School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

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Image of Paul Hegarty

Paul Hegarty

Chair in French Studies, Faculty of Arts



I started out as a student of Languages, Economics and Politics at Kingston, specialising in French and Politics and spending my third year completing the full final year programme of Sciences Politiques at the IEP Bordeaux. I then zoned in on contemporary theory, and took the MA Critical Theory in Nottingham in 1991-92, following this up with a thesis in French and Critical Theory on symbolic violence across the work of Georges Bataille and Jean Baudrillard. As this magnum opus neared completion, I was offered a one year post in University College Cork (1996-97), consolidating this in 1997, with a focus on the new Law and French degree, with latitude to roam French thought, and with sideline in visual culture (which I began teaching in 1997). I then arrived into Nottingham once more, as Chair of French and Francophone Studies on January 1st 2018.

Since the late 1990s, I have been researching, teaching, writing and sometimes even performing work based on theory of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. From a grounding (an ironic term for those in the terrain) in French theory, I began exploring contemporary visual culture, and how French art, theory, architecture and other visually-based phenomena have had global reach and impact. In parallel to that interest, I have pioneered thinking about noise - in musical terms, as cultural critique and as diagnostic theoretical device.

In 2001, I began playing experimental music, and later, would become co-director of dotdotdotmusic, commissioning experimental musicians to release vinyl records, curating events and series of concerts. Increasingly, I have looked to integrate this practice with other research outputs, not least in my recent activities with leading noise artist Romain Perrot.

Expertise Summary

My areas of interest, in rough hierarchy, are the following: French contemporary theory, visual cultural theory and practice, the audiovisual, noise, sound studies, noise, modernism, minimalism, paradigitality, economics in asset-stripped cultural forms such as music, speculative science, French and other theories of evolution, French experimental writing. Current reading: Fred Moten

Teaching Summary

My teaching spans contemporary French thought, critical theory, contemporary visual culture and also ideas of audiovisuality.

in 2017-18, I have been teaching R12098 Surrealist Photography in France, teaching part of the visual culture element of R11026 Introduction ot French and Francophone Studies and seminars on R11019 France: History and Identity.

In 2018-19 I will be teaching R12110 Art and Visual Culture in France for the first time.

Research Summary

My principal research interests are French theory since the 1960s, contemporary thought, visual culture since the 1960s, audiovisual culture and sound studies. I have published widely in these areas,… read more

Recent Publications

My resarch into the audiovisual and sound studies, with its focus on noise and experimentation, also has a 'practitioner' side. Since 2001 I have been playing, curating and releasing experimental music on my record label. I play with Safe, Maginot (with Romain Perrot), Power Acoustics and PCP The Phil Collins Project. the record label is dotdotdotmusic and has come to represent an exercise in paradigitality - where the analogue is retained in vinyl format and attention to accompanying visual aesthetics but which is achieved through processes of 'bouncing' between digital and analogue.

I also make sound installations and curate events which combine with more traditional content. The most recent was with Winchester School of Art, on the various modes and survivals of minimalism ((2016). the next (late 2018) is based on the work of Georges Bataille.

Current Research

My principal research interests are French theory since the 1960s, contemporary thought, visual culture since the 1960s, audiovisual culture and sound studies. I have published widely in these areas, and seek to combine them, most notably in my writings on noise, which have appeared in Russian, Dutch, French, German and Japanese, as well as in English. I am interested in intersections of popular and avant-garde cultures, and also the fate of professional artistic activity today. This translates into writing about 'economies' of music, into running a vinyl record label, curating and performing. So, a significant proportion of my research is strongly embedded in the cultures it seeks to analyse. I have just published, with Sarah Hayden the first monograph on German minimal artist Peter Roehr (Dainmler/Snoek, 2018). My book on Peter Gabriel is due out in July 2018 (Reaktion/Chicago).

Past Research

I started out by exploring individual theorists in depth - most notably Georges Bataille and Jean Baudrillard. The ideas that emerged from the generation of thinkers in 1960s France remains massively and globally influential. These and other 'postmodern' ways of thinking are the background to my current and future research. I have also branched out to publish on architecture and planning, also on theories of evolution.

Future Research

I am currently completing a collection of essays on noise that cross fields of music, visual art, cosmology, information theory, biology, gender... it gets everywhere...

I am starting to research locations of 'distributed' French globalisation, such as the ESA space port in Kourou.

I am also bringing together the creative and analytical strands of my theoretical research into new projects based on artistic and curatorial collaboration.

School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

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Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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