholarship.
I remained at Trinity and completed my M.St in 2005, and my D.Phil in Francophone Caribbean Literature in 2008, both of which were fully funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Throughout my D.Phil I worked for the Oxford Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages in roles including the Heath Harrison Teaching Fellow for French, Pembroke College Language Instructor, and Undergraduate Admissions Interviewer. In summer 2008, in the final months of my D.Phil, I was a daily Tutor on the Oxford Sutton Trust Summer School (the predecessor of UNIQ), an access scheme for state school pupils. I was particularly keen to support the Summer School because I had attended myself – and had a wonderful week – in 1999. The Summer School encouraged me to become the first member of my entire family to go to University (having also been the first to stay in school after the age of 16).
In 2008, I moved to Homerton College, University of Cambridge, to take up a Research Fellowship, where I also provided French and Francophone teaching across the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages.
I joined Birmingham as a Lecturer in 2010, and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2015, Reader in 2017, and Professor in 2018. My research has been supported by major national and international funding awards. In 2012, I won an EU Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship (209,033 Euros) as Principal Investigator for work on Caribbean Biopolitics, supervising a postdoctoral research fellow from Italy. In 2014 I was awarded an AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellowship (£168,000) for a ground-breaking new reading of the author Joseph Zobel.
I have been a Visiting Fellow at Emory University, Atlanta (2015), and a Visiting Scholar at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta (2015), and at the Winthrop-King Institute for Contemporary French and Francophone Studies at Florida State University, Tallahassee (2016). My PhD students have been funded by full scholarships from the AHRC M3C Consortium, the Algerian Government, and the College of Arts and Law at the University of Birmingham (Inlcuding the Sir Henry Thomas Scholarship).
My books to date include the sole-written monographs Childhood, Autobiography and the Francophone Caribbean (LUP, 2013), Joseph Zobel: Négritude and the Novel (LUP, forthcoming) and the edited volume New Approaches to Crime in French Literature, Film and Visual Culture (Peter Lang, 2009). In 2014, I guest-edited a special issue of the International Journal of Francophone Studies on ‘Race, Violence and Biopolitics in Francophone Postcolonial Contexts’.
In 2017, I was honoured to be profiled in Feminae Trinitatis, a portrait exhibition at Trinity College, Oxford. In a groundbreaking initiative, for an entire year the male portraits in the historic College Dining Hall are being replaced with photographs of 16 women whose achievements are judged to be ‘inspirational.’ In 2016, I was appointed to an honorary Associate Fellow position at Homerton College, Cambridge, and was also elected onto the Executive Committee of the UK Society for French Studies, the leading subject organisation in my field. In 2015, I was profiled as a ‘Role Model for Mobility for Women Scientists’ by the EU Marie Curie Alumni Association, and in 2014 I was runner-up in the University of Birmingham Aston Webb Outstanding Early Career Academic prize.
I enjoy developing new ways to bring my research to public audiences both locally and internationally. This gives me an opportunity to collaborate with a number of cultural institutions, including charities and businesses, in Birmingham, the wider Midlands area, London and France, and as far afield as the Caribbean! My research has been featured in the British and French press and has received wide coverage in the French Caribbean radio, television and print media. In 2016, I assisted the research team for an episode of the BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are? I also provide pro-bono research-related consultancy services to Arts and Cultural organisations and charities.
As part of my ongoing commitment to public engagement, I blogged about my AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellowship activities at www.josephzobel.wordpress.com and ran the @zobelproject Twitter account, which are now archived and remain as a permanent public-facing record of activities.