Dr Julia Dobson

Dr Julia DobsonReader in French Film and Performance

Telephone: (0114) 222 2877

Email : j.dobson@sheffield.ac.uk


BA French and Russian, MA Critical Theory, PhD (Nottingham)


I completed my first degree, BA Joint Hons French and Russian, at the University of Nottingham and remained there to complete an MA in Critical Theory before combining all of these in a PhD on the Theatre of Hélène Cixous and Marina Tsvetaeva. Both postgraduate degrees were funded by the British Academy. My first teaching post was at the University of Wolverhampton in 1992. The interdisciplinary nature of my work led me to teach at the universities of Nottingham, Warwick and Leeds across French, Film Studies and Cultural Theory before joining the Department of French in Sheffield in 2004.

Research Interests

My research engages primarily with shifting dynamics of relationships between self and other and with the (re)mappings of cultural constructions of subjectivity and alterity. Within such negotiations of identity, my research explores the representation of agency, voice and the body across two fields: contemporary theatre and contemporary film.

  • Hélène Cixous - fictions, theatre and collaborations with the Théatre du soleil
  • Contemporary puppet theatre and the shifting parameters of performing objects – particularly the relationship between body, agency and voice
  • New configurations of the auteur in contemporary French film – with particular reference to the work of Jacques Audiard
  • The role of film genre in articulating political discourse in contemporary French cinema
  • Documentary film and first person documentary practice.
  • Collaborative projects working with the Showroom cinema, Film Education communicating research to diverse audiences
  • Co-director of Sheffield Centre for Research in Film, http://researchinfilm.group.shef.ac.uk

Current and Recent Research Projects

  • Negotiating the auteurMy recent monograph: Negotiating the Auteur: Dominique Cabrera, Noémie Lvovsky, Laetitia Masson and Marion Vernoux, (Manchester University Press, 2012) focuses on the interactions between genre, gender and filmic discourses in the constructions of personal, social and political identities. I regularly participate in public events in this field, such as a roundtable discussion ‘Women’s filmmaking in France in the 2000s’ at the Institut français in 2010. See http://womenfilmfrance.wordpress.com/programme/
  • Documentary film - particularly the phenomenon of first-person documentary, tropes of confession and therapy.
  • the presence of the photograph in film
  • the representation of adolescence in film.
  • In theatre I continue to develop a series of linked projects that explore both the major trajectories of contemporary puppet theatre in France and the wider impacts of performing objects with a particular focus on questions of voice and embodiment.
  • Within this series a focus has emerged on the impact of the uninhabited body through the use of mannequins and dummies in theatre. I have published on this topic, in relation to the work of Gisèle Vienne, in collaboration with the Institut International de la Marionnette.

Key Recent Publications


Articles and Chapters

  • ‘Hélène Cixous’ in Deeney and Gale (eds) Fifty Modern and Contemporary Dramatists, Routledge, forthcoming 2014.
  • ‘Ideal Suspects? The Investigation of Romance in Laetitia Masson’s Guilty (Coupable)Studies in European Cinema, forthcoming 2013.
  • ‘Troublantes matières: l’oeuvre de Gisèle Vienne’ in Guidicelli and Plassard (eds) Ubermarionnettes et Mannequins: contemporary legacies (Montpellier: Institut International de la Marionnette and L’Entretemps, 2013).
  • ‘Troubling Matters: Mannequins, Murder and Gisèle Vienne’s corps troublants’ in Allison and Long (eds) Women Matter / Femmes Matière (Peter Lang 2013), pp. 21-34.
  • ‘Asserting Text, Context and Intertext: Jill Forbes and French Film Studies' in Higbee and Leahy (eds) Studies in French Cinema. Perspectives 1985-2000 (Bristol: Intellect, 2011). See www.intellectbooks.co.uk/books/view-Book,id=4708/
  • 'Cixous' Theatre and the Returns of the Dead' in Hutton (ed) Redefining the real: The fantastic in Contemporary French and Francophone Women's Writing, (Bern: Peter Lang, 2009) See www.peterlang.com/download/datasheet/50449/datasheet_11567.pdf
  • 'Jacques Audiard: Contesting Filiations’ in ‘K. Ince (ed) Four Directors: Auteurism from Assayas to Ozon, (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2008) See www.manchesteruniversitypress.co.uk/catalogue/book.asp?id=1204109
  • 'Timely Resistance in the Documentary Work of Dominique Cabrera’ French Studies, LXII (3) (2008), pp. 290-300.
  • ‘Jacques Audiard and the Filial Challenge’ Studies in French Cinema, vol 7.3, (2007) pp. 179-189.


  • ‘The Scenes of Writing: Poetic Identity in Cixous’ Recent Theatre’ republished in Hansen and Cahill (eds) French Feminists: Critical Evaluations in Cultural Theory, (London and New York: Routledge, 2007).
  • ‘Nationality, Authenticity, Reflexivity: Kieslowski’s "Three Colours" Trilogy’ (1999), ‘Jacques Audiard and the Filial Challenge’, (2007), ‘Introduction’, Negotiating the Auteur: Cabrera, Lvovsky, Masson and Vernoux (2012), republished in Powrie (ed) French Cinema: Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies, (Routledge, 2013).

Full List of Publications


  • Assessment officer (French)
  • Academic Lead for Interdisciplinary Programmes (Faculty of Arts)
  • Co-director Sheffield Centre for Research in Film
  • Advisory Board member for Medical Humanities

Professional Activities

  • Member of Editorial Board, Studies in French Cinema
  • Invited editor and commissioner of special issue celebrating 10 years of Studies in French Cinema, vol. 10 (1) (2010)
  • External examiner Modern Languages, University of Exeter 2011 -
  • External examiner for PhD theses: Cambridge, Edinburgh, UCL
  • RSA Fellow
  • Reviewer for French Studies, Modern Drama, Modern and Contemporary France
  • Visiting Researcher, Forum des Images, Paris
  • Research Fellow, Institut International de la Marionnette

Postgraduate Research

  • Svea Schauffler ‘Investigating subtitling strategies for the translation of wordplay in film subtitlest’ 2009 - 2012
  • Martin Elms ‘Contemporary Algerian Visual Art’ 2011 –
  • Bridget Coulter (with Music) ‘Music video and constructions of gender identity in girls’ 2013 –

I welcome research proposals in the following areas and their interdisciplinary connections:
Contemporary French film (including documentary film),
French theatre and performance (post-1950),
Hélène Cixous, cultural theory and gender studies.



  • FRE6653/4 French Cultural Studies
  • FRE6656/7 Constructions of the City
  • FRE6672 Gender Studies II
  • MDL 6009 Constructions of the Body (MA European Gender Studies)


I teach French language at all levels.

  • FRE107/8 French Studies
  • FRE283/4 French Documentary Film
  • FRE305/6 French Film
  • FRE373/4 Contemporary French Theatres
  • MDL103 Introduction to European Cinema