Exeter College Fellow and Professor in French Studies Jane Hiddleston has been shortlisted for the R. Gapper Prize for her 2022 book, Frantz Fanon: Literature and Invention. With five shortlisted works, all chosen for their ‘critical and scholarly distinction’ and ‘clear impact on the wider critical debate,’ the prize promises to shed light on the best of British and Irish scholarship.
The R. Gapper Prize is awarded by the Society of French Studies, an association representing the interests of scholars and students of French studies in the UK and Ireland. It also publishes the prestigious journal, French Studies, that has appeared continuously since 1946.
Frantz Fanon: Literature and Invention is Professor Hiddleston’s seventh book. It examines the work of the eponymous Martinican psychiatrist, philosopher, and political thinker. The originality of Professor Hiddleston’s book lies in the importance she lends to his literary references and in her analysis of Fanon’s vision of the transformative power of literature.
This power is not limited to scholarly discourse. In an interview with Barbara Burns from the Modern Humanities Research Association (MHRA), Professor Hiddleston writes that ‘Fanon wanted literature to be thoroughly engaged in the political… [he] helps us think again about what literature can do in the face of ongoing inequality and injustice’. Fanon’s thought can be linked to the Black Lives Matter movement, as he famously claimed that revolution happens when it becomes ‘impossible to breathe’, anticipating the slogan used in reactions to the murder of George Floyd and subsequent activism across the globe. Professor Hiddleston shows how Fanon conceived a form of expression that liberates the breath and is attuned with the physical movement of the body, and this for him would contribute to the cultural liberation of people oppressed by racist colonial regimes.
Professor Hiddleston’s study fulfils all the scope, ambition, and originality required by the prize, and Exeter College warmly congratulates her on making the shortlist.
The winner of the prize will be announced in May.