Research – a diverse and dynamic community
French at Sheffield has a long-established profile of internationally outstanding research in French and Francophone Studies and forms a dynamic and diverse research community, including a thriving group of postgraduate researchers and students. All academic staff are involved in research and scholarship that directly informs our teaching. The research expertise and projects of staff are exceptionally wide-ranging - the portfolio of specialisms ranges from medieval manuscripts, through discourse analysis, politics and literature of the 18th to 21st centuries, francophone literature, contemporary cinema, visual and performance art, sociology and modern history.
We are committed to sharing and developing collaborative research outside of the university and, to this aim, we work with key partners including schools, cinemas, festivals, galleries, charities and international bodies to develop inclusive projects.
Contemporary cultural studies constitutes a distinctive research focus for French at Sheffield and provides both disciplinary strength and interdisciplinary innovation in its engagement with the construction of identity across literary, discursive, visual and spatial practices. Research expertise in the problematics of the post(-)colonial drives analysis of the relationship between cultural production and identity in Francophone west Africa (Audrey Small). Research expertise in contemporary visual arts investigates the representational strategies and spatial practices of recognized and emerging artists (Amanda Crawley-Jackson), whilst work on film (Julia Dobson) addresses the interactions between genre, gender and film in the constructions of personal and political identities. In a world of smart objects and objectified subjects, constructions of human identity and agency are also at the core of research on object-based theatre (Julia Dobson).
Literary studies and History of ideas
Research expertise in literary studies and the history of ideas enables a clearer understanding of the historic and cultural specificities of a text across contexts of production and reception. Work on the non-canonical and subversive texts of the 12th century (Penny Simons) reflect on contemporary values. Research which constructs important connections between the literary canon and contemporary political and critical discourses includes the examination of the connections between literary expression and the history of ideas in the 19th century in specific relation to Balzac (Maxime Goergen) and through discourses and representations of revolution and the sublime in the 18th century (David McCallam). This extends to the study of specific cultural and philosophical figures such as Todorov (Karine Zbinden).
Cultural history and society
Challenges to the dominant narratives of modern history and society are at the heart of research in colonial and neo-colonial histories and the construction of minority identities and migration (Sophie Watt, Amanda Crawley-Jackson, Audrey Small) and through engagement with life-writing testimonies, Occupation diaries and cartoon art (Wendy Michallat). Dominant discourses and definitions of work and gendered divisions of labour are challenged in research on the policy and practices of the informal work economy, social exclusion and domestic labour (Jan Windebank).
Seminar series, including PGs
French at Sheffield runs a series of research seminars with invited speakers, workshops and postgraduate work in progress sessions. We also work with colleagues in a range of regional, national and international research centres and networks.