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RA5a: Structure,environment and staffing policy

Since the award of a 5*A in1996 the Department has worked hard to keep the momentum. With respect to staffing, the total size of the Department has increased by 3, and the number of Chairs has gone from 3 to 5. In terms of publication, colleagues have produced a range of important monographs; junior staff entered for the first time in 1996 have now established significant research profiles; and the three junior staff appointed in 2000 all have strong returns. The Department has had unprecedented success in gaining external funding: during the assessment period 8 colleagues have received notice of external funding for study leave (one for a 3 year period), and one has received a major grant to fund a Research Assistant. Nottingham French Studies has enhanced its profile further, above all through the success of its special issues. International collaboration has increased, and the research link with Strasbourg has been consolidated.

The Department is committed to its international reputation as a producer of high-quality research in all areas of French Studies, understood as an inherently interdisciplinary subject. All full-time staff are research-active, and their expertise covers a wide range of specialisms both in terms of chronological periods and subject matter. Their work is of interest and importance to the research community both within and outside French Studies. Senior academic staff (at professorial level: Francis, Hewitt, Johnson, Knight, Still; at reader and senior lecturer level: Bamforth, Chapman, Hutton, King, Offord) maintain prominence above all through their published work, but also through other activities listed. Junior academic staff (Attwood, Darlow, Hitchcott, Lane, Martin, Ridon, P. Smith, S. Smith) have either already achieved a significant research profile or are actively developing one. All members of the Department, except those appointed in 2000, have been engaged in research supervision during the assessment period. The postgraduate cohort currently includes, apart from taught MA students, 3 MA by Research students and 10 PhD students, plus 8 writing up. In addition members of the French Department regularly supervise, or co-supervise, PhD students registered in other units such as Critical Theory or Film Studies (4 currently registered plus 2 writing up). The Department’s published work over the assessment period covers the historical range of French Literature from the Medieval Period (Attwood) to the present, including Renaissance Studies and Seventeenth Century (Bamforth) and Nineteenth Century (King, Knight), although it has particular strengths in the Eighteenth Century (Darlow, Francis, Still) and the Twentieth Century (Francis, Hewitt, Hutton, Johnson, Knight, Lane, Ridon, S. Smith, Still), including Francophone Literature from Africa, the Antilles, Belgium and Quebec (Chapman, Hitchcott, Ridon). This is strengthened by Offord’s sociolinguistic expertise in varieties of French across the world, part of his research in French Language. At the same time, the Department’s excellence in literary and linguistic research is fuelled and enhanced by its high profile in Critical Theory (Johnson, Knight, Lane, Martin, S. Smith, Still), and its close collaboration with the Postgraduate School of Critical Theory and Cultural Studies. It also has particular interests in Cultural and Media Studies and Cultural History (Hewitt, Hutton, King, Lane, S. Smith). P. Smith is a specialist in Political History and Women’s History, which complements the research of Chapman, Hitchcott, Hutton, Knight, Martin, and Still who combine to make the Department one of the country’s foremost centres for Feminist Research and Gender Studies. PhD supervision also covers a wide chronological and disciplinary range, including, since 1996: Alsatian French, French and Occitan Crusading Songs, Eighteenth-Century Novel, Sand, Barbey d’Aurevilly, Proust, Bataille, 1930s Political Writing, Sartre, Poetic Resistance, Butor, Erotic Fiction, Irigaray, Ernaux, Hébert, Maillet, 1960s Quebec Literature, Women’s Writing in Quebec and Black Africa, Belgian Writing, Central African Writing, Francophone Thought, Franco-Moroccan Relations, French Museums, The Algerian War in Film, La Bande dessinée.

Mechanisms for promoting research and developing a vigorous research culture exist at University, School and Department level.
Staffing: The University is committed to nurturing the research undertaken by the Department of French by protecting staff/student ratios, and by encouraging the Department to expand where appropriate. After rapid expansion in the first part of the 1990s from a Department of 8 to one of 15, in 2000 the University again demonstrated its commitment by supporting an increase to 16 permanent members of staff plus a post-doctoral Research Fellow and a three-year (externally-funded) temporary post. In 1998 two members of the Department (Mainil and Rosello) left to take up posts at Northwestern University (USA). Replacements were made at the same or an enhanced level with strategic investment in a new Chair in French (Johnson) and the recruitment of a junior lecturer already well-established in her field (Hutton), recently promoted to a Senior Lectureship. These new staff have contributed to existing strengths in Critical Theory, intellectual history and the study of cultural difference. The Department has continued to benefit from working with Mainil and Rosello, for instance, Mainil collaborated with Francis on L’Abbé Prévost au tournant du siècle; Rosello has an article in Ridon’s Errances Urbaines; and both Mainil and Rosello are contributing to Hewitt’s Companion to Modern French Culture. While the University desires to appoint, and also reward and retain staff with an established record of research excellence (hence the recent promotion of Francis to a Chair), it has been equally eager to continue investing in the scholars of the future by appointing a new member of staff (Lane) to his first permanent academic post. Darlow, who replaces Knight during her three-year Leverhulme Fellowship, is at the very beginning of his career, and, like temporary staff in the past, will benefit from the same opportunities to develop his research as those given to permanent staff. Furthermore the Department has appointed its first Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Martin (also in her first full-time academic post).

Research Funding and Monitoring: The University’s Research Committee has been consistently generous in its funding of first-class research projects, whether in the form of seed-corn grants or the distribution of funds to enable a particular project to be brought to fruition. Still was appointed to this committee in September 2000. It has set up a number of highly proactive strategy groups; Knight, drawing on her expertise from her HRB and AHRB commitments (1997-2000), has been an active member of the Humanities Strategy Group (1998-2000) which fosters research across the Humanities. P. Smith, as Director of the Humanities Research Centre, was appointed to this Strategy Group in 2000. It raises awareness of internal and external research opportunities and acts as a channel for the University’s strategic financial investment in Humanities research. Members of staff have benefited from the Overseas Conference Fund ( Bamforth, Hitchcott, Offord, Ridon, Hewitt 1997,1998,1999, 2000), and from the Quick Response Fund (for example, Bamforth, 1999 for archival work in Paris and Offord, 1997, 1999). The latter has subsidised a number of publications, including Still’s Brazilian Feminisms, the proceedings of the postgraduate conference Fin de Siècle?, and has also provided a subvention for translations in Knight’s Critical Essays on Roland Barthes. The Research Committee has provided a generous subvention towards the production of Nottingham French Studies, a longstanding research journal with a fine reputation in this country and abroad, and an important element in the Department’s research strategy as outlined below. The New Lecturers’ Strategy Group pays particular attention to the research needs of junior academics. All of the cohort of younger academics appointed in the first half of the 1990s have been supported by the New Lecturers’ Research Grants scheme which pump-primes important new projects, and all have produced significant monographs since taking up these grants. There has been generous funding to meet the special research needs for equipment, readers and transport of Attwood, who is partially sighted. Hewitt, as Dean, chaired the Arts Faculty Research Committee of which Knight was also a member (1998-2000). The School of Modern Languages is budget-holder in a new structure which groups together the various Departments of Modern Languages, all of which have outstanding research reputations. It has been able to make strategic financial decisions to support and promote research, such as funding (or co-funding) studentships or post-doctoral fellowships. The Departmental Research Committee oversees upgrading from MPhil to PhD, receives annual reports on the progress of research students, monitors applications for, and reports on, study leave, thus helping to foster an active research culture and maintain a consistent and robust system of checks and balances.

Arrangements for the development of the research work of the staff: The Department is committed to granting generous study leave, varying between one semester in 5 and one in 6; the needs of new staff are prioritised where appropriate. While this is a significant part of research strategy in itself, it has also facilitated applications for externally-funded matching leave. It is both University and Department policy to facilitate the taking-up by academic staff of outside funding, such as the AHRB Research Leave scheme and the Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship (see RA6). Staff research in general is regularly assessed through appraisal interviews and through informal interviews with the Chair of Research Committee. Staff are encouraged to teach specialist research-based modules at final-year undergraduate level, and, in general, the teaching programme is research led. The Department is particularly eager to play a role in helping new researchers to develop a national and international profile, including temporary members of staff such as Darlow and Williams, who have been invited to join the Editorial Board of Nottingham French Studies during their time in the Department. Williams was also asked to present a paper at ‘Le Corps’ colloquium (Strasbourg), which led to her first international publication, and was given financial support for a research trip to Paris and for presenting conference papers. Darlow and Lane will both be presenting papers at the next Strasbourg colloquium in 2001.The cohort of junior colleagues appointed in the first half of the 1990s have been encouraged to develop their research by early study leave, and by University and Department level funding enabling them to spend substantial periods abroad. They have all now produced their first monographs and are working towards their second. Junior colleagues are also encouraged to participate in postgraduate teaching and supervision. In particular, as a key element of an expanding international profile, the Department publishes Nottingham French Studies, now in its thirty-ninth year. With an international subscription list and an international advisory board, this externally-refereed journal achieves a considerable impact through its standard numbers, but particularly through its annual special numbers including, since 1996, Ionesco (S. Smith), Barthes (Knight), French Erotic Fiction (Mainil), Fortune and Women (Attwood) and Errances Urbaines (Ridon). These special numbers provide high-quality international critical approaches to authors or topics reflecting the research interests of the Department; they may also be used to provide opportunities for younger members of staff to develop editing and publishing skills and to establish contacts with major scholars in their field.

Research infrastructure, including support for research students: The University actively supports the Department’s high research profile in a number of ways. Through the maintenance grant paid to the School of Modern Languages it is possible to pay for all Inter-Library Loans required by staff and to subsidise graduate students. The Department has annually been awarded Studentships (7 PhD and 4 MA since 1996) and fee waivers by the University. In 1996 and 1997 these were awarded directly to the Department; since 1998, they have been co-funded by the School of Modern Languages as budget holder. The Research Committee has established a Graduate Strategy Group that acts as a strategic link between the Graduate School (which deals with admissions, administration and postgraduate training) and the Research Committee itself which can view the wider context of postgraduate work as a major dimension of a research-led University. There is a postgraduate office in the Department, equipped with networked computers, and there are also a number of study carrels in the newly refurbished Humanities Postgraduate Centre. Graduate students receive up to £150 towards photocopying, printing and Inter-Library Loans per annum. Postgraduates have fortnightly Work-in-Progress seminars. They are also encouraged to attend regular staff research seminars, visiting lectures and reading groups so that they can feel involved in the research life of the department on an equal footing with staff. Nottingham was one of the first Departments of French to set up a postgraduate conference (in 1996); these have now become a major feature of the national postgraduate culture. The Nottingham postgraduate conference has been held annually throughout the assessment period with participants from France and the United States as well as the U.K.; supported from the beginning by the Department and the Arts Faculty, it has since also acquired funding from The French Embassy and The Society for French Studies. At the two Journées d’Etudes with Strasbourg hosted by Nottingham, postgraduates have been invited to give a paper and these have subsequently been published. Postgraduates are also encouraged to attend and give papers at conferences overseas (Boston, Johannesburg, Montpellier, Provence, Stetson (Florida)) and in Britain (Cambridge, Durham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Leicester, London, Oxford), and have been able to apply for financial assistance to the Graduate School, the Faculty or the Department. In most cases these have subsequently led to publication. Students have also been successful in obtaining external funding, for instance from the International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies to give a paper in Saarbrucken (Martin Calder). The Department is proud of the record of its research students in obtaining academic posts across an exceptionally broad base of French Studies. 12 students supervised in the period 1996-2000 are now in posts in HEIs in the U.K., Ireland and Australia.

Arrangements for supporting interdisciplinary or collaborative research: Members of the Department, and postgraduates working in the Department, have benefited from the University’s policies to facilitate research interaction across traditional departmental boundaries (in particular in the areas of Medieval, Film, and Cultural Studies and Critical Theory). P. Smith is Director of the Humanities Research Centre, which is an umbrella for ten Research Institutes. Hewitt is Director of the Institute for Modern Cultural Studies. King is involved in the Institute for Film Studies, and Attwood in the Institute for Medieval Studies, while Johnson, Knight, Lane, Martin, Still, and S. Smith participate in the Postgraduate School of Critical Theory. In all four instances involvement includes teaching on interdisciplinary MA programmes as well as research supervision, and participating in research seminar series and conferences, some of which are outlined below. Still, Darlow and Francis are active members of the Eighteenth-Century Group, an informal structure which has involved regular research presentations from colleagues in Arts and Social Science throughout the period. In 2000 Hitchcott, with colleagues in other departments, set up a Centre for Research in Post-Colonial Studies, of which she is now the Director.
These interdisciplinary groups have facilitated international collaborative research. For example, the Institute for Modern Cultural Studies has set up links with the Czech Academy of Sciences and CEU Hungary; Hewitt organised a conference on ‘La France et les Pays de l’Est’ at the Institut Français (1999), with speakers from Hungary and Romania, as well as the UK. The Institute for Modern Cultural Studies is now planning a conference in Romania (2001) on an urban theme. The School of Critical Theory is involved in a joint project with the Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brazil), entitled The Interface of Critical and Cultural Studies; this is sponsored by The British Council and CAPES (Brazil). As part of the project, Still has co-edited (with Solange Ribeiro of UFMG), and written a substantial Introduction to, a volume of essays entitled Brazilian Feminisms (1999), which brought together scholars from Brazil, Britain and North America. Nottingham is a member of the Universitas 21 consortium, which comprises Universities in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, America, Europe and Asia. This will enable exchanges at both PhD and staff levels. The Department played host to Colin Nettelbeck (Melbourne) in 1997 and Maurice Blackman (University of New South Wales) in 1999. The French Consortium of U21 held an initial planning meeting at the University of British Columbia in 1998 and is planning a conference in Canada next year. Since 1998 the Department has had a research link with the University of Strasbourg, and participated in annual colloquia held in Nottingham and Strasbourg in alternate years, whose proceedings are published by the host institution. King has taken on the Nottingham editorship of the Nottingham-Strasbourg publication series Essais sur la littérature française et francophone. In addition, Emmanuel Jacquart of Strasbourg has been a Special Professor at Nottingham (1997-2000). Collaborative research has been further encouraged by the appointment of other Special Professors: Jean Emelina (Nice) 1994-7, 2000-2003; Pascal Ory (Versailles) 1993-9; and Peggy Kamuf (Southern California) 2000-2003.
Individual international links include Bamforth’s collaborative research with Jean Dupèbe (Nanterre) and Jean Céard (Paris). Darlow is working with Gregory Brown (UNLV, USA) on cultural politics in late-eighteenth-century France. Offord works in collaboration with James Grieve (Australian National University, Canberra) on a project on French lexical innovations. The findings are being published by the Cahiers of the Association for French Language Studies; three articles have appeared so far. Hewitt is associated with the centre for Etudes sur Nimier et les Hussards (Paris III) and the Internationalen Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften (Vienna). Still has been invited by Tetsuji Yamamoto of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Culturelles in Tokyo to participate in the Keten project for rethinking the economic (which is based in Japan, but includes participants from Britain, France, the United States and Canada).
In addition, many members of the Department collaborate with colleagues at other U.K. institutions, as evidenced by publications listed in RA2 and under Research Strategy below. Attwood is engaged in a collaborative project with Helen Philips (Liverpool). Darlow is working with John Wallace (Royal Academy of Music) on an archival music project allowing for the rearrangement, performance and recording of L-C Daquin’s Noëls. Hitchcott has worked for a number of years with Laïla Ibnlfassi (London Guildhall University); they have recently completed a book-length project with Chapman, Offord and Sam Haigh (Warwick). During the assessment period Rosello was a member of a research consortium involving the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Nottingham and Southampton working on the archives of the Institut National de l’Audiovisuel. Still has worked collaboratively with Michael Worton (UCL) for many years; at present they are working on a project on masculinity in the post-war period.

Substantial bodies of work not listed elsewhere: During the assessment period, in addition to work cited in RA2, staff have published articles in internationally-refereed journals (and publications of learned societies) including: ASCALF Yearbook (Hitchcott), British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies (Still), Bulletin de la société liégeoise de musicologie (Darlow), Cahiers of the Association for French Language Studies (Offord), History of the Human Sciences (Johnson, Still), International Journal of Francophone Studies (Hutton), Journal of the Institute of Romance Studies (Hitchcott, Still), LittéRéalité (Hitchcott), Magazine littéraire (Ridon), Modern and Contemporary France (Hewitt, Johnson, Lane), Modern Language Review (Johnson, Still), Nouvelle revue du seizième siècle (Bamforth), Oxford Literary Review (Johnson), Paragraph (Still), Research in African Literatures (Hitchcott) and 28 chapters in books published in Britain, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and North America. In addition, members of the Department have produced books (Maîtres et valets dans la comédie française du 18e siècle, 1999 [Darlow], Le Moi, 1999 and Contestation et Transgression, 2000 [King (ed.)], French Sociolinguistics, 1996, an enlarged and revised edition of Using French: a guide to contemporary Usage, 2000 and French Words: Past, Present and Future, 2000 [Offord], Brazilian Feminisms, 1999 [Still (ed.)]) and edited special numbers of journals (Contemporary European History [Hewitt] and Modern and Contemporary France [Johnson]). A number of staff have produced article and book translations, which have considerable research input, for instance Martin (Irigaray’s I Love to You, 1996). Staff have also 10 entries to the Encyclopaedia of Contemporary French Culture (1998), and have produced more than 100 reviews and review articles in the assessment period, a signal of their desire to be engaging in dialogue with the national and international research community. Postgraduates are encouraged to publish their work, where appropriate, if it does not interfere with completion of their research degrees, and staff publications often make a point of providing an opportunity for postgraduates or other young researchers. During the assessment period they have published the proceedings of one of the postgraduate conferences held at Nottingham, articles in journals (including French Studies, The Shandean, The Modern Language Review, ASCALF Yearbook, Paragraph, Revue Générale/Bruxelles and Dalhousie French Studies) and 6 chapters in books as well as book reviews and translations. A number of completed PhDs have been published as monographs or are currently in press; for example Stephanie Burrows, Kurt Tucholsky and France (in press), Sam Haigh, Mapping a Tradition: Francophone Women’s Writing from Guadeloupe (2000), Greg Hainge, Capitalism and Schizophrenia in the Later Novels of Louis-Ferdinand Céline (2001), and Alistair Rolls, The Flight of the Angels. Intertextuality in Four Novels by Boris Vian (1999).

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Last updated 17 October 2003

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