Véronique Desnain

Senior Lecturer


Dr Véronique Desnain holds a PhD from the University of Bristol and has been teaching at the University of Edinburgh since 1999. She is the author of Hidden Tragedies: the social construction of gender in Racine (2001) and co-editor of Culture and conflict in seventeenth-century France (2004) as well as many journal articles and book chapters on 17th century French drama and French Crime Fiction. At Edinburgh, she is currently Head of the the Department of European Languages and Cultures (DELC) and has been nominated for several awards for her teaching. Veronique collaborated with colleagues in DELC and English Literature to create the interdisciplinary MSc in Theatre and Performance Studies.

Apart from her work organising conferences and giving invited papers in such places as CENEL (Paris), Portland (OR), St Andrews and Bristol, she has worked with Bright Club, an organisation that engages the public in academics’ research through humour.

Research summary

  • Early Modern French Literature and philosophy
  • 17th Century French Theatre
  • Contemporary French Crime Writing

Project activity

Véronique Desnain is currently working on a book on Gabrielle Suchon (late 17th Century) and the status of women in 17th Century France. It concentrates on the strategies used by female writers to denounce the subordination of women and to advocate an equal social status for women. Suchon is of particular interest because her treatises Traité de la Morale et de la Politique (1693) and Du Célibat volontaire, ou la vie sans engagement (1700) reflect and sum up the contemporary debates on the role of women. Suchon relies heavily on religious arguments to support her ‘defense of women’ in secular society, which may appear restrictive but which highlights the difficulties experienced by female writers and philosophers in their attempts to define a new, independent role for women and to give it legitimacy.

Dr Desnain’s Research on crime writing originally looked specifically at the new wave of female writers, such as Andrea H. Japp, Maud Tabachnik and Fred Vargas, who emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Current projects include articles on Sébastien Japrisot and Dominique Manotti, on the links between crime writing and tragedy, and on the image of gender relations in French society, which can be drawn from crime fiction.