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Institute in Paris

Dr Joanne Brueton

Senior Lecturer in French Studies

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Summary of research interests and expertise

  • 20th/21st century French and Francophone literature 
  • Gender, Sexuality, and Queer theory 
  • Critical and Postcolonial Theory

My research focuses on twentieth and twenty-first-century French literature, with a particular focus on the dissident writer Jean Genet. I am the author of a monograph on subjectivity in his writing, Geometry in Jean Genet: Shaping the subject (Legenda), 2021), which explores the making and unmaking of national, colonial, and identitarian spaces in Genet’s writing. I ask how Genet uproots the metrics of belonging, territory, and identity, and recent articles move from the Mediterranean to the Middle East in exploring Genet’s unique vision of exile and nomadism (Performance Research), 2018), his reframing of the exoticism of European literature, (MHRA, 2019), literary dissidence in Palestine (Artl@s), 2019), and forms of vertical travel (Studies in Travel Writing, 2022).

The emphasis on abstraction that first inspired this monograph led me to co-author a book on mathematics and poetry across other canonical French writers including Beckett, Barthes, and Mallarmé (Le compas et la lyre, 2018). Yet, the clearly colonial inflections of geometry have prompted more transnational strands to my research. I am currently working on decolonizing the legacies of metropolitan French authors in post-Independence Moroccan and Algerian narratives. I have published on literary migrations in Abdelkebir Khatibi, Tahar Ben Jelloun, and Abdellah Taïa (RELIEF, 2020), queer female sexualities in Anne Garréta and Leïla Slimani (Australian French Studies, 2021), and a decentered vision of post-war theatre in Kateb Yacine, Aimé Césaire, and Genet (Cambridge University Press, 2022).

I was awarded an ASMCF Early Career Research award in 2018 to explore further the ventriloquism of French intellectuals in Moroccan colonial education, and was selected as one of eight early career researchers for a British Academy funded Modern Languages Outreach and Engagement project in 2020. This research-led initiative galvanized teachers, national providers and policy bodies with a view to decolonizing the modern languages curriculum, and yielded a repository of online resources for Key Stage 3 and 5, a conference, and a guest lecture with colleagues from Queen Mary. I also serve on the Society for French Studies Executive committee.


BA in Modern and Medieval Languages (Cambridge);  MA in French (UCL);  PhD in French (UCL) 




  • Geometry and Jean Genet: Shaping the Subject (Oxford: Legenda, 2022) Blurb.
  • Le compas et la lyre : Regards croisés sur les mathématiques et la poésie  (Paris: Calvage et Mounet, 2018). Co-authored with Antoine Houlou-Garcia and Bernard Randé. 

Book chapters:

  • ‘Liberating ‘Third World Theatre’: Radical Humanism in Yacine, Césaire, Genet (1950s – 1960s)’, in A New History of French Theatre, eds. Clare Finburgh and Christian Biet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022)
  • ‘A stitch in time: Temporal threads in Genet and Derrida’ in Matters of Time: Material Temporalities in twentieth-century French culture, eds. Lisa Jeschke & Adrian May (Oxford; New York: Peter Lang, 2014)

Journal Articles:

  • (2021) ‘Jean Genet’s vertical geographies: On travel, politics, and form’, in ‘Vertical Travel’, ed. by Charles Forsdick, Zoë Kinsley and Kathryn Walchester, Studies in Travel Writing, 25:2, 161–178.
  • (2021) ‘Cherchez la fiction’: Stories of Self-Realization in Anne Garréta’s Pas un jour and Leïla Slimani’s Sexe et mensonges’, Australian Journal of French Studies, 58:2, 164–177.  
  • (2019) ‘Genet’s Palestinian folklore’, in ‘Reframing Exoticism in European Literature’, ed. by Claudia Dellacasa and Hannah McIntyre, MHRA Working Papers in the Humanities, 14, 9–17.
  • (2019) ‘Une rose des vents politique: The Southern winds of Jean Genet’s poetic compass’, Artl@s Bulletin, 8: 2, 44–55.
  • (2018) ‘Drifting with direction: Going astray with Jean Genet’, in ‘On Drifting’, Performance Research, 23:8, 81–88.

Selected book review:

  • Arka Chattopadhyay, Beckett, Lacan and the Mathematical Writing of the Real (London: Bloomsbury academic, 2019), French Studies, 73.4 (December 2019)
  • Antoine Houlou-Garcia, Le monde est-il mathématique ? Les maths au prisme des sciences humaines (Paris: Honoré Champion, 2015) French Studies, 70.3 (July 2016)

French-English Translations:

  • Co-translation of Christian Biet and Christophe Triau, What is Theatre? (Oxford: Routledge, 2018)
  • Christian Biet, “The evolution of French Tragedy in the 17th and 18th centuries, from scenic cruelty to the dramatic poem”, in A Cultural History of Tragedy, ed. Rebecca Bushnell (London: Bloomsbury, 2019)
  • Olivier Neveux, ‘Contre le theatre politique’ (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021)