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I have been a comparatist since my first degree, and my research is on literature, culture and theory in French and German, mainly in the 19c and 20c, with a particular focus on psychoanalysis, the body, gender and sexuality.

After completing my PhD on Proust, Rilke, Hofmannsthal and Sartre at King’s College London in 1978, I was a Research Fellow at St Anne’s College, Oxford, and then held Fellowships and Tutorships at Queens’ College, Cambridge (1980-86) and St John’s College Cambridge (1986-93). I was appointed in 1993 to an established chair in French Studies at the University of Reading, where I founded and directed the MA on The Body & Representation, which ran 1995-2005 and included several series of international Guest Lectures and a coedited book, Indeterminate Bodies (2003).

In 2004, I founded the Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, University of London, following the merger of the Institutes of Germanic Studies (founded 1950) and Romance Studies (founded 1989). While Director of the IGRS, I ran two Core programmes: Performance (2005-06) and the AHRC-funded Psychoanalysis and the Arts & Humanities: A multilingual perspective (2006-09), as well as another AHRC-funded project, the National Collaborative Research Training network in modern languages (2005-07); and in 2009, I created London Debates, an international research training initiative for early-career scholars.

In 2005, I was appointed Chevalier dans l’Ordre des palmes académiques; in 2012 I was appointed an Academic Associate of the British Psychoanalytical Society; in 2013 I was elected a Member of the Academia Europaea and in 2018 I was elected to an Honorary Fellowship at Queens’ College Cambridge.

I have chaired or served on over 40 national and international committees, including the Standing Committee for the Humanities of the European Science Foundation (ESF, 2005-2011), Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA, 2009-2010), the Institut Universitaire de France (2010-15), the British Academy Panel for Europe (2006-2012), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRB/C, 1999-2006) and the Association of University Professors and Heads of French (AUPHF, 1996-2004). In 2012-2016 I was Vice-Chair for Research of the University Council for Modern Languages (UCML), and I am now Hon. Secretary; since 2013 I have been on the Executive Committee of the British Comparative Literature Association (BCLA) and a member of the AHRC Strategic Reviewers’ Group.

For the ESF, I represented the UK on the Core Group of the SCH for six years and was active in many fields: coauthoring the Position Paper on the Humanities (2007) and the covering material for ERIH (2011); serving on or chairing assessment panels for all its research funding schemes, reviewing internal activities, etc. In 2009-10, I was Vice-Chair for Humanities & Social Sciences on the Review Monitoring Committee of the ESF-ALLEA Review of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; and represented the humanities and social sciences at the European Space Agency. I currently chair an international project, Cultural Literacy in Contemporary Europe – see Current inter/national Networking activity.

I have examined 25 PhDs on a variety of subjects in comparative literary and cultural studies and advised on appointments, tenure etc nationally and internationally, most recently for the Research Councils of Norway, Poland, Switzerland, Romania and Italy; I have chaired humanities Research Assessment panels for Latvia and the Czech Republic.

I have supervised PhDs on ‘The Myrrha complex: daughter-father incest in literature and life-writings’; ‘Space, memory and the engagement of everyday practices in Paris: A study of Walter Benjamin’s Passagenwerk’; ‘Kafka’s literary transformation of contemporary philosophical themes’; ‘Marguerite Yourcenar: in search of the mother’; ‘The borders of the body’; ‘André Gide and curiosity’; and ‘Pierre Loti and the theatricality of desire’.

I have also edited four volumes published in the igrs books series: Francesco Manzini, The Fevered Novel from Balzac to Bernanos; eds Elisha Foust and Sophie Fuggle, Word on the Street; Michael Cowan, Rhythm, body and technology in German modernism; and Felicia Gordon, Authority, femininity and feminism in French psychiatry: Constance Pascal (1877-1937).

Curriculum vitae (2018)