Dr Maxime Goergen

BA, DPhil

School of Languages and Cultures


SLC Maxime Goergen
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+44 114 222 2157

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Dr Maxime Goergen
School of Languages and Cultures
Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA

I graduated in French, English and sociology at the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland). I then became a teaching and research assistant in 19th and 20th-century French literature, working under the supervision of Prof. Daniel Sangsue, at Neuchâtel. I developed an interest for the broad field of literature and politics, with a specific focus on the influence of French utopian socialism on romantic poetry.

I went on to study for a PhD on the political and narrative function of youth in the works of Balzac, under the supervision of Dr. Tim Farrant at Oxford. Before joining the French section at Sheffield, I was Assistant Professor in 19th-century French literature and culture at the University of Colorado at Boulder from 2009 to 2012.

While firmly rooted within the close readings and analysis of literary texts, my research consistently tries to capture the relevance of 19th century literature and thought to 21st century debates, particularly those concerned with the representation of power and the political imagination.

Recent research interests have led me to reassess the importance of the figure of Victor Hugo for late 20th-century French socialism, or to work on the relevance of historian Jules Michelet to Agent Network Theory.

  • Licence ès lettres (Neuchâtel)
  • DPhil (Oxford)
Research interests
  • The works of Honoré de Balzac
  • The construction of youth as a social category in 19th-century fiction
  • The works and ideology of humanitarian writers Victor Hugo and Jules Michelet
  • The influence of 19th century culture in contemporary French fiction
  • French intellectual history after May-68 (especially the “liberal turn” of the late seventies)

Journal articles


  • Goergen M (2020) Michelet's Nonmodernity In Arnould-Bloomfield E & Chi-ah Lyu C (Ed.), Nonmodern Practices: Latour and Literary Studies Bloomsbury View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Goergen M (2020) A Marginal Centrist: Tzvetan Todorov and the French Intellectual Field In de Berg H & Zbinden K (Ed.), Tzvetan Todorov - Thinker and Humanist Rochester, NY: Camden House. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download

Book reviews

Conference proceedings papers

  • Goergen M () Juin 1848, « une révolte du peuple contre lui-même »: un portrait du peuple en crise. Portraits de l'Histoire au XIXe siècle RIS download Bibtex download
Research group

I'm happy to supervise MA and PhD dissertations dealing with all aspects of the French 19th century novel, 19th-century French social thought, French intellectual history (19th-20th century) and aspects of the contemporary novel.

I'm happy to supervise undergraduate dissertations on a broad range of topics in 19th, 20th and 21st-century literature. In recent years, I have supervised dissertations on Rimbaud and Tristan Corbière.

Current PhD students:

  • Harsh Trivedi (2017-): ‘Les chefs-d’œuvre inconnus: une étude des œuvres fictives dans La Comédie humaine’ (first supervisor)
  • Rebecca Herd (2016-): ‘“Staging” Criticism: Seventeenth-Century French Women Playwrights and the Subversion of Classicism’ (second supervisor)

I supervised or co-supervised a number of MA theses, including Crossways MUNDUS dissertations, such as:

  • Mike Henderson, Crossing to a Different World: an Examination of the Concept of Thresholds in the Mouret Novels, 2018
  • Mykhailo Babaryka, Géopoétique paysagère du récit de voyage de Nicolas Bouvier (L’Usage du monde) et de l’écriture romanesque de Julien Gracq (Le rivage des Syrtes) (2018)
  • Ivan Bulj, Challenging the Sea Monster: Mythical Re-enactment of the Struggle between Nature and Technology in the 19th and 20th Century Novel (2016)
Teaching activities


FRE291/292 Textes classiques, textes inclassables: XVIIe-XXIe siècles

This course covers different themes and authors every year. In recent years, they included:

  • 2017-2018 Ecrire la France aujourd'hui: Annie Ernaux (Les Années), Edouard Louis (En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule), Michel Houellebecq (Soumission), Virginie Despentes (Vernon Subutex)
  • 2016-2017 Représentations de l'amour au XIXe siècle: Stendhal (Lamiel), Benjamin Constant (Adolphe), Huysmans (En Rade), Zola (Nana)
  • 2014-2015 La tragédie classique: Racine (Phèdre/Andromaque), Corneille (Le Cid/Cinna)
  • 2013-2014 Flaubert: Un Cœur simple /Madame Bovary

FRE3001/3002 Littérature et démocratie

Under the heading "littérature et démocratie", books studied in this module question the way literature integrates, represents and challenges the new democratic contract that emerges from the Enlightenment. Books studies change each year; in recent years they have included:

  • Stendhal, Le Rouge et le noir
  • Balzac, Le Père Goriot, Illusions perdues
  • Zola, La Curée
  • Tocqueville, De la Démocratie en Amérique
  • Michelet, Le Peuple
  • Baudelaire, Petits poèmes en prose /Les Fleurs du Mal
  • Hugo, Les Misérables

FRE117/118, Understanding Modern France

I am module leader for the first semester of this module, which covers French cultural history from the Ancien Régime to WW1. I usually teach sessions and workshops on 19th-century literary and political history.

FRE109/110 French Language and Communication Skills

I also taught on MDL201, Cold War Culture, and RUS 6710, Critical Theory (sessions on postmodernism and "French theory).


MA in French Cultural Studies. Topics taught:

  • La pensée anti-68 (2017-2018)
  • Littérature et consommation(2016-2017).
  • Constructions of the city(2015-2016)
Professional activities and memberships
  • Member of the Society of Dix-Neuviémistes
  • Member of the Société des Etudes Romantiques et dix-neuviémistes
  • Member of the Société des Amis de Balzac

I am currently the academic coordinator of the school's year abroad programme, as well as the local coordinator for French.

Until recently I represented the university in the Erasmus MUNDUS consortium.