Telephone: +44(0)29 2087 0179
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Location: Room 0.02, 60 Park Place
From Proust to the present day : defying conventions, defining conventions.
Homosexuality in the French novel has traditionally been subject to a series of taboos, hushed-up, silent love scenes and, on times, the subject of some uncomfortable readings. But to what extent has its inclusion and treatment by authors in France served as a beacon of hope, a positive form of sexual expression and ultimately, a way of being viewed as ‘normal’ as opposed to ‘deviant’ and against the grain.
From Proust to the present-day examines these questions in detail and looks particularly at the use of homo-exclusive spaces in order to afford homosexuality a much needed voice in an otherwise heterosexual world. Beginning with the works of Proust, Cocteau and Genet before working my way chronologically through the century (Eric Jourdan, Yves Navarre, Hervé Guibert to name but a few), my thesis looks to, examines and contemplates the presence of homosexuality in French gay prose fiction as well as authors’ intents and purposes in constructing and utilising gay-specific spaces in the more generic and hetero-normative place of society. Using French theorists’ discourse and writings on space and place (Henri Lefebvre, Michel de Certeau etc.) as well as more anthropological and queer-specific theorists (Marc Augé, José Munoz), my PhD tracks and recognises a very real evolution and trajectory as far as a gay occupation of straight space is concerned and elucidates the way in which this evolution not only reflects then-recent histories of each époques but also how the presence of such a space serves as a way of a literature’s ‘coming out’ for traditionally hidden away and hushed up expressions of sexuality.
Through also reading texts via a Žižekian paradigm, I also argue the ways in which an avoidance of the Real via often fantastical realities could also be seen as the creation of homosexual utopianism and the construction of a beacon of hope for an otherwise condemned group of sexual minority. Ultimately, what I argue is that through being unconventional with their use of space that gay authors prompt a reanalysis and redefining of contemporary convention, or put, another way, through defying convention what gay authors in France are doing is, in fact, defining it.
If you feel that my research compliments, or indeed, counters your, then please do feel free to email me with the subject heading “From Proust to the present-day.”
Edited: Forbidden Fruits, Forbidden Histories: going past the accepted queer canon (Newcastle, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Forthcoming 2013).
Chapters in books
'Corporeal (dis)location in the AIDS narratives of Hervé Guibert.' in Forbidden Fruits, Forbidden Histories (Forthcoming 2013).
Gendered Borders/ (Homo)Sexual frontiers: postcolonial constructions of homosexuality in contemporary Francophone narratives.' in Forbidden Fruits, Forbidden Histories (Forthcoming 2013).
'Entre ciel et terre: Spatialization of homosexual desire in Jean Genet’s Miracle de la Rose and Notre-Dame-des-Fleurs.’ In preparation for consideration to French Studies (Autumn 2012).
'Lire le texte, lire son espace: Proust's use of closeted space to (re)construct homosexual identity in A la recherche du temps perdu.' In preparation for submission to Journal of Romance Studies (Autumn 2012).
My research interests cover.
- Gender and Sexuality in the works of Marcel Proust
I am interested and have carried out much research into the representations and portrayals of sexuality in the works of Marcel Proust and his contemporaries (namely Andre Gide, Jean Genet and Jean Cocetau). Not only looking at Homosexuality, I also focus my attention on other ‘deviant’ forms of sexual expression, encompassing the rather thorny issue of gender. Recent research has witnessed me looking to transsexualism in A la recherche du temps perdu, transvestism and ‘drag’.
- Creations of utopianism in French gay fiction
Taking the lead from Thomas More’s Utopia, I am looking at the social and political uses of utopianism by not only gay authors but also photographers and their depictions of homosexuality in France as well as straight authors addressing gay issues. I am researching the extent to which ‘deviant’ sexualities can exist along their heterosexual counterparts and how Utopianism prompts political and social change vis-à-vis gay liberation and equality.
- Spatial Constructions of Homosexuality in French gay prose narratives.
I am interested in French theories and discourse on the constructions of space and place with a particular interest on the works of Michel de Certeau, Henri Lefebvre and Michel Foucault's essay entitled Hétérotopies. Read via these paradigms, my research examines authorial constructions of physical and abstract spaces via which homosexual protagonists portray their sexuality and the implications this has on both their use and treatment of space. I have also read the AIDS narratives of Hervé Guibert via a Lefebvrian paradigm (more specifically, Lefebvre's discourse on Spatial Architectonics) and am increasingly interested in the way that corporeal manipulations of place results in the (re)construct of spatial identity.
- Postcolonial constructions of homosexuality.
Inspired by the theories of Homi Bhabha, I have most recently written about the effects of postcolonialism on homosexuality with specific interest in gay prose fiction narratives born out of the Maghreb. More specifically, I have considered postcolonial narratives via a quasi-Foucauldian paradigm (Power and Knowledge) and researched the extent to which French imperialist idelogies have impacted upon the portrayals and constructions of homosexuality for those of Maghrebi origin. What I argue is that contrary to the acquisition of independence resutling in a great tolerance of sexuality minorities, what is being textualised is nothing short of reconstruction of colonialist dominance via tropes of gender and sexuality.
Currently a Doctoral researcher at Cardiff University, I have completed all of my training here at Cardiff and am currently working on my PhD thesis. I originally started reading French at The University of Warwick. It was while at Warwick that I began my life-long love affair with French Literature. Beginning with the great French classics, I studied the works of Marguerite de Navarre, Racine, Moliere, Diderot and Agrippa d’Aubigné to name but a few, before concentrating my research on 19th and 20th century literature, with my principal area of expertise being the works of Marcel Proust. I have taught English professionally abroad, with my last position being on the Normandy Coast; a post that allowed me to bring to life and relive Proust’s promenades through the Normandy countryside, visiting infamous scenes such as the beach at Cabourg (Balbec) as well its Grand Hotel.
I was an Associate Lecturer in French Studies 2010/11 and contribute to modules: EU7122: European Fictions and EU1200: Translation.
Developing upon my experience, interest and research in Translation Studies, I am currently involved in a collaborative translation project under the leadship of Dr. Forman (University of Bristol) which seeks to offer an innovative and original translation of Marcel Proust's Portraits de Peintres.
Awards / Funding
Dec 2010 : Founding member of Accademia degli Incogniti.
Feb 2011 : £1,000. Recipient of the 2010/11 prize to support postgraduate research initiatives.
Society for French Studies.
Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France.
Conferences and Papers
- Une Colonisation Sexuelle? Postcolonial constructions of homosexuality in contemporary Francophone narratives. Keynote address. LGBT International Conference. Location TBC (Forthcoming October 2012).
- ‘Articulations of Difference: A symposium in honour of Lawrence Schehr’. Confirmed guest speaker. The University of Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. Chicago. (Forthcoming, September 13th 2012).
- 'Corporeal (dis)location in the AIDS writing of Hervé Guibert' Conference paper. Taking up Space Conference. Goldsmiths University London. 25-26 June 2012.
- ‘Entre ciel et Terre: Spatialization and homosexual desire in Jean Genet’s Miracle de la Rose and Notre-Dame-des-Fleurs.’ Research in Progress Seminars, Languages, Cultures and Ideologies Research Unit, School of European Studies. Cardiff University. October 2011.
- ‘We’re here! We’re Queer! Representations of homosexuality in the works of Pierre et Gilles: dispelling myth or confirming stereotype?’ Visions and Visionaries Conference. Cardiff University. Sept 2011.
- ‘Champagne taste, or rather beer bottle pockets? Representations and portrayals of deviant sexualities in the Media and Advertising.’ Keynote address. LGBT International Human Rights Conference. Cardiff. 2nd Sept 2011.
- ‘Le scandale n’est que dans l’encre: The effects of homo-eroticised literature on LGBT communities in France. Cardiff. Conference paper. LGBT International Human Rights Conference. Cardiff. 31st Aug 2011.
- ‘Suis-je libre? Oppressively-liberating literature in twentieth-century French gay prose narratives.’ Research in Progress presented at Accademia Degli Incogniti Research Forum. Cardiff University. April 2011.
- ‘Towards a homosexual utopianism?’ Research in Completion Seminar, Histories, Memories and Fictions Research Unit. Cardiff University. December 2010.
- ‘In Search of Queer Times: Understanding textual sexuality in Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu.’ Invited paper. Maison des Jeunes et de la Culture. Fécamp, France. January 2010.
- Forbidden Fruits, Forbidden Histories: Going past the accepted Queer canon. Conference Oragniser and Conference Chair - Cardiff School of European Languages, Translation and Politics. Cardiff University. 11th July 2012