Dr Emma Wagstaff MA, MPhil, PhD

Photograph of Dr Emma Wagstaff

Department of Modern Languages
Associate Professor of French

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.


I have taught at the University of Birmingham since 2006, contributing to core courses at all levels and offering specialist teaching on French poetry, experimental writing and the visual arts. I am currently Director of Undergraduate Studies in Modern Languages.

Previously I held temporary teaching posts at Trinity College, Cambridge and at the université Paris XII at Créteil. I was Research Fellow at St John's College, Cambridge from 2002-2005, having completed my PhD in French and undergraduate degree in French and German at Trinity College.  


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

As tutor and convenor on core modules in the Birmingham Languages Graduate curriculum, I especially enjoy discussing aspects of French and Francophone cultures with students in the target language as well as working through challenging grammar points or translation problems.

Postgraduate supervision

I currently co-supervise doctoral researchers working on early modern, modern and contemporary French writing, connections between literature and visual art, and Caribbean and African literature. I would be very glad to hear from students wishing to pursue Masters or doctoral research in the following areas:

modern and contemporary poetry
poetry and translation
comparative topics in modern literature
poetic form and political engagement
French writers and art
word-image interactions.

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

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


I investigate poetic form from the following perspectives: the effect of form on the writing and reading process, with a particular focus on attention; the relationship between contemporary French poetic practice and other arts and disciplines, including poetry in translation; and the connection between the form of creative works and cultures of protest.

My most recent single-authored book is the first in English to investigate major twentieth-century French poet André du Bouchet, and examines attentiveness in his poetic and critical work: André du Bouchet: Poetic Forms of Attention (Leiden: Brill, 2020).

From 2017-2020, I led a British Academy/Leverhulme-funded series of activities on responses to the protest and events of the 1968 period in cultural reviews and magazines in different parts of the world, which will result in a comparative special journal issue. The project website is here: https://1968inreviews.wordpress.com/home/ and the digital exhibition of reviews here: https://protestinprint.co.uk/.

Together with Professor Nina Parish (University of Stirling), I directed an AHRC network on Contemporary French Poetic practice (2012-2015) which led to a number of co-authored and co-edited publications, including Writing the Real: A Bilingual Anthology of Contemporary French Poetry (London: Enitharmon, 2016). Of those intermedial connections, my particular interest lies in the ways in which writers reflect on visual art, and I published the single-authored book Writing Art: French Literary Responses to the Work of Alberto Giacometti (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2011). 

Other activities

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

My work on poetry translation has led to invitations to contribute to translation workshops at various venues in the UK and France, and I wrote entries for the catalogue accompanying the Giacometti retrospective at Tate Modern in 2017.

I am a poetry editor for the Peter Lang book series ‘Modern French Identities’

I have held a number of roles at the University of Birmingham including Deputy Head of Education for the School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Modern Languages, Programme Lead for French, and Tutor for Erasmus Exchange students. 


Highlight publications

Wagstaff, E 2020, André du Bouchet: Poetic Forms of Attention. Collection Monographique Rodopi en Litterature Francaise Contemporaine, vol. 58, Brill, Leiden. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004432888

Wagstaff, E 2011, Writing Art: French Literary Responses to the Work of Alberto Giacometti. Cultural Interactions: Studies in the Relationship between the Arts. vol. 14, Peter Lang.

Wagstaff, E 2006, Provisionality and the Poem: Transitions in the Work of du Bouchet, Jaccottet and Noël. Rodopi.

Wagstaff, E & Parish, N (eds) 2018, 'Poetry's Forms and Transformations', L’Esprit Créateur, vol. 58, no. 3.

Wagstaff, E & Parish, N (eds) 2016, Writing the Real: A Bilingual Anthology of Contemporary French Poetry . Enitharmon Editions, London.

Recent publications


Wagstaff, E 2023, '1968 and translation in three French reviews: Europe, Action poétique, and Change', Forum for Modern Language Studies, vol. 59, no. 3, cqad047, pp. 426-443. https://doi.org/10.1093/fmls/cqad047

Wagstaff, E 2023, 'Reviewing May 1968: The Wider Lenses of the Cultural Review', Forum for Modern Language Studies, vol. 59, no. 3, cqad045, pp. 331-344. https://doi.org/10.1093/fmls/cqad045

Wagstaff, E & Parish, N 2019, 'Translating Contemporary French Poetry', Irish Journal of French Studies, no. 18, pp. 163-194.

Wagstaff, E 2018, '"Il n'est pas interdit à la poésie..."', Colloques de Cerisy – Littérature, no. 4, pp. 255-269. https://doi.org/10.15122/isbn.978-2-406-08003-9.p.0255

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Wagstaff, E 2023, ‘We must build huts’: Jean-Marie Gleize’s Temporary Dwellings. in O Petocz & N Segal (eds), Dwelling: Cultural Representations of Inhabited Spaces. Palgrave Macmillan.


Wagstaff, E 2021, The modern French prose poem and visual art. in MA Caws & M Delville (eds), The Edinburgh Companion to the Prose Poem. Edinburgh Companions to Literature and the Humanities, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, pp. 103-120. <https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-the-edinburgh-companion-to-the-prose-poem.html>

Wagstaff, E & Parish, N 2018, Michele Metail: traduire la contrainte. in A-C Royere (ed.), Michele Metail: La poesie en trois dimensions. Presses du reel, Dijon. <http://www.lespressesdureel.com/ouvrage.php?id=6468&menu=>

Book/Film/Article review

Wagstaff, E 2023, 'Book Review: Blaise Cendrars: the invention of life, by Eric Robertson, London, Reaktion, 2022, 328 pp., £25.00 (Hardback), ISBN 9781789145205', Modern and Contemporary France. https://doi.org/10.1080/09639489.2023.2236561

Wagstaff, E 2023, 'Poésies des francophonies: état des lieux (1960–2020). Sous la direction de Florian Alix, Évelyne Lloze et Romuald Fonkoua', French Studies. https://doi.org/10.1093/fs/knad109

Wagstaff, E 2022, 'Review of 'Exile, Non-Belonging and Statelessness in Grangaud, Jabès, Lubin and Luca: No Man’s Language' by Greg Kerr', Modern Language Review, vol. 117, no. 3, pp. 501-502. https://doi.org/10.1353/mlr.2022.0094

Wagstaff, E 2022, 'Review of 'Philosophy and Poetry: Continental Perspectives' ed. by Ranjan Ghosh', Modern Language Review, vol. 116, no. 2, pp. 357-359. https://doi.org/10.1353/mlr.2021.0072

Wagstaff, E 2019, 'Review of 'Intertextualité surréaliste dans la poésie de René Char: apparitions et réapparitions de l’image d’Artine', by Julie S. Kleiva', H-France Review, vol. 19, pp. 1-3.

Other contribution

Wagstaff, E & Parish, N 2018, Alessandro De Francesco, Augmented Writing – Translation As Augmentation. “Covering an Enhanced Real” – For Jean-Marie Gleize, mixed media, 40cmx40cm (2010). AHRC Translating Cultures theme.

Wagstaff, E & Parish, N 2018, Poetry. AHRC Translating Cultures theme.

Special issue

Wagstaff, E (ed.), Wagstaff, E, Love, RE, Davies, MP, Matei, A, Corcos, A, Stafford, A & Ovan, S 2023, 'Reviewing May 1968: The wider lenses of the cultural review', Forum for Modern Language Studies, vol. 59, no. 3, pp. 331-469. <https://academic.oup.com/fmls/issue/59/3>

View all publications in research portal


Modern and contemporary French poetry; links between French writers and artists; Alberto Giacometti; literary translation; 1968 in Europe and literary movements