Madeleine Banatvala

Thesis title: (Working) Beyond the Margins: the Off-modern in the writings of Simone de Beauvoir and Violette Leduc.


Madeleine is currently a PhD candidate in French Studies funded by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities AHRC Studentship. She previously studied at University College London where she graduated with an MA in French and Francophone studies. During which she completed her final dissertation combining Simone de Beauvoir’s ethics of ambiguity with Svetlana Boym’s concept of nostalgia in a comparison of Proust and Wordsworth. Entitled, 'Chez soi pas chez soi : Nostalgia’s ambiguity in Proust and Wordsworth.'

Before her MA, Madeleine studied at the University of Oxford (Wadham) for her PGCE for secondary school. She completed her BA in Paris at the University of London Institute in Paris, focusing in her final year on the works of Jean Rhys, Baudelaire and Georges Perec. Her undergraduate dissertation was a comparative study between England and France in the teaching of diverse minority history as part of national curricula.

This summer she worked in Timișoara, Romania, as part of the management team for The Syncromesh project, a Radio Drama summer school run by International Arts Partnership.

She is a member of the Scottish Feminist Philosophy Network and the Institut français du Royaume-Uni.


Master of Arts with Distinction in Language, Culture and History: French and Francophone Studies, University College London, 2020-2021

PGCE in secondary Modern Languages, Wadham, University of Oxford, 2019-2020

BA (Hons) with First class honours with mark of distinction in oral in French Studies, University of London Institute in Paris, 2016-2019

Research summary

Madeleine’s research focuses on republished, posthumous, and previously overlooked works by French authors Violette Leduc and Simone de Beauvoir. Using theorist Svetlana Boym’s concept the ‘off-modern’ to re-evaluating these authors’ depictions of female friendship, identity and sexuality. The off-modern considers (among others) Henri Bergson’s concept of time (la durée), Viktor Shklovsky’s estrangement and Hannah Arendt’s worldliness/freedom as a critique of modernity. Madeleine’s work reconsiders writings about ‘unconventional’ women’s relationships/subjectivity, less as ‘outlandish’, but rather offering up new ways of understanding how women experience their selfhoods. A critical re-examination of literary/philosophical intra-female bonds aims to change scholarly understanding of Beauvoir-Leduc, by showing the wider philosophical significance of writings previously considered personal/off-limits to scholars.

Current research interests

Off-modernism, early to mid-twentieth century French literature, French autobiography, Simone de Beauvoir, Violette Leduc, Svetlana Boym, atheist existentialism, representations of and philosophies on friendship (Montaigne), travel writings as representations of modernity, Bergson-Deleuze duration, theories of nostalgia, Annie Ernaux.

Current project grants

Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities AHRC Studentship (2023-27)

Past project grants

British Council The Languages Teacher Training Scholarship (2019-2020)