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Ursula Tidd


Personal profile


I began my academic career doing doctoral research in the early 1990s at the Department of French Studies at the University of Birmingham while working there as a graduate teaching assistant. My longstanding interests in French women's writing and feminist theory led me to do my PhD on the literature and thought of Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986). I researched Beauvoir's autobiographical and philosophical writing, with a particular focus on testimonial writing and how Beauvoir became 'author-ised' as a woman intellectual and witness to much of twentieth century history. I was awarded my PhD in French Studies in 1997 from the University of Birmingham and a revised and extended version of my PhD thesis was published by Cambridge University Press in 1999 as Simone de Beauvoir, Gender and Testimony. I have subsequently worked across the range of Beauvoir's literary and philosophical writings and in related areas.

I subsequently developed my interests in French and francophone cultural memory by doing research into the literary and filmic representation of the Holocaust and, in particular, the work of the Buchenwald Communist francophone deportee, Jorge Semprún (1923-2011). I continue to do research on Simone de Beauvoir's literary and philosophical writings in parallel with developing my broader interests in the French post war period.


2018 - : Professor Emeritus of Modern French Literature and Thought, University of Manchester

2015 - 2018: Professor of Modern French Literature and Thought, University of Manchester

2005 - 2015: Senior Lecturer in French, University of Manchester

2000 - 2005: Lecturer in French, University of Manchester

1995 - 2000: Lecturer in French, University of Salford 

Research interests

My research interests are mainly related to twentieth century French literature and thought of the post war period, especially:

  • the literature and philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir 
  • French women's writing
  • cultural memory
  • French literary and filmic representations of the Holocaust (particularly the writings of Jorge Semprún)

To date, most of my research publications have been concerned with the literary and philosophical writing of Simone de Beauvoir and its impact. My most recent publication in this area is Existentialism and Contemporary Cinema: A Beauvoirian Perspective (ed. with Jean-Pierre Boulé) (Berghahn Books 2012), which aims to argue the relevance of Beauvoirian theory for film studies. See

I appeared as a guest on Radio 4's In Our Time programme on Simone de Beauvoir. You can listen to it here:

In recent years, I have worked in the interdisciplinary field of Holocaust studies, specifically in the area of the cultural representation of the Holocaust in Francophone contexts. My research has focused on the Buchenwald 'autothanatographies' of Jorge Semprún (1923-2011), especially his narrative methods, ethics and political thought. The resulting monograph, Jorge Semprún: Writing the European Other, funded by the Leverhulme Trust and the British Academy, was published by Legenda-Maney in March 2014. See In further dissemination of my research on Semprún's writing, I have contributed to a collection of essays on his work published by Palgrave Macmillan (USA) in 2014, to a collection of essays on memory published by Routledge also in 2014, and to a special issue of Yale French Studies on Jorge Semprún published in 2016.

Currently, I am revisiting my research interests in Beauvoir studies.


Former PhD research students whom I have successfully supervised include:  

2002 - 2006: Joseph McGonagle, AHRC-funded PhD (co-supervised with John Perivolaris), who worked on the representation of ethnicity in contemporary French photography and film.

2004 - 2008: Deirdre Russell, AHRC-funded PhD (co-supervised with Darren Waldron), who worked on narrative identities in contemporary French autobiographical literature and film.

2007 - 2011 : Claire Humphrey, AHRC-funded PhD (co-supervised with Darren Waldron), who worked on female subjectivity and Parisian urban space in contemporary French cinema and literature.

2009 - 2014: Farah AbouBakr (co-supervised with Dalia Moustafa), who worked on the translation of Palestinian short stories.

2011 - 2015: Pauline Henry-Tierney, School PGR scholarship (second supervisor: Siobhan Brownlie), who worked on gender-consious strategies in the translation of contemporary transgressive French and Francophone women's writing.

2014 - 2018: Ruth Abou Rachid (co-supervised with Anastasia Valassopoulos) who worked on a PhD project which analyses the translation of Iraqi women's writing.

2015 - 2018: Fabienne Cheung (second supervisor, Jérôme Brillaud) who worked on a PhD project relating to C20th French autobiography and writers associated with Oulipo.

Other teaching information


Nineteenth and twentieth century French literature and thought; French Holocaust writing and film; women's writing; gender theory; translation.


French Holocaust writing; theories of cultural memory and Holocaust philosophy; French women's writing; gender and sexuality. 


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