I teach and convene the second-year course 'Nineteenth-Century French Short Narrative' (R12051).
I co-convene the final-year dissertation course, and students interested in exploring topics related to the latter half of the long nineteenth century, particularly engaging with literature, music, visual culture, and cultural history, are encouraged to get in touch.
I am currently funded by the British Academy as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2016-2019).
My monograph project explores French musical representations of the British, from the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 to the Entente Cordiale in 1904. After 1870, révanchisme against Germany placed historical enmity with Britain in a new light and this led to a reconsideration of age-old national stereotypes; those old mutton-chop wearing singers in the music hall, the Walter Scott imbued folk music fans, and the opéra-comique composers found themselves reassessing portrayals of their cross-Channel neighbour. As the final decades of the century went on, colonial rivalry and internal political disquiet reverberated through the musical sphere and saw a constant recalibration of how the French sung, played, wrote, and acted about the British.
Britain's mediocre reputation for prowess in the classical music world might suggest that the British were musically unimportant on the French cultural scene at the fin de siècle: yet an examination of printed song sheets, travel writing, music journals, and chap books reveals that the British were ever-present in the French musical world in a variety of ways. This project explores French singers acting as English men and women in the Parisian café-concert and music hall; a turn-of-the-century fad for the 'genre anglais' with Max Dearly and Harry Fragson; political songs against Fashoda and the Boer War; French reception of British (and especially Scottish and Irish) folk songs; and French travel writing on music encountered in Britain, including Evangelical street orchestras, pantomime, and Blackface minstrel shows.
This project aims to open new lines of enquiry into the intersection between musical and socio-political culture, and to deepen our knowledge about the role of music in France's understanding of Britain at a crucial moment in the evolution of Franco-British relations.
In 2016, a monograph developed out of my doctoral thesis was published with Legenda, exploring the connection between material culture and literature after the Année Terrible (1870-71) - focusing on the symbolic role of glass. From the monumental to the minuscule, glass had flooded the visual landscape of nineteenth-century Paris. Yet as the bombshells and fires of the Terrible Year wreaked havoc in the city, the sight and sound of shattering glass became inextricable from personal and national trauma. This book begins with a cultural-historical analysis of representations of broken glass during the Terrible Year, encompassing a wide range of archival, visual, and literary sources. I then build on this with close readings of three literary reactions to the burden of traumatic symbolism attached to glass: Zola's Au Bonheur des Dames (1883); Maupassant's short stories (1870-89); and Huysmans's A rebours (1884). Although these authors differ greatly in their specific treatments of glass, I argue that their works reveal a deeper need to reconsider the material world in the late nineteenth century.
I have an interest in the introduction of modern languages classes into the Third Republican education syllabus and its wider influence on literature and culture.