I studied French and Russian at Cambridge, before moving to University College London for my graduate work. I completed my thesis on Reinventing Community: Identity and Difference in Late Twentieth-Century Philosophy and Literature in French in 2001, and this was published as a book by Legenda in 2005. After finishing my doctorate, I was a Junior Research Fellow at Christ’s College, Cambridge for two years, and then I taught at the University of Warwick for two years before coming to Oxford.
French has always been a big part of my life, as I have family in France, but I’m also interested in the ways in which French culture expands beyond the metropole. I learned a little Arabic when I was a Research Fellow, and I love reading literature in French from various parts of the francophone world.
Most of my research has been on postcolonial literatures in French, in particular from North Africa, though also from Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. My doctoral thesis contained sections on francophone North African immigrant writing, and since then I’ve worked on a range of writers from Algeria and Morocco, as well as from Caribbean countries such as Martinique. I’ve written extensively about the Algerian writer Assia Djebar and her often challenging reflections on colonial history in Algeria. I also published a book in 2014 on francophone intellectuals at the time of decolonisation, including major figures such as Aimé Césaire and Frantz Fanon. Alongside my interest in postcolonial literatures, however, I’ve also always been interested in literary theory and critical thought. I published a book on poststructuralism and postcoloniality in 2010, as well as a philosophical introduction to postcolonial thought in 2009. My next book is an exploration of the role and status of literature in North Africa since the 1980s, which links close readings of literary texts with contemporary debates on the meaning of postcolonialism and ‘world literature’. I am a Co-Investigator on the Oxford-led AHRC programme ‘Creative Multilingualism’, where I am working with researchers in other languages and literatures on the place and significance of multilingualism in world literature.
I teach all areas of nineteenth and twentieth-century French literature, including all the major writers from Flaubert and Baudelaire, for example, to Beckett and Duras, as well as translation into and out of French to undergraduates. I also run final-year and Masters Special Subjects on Francophone Literatures. I regularly teach literary theory to undergraduates, as well as the core Masters course on ‘Key Questions in Critical Thought’.
I lecture for the prelims course on Aimé Césaire’s Cahier d’un retour au pays natal, and on Roland Barthes’s Critique et vérité. For the Final Honours School, I lecture on Assia Djebar as a Special Author, as well as offering a course on ‘Colonialism and Postcolonialism in French Literature’.
Reinventing Community: Identity and Difference in Late Twentieth-century Philosophy and Literature in French (Oxford: Legenda, 2005)
Assia Djebar: Out of Algeria (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2006)
Understanding Postcolonialism (Stocksfield: Acumen, 2009)
Poststructuralism and Postcoloniality: The Anxiety of Theory (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010)
Decolonising the Intellectual: Politics, Culture, and Humanism at the End of the French Empire (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2014)
Writing After Postcolonialism: Francophone North African Literature in Transition (London: Bloomsbury, 2017)