Dr Oliver Davis
After studying for a BA in French and Philosophy at Wadham College, Oxford, I stayed on to complete doctoral work there. I joined the Department of French Studies at Warwick in 2006.
Rancière Now, a volume of new critical essays on Rancière's work, which I edited, has recently been published by Polity Press (September 2013). The volume includes essays by Carolyn Steedman, Sabine Prokhoris, Tom Conley, Jeremy F. Lane and Jackie Clarke, among other contributors. It also contains a new dialogue between Rancière and Jean-Luc Nancy and a new interview with Rancière, concerned mainly with his Aisthesis (Galilée 2011 / Verso 2013).
I have also published my own critical introduction to Rancière's work. That book undertakes a comprehensive analysis of his thought from 1965 to the time of writing and aspires to disseminate it to an English-speaking readership of academics from the disciplines of philosophy, history, cultural studies, French studies, English and politics, as well as to artists, policy-makers, activists and other non-academic readers. A German translation of this book, with a new Postscript, is now available from Turia + Kant.
I am currently investigating the remarkably protracted transformation of this unique island in the Seine. I am interested, in particular, in understanding (i) how different redevelopment proposals make reference to the significance of this iconic site in the history of the French workers' movement; (ii) the nature of purported consultation with local residents about the redevelopment in terms drawn from Rancière's account of politics; (iii) the conception of art and its politics implicit in the latest proposals for the 'cultural hub' R4 and (iv) the precise nature of the interrelationship between R4 and Jean Nouvel's favoured plan for the island as a whole.
The policing function
Following on both from my work on queer theory and from my work on Rancière, I am currently developing a major new research project on the policing function.
Other research interests
As if this were not already sufficiently eclectic (I would prefer: 'indisciplined'), my own doctoral work, later published as a book, analysed narrative constructions of the ageing process in essays and life-writing by selected twentieth-century French authors, foremost among them Beauvoir. That was primarily a literary project, in a broad sense, although one with obvious ramifications into other areas. Also on the literary side I continue to be interested in twentieth-century and contemporary French fiction (particularly the work of François Bon, on aspects of which I have published and which I enjoy teaching) and in literary-critical methodology (I published a critical verdict on la critique génétique and I have also written on issues in psychoanalytic criticism). I am very preoccupied with queer theory at the moment (please also see below) and I have a longstanding interest in French gay and queer literary culture (particularly in relation to Guillaume Dustan).
I warmly welcome enquiries from students who may be considering embarking on an MA, a PhD or a post-doctoral project in areas either squarely within, or touching upon, my current or recent research.
I am currently Programme Director of Warwick University's Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature and the Arts. On that main page we have posted a video of a lecture by philosopher Bernard Stiegler.
Queer Theory in France
I am working alongside Dr Hector Kollias (King’s College London) on this three-year research project, which is funded by the AHRC under its Early Career scheme. The project aims both to analyze the particular uses made of the post-war French intellectual tradition by queer theorists working in Britain and the United States and to account for resistance to the queer theory they developed on its subsequent return 'home' to France. To visit the project website click here. Arising out of this project I am in the process of guest-editing a special issue of the leading peer-reviewed journal Sexualities. That special issue will develop and disseminate work presented at the first Warwick project symposium and is provisionally scheduled for publication later in 2014.
Teaching and research supervision
My main teaching and research interests lie in twentieth-century French philosophy of the Continental tradition, critical theory, queer theory and twentieth-century and contemporary French literature.
I am currently supervising two doctoral projects: Alex Corcos's thesis on Situationism and contemporary protest movements and Kayte Stokoe's work on the theory, practice and cultural representation of drag.
I helped devise and now convene our new Sub-Faculty of Modern Languages core MA for Research module on critical and cultural theory, IT914-30 Critical Theory in Modern Languages.
I run a final-year undergraduate module on literary representations of sex and sexuality (FR409 Modern Sexualities) and a second-year module on political activism by intellectuals in France (FR247 Intellectual Interventions: Politics, Literature and the Left during and after the Algerian War). I jointly teach a two-term special subject module, with Douglas Morrey, on contemporary French literature (FR324 French Contemporary Writing from 2000 to the present). In academic year 2014-15 I will be teaching a new two-term special subject module related very closely to my current research: Policing, Pacification, and Prisons: Coercive Governance in French Culture, History, and Thought from 1925 to the present.
I contribute to final-year French language teaching and assessment.
As Department Senior Tutor
This means I have oversight in the Department of what used to be called pastoral provision. In other words, as Senior Tutor I endeavour to promote the academic welfare of all our students, individually and collectively. Students based in this department are encouraged to approach me, in confidence, in addition to their Personal Tutor, for support when facing difficulties with their studies. I have regular weekly 'office hours' in normal teaching weeks (please see below), during which any student based in this department is welcome to drop in for a chat. Subject to my teaching, research and administrative commitments I am also happy to see students at other times.
O dot Davis at warwick dot ac dot uk
Humanities Building, Level 4, H4.33
Thursday 12-2 in full term (i.e. not in Reading Weeks or vacations).
Jacques Rancière (Cambridge: Polity, 2010).
Age Rage and Going Gently: Stories of the Senescent Subject in Twentieth-Century French Writing (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2006).
Rancière Now (Cambridge: Polity, 2013).
'Desublimation in Education for Democracy', in Stiegler & Technics, ed. by Christina Howells and Gerald Moore (Edinburgh: Edinburgh Universtity Press, 2013), 165-178.
'Eastwood reading Beauvoir reading Eastwood: combative self-assertion in Gran Torino (2008) and Old Age ', in Existentialism and Contemporary Cinema: A Beauvoirian Perspective, ed. by Ursula Tidd and Jean-Pierre Boulé (Oxford: Berghahn, 2012), 135-148.
'Guillaume Dustan's "autopornobiographie": Is there room for trash in the queer subcultural archive?', in Alienation and Alterity: Otherness in Modern and Contemporary Francophone contexts, ed. by Helen Vassallo & Paul Cooke (Bern: Peter Lang, 2009), 59-76.
‘Theorizing Writerly Creativity: Jung with Lacan?’, in Post-Jungian Criticism: Theory and Practice, ed. by Baumlin & Jensen (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004), 55-74.
Journal special issue
Queer Theory's Return to France, special issue ed. by Oliver Davis and Hector Kollias, Paragraph 35, 2 (2012). To see the Table of Contents click here.
'Jacques Rancière et l'art contemporain : un échange d'histoires d'amour et de tyrannicide / Jacques Rancière and Contemporary Art: Swapping Stories of Love and Tyrannicide', Critique d'art 41 (Spring-Summer 2013), 14-30.
'Didier Eribon, restive rationalist: the limits of sociological self-understanding in Retour à Reims', French Cultural Studies 23, 2 (May 2012), special issue on Didier Eribon, ed. by Bill Marshall, 117-126.
'The Radical Pedagogies of François Bon and Jacques Rancière', French Studies 64, 2 (April 2010), 178-91.
'Rancière and Queer Theory: on irritable attachment', in Borderlands 8, 2 (October 2009), special issue: Jacques Rancière on the Shores of Queer Theory, ed. by Samuel Chambers and Michael O'Rourke. To see the special issue click here.
‘The Author at Work in Genetic Criticism’, Paragraph 25,1 (March 2002), 92-101.
French Women Philosophers: A Contemporary Reader, ed. by Christina Howells (London: Routledge, 2004), nine chapters thereof, including pieces by Monique Schneider, Sarah Kofman, Monique David-Ménard and Myriam Revault d’Allonnes.
Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The World of Perception (London: Routledge, 2004). Seven radio lectures on phenomenology, science and aesthetics, delivered in 1948.
Review article: Cervulle & Rees-Roberts, Homo Exoticus (Armand Colin, 2010) and Grandena and Johnston (eds.), New Queer Images (Peter Lang, 2011), Contemporary French Civilization 37, 1 (2012), 107-110.
'Five Questions for Jacques Rancière / Cinq questions à Jacques Rancière', Contemporary French & Francophone Studies: Sites 16, 2 (2012), 151-6.
'Re-visions: remarks on the love of cinema: An interview with Jacques Rancière by Oliver Davis', The Journal of Visual Culture 10, 3 (December 2011), 294-304.
'Guillaume Dustan', entry for The Literary Encyclopedia: link to article here.
Reviews for French Studies, Modern Language Review and Modern and Contemporary France.
'Dix conseils d'un jeune chercheur anglais pour bien faire l'amour à la nouvelle université néolibérale et réflexion sur la production de savoirs politisés (études de genre, études queer, etc.) dans l’ancienne demeure de l’ancien universel’, Lille 3 (Skype presentation to 'Voix et voies de femmes' research group study day), 11 April 2014.
Public lecture: 'Cultivating the Intractable: Rancière’s egalitarian (anti-)method in aesthetics and politics', Dutch Art Institute, Arnhem, The Netherlands, 11 April 2014.
'Falling ineluctably through the nebeneinander: parataxis in the "aesthetic regime of art"', IPS, Gröden, Südtirol, 29 June 2014.
'Understanding “radical equality”, the divide between Rancière and liberal political theory and the force of his distinction between politics and policing', New Europe College-Institute for Advanced Study, Bucharest, Romania, 26 March 2014.
‘La forteresse vide; Seguin Island’, as part of a panel entitled 'The French Factory Dismembered/Remembered', with Jackie Clarke and Jeremy F. Lane, 20th and 21st Century French and Francophone Studies International Colloquium, New York City, 8 March 2014.
'Foucault Tomorrow: Codicil for a Queer Pharmatopia', at the inaugural 'Critical Sexology in the Midlands' research seminar: 'Rethinking Foucault for 21st-Century Sexuality Studies', Birmingham University, 14 February 2014. To access a recording of this talk click here.
‘The Institutional Entrenchment of Queer in the French Academy: an état présent with a new-universalist analysis of ambivalence about futurity, expertise, theory and “neo-liberalism”’ at 'Queer Theory and Academia: The Case of France in an International Frame', Warwick University, 14 December 2013.
Roundtable, 'Methodologies and the National Question', Queer Italian Film Study Day, Warwick University, 27 June 2013.
Roundtable, with Cath Lambert, Rahul Rao and Jonathan Heron, at the 'Gendered Knowledges' one-day interdisciplinary workshop, Warwick University, 12 June 2013.
'"French republican universalism" and the "event" of queer theory', French Research Seminar, Birmingham University, 19 February 2013.
Keynote lecture: 'Jacques Rancière: aesthetics, equality and the feel of contingency', TBLR (Text, Image, Sound, Space) two-day seminar on Jacques Rancière and aesthetics, Bergen University, 29 and 30 November 2012.
Roundtable, 'Aesthetics as Method', with Christine Battersby, L.H.M. Ling and Nirmal Puwar, as part of workshop entitled 'The Political Aesthetics of Power and Protest', Warwick University, 25 September 2012.
Chair and organizer, 'Close Encounter' session with Jacques Rancière, 'Politics/Aesthetics', International Association for Philosophy and Literature annual conference, Tallinn, Estonia, 2 June 2012.
'The Politics of Self-Esteem', Sheffield University, 17 May 2012.
'Eastwood Reading Beauvoir Reading Eastwood: Ageing and Combative Self-Assertion in Gran Torino and Old Age', presentation to the third BRAID Project workshop, Copenhagen 16-17 June 2011.
'Didier Eribon's strategic sociologism', University of Stirling, 23 April 2011.
'Are "sex pigs" political subjects? Queer sexual self-animalization and political theory', as part of a panel with Denis Provencher and Dan Maroun entitled 'Queering the Non/Human in French Studies', at the 20th and 21st Century French and Francophone Studies International Colloquium, San Francisco, 30 March - 2 April 2011.
'What follows from Jacotisme? Exploring Jacques Rancière’s concept of "declarative" or "active" equality’, Twentieth and Twenty-First Century French Research Seminar, Cambridge University, 26 October 2010. To see a video of the talk and a 5-minute interview about the topic click here.
Public discussion with Jacques Rancière on the occasion of the launch of the Dutch translations of La Fable cinématographique and Le Destin des images, Amsterdam EYE Film Instituut, September 2010. To see a video of the interview on the Octavo Publicaties website click here.
'A queer reply to Adam Phillips' "escapological" psychoanalysis of bareback', as part of a panel with Patrick ffrench (KCL) and Hector Kollias (KCL) at the 'Writings of Intimacy in the 20th and 21st Centuries' conference, Loughborough University, September 2010.
'A Rancierian reflection on class nostalgia in times of crisis: Didier Eribon's Retour à Reims (2009)', ASMCF annual conference, Nottingham Trent University, September 2010.
'Psychoanalysis contemplates queerness: cases of resistance and identification in recent French and British psychoanalytic discourse', February 2010, at King's College London's Queer@Kings research seminar.
'Jacques Rancière lectures on aesthetics', at the research seminar of Warwick University's Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature and the Arts, October 2009.