Professor Julia Dobson
BA, MA, PhD
School of Languages and Cultures
Professor in French Film and Performance
+44 114 222 2877
Full contact details
School of Languages and Cultures
1 Upper Hanover Street
Julia Dobson read French and Russian at the University of Nottingham, where she continued postgraduate study an MA in Critical Theory and a PhD on the Theatre of Hélène Cixous and Marina Tsvetaeva.
The interdisciplinary nature of her research led her to work in French, Film Studies and Cultural Theory at the universities of Wolverhampton, Nottingham, Warwick and Leeds before joining the School of Languages and Cultures in Sheffield in 2004.
Julia has developed interdisciplinary links and structures within the university in teaching and research. She has a longstanding record of external engagement – working with film festivals, distributors, schools and diverse audiences to share and encourage engagement with French film.
Recent partners include Docfest, The London Comedy Film Festival, the BFI and the Institut Français. She is co-director of the Sheffield Centre for Research in Film and has held visiting research awards at the Forum des Images, Paris and the Institut international de la marionnette.
BA French and Russian, MA Critical Theory and Ph.D. (Nottingham)
- Research interests
Julia is an active researcher across several fields – contemporary French film, cultural theory and contemporary performance. Her work across these fields engages with shifting dynamics of relationships between self and other and between discourses of the private and the public. Within such negotiations of identity, her research explores the representation of agency, voice and the body in contemporary theatre and shifting constructions of the private and the political in contemporary French film.
Her recent work in French film argues for close attention to the interactions between genre, gender and filmic discourses in the constructions of personal, social and political identities and is exemplified by her monograph: Negotiating the Auteur (Manchester University Press, 2012).
She has ongoing research interests in constructions of the ‘auteur’ in contemporary French film – with particular reference to the work of Jacques Audiard, the representation of adolescence in French cinema and the role of cinema in constructing spaces, co-editing Mapping Cinematic Norths (Peter Lang, 2016) with Jonathan Rayner.
Since the publication of her monograph The Scene of Writing: Hélène Cixous and the Theatre, (Bern: Peter Lang, 2002), she has continued to work on Hélène Cixous’ theatre.
Her current book project is on object-based theatre, 'Performing objects: Puppets and beyond in contemporary French performance’ (Liverpool University Press). Performing objects - puppets, mannequins, dolls, automata, robots, everyday objects and machines - are present at the foundations and frontiers of popular and avant-garde performance.
In a world of increasingly smart objects, artificial intelligences and commodified, enhanced bodies, the uncanny material presence and ambiguous agency of performing objects remains central to contemporary renegotiation of our understanding of otherness, of our relation to the material world and to what it means to be human. The book will create a coherent set of interdisciplinary discursive frameworks around the performing object, supported by detailed case studies to provide a timely critical insight into the diverse practices of material performance in France today.
- Audiard A–Z. Studies in French Cinema, 16(3), 262-268. View this article in WRRO
- Bibliography for Jacques Audiard. Studies in French Cinema, 16(3), 269-271. View this article in WRRO
- Jacques Audiard: 21st century auteur. Studies in French Cinema, 16(3), 187-189. View this article in WRRO
- Special affects: reconfiguring melodrama in De rouille et d’os (Rust and Bone, Audiard, 2012). Studies in French Cinema, 16(3), 215-228. View this article in WRRO
- American 'Unculture' in French Drama: 'Homo Americanus' and the Post-1960 French Resistance. French Studies, 69(1), 117-118.
- Editorial. Studies in French Cinema, 14(1), 1-4.
- Contemporary French Theatre and Performance. French Studies, 67(1), 138-139.
- Ideal suspects? The investigation of romance in masson’s coupable/guilty (2008). Studies in European Cinema, 10(1), 11-20.
- Stardom in Postwar France. French Studies, 64(1), 113-114.
- Retrospectives and projections: celebrating ten years ofStudies in French Cinema. Studies in French Cinema, 10(1), 3-9.
- Helene Cixous: Texture mythique et alchimique. French Studies, 63(2), 235-235.
- Timely resistance in the documentary work of Dominique Cabrera. French Studies, 62(3), 290-300.
- Jacques Audiard and the filial challenge. Studies in French Cinema, 7(3), 179-189.
- Contemporary Theatres in Europe: A Critical Companion (review). Modern Drama, 50(1), 122-124.
- Vanishing Points: the Subject and the City in 'Un Homme qui dort' / 'The Man who Sleeps' (Perec and Quaysanne, 1974) In Forsdick C, Philips R & Leak A (Ed.), Georges Perec's Geographies; Perecquian Geographies. Material, Performative and Textual Spaces (pp. 47-64). London: UCL Press. View this article in WRRO
- Dis-Locations: Mapping the Banlieue In Forrest D, Harper G & Rayner J (Ed.), Filmurbia: Screening the Suburbs Palgrave Macmillan View this article in WRRO
- (Dis)Locations, Relocations: Representations of Northern France in Contemporary French Cinema In Dobson J & Rayner J (Ed.), Mapping Cinematic Norths: International Interpretations in Film and Television (pp. 178-196). Peter Lang View this article in WRRO
- Hélène Cixous In deeney JF & Gale MB (Ed.), Fifty modern and contemporary dramatists (pp. 57-62). Routledge
- Troublantes matières: des corps (in)habités dans l'oeuvre de Gisèle Vienne In Guidicelli C (Ed.), Surmarionnettes et mannequins Craig, Kantor et leurs héritages contemporains (pp. 389-411). Laverune, France: L'Entretemps / Institut international de la marionnette.
- Troubling Matters: Mannequins, Murder and Gisèle Vienne’s corps troublants In Maggie A & Imogen L (Ed.), Woman Matter / Femmes Matiere: French and Francophone Women and the Material World (pp. 21). Peter Lang AG, Internationaler Verlag Der Wissenschaften
- Asserting Text, Context and Intertext: Jill Forbes and French Film Studies In Higbee W & Leahy S (Ed.), Studies in French Cinema: UK Perspectives, 1985-2010 (pp. 115). Intellect Books
- 'Cixous' Theatre and the Returns of the Dead In Hutton M-A (Ed.), Redefining the real: The fantastic in Contemporary French and Francophone Women's Writing (pp. 173). Peter Lang Pub Incorporated
- Jacques Audiard: Contesting Filiations In Ince K (Ed.), Five directors: Auteurism from Assayas to Ozon Manchester Univ Pr
- Alastair Phillips and Ginette Vincendeau, eds., Paris in the Cinema: Beyond the Flâneur.. H-France Review, 19(July 2019), 1-1.
- Aesthetic Citizenship: Immigration and Theater in Twenty-First-Century Paris. By Emine Fişek. French Studies, 73(1), 161-162.
- Le Scandale au théâtre des années 1940 aux années 1960. Par Delphine Aebi. French Studies, 72(3), 467-467.
- Research group
Julia welcomes research proposals on contemporary French film (including documentary film), French theatre and performance (post-1950), cultural theory and gender studies and Hélène Cixous.
Current PhD students
- Victoria Pugh (URRD funded) ‘Gender, Display and performance in the National Fairground Archive’
- Bridget Coulter (with Music) ‘Popular music and constructions of gender identity in girls’,
- Martin Elms ‘Contemporary Algerian Visual Art’
- Teaching interests
- Teaching activities
Language teaching at all levels.
- FRE283/4 French Documentary Film (module leader)
- FRE305/6 Contemporary French Cinema (module leader)
- FRE373/4 Contemporary French Theatres (module leader)
- MDL103 Introduction to European Cinema (lecturer)
- FRE117/8 Understanding Modern France (lecturer)
- FRE6653/4 French Cultural Studies
- FRE6656/7 Constructions of the City
- IPA601 Introduction to Public Humanities
- Professional activities
- Chair, White Rose College of Arts and Humanities Languages and Linguistics subject cluster
- Studies in French Cinema - Editor
- Reviewer of publication submissions for: Edinburgh University Press, French Studies, Forum for Modern Languages Studies, Modern and Contemporary France, Modern Drama.
- External examiner: Modern Languages, University of Exeter 2011 – 2015, University of Birmingham 2014 – 2017 and University of Newcastle 2016 – 2019
- External examiner for PhD theses: University of Cambridge, University College London, University of Edinburgh.
- Society for French Studies - member
- Co-director of Sheffield Centre for Research in Film
Current administrative duties
- Faculty Student Review Panel
- Advisory Board Medical Humanities Sheffield
- Sheffield Creative Arts, committee member
Previous administrative duties
Julia led interdisciplinary projects including as Academic Lead of the Interdisciplinary Programmes Office (Faculty of Arts) 2012-2016 and as Director of the MA Public Humanities 2013-2016. She has been School Director of Postgraduate Affairs and Director of Research and Innovation and has served on many departmental, faculty and university bodies including: Faculty of Arts Learning and Teaching Committee, Faculty of Arts Postgraduate Committee and University Strategic Curriculum Change Steering Group.