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 in 2005.
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 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 in both North Africa and the Caribbean at the time of decolonisation. 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. In 2017 I published 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’ve also recently co-edited two volumes, one with Khalid Lyamlahy on the Moroccan thinker Abdelkébir Khatibi, and one with Wen-chin Ouyang on Multilingual Literature as World Literature. This latter volume draws on research conducted as part of the AHRC-funded Creative Multilingualism project, 2016-2020.
In 2022, I will publish a new study of Frantz Fanon and his engagement with literature, entitled Frantz Fanon: Literature and Invention. I’m now working on an intellectual biography of the Martinican poet Aimé Césaire, to be published in Polity’s Black Lives series.
I teach all areas of nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first-century French and Francophone literature, including all the major writers from Flaubert and Baudelaire, for example, to Beckett and Duras. In particular I offer a range of topics on francophone writing and on questions of race, postcoloniality, and migration. I also teach translation into and out of French to undergraduates. I run final-year and Masters Special Subjects on ‘Race and Representation’, ‘Travel, Exile, Migration’, and ‘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 Discours sur le colonialisme and on Roland Barthes’s Critique et vérité. For the Final Honours School, I lecture on Assia Djebar as a Special Author, as well contributing to courses on ‘Race and Identity’ and ‘Key Questions in Critical Thought’.
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)
Frantz Fanon: Literature and Invention (Legenda, 2022)
With Patrick Crowley, Postcolonial Poetics: Genre and Form (Liverpool University Press, 2011)
With Khalid Lyamlahy, Abdelkébir Khatibi: Postcolonialism, Transnationalism, and Culture in the Maghreb and Beyond (Liverpool University Press, 2020)
With Wen-chin Ouyang, Multilingual Literature as World Literature (Bloomsbury 2021)