Personal profile

Overview

I am a Senior Lecturer in French Cultural Studies, at the University of Manchester since 2002. My teaching specialism covers the history, politics and culture of modern and contemporary French society, from the 19th century to the present. My research is more narrowly focused on French popular music since the 1950s, with special interests in the representation  of cultural identities (ethnicity, race, gender, generation...) and their relative commercial success and critical prestige.

My two monographs, Protest Music in France (Ashgate 2009; re-ed Routledge 2016) and Dalida. Mythe et Mémoire (Le Mot et le reste, 2020), examine contemporary popular music in France from the distinct but complementary perspectives of ‘alternative’ and ‘mainstream’ cultures, with forays into audience research, music festivals, posthumous fame, elitism, and the representation of whiteness, exoticism and cosmopolitanism in metropolitan France. 

Cautiously, from the self-conscious perspective of white scholarship, I am currently developing a new project on musical representations of blackness in French variétés (mainstream pop) of the 1960s to 1980s. 

Biography

  • PhD (The University of Southampton, 2003)
  • PGCE (Homerton College, Cambridge, 1998)
  • MA in French as Foreign Language (Université d'Aix-en-Provence, 1998)
  • MA in English Studies (Université de Rouen, 1997)

Opportunities

PhD students:

I welcome enquiries for postgraduate supervision in the broad areas of French and francophone popular music and contemporary culture (performance and identity; audience reception; music and media; cultural policy; music industry; film and music...).

My current PhD students are: 

Trang Nguyen (started 2023), with a French Studies project on the representation of women in Vietnamese and Francophone cinema. 

Isaac Milhofer (started 2023), with a Music projet on the work and career of singer Grace Jones. 

Brett Robinson (started 2021), with an Intercultural Communication project on the translation of opera. 

I am also involved in the supervision of many other students as independent reviewer. 

Past PhD students, all successfully (co-)supervised, are:

2019-22: Katherine Goodson-Walker (The myth of Cupid and Psyche in 17th century French court ballet)

2017-20: Adi Bharat (Representations of Jewish-Muslim relations in contemporary France)

2017-20: Marco Biasioli (Russian 'indi' rock music). 

2018-20: Amelie Mons (The Experience of the Real in Jan Fabre's and Romeo Castellucci's theatres)

2014-17: Rebecca Johnson (The Clash of Articulations: Intersectional Identity in post-9/11 Britain, Spain and France)

2014-17: Henry Jones (Amateur translations into French of 'British cities' narratives on Wikipedia)

2011-14: Luciana Kaross (The Translation of Morrissey's song lyrics into Brazilian Portuguese)

2003-07: Kate Roy (Cartographies of Identity: Co-ordinates of 'East' and 'West' in the works of Emine Sevgi Özdamar and Leïla Sebbar).

Research interests

I am a French popular music specialist, with research interests in song production and audience reception, gender and body performance, national identity and race/ethnicity, as well as taste, success, protest and nostalgia. My first monograph, Protest Music in France  (Ashgate, 2009) examined France's 'alternative' music culture in the period 1990-2009, focusing on the ways in which artists, producers and audiences shaped a 'non-mainstream' identity for themselves. Case-studies focused on the artists Zebda, Tetes Raides and Manu Chao, and the book won the 2011 IASPM prize for Best Anglophone Monograph (you can read the intro here).

Since then, I have become particularly interested in the meaning of 'mainstream' popular music in France, and the material and symbolic conditions and restrictions that shape commercial success. My second monograph, Dalida. Mythe et memoire (Marseille: Le Mot et le reste, 2020) focused on the career of best-selling female singer Dalida (1933-1987), an immensely popular star and gay icon in France. My book examined the many shifts in the production and performance of Dalida's music in France from 1956 onwards, with a focus on the commercial success of (and critical contempt for) her Mediterranean exoticism, Arabness, personal tragedy, gay-friendliness and 'ringardise'. This book was featured in several high-profile French media outlets (France Inter, Europe 1, France 2, Le Monde... ).  

Cautiously, from the self-reflexive perspective of white scholarship, I am currently developing a new research project focused on the representation of blackness in mainstream French pop (variétés) from the 1960s to the late 1980s. The intention is to bridge the gap between extensive studies of jazz in France and those covering post-1990s rap, by re-narrativizing the success of the few Black artists who had mainstream hits in the métropole - alongside the widespread continuation of racist stereotyping. 

Beside these solo projects, I am the editor and co-editor of several collective volumes, including: Chanson et Performance (L'Harmattan, 2012); with Catherine Strong:  Death and the Rock Star (Ashgate, 2015; Chapter 1 is available to read here: The Great Gig in the Sky); with Nanette de Jong: the special issue 'Music and Magic' of Popular Music, 2019, 38/1; with Isabelle Marc, a forthcoming special issue of Transposition on the 'feminisation' of French popular music since 2000 (expected Autumn 2024). 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth

External positions

French Studies Programme External Examiner, The University of Sheffield

Sept 2016Jun 2020

Keywords

  • French Cultural Studies
  • Popular Music Studies

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