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Dr Susannah Wilson

Associate Professor in French Studies

s wilsonEmail: S dot M dot Wilson at warwick dot ac dot uk

Office: room 4.25

Humanities Building, University Road
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL

Research interests

My research interests are framed by an interdisciplinary approach, and concern the areas of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century French culture and literature, with specialist interest in representations of mental health and illness; gender and criminality; psychoanalytical theory; the history of the French psychological sciences; social history; and ‘self-writing’ (autobiography, memoir writing, and correspondence). I focus in particular on the period and idea of the fin-de-siècle.

My latest book, Voices from the Asylum: Four French Women Writers, 1850-1920 (Oxford University Press, 2010) investigates the lives of a number of women writers incarcerated in French psychiatric hospitals during this period who left first-hand accounts of their experiences.

I was awarded a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in 2011 to pursue a new project entitled Inscribed on the Body: Women, Intoxication and Self-Destruction in Nineteenth-Century France. Focusing on physically self-destructive behaviours, such as self-mutilation, anorexia/ bulimia, substance use and abuse, excessive intoxication, and ritual body modification (e.g. stigmata), this project seeks to gain greater understanding of how and why nineteenth-century French women modified, manipulated and harmed their bodies. Since the earlier stages of research it has developed into three autonomous strands of enquiry, with separate planned outputs: First, an article considering the visual representation of clinical photographs of anorexic women; second, a book project on the cultural history of morphine in late nineteenth-century France; third, a paper on gender and genius in the letters of the sculptor Camille Claudel. I have been invited to present numerous papers on these research findings at conferences and seminars in Warwick, Oxford, London, Paris and other UK universities.

I am also working on an article on psychopathology, writing and the epistolary pact in the letters of Antonin Artaud in the 1930s-40s.

In March 2015 I was awarded a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award to fund and facilitate a series of events on the subject of 'Addiction and Culture since 1800'. This research network has resulted in the forthcoming publication of an edited book with the provisional title, Prohibition: Cultural and Historical Perspectives, to be published with Routledge in the Warwick Series in the Humanities.

I was also awarded funding from the AHRC 10th Anniversary Cultural Engagement Fund to run a series of public engagement events linked to this project.

I welcome enquiries from potential MA and PhD students looking to work in my area of research specialism.

I also have three years of experience teaching (secondary) in the state and private sector.

Teaching and supervision

  • LN101 Languages and Cultures Across Boundaries: convenor
  • French translation
  • FR260 Women and Madness in Nineteenth-Century French Writing: convenor
  • FR327 Deviant Bodies, Unruly Minds: Disability and "Madness" in Modern French Culture: convenor
  • FR121 The Story of Modern France: seminar tutor
  • FR231 Modern Masterpieces
  • FR109 Aspects of Modern French Literature

Administrative roles

  • Senior Tutor

Publications

Books:

Monograph:

Voices from the Asylum: Four French Women Writers, 1850-1920 (Oxford University Press, 2010).

Edited book:

Prohibition: Cultural and Historical Perspectives (Accepted for publication and forthcoming with Routledge, 2018).

Articles and chapters:
  • 'Morphine and Prohibition in the French Cultural Imagination, 1870-1916', in S. Wilson (ed), Prohibition: Cultural and Historical Perspectives (Forthcoming, 2018).
  • 'Gender, Genius and the Artist’s Double Bind: the Letters of Camille Claudel, 1886-1910’, Modern Language Review, 112: 2 (April 2017).
  • 'Emaciation as a Subversive Strategy in the Goncourts' Renée Mauperin and an Early Case of Hysterical Anorexia’, in Sophie Leroy (ed.), Medicine and Maladies (Leiden: Brill, 2017).
  • 'Anorexia and its Metaphors', Exchanges, 2016, 3 (2), pp. 216-226.
  • 'The Iconography of Anorexia Nervosa in the Long Nineteenth Century', in Kate Scarth, Francesca Scott and Ji Won Chung (eds), Picturing Women's Health (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2014).
  • ‘Writing from the asylum: a re-assessment of the voices of female patients in the history of psychiatry in France’, in Being Human: Reflections on Mental Distress in Society, ed. by Alastair Morgan (Ross-on-Wye: PCCS Books, 2009), pp. 99-109.

I also regularly write reviews for French Studies, Nineteenth-Century French Studies, the Modern Language Review and Gender and History, and Modern and Contemporary France.

Translations

  • I provided new translations from the French for a Penguin Classics edition of Charles Darwin's Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (2005), ed. by Dr Michael Neve and Dr Sharon Messenger of the Wellcome Trust Centre for History of Medicine, UCL.

Qualifications

BA, MA (Manchester), Licence ès Lettres Modernes (Bourgogne), D.Phil (Oxford)