Catherine AnnabelCatherine Annabel

I have been a student at Sheffield University for more than twelve years now. I graduated from my first undergraduate degree, in English & Biblical Studies, in 1978. In 2005 I returned to the University as a full-time member of staff, and started a second undergraduate degree part-time, via the then Institute of Lifelong Learning, in French Language & Cultures. I graduated again in 2013, and started a part-time PhD that same year. I retired from my post at the University in January 2016, and continue my studies part-time.
During the course of my French BA, I became interested in the work of Michel Butor, and in particular his 1956 novel, L’Emploi du temps, which was inspired by his two-year stay in Manchester where he worked as lecteur at the University. My undergraduate dissertation proposed a new reading of this novel, which now informs my doctoral studies. My PhD explores the influence of L’Emploi du temps on W G Sebald, who came to Manchester 15 years after Butor and who read the novel on arrival. It inspired an early poem, only recently published in English translation and, I will argue, its influence pervades his writing, in the way in which he evokes different times and places and in the labyrinthine and/or fugal structure of his works. In turn, I hope that this exploration will turn critical attention back to Butor, who has been much neglected in recent years. I hope to find a way to mark the occasion of Butor’s 90th birthday in September 2016, and the 60th anniversary of the publication of L’Emploi du temps.


‘An Application of the Spatial Theories of Michel de Certeau to Michel Butor’s L’Emploi du temps’, Culture à Confine, 2006
L’Emploi du temps: Sous le masque de Bleston’ (unpublished BA dissertation, University of Sheffield, 2013)
‘Into the Labyrinth’, 2013,
My Passing Time blog ( covers a wide range of interests as well as my academic pursuits, and I have also blogged about current UK politics at and about questions of national identity at

Conference Paper

‘Fugues and Fugueurs’, 22 June 2015, paper given at ‘There & Back Again’, postgraduate conference at the University of Nottingham, organised by the Landscape, Space, Place Research Group.

Other Activities

I am chair of the charity Inspiration for Life, established in 2012 by a friend and colleague, Tim Richardson, who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The charity promotes lifelong learning and the public understanding of science, and raises funds for local cancer charities. Its flagship annual event, the 24 Hour Inspire, brings together academics and researchers from across the University for a 24 hour lecture marathon. See also:

I am a member of the informal Sheffielders for Refugees group, set up in September 2015, which aims to forge links between staff and students who are committed to working to support refugees and to explore and support University initiatives in this area @sheff4refugees