Professor Julia Dobson
BA, MA, PhD
School of Languages and Cultures
Professor in French Film and Performance
Deputy Head of School
Director of Knowledge Exchange in SLC
+44 114 222 2877
Full contact details
School of Languages and Cultures
1 Upper Hanover Street
I studied French and Russian at the University of Nottingham, continuing to postgraduate study there with an MA in Critical Theory and comparative PhD on the Theatres of Hélène Cixous and Marina Tsvetaeva.
My interdisciplinary profile led me to work in Departments of French Studies, 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. I have continued to establish and foster interdisciplinary programmes and research networks within the university.
My diverse research interests across film and performance share a sustained engagement with negotiations of identity, exploring the representation of agency, voice and the body in contemporary film and theatre and shifting constructions of the private and the political. My recent work in French film focuses on cinematic spatialities (constructions of the North) and the role of film’s manipulation of space and time in Perec’s narrative strategies. My current project in this field explores the explosion in representations of adolescence in 21st century French film.
My current research in performance focuses on object-based theatre - examining the radically disruptive presence of performing objects (puppets, dolls, automata, robots, everyday objects and machines) at the foundations and frontiers of popular and avant-garde performance.
I frequently work with major film festivals, directors, distributors, schools and diverse audiences to share and encourage engagement with French film. I am co-director of the Sheffield Centre for Research in Film and have held visiting research positions at the Forum des Images and the Institut international de la marionnette.
- PhD University of Nottingham (‘Construction of Poetic Identities in the Theatre of Hélène Cixous and Marina Tsvetaeva’)
- MA Critical Theory, University of Nottingham
- BA Hons French and Russian, University of Nottingham
- Research interests
My research encompasses contemporary French film, cultural theory and contemporary performance. My 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, my 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.
My 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, including constructions of the ‘auteur’ in contemporary French film (see Negotiating the Auteur (Manchester University Press, 2012). I have worked on cinematic spatialities (constructions of the North) and the role of film in Perec’s narrative strategies. My current project examines the representation of adolescence in 21st century French film.
My early research on theatre addressed the development of Cixous’s ‘scene of writing’. My current research focuses on object-based theatre and examines the radically disruptive presence of performing objects - puppets, dolls, automata, robots, everyday objects and machines - are present at the foundations and frontiers of popular and avant-garde performance. In an interdisciplinary context, we live in a world of smart objects, artificial intelligences and commodified, enhanced bodies, the uncanny material presence and ambiguous agency of performing objects remains central to contemporary renegotiations of our understanding of ourselves, of otherness and to what it means to be human. One outcome of this research will be a monograph: 'Performing objects: Puppets and beyond in contemporary French performance’ (Liverpool University Press).
- Le Théâtre du Soleil: The First Twenty-Five Years by Béatrice Picon-Vallin (review). L'Esprit Createur: a critical quarterly of French literature, 61(3), 144-145. 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
- Audiard A–Z. Studies in French Cinema, 16(3), 262-268. 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.
- Retrospectives and projections: celebrating ten years ofStudies in French Cinema. Studies in French Cinema, 10(1), 3-9.
- Stardom in Postwar France. French Studies, 64(1), 113-114.
- 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
I welcome research proposals on:
- French film (fiction and documentary)
- French theatre and performance (post-1950)
- Object-based theatre
- Cultural and critical theory
- Constructions of space in contemporary culture
- Adolescence and girlhood
- Gender studies
- Hélène Cixous
Current and recent PhD students:
- Alessandra Sau, ‘Memory, Nostalgia, and the (post)nuclear: French, German, and British cultural representation after Hiroshima and Chernobyl’, funded , 2020 –
- Katy Stewart, ‘Francophone and Lusophone African Cinema’, funded, 2018 -
- Victoria Pugh, ‘Problem bodies and sideshow space: A study of the twentieth century sideshow in Blackpool 1930-1940’, funded, 2017-2020
- Bridget Coulter (with Music) ‘Popular music and constructions of gender identity in girls’ 2016-2019.
- Martin Elms ‘Contemporary Algerian Visual Art’ funded 2014-2020 (PT)
- Svea Schauffler, ‘Inventing Subtitling Strategies for the Translation of Wordplay in Wallace and Gromit Films: An Audience Reception Study’, 2009-2012
- Teaching interests
- Teaching activities
- Language teaching at all levels
- FRE305/6 Contemporary French Cinema (module leader)
- MDL103 Introduction to European Cinema
- MDL107 / 117 Understanding Modern France
- MDL115 Critical Contexts
- LIT101 Introduction to Film (School of English)
- Research methods
- MAMLC modules
- Dissertation supervision
- Professional activities
- Editor, French Screen Studies (2008 -)
- Nottingham French Studies, Editorial Board (2018 -)
- AHRC Peer Review College (2016-2020)
- Member of Executive Committee, Association of University Professors and Heads of French (2020 -)
- University Council of Modern Languages, Mentor for Early Career Academics (2019 - )
- Trustee, Sheffield Showroom Cinema and Media and Exhibition Centre (2019 - )
- Chair, White Rose College of Arts and Humanities Languages and Linguistics subject cluster (2016-2019)
- Fellow, Royal Society of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce (2017 - )
- Member, Society for French Studies
- Member, NECS (European Network for Cinema and Media Studies
- 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, Royal Holloway University, University of Bradford
- Co-director Sheffield Centre for Research in Film.
- Reviewer for: Edinburgh University Press, French Studies, Forum for Modern Languages Studies, Modern and Contemporary France, Modern Drama. Esprit créateur
Previous administrative duties
- Academic lead, Interdisciplinary Programmes Office (Faculty of Arts) 2012-2016
- Director, MA in Public Humanities
- Member, University Strategic Curriculum Change Steering Group
- Member, Humanities Research Institute, Steering Committee
- SLC Director of Postgraduate Affairs
- SLC Director of Research and Innovation
- Member, Faculty Learning and Teaching Committee
- Member, Faculty Postgraduate Committee
Current administrative roles
- Deputy Head, School of Languages and Cultures
- Director of Knowledge Exchange, School of Languages and Cultures
- Member, iHuman Research Group
- Appeal Committee of the Senate
- Steering Committee member, Sheffield Robotics Advisory Board, Medical Humanities Sheffield