Maria TomlinsonDr Maria Tomlinson

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Tel: (+44)(0)114 222 2512

Room 304

BA; MA (King's College, London); PhD (Reading)

Maria joined the department in August 2018 as the Postdoctoral Research Associate on Dr Emma Heywood's project FemmepowermentNiger, which analyses the impact of radio on women's empowerment in Niger. Before starting this post, she was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to complete a PhD in French studies at the Universities of Reading and Bristol.

During her PhD, Maria founded and edited the interdisciplinary magazine Gendered Voices which contains articles that explore the topic of gender in a variety of cultural contexts. The magazine aims to engage the public in cutting-edge academic research. While at the University of Reading, Maria also founded the Gender and Sexuality Research Network. Maria organised the conference Imagining the Body in France and the Francophone World, which took place at the University of Birmingham in January 2018.

Maria has a variety of teaching experience within the area of French studies. Whilst working as a teaching fellow at the University of Reading, Maria designed and convened a module on north African literature which was based on her doctoral research. She also taught classes on cinema, history, translation, and Caribbean literature. At the University of Bristol, Maria taught a module on French surrealism which included art, poetry, prose, and theatre.

Research interests

Maria is interested in gender, women's rights, empowerment and female bodily experience in Africa. Her PhD thesis was entitled 'The Female Fertility Cycle in Cross-cultural Perspective: Representations of Menstruation, Childbirth, and the Menopause in contemporary women's writing in French'. This interdisciplinary project explored these bodily experiences in women's writing from Algeria, Mauritius and France through the framework of sociological and anthropological studies.

Her thesis questioned the legacy of the French second-wave feminists who were criticised for ignoring the differences which exist between women such as their ethnicity, sexuality or class. Her findings demonstrate that each literary culture portrays female bodily experience as being informed by its own specific cultural context. Other factors which shape depictions of the female fertility cycle in contemporary women's writing include law, politics, religion, and violence.

In her role as Postdoctoral Research Associate, Maria is interested in how women in Niger can be empowered by listening to local radio. She is also researching how their attitudes and experiences are influenced by the specific cultural context of Niger.


Maria teaches on the following modules:

JNL6027 Journalism, Globalisation and Development
JNL6099 Radio and NGO Communication in Conflict-Affected Areas
JNL6210 Research Methods
JNL6302 Political Communication in Times of War, Crisis and Terrorism

She is also supervising dissertations for the MA Global Journalism programme.

Selected publications

(2018) '“On dirait que c'est honteux de devenir une femme”: Narratives of a Girl's First Menses in Maïssa Bey's Bleu blanc vert and Leïla Marouane's La Jeune Fille et la mère' in L'Esprit Créateur, vol. 58, no. 2, pp. 112-125

(2015) '"...It must stop, it must stop”: The Silent Child of Sexual Abuse in Shenaz Patel's Sensitive', in The Birmingham Journal of Literature and Language, vol. 7, pp.38-45