Research projects, centres, networks and publications in French and Francophone Studies.
In the latest Research Excellence Framework - REF 2021 - our research in French and Francophone Studies was submitted in Modern Languages and Linguistics (Panel D - Arts and Humanities; Unit of Assessment 26).
The results reaffirm Edinburgh’s position as one of the UK’s leading research universities - third in the UK.
As published in Times Higher Education's REF power ratings, this result is based on the quality and breadth of our research in Modern Languages and Linguistics.
Selected research centres and networks
Research centres and networks range from formal collaborations to informal groups of researchers working together on a theme or challenge.
A number are based in - or are affiliated with - French and Francophone Studies; others are based elsewhere in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), the University of Edinburgh, or the wider academic community, but involve our staff and students.
The groups provide opportunities for researchers at all career stages to work together with partners and stakeholders in organising events, workshopping publications, engaging audiences outside the academy, and exploring ideas for future projects and funding bids.
Established in 1995, the Centre promotes the teaching of francophone Belgian literature on university courses, and hosts a range of activities relating to the field of francophone Belgian studies, including seminars, conferences, publications, writing competitions, film screenings and other cultural events.
Spanning a range of disciplines in European, Islamic, American and Asian studies, including medieval literatures and cultures, the Centre brings together around 70 researchers across the University of Edinburgh.
Bringing together specialists in the fields of anglophone and francophone diasporas, this international network is unique in comparing the various diasporic communities’ responses to issues of identity, belonging and relocation in the specific contexts of British/French and Canadian immigration policies.
Initially funded by an AHRC Research Network Grant (2015-2017), this collaborative network led by Professor Marion Schmid brings together an international team of researchers and artists from France, Belgium, Austria, Romania, and the UK to forge new directions in the study of cinematic intermediality. Its particular focus is the ways in which the moving image is shaped and revitalised by artistic cross-fertilisation.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), this network is co-ordinated by Dr Nicola Frith (University of Edinburgh) and Professor Joyce Hope Scott (Boston University). Through conferences, workshops, roundtables and collaborative projects, the INOSAAR brings together activists, academics and other partners dedicated to reparations and other forms of transitional justice for the enslavement and genocide of peoples of African descent.
Led by Professor Marion Schmid and Dr Fabien Arribert-Narce, this research strand interrogates the theory and practice of ‘intermediality’, that is, the interrelationships between different art forms and their signification. With a particular focus on events, several jointly organised with Meiji University in Tokyo, the strand brings together academics, research students and practitioners to foster exchange and initiate new collaborative projects.
Read an interview with Fabien on our research partnership with Meiji University
Based in European Languages and Cultures in LLC, this research strand explores the interplay between violence and language in various historical and cultural contexts and from different disciplinary perspectives (including literary and linguistic studies, translation, and memory studies).
The Société Internationale Rencesvals, founded in 1955, brings together scholars from all over the world in the study of the epic poetry of mediæval Europe. The first Chairman of the Society’s British Branch was Professor Duncan McMillan, Chair of French Language and Romance Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh (1955 to 1980). Professor Emeritus Philip Bennett has been President of both the Society and its British Branch. The University hosted the Society’s twelfth international congress in 1991 and publishes British Rencesvals Publications.
Selected research projects
In the last decade, particularly among feminist scholars, there has been growing interest in early modern women’s cultural, literary and political agency. This body of work is designed not merely to (re)shape our collective memory and imaginary, but also to challenge deeply ingrained paradigms about knowledge production. Building on her AHRC-funded project of 2010/11, Women's Spaces, Bodies and Voices, Dr Séverine Genieys-Kirk has been working with partners including the Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) and L’Institut français d’Ecosse on learning to see the power of women. Since 2016, the project has comprised a series of ‘cultural encounters’ between past and present, unlocking disciplinary differences and opening a new field of cross-cultural and transmedial investigation.
In 2016, a three-day conference on ‘Recovering Women’s Past: New epistemologies, new ventures’ brought together 35 international experts to explore the power of women in Europe and America from the Renaissance to the present. Associated events included an exhibition, a guided tour of ‘The Subject and Me’ - Alice Neel’s first solo show in Scotland, a screening of the documentary MARCH, a public panel event, and a facilitated playwrights’ discussion. Since then, the project has held workshops and film screenings on female writers from the early modern period, including Mme de La Fayette and Mme de Villedieu. It has also hosted a two-day meeting of an EU Working Group, focusing on mapping the digital future of European Women Writers before 1900.
Funded by the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) Research Fund and Impact Fund
LLC team: Dr Séverine Genieys-Kirk (Principal Investigator)
While civil society activists have long advocated reparations as a means of redressing the structural inequalities arising from the transatlantic trafficking of enslaved Afrikans, governments worldwide have largely failed to engage with the myriad ways in which the legacies of crimes against humanity are reflected in current social disrepair. Over the course of three projects, this body of research has widened our understanding of reparative justice beyond financial recompense to include commemoration, memorialisation and emphasising reparative justice processes that are driven by grassroots-led affirmative action, education and cultural representation.
The first project looked at mapping memories of enslavement in the Francophone world today, using both contemporary interviews and political, media and legal archives. Through this work, the Principal Investigator built links with grassroots partners whose voices have often been ignored in academia. In turn, this led to the foundation of the International Network of Scholars and Activists for Afrikan Reparations (INOSAAR), achieving vital trust between activists, researchers and policymakers in Europe, the Americas and, crucially, the Afrikan continent, including collaborating with groups in Ghana and Benin on questions of cultural and spiritual rematriation and Planet Repairs.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC): January 2014 to October 2015; May 2017 to February 2019; December 2020 to November 2021
LLC team: Dr Nicola Frith (Principal Investigator)
In the course of his long and extraordinarily productive writing career, Michel Butor published a very wide range of poetry, novels and mixed genre works. He was also a prolific literary and art critic and was involved in hundreds of collaborative ventures not only with other writers, but also with artists, photographers, composers and film-makers. Jean Duffy, Emeritus Professor of French, has developed an online research and reference apparatus to assist orientation within Butor’s vast oeuvre. The site builds on Duffy’s research and publications on Butor and, in particular, her monograph Signs and Designs: Art and Architecture in the Work of Michel Butor (Liverpool University Press, 2003).
LLC team: Professor Jean Duffy (Principal Investigator)
Postgraduate research and supervision
Doctorate-level study is an opportunity to make an original, positive contribution to research in French and Francophone Studies.
Join our interdisciplinary community and undertake your PhD under the guidance of our experienced and well-published supervisors. We also offer a one year Masters by Research degree, which is a good stepping stone between undergraduate and doctoral study.
French has been taught here since 1894, making it one of the first European languages to be offered at Edinburgh.
We specialise in the language, literatures and cultures of France and the many countries around the world in which French is spoken.
Beyond the books
Beyond the Books is a podcast that gives you a behind-the-scenes look at research in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures and the people who make it happen.
In Series 1 - Episode 4 host Ellen Davis-Walker spoke to Peter Dayan, Professor of Word and Music Studies about his R. Gapper Book Prize-winning 'The Music of Dada: A Lesson in Intermediality for our Times'. The episode is subtitled.