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Image of Kathrin Yacavone

Kathrin Yacavone

Assistant Professor in French and Francophone Studies, Faculty of Arts

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Biography

I studied French, Comparative Literature and Art History at the Free University in Berlin, the École Normale Supérieure in Paris and the University of Edinburgh, and was awarded my PhD in 2008. Before coming to Nottingham in 2011, I taught in French and Art History at the University of Edinburgh where I was also a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities.

Expertise Summary

My research and teaching interests are in modern French literature, thought and visual culture (nineteenth and twentieth centuries); literary theory and cultural studies; and the history and theory of photography. I specialize in word-and-image relations; theories of authorship and life writing; and the lives and works of Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin and Marcel Proust.

My current project is a cultural history of photography and literary theory in France, exploring the impact of the medium on the construction and reception of the writer figure from the 1830s to the 1980s; with a focus on writers such as Sainte-Beuve, Balzac, Hugo, Baudelaire, Proust, Gide, Blanchot and Barthes, and photographers Félix and Paul Nadar, Gisèle Freund and Daniel Boudinet.

I welcome postgraduate supervision queries in any of these or related areas.

Teaching Summary

My teaching has included a wide range of topics in French studies, such as French literature (from medieval to the twentieth century); French social and political history; French photography, film… read more

Research Summary

I am working on a monograph, entitled Portrait of the Writer: Photography and Literary Culture in France. Centred on photographic portraits of authors, this project traces the overlapping history of… read more

Recent Publications

  • YACAVONE, K., 2017. “Une corde de plus à l’arc de tout le monde”: L’usage de la photographie chez Balzac et Hugo. In: DAVID MARTENS, JEAN-PIERRE MONTIER and ANNE REVERSEAU, eds., L’écrivain vu par la photographie. Formes, usages, enjeux, Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes. 51-57 (+ illus. II-III).
  • YACAVONE, K., 2017. The Spectacle of Authorship: Roland Barthes on French Television. In: SARAH BURNAUTZKI, FREDERIK KIPARSKI, RAPHAËL THIERRY and MARIA ZANNINI, eds., Dealing with Authorship. Authors between Texts, Editors and Public Discourses, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. (In Press.)
  • YACAVONE, K., 2017. "Au lieu de voir un seul monde…": Proust multiplié par l’art Acta Fabula. 18.2, online.
  • YACAVONE, K., 2017. Image, Affect, and Autobiography: Photography and Barthes’s Posthumous Writings. In: MARK DURDEN and JANE TORMEY, eds., The Routledge Companion to Photography Theory, New York and London: Routledge. (In Press.)

My teaching has included a wide range of topics in French studies, such as French literature (from medieval to the twentieth century); French social and political history; French photography, film and visual culture; post-war French theory and postcolonial theory; and French language. I have also taught on the general theory and history of photography in the context of History of Art.

Undergraduate modules at Nottingham have included

  • Photography in French Culture (final year)
  • Introduction to the Politics of Equality (year 2)
  • Introduction to Post-War French Thought (year 2)
  • Surrealist Photography in France (year 2)
  • France: Histoire et mythologies (year 1)
  • Introduction to French and Francophone Studies (year 1)

My contribution to language teaching has usually been in year 2.

On a postgraduate level, I have been convener of the taught MA in French and contributed to the School-wide Research Skills module and the lecture series on the Tradition of Critique as part of the Critical Theory MA.

*I am on research leave during the 2017-18 academic year.*

Current Research

I am working on a monograph, entitled Portrait of the Writer: Photography and Literary Culture in France. Centred on photographic portraits of authors, this project traces the overlapping history of photography and literary culture and theory in France. Adopting a socio-cultural and historical approach, it explores the impact of photography on the construction and reception of the writer figure from the 1830s to the 1980s, and examines the intertwined evolution of modern concepts of authorship and the use of photographic technology and iconography. These issues are discussed in relation to a number of specific and influential connections between literary critics, theorists, novelists and poets, including Sainte-Beuve, Balzac, Hugo, Baudelaire, Proust, Gide, Blanchot and Barthes, and portrait photographers, including Félix and Paul Nadar, Gisèle Freund, and Daniel Boudinet. Far from being a mere visual appendage to their published works, this interdisciplinary study demonstrates that photographs have integrally shaped the self-creation and reception of authorial personae, while in turn prompting significant reflection upon writing and authorship.

See www.portraitofthewriter.com for further details.

Research on this project has been supported by two British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grants (2014-17 and 2017-18) and by the Society for French Studies Prize Research Fellowship (2017-18).

Together with Érika Wicky (University of Liège), I am preparing a guest-edited issue of L'Esprit créateur (vol. 59:1) on La Portraitomanie: Intermediality and the Portrait in 19th-century France, to be published in March 2019. This special issue examines the nineteenth-century portrait in France with an emphasis on transmediality - that is, how the portrait genre travelled from one medium to another - as well as intermediality, whereby portraits originating in different media were brought together in the same works. While nineteenth-century definitions of the 'portrait' were highly malleable, comprising both visual and textual elements, the issue will pay particular attention to how the genre of the portrait is shaped by the specificities of each medium (painting, photography, caricature, sculpture and literary and critical texts), which in turn bestow it with new meanings and definitions, as well as new social functions. From these trans- and intermedial perspectives, this bilingual and interdisciplinary issue explores the portrait as part of a wider evolution of media and cultural history in France, while also revealing the extent to which intermediality is a nineteenth-century (re)invention. (See Fabula for a call for papers.)

Past Research

I was awarded a PhD from the University of Edinburgh for a comparative study of Roland Barthes's and Walter Benjamin's theories of photography, centred on the question of how their writings move towards a redemptive form of criticism.

My first monograph, Benjamin, Barthes and the Singularity of Photography (New York and London: Continuum, 2012), is a substantially developed and expanded treatment of this subject. It focuses on the two theorists' emphasis on the experiential singularity of photographic images - and the phenomenology of photography, more generally - in the context of photographic history and twentieth-century intellectual and critical discourses. A paperback edition was published by Bloomsbury in 2013. I have been interviewed in relation to this book for the 'New Books in French Studies' podcast network. Thus far, the book has been translated into Turkish (2015) and Spanish (2017), with a Korean translation forthcoming.

I have edited a special issue of Nottingham French Studies on Photography in Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures (published in 2014), which includes a number of papers first presented at a one-day conference on Photography in Contemporary France that I organised at the University of Nottingham in June 2012. The issue also features an interview with Jean-Luc Monterosso, Director of the Maison européenne de la photographie, Paris.

NFS Vol 53.2

I have contributed to the School's Words of the World project with a video on Photography and was interviewed for the audio project A Roving Soul: Walking the City with Walter Benjamin by Campbell Edinborough in 2014.

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