Professor Julia Dobson


School of Languages and Cultures

Professor in French Film and Performance

Julia Dobson
+44 114 222 2877

Full contact details

Professor Julia Dobson
School of Languages and Cultures
Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA

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.



  • Dobson J (2012) Negotiating the Auteur. Manchester: Manchester University Press. RIS download Bibtex download

Edited books

  • Dobson JL & Rayner J (Ed.) (2016) Mapping Cinematic Norths: International Interpretations in Film and Television. Peter Lang. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles


  • Dobson JL (2019) 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 RIS download Bibtex download
  • Dobson JL (2017) Dis-Locations: Mapping the Banlieue In Forrest D, Harper G & Rayner J (Ed.), Filmurbia: Screening the Suburbs Palgrave Macmillan View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Dobson JL (2016) (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 RIS download Bibtex download
  • Dobson JL (2015) Hélène Cixous In deeney JF & Gale MB (Ed.), Fifty modern and contemporary dramatists (pp. 57-62). Routledge RIS download Bibtex download
  • Dobson JL (2013) 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. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Dobson JL (2013) 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 RIS download Bibtex download
  • Dobson JL (2011) 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 RIS download Bibtex download
  • Dobson JL (2009) '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 RIS download Bibtex download
  • Dobson JL (2008) Jacques Audiard: Contesting Filiations In Ince K (Ed.), Five directors: Auteurism from Assayas to Ozon Manchester Univ Pr RIS download Bibtex download

Book reviews

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.