Dr Louise Hardwick BA, M.St, D.Phil (Oxon)

Photograph of Dr Louise Hardwick

Department of Modern Languages
Professor of Francophone Studies and World Literature
AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellow
Associate Fellow, Homerton College, University of Cambridge

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am a specialist of Francophone Studies and World Literature, with a particular interest in the global reception, adaptation circulation and translation of Francophone literature. A published translator, with a growing body of work in Translation Studies, I am fluent in French and German, and am currently learning Spanish.

The majority of my research focuses on the postcolonial literature, film and visual culture of the Francophone Caribbean, and interrogates the international legacies of slavery, colonialism and postcolonialism.

I have also published a substantial volume of comparative work which considers African, Canadian and Indian contexts.

My major book publications to date explore the novels of Joseph Zobel and the Négritude movement (2018), Francophone Caribbean autobiographies and childhood memoirs (2013), and approaches to crime in French and Francophone cultures (2009, as editor). My most recent articles explore the relationships between the governance of human and natural populations, using the methodology of biopolitics (2014), and proposing the new methodology of biopolitical ecocriticism (2016).

I am dedicated to the development of practical applications of my research with schools, community groups, libraries, SMEs and charities. For this aspect of my work, I am collaborating with local partners across the West Midlands, and also with international partners in the Caribbean and France.


  • BA (Hons) 1st Class (Oxon)
  • M. St (Distinction) (Oxon)
  • D. Phil (Oxon)


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, won a University of Oxford Undergraduate Heath Harrison Prize for French and was 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.

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. 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.

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 am 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 blog about my AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellowship activities at www.josephzobel.wordpress.com and run the @zobelproject Twitter account.



  • Convenor: Y4 module "Francophone Caribbean Literature & Film" which examines the depiction of slavery, colonialism, racism, identity and immigration and introduces key concepts in Francophone Postcolonial theory.
  • Convenor: Y2 module La France moderne 2 which examines French Republicanism from 1789 to the present day and is entirely delivered in French
  • Dissertation Supervisor for Y4 Dissertation Module (Francophone Postcolonial topics)
  • I contribute lectures and seminar materials to other Year 1 and Year 2 modules such as IFLFS and PCS, introducing Francophone literature and culture.
  • I teach on the Y2 and Y4 Core French Language modules (grammar, written accuracy and translation) 

I am very interested in the possibilities offered by virtual University campus systems and fully integrate electronic resources into the modules I convene at Birmingham.

Postgraduate supervision

I provide teaching and dissertation supervision for a number of MA and M.Phil courses, offering supervision on areas relating to Francophone and Postcolonial Studies.

Colonial and Postcolonial Cultures
Sexuality and Gender Studies
Contemporary Literary Cultures
Critical Theory

Prospective MA and PhD students are welcome to email me to discuss research proposals concerning projects on Francophone Postcolonial cultures.

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


In the course of my international research, I work with academic and community partners in the UK, France, the Caribbean, the USA and Australia. I also make regular media contributions (to date, in Martinique, metropolitan France, the UK and Angola), and have attracted external funding in excess of £500k through large EU and AHRC awards. At Birmingham, I founded the FRANCOPOCO Network in 2010 to promote internationally significant research, and have to date hosted scholars from the Caribbean, the US and Europe.

My first monograph, Childhood, Autobiography and the Francophone Caribbean (LUP, 2013) is the first study to identify and trace the development of an important tradition of Francophone Caribbean childhood narratives from the early 1900s. I provide a ground-breaking analysis of the aesthetic innovations and political implications – particularly for the transmission of the memory of slavery – in this important and vast body of writing. This research was funded by two individual AHRC Funding Awards for MA and Doctoral study (2004-5; 2005-2008), and by an AHRC award for fieldwork in the French Caribbean (2007).

In my second monograph, Joseph Zobel: Négritude and the Novel (LUP, forthcoming), I propose an original new reading of that well-known - but often misunderstood - Martinican novelist. My study offers a radical new vision of Zobel, and sets out to change the way that the author is understood by scholars and students alike. This project was expedited by the award of an AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellowship (2014-2016). The project’s blog is: https://josephzobel.wordpress.com/

As sole editor, I have also published a book on New Approaches to Crime in French Literature, Culture and Film (Peter Lang, 2009).

More recently, I have undertaken substantial EU-funded research into ‘biopolitics’, examining the governance of populations. For this, I guest-edited a special edition of the International Journal of Francophone Studies on ‘Race, Violence and Biopolitics’ (2014). That project’s blog is here: https://caribiolit.wordpress.com/.

Subsequently, during my AHRC ECLF, I extended this biopolitical line of investigation to consider the governance of the natural environment in a 2016 article published in French Studies, which is available to read online for free thanks to funding from the AHRC.

I have given keynote speeches, invited lectures and talks in English and French at events organized by the French Ministère des Outre-mer; Society of Francophone Postcolonial Studies; University of Oxford Francophone Seminar; University of Cambridge Modern French Seminar; Liverpool International Slavery Museum; University of Liverpool Post-Slavery ESRC symposium; Race In The Americas research network; Ottawa University; Laval University; Institut Français de Londres; Centre national de la recherche scientifique; Université Paris III - La Sorbonne nouvelle; Université Cheikh Anta Diop Senegal; Université Toulouse- Jean Jaurès; Salon du Livre Paris.

I have organised a number of international research events, conferences and workshops, at the University of Birmingham (colloquium on Biopolitics in 2013; visit of Maryse Condé and Richard Philcox in 2010), Cambridge (2009) and Oxford (2007, 2008).

Other activities

I regularly discuss my research with audiences beyond academia, in the UK and internationally. In April 2015, I gave a number of invited talks in the Caribbean (Martinique) to mark the centenary of the birth of Joseph Zobel. I also spoke at a Round Table on Joseph Zobel at the Paris Salon du Livre 2015. I was invited to speak at a Round Table with Patrick Chamoiseau as part of the 2014 Toulouse La Novela Public Festival of Science and Culture.

My research activities have been discussed in the French and Caribbean press, and I have twice been interviewed by the Caribbean newspaper France-Antilles (2013, 2015) and by the radio station Radio Caraïbe International. I have appeared on Caribbean TV twice – first on the television station ATV, during the evening news programme ‘Trois Questions à…’, and then on Zouk TV as a panelist on the weekly cultural review ‘Le Magazine littéraire’ for an hour-long special edition on Joseph Zobel.

International Community (non-academic) research partners

  • UK: British Library, London; Midlands Arts Centre, Edgbaston; Mockingbird Cinema, Custard Factory, Digbeth; Small Woods Association, Ironbridge.
  • Metropolitan France: Passions Partagées Zobel Network, supported by the French Ministry for Education, Ministry for Overseas Territories and Ministry for Diversity;
  • French Caribbean: Martinique: Rivière-Salée: Médiathèque Public Library; Joseph Zobel High School; Georges Elisabeth Middle School / Fort-de-France: Regional Museum of History and Ethnography

Online content

  • March 2015 - present: I run a Twitter Account ‘@Zobelproject’ relating to my AHRC Fellowship activities
  • October 2014 - present: I run a blog on Joseph Zobel relating to my AHRC Fellowship which includes links to my media appearances: www.josephzobel.wordpress.com
  • October 2013 Birmingham Black History Blog Posting 'Exploring the French Caribbean: Identity, Language and Memory'
  • June 2013, Colloquium at University of Birmingham 'Race, Biopolitics and Violence'
  • April 2013 Interview (in French) in the newspaper France-Antilles: http://www.martinique.franceantilles.fr/actualite/culture/quand-notre-litterature-interpelle-le-monde-203475.php
  • April 2013 Report: Fieldwork in Martinique, supported by a CAL Research & Knowledge Transfer grant. 
  • March 2013 Report: North America Visit, 20th and 21st Century French and Francophone Studies International Colloquium, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Jan 2013 'Birmingham Perspective' article 'Haiti 3 Years On: "When All Else Has Fallen, Culture Remains": 

Public talks

  • 'Introducing Hatian-Canadian Author Dany Laferrière', University's inaugural Arts and Cultural Festival
  • January 2010 - Haiti: Beyond the Earthquakepublic engagement activities

Membership of Scholarly groups organisations

  • I am one of the founding members of the University of Birmingham FRANCOPOCO Network (Francophone Colonial and Postcolonial), created in March 2010. The FRANCOPOCO Network welcomed its first Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr Alessandro Corio, in 2012 thanks to a major European funding grant.
  • I am an active member of international scholarly societies, including the Society for French Studies and the Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies

Personal distinctions

  • 2006  OxTalent IT award for WebLearn site Cahier d’un retour au pays natal
  • 2003  Peter Kirk Scholar (national award to undertake independent research project in Europe)
  • 2003  Oxford University Heath Harrison Scholarship



Articles in journals

Chapters in books

Other publications

  • 2010 ‘When all else has fallen, culture remains’ Foreword to Creative Writing Anthology (Birmingham students’ production) and original translation of ‘Beloved Haiti’, newspaper article by Maryse Condé, with the author’s kind permission
  • 2005 Online Website (University of Oxford or University of Birmingham log in required) Introduction to Aimé Césaire’s Cahier d’un retour au pays natal

Selected international research conference papers and related research activities

  • May 2015, ‘Joseph Zobel, Négritude, Diaspora and Ecocriticism’ seminar paper given at University of Nottingham French Research Seminar Series
  • October 2014, ‘Biodiversité, environnement et littérature: le rocher du Diamant (Martinique) vu par P. Chamoiseau et J. Zobel’ at Patrick Chamoiseau et la mer des récits, Université Toulouse - Jean Jaurès
  • March 2014, 20th and 21st Century French and Francophone Studies International Colloquium, New York, 'Depicting Social Dispossession in Guadeloupe: Nègre Maron, Lettre ouverte à la jeunesse and the General Strike of 2009'. My report can be found here: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/lcahm/departments/french/news/2014/hardwick-colloquium.aspx
  • February 2014, 'Creolizing the "coolie": a Biopolitical Reading of Indian Indentured Labourers and the Francophone Caribbean Ethnoclass Hierarchy' Francophone Seminar, University of Oxford
  • June 2013, ‘Creolizing the “Coolie”: Indian Indentured Labourers, the Francophone Caribbean Ethnoclass Hierarchy and Biopolitics’ at colloquium 'Race, Biopolitics and Violence', University of Birmingham
  • June 2013, Invited Keynote Paper 'Teaching Césaire's Poetry' at Aimé Césaire Centenary conference held at the Institut Français, London
  • April 2013, Fieldwork in Martinique, generously supported by a CAL Research and Knowledge Transfer grant. My report can be found here: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/lcahm/departments/french/news/2013/hardwick-fieldwork.aspx
  • March 2013, 20th and 21st Century French and Francophone Studies International Colloquium, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia. 'Comment répondre à ces "pourquoi" d'enfants? Tracing Childhood, Tracing slavery in Francophone Caribbean Literature'. I also networked with colleagues at GIT, and my report can be found here: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/lcahm/departments/french/news/2013/hardwick-conference-atlanta.aspx
  • July 2012, Society for French Studies Annual Conference, University of Exeter. Paper: ‘Using Technology to Encourage Close Reading: an online teaching resource on Aimé Césaire’s Cahier d’un retour au pays natal
  • June 2012, Invited Keynote Paper, University of Cambridge: ‘Language Teaching and Learning: an Early Career Perspective’ at the Language Teaching and Learning Graduate Training weekend, Dec 2011   
  • European Science Foundation Conference Paper: ‘The récit enfance /childhood memoir in Francophone Caribbean Literature’ at ‘First Person Writing, Four-Way Reading’, Birkbeck, University of London
  • June 2011, Invited Keynote Paper, University of Oxford: ‘Developing IT Resources in Francophone Postcolonial Studies for Teaching and Research’ at the Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies Graduate Conference, ‘Technology in Text and Context: between Progress and Conflict’
  • July 2010, Invited Talk, Liverpool International Slavery Museum: Conference Report on‘Post-Slavery in the FrancophoneCaribbean’ at the ‘Post-Slavery Symposium’. 
  • June 2010, Invited Paper, University of Liverpool: ‘Post-Slavery in the Francophone Caribbean’ at ‘Rethinking Post-Slavery Seminar’
  • February 2010, Florida: ‘Thwarted Expectations? Stasis and Change in Dany Laferrière’s récits d’enfance ’ at “The Francophone Caribbean and North America”, Florida State University, Tallahassee. Keynote speaker Dany Laferrière
  • October 2009, Ottawa: ‘Depictions of Childhood in Haitian Diasporic Literature from Canada’, at “World Seminar on Canada”, Ottawa University, Canada
  • May 2009, Oxford: ‘The récit d’enfance in Francophone Caribbean Literature’at « Littérature et pensée postcoloniales: questions de genre », Exeter College, Oxford
  • June 2008, Invited Paper: ‘Poétique de l’ethnicité antillaise: de Moreau de Saint-Méry à Raphaël Confiant’ at the Comité des Travaux Historiques et Scientifiques , « Migrations, transferts et échanges de part et d’autre de l’Atlantique »in Quebec City, Canada
  • May 2008, Invited Paper: ‘La question de l’enfance chez Maryse Condé’ at « Colloque international  autour de Maryse Condé », Trouville, France
  • Filmed interview, Trouville, French-language documentary on Maryse Condé (Kréyol Productions, Guadeloupe [forthcoming 2010/2011])
  • May 2008, Oxford: Seminar Organiser: « Portraits d’Aimé Césaire (1913-2008) ». Speakers: Patrick Chamoiseau, photographer Jean-Luc de Laguarrige, Professor Dominique Combe and Louise Hardwick, organised as part of the Semaine de la Martinique , Oxford, for which I was Graduate Advisor
  • November 2007, London: ‘Organising a Graduate Conference’ talk given at Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies Study Day, Institut Français, London
  • September 2007, Oxford: Sole Organiser: Oxford French Graduate Conference, “CRIME”. Keynotes Professors Lisa Downing (Exeter University) and Lorna Milne (St Andrews)
  • October 2006, New York: ‘“Peau Noire, Masques Blancs” Troubled Identities in Maryse Condé’ at City University New York Graduate Conference, “Locating Empire”
  • October 2005, Oxford: Organiser of 2-day visit by Maryse Condé and Richard Philcox to Oxford to speak at Francophone Graduate Seminar
  • July 2005, Perth, Australia: ‘Confronting the Ghosts of the Past: Spectres and Stereotypes in Condé’s Moi, Tituba sorcière and “Leçon d’histoire”’ Australian Society for French Studies annual conference, University of Western Australia, 9.2 (2006) 257-276

View all publications in research portal


French Caribbean – history, culture, literature and film from Haiti and its Diaspora in Canada and the United States; Martinique; Guadeloupe; French Guiana

Media experience

  • Louise has been invited to discuss her work for the British, French and Caribbean media, in English and French. She also runs a blog: www.josephzobel.wordpress.com and twitter account: https://twitter.com/zobelproject
  • 2015 The Guardian Higher Education Network: ‘My Indiana Jones Moment’ - article on Early Career fellowship activities.
  • 2015 Daily Martinique Evening News programme ‘3 Questions à…’ - interview on Joseph Zobel centenary  impact activities.
  • 2015 Panelist on weekly Martinican Literature programme ‘Plumes d’ici: Le Mag littéraire’ for a special programme on Joseph Zobel
  • 2015 Radio France Outre-mer: interview on Joseph Zobel centenary
  • 2013, 2015 France-Antilles newspaper interviews (1) on Joseph Zobel centenary, 2015; (2) on research activities, 2013