Academic Work

I have always been a specialist in 20th and 21st century French literature, and taken occasional holidays in the 19th. My research has pretty consistently focused on the relationship between identity and narrative: how we tell stories to be who we are, and what happens when those stories break down or become extremely difficult to formulate. I particularly enjoy psychoanalytic literary criticism, so this often informs my approach. But I have always wanted my academic work to be readable and accessible – I got into all this because I was fascinated by stories and the effect they have on us, so it matters to me that anyone could read my analyses and follow them.

An Introduction to Twentieth-Century French Literature

Duckworth (now Bloomsbury), 2003

By Victoria Best

This is the introduction to the most fun and accessible of the academic books I have written. It is an easy introductory guide to the twentieth century in French literature aimed at students starting university courses. I suppose it’s also my idea of why literature is important, why it’s written, why we should give it the time and attention of studying it.

Introduction: Writing and Life

The New Pornograpies: Explicit Sex In Recent French Fiction And Film

Manchester University Press, 2007

By Victoria Best & Martin Crowley

This chapter comes from the book I co-wrote with my colleague, Martin, and looks at the upsurge in books written about children in abusive situations, or by authors who were abused themselves. There’s also been an interest in breaking taboos and pushing back boundaries in contemporary French literature over issues like paedophilia. Please be warned that this chapter contains material that you might find offensive or distressing (I know I did when writing about it).

Chapter 7 –  The uses and abuses of children: Thinking infantile eroticism

Sebastien Japrisot: The Art of Crime  edited by Martin Hurcombe and Simon Kemp

Rodopi, 2009

Sebastien Japrisot is the author of a series of really excellent crime novels. Because they are so cleverly structured, they appeal to academic analysis as well. Crime fiction has in fact been a boon area for research in the past fifteen to twenty years, and I can confirm that the research was a lot of fun for this one. I am actually writing about the early novels Japrisot wrote under his real name of Jean-Baptiste Rossi and how they prefigure his later, famous crime books.

Patterns of Submission and Domination in the work of Sebastien Japrisot

Sylvie Germain, The Song of False Lovers

Dedalus, 2004

This is the introduction I wrote to what must have been Sylvie Germain’s twelfth or thirteenth novel. Well known in France, she is rarely recognised in the UK, although Dedalus brought out a series of translations of her novels. She is a magical realist and I really love her writing.

Sylvie Germain: Introduction

Twentieth-Century French Poetry; A Critical Anthology edited by Hughes Azerad and Peter Collier

Cambridge University Press, 2010

My contribution to a collection of essays  each of which studies one 20th century French poem in depth. Yves Bonnefoy is one of my all-time favourite poets, and I particularly like his prose poems.

Yves Bonnefoy: Rue Traversière

Between the harem and the battlefield: Domestic Space in the Work of Assia Djebar


Between the harem and the battlefield: Domestic Space in the Work of Assia Djebar

2 thoughts on “Academic Work

  1. I really enjoyed the text about postmodernism…. and what you write on your site.
    But unless I am mistaken you are an anonymous writer…. is that your choice? to have no identity for your readers to connect with you? It’s sad and really too bad…

    • Oh no, I’m not anonymous, although it’s true my name isn’t all over the site. But it’s on the About page. It’s Victoria Best, to save you the trouble of looking. What’s yours?

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