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Professor Katherine Astbury

Dr Katherine AstburyProfessor of French Studies

Email: Katherine dot Astbury at warwick dot ac dot uk
Room H4.35
Internal phone number: 23333
Humanities Building
University Road
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL

Research interests

Between October 2013 and July 2017 I ran an AHRC-funded project on French Theatre of the Napoleonic Era. This project involves a team of doctoral and postdoctoral researchers working on linking close textual readings to larger cultural, social and political issues. As one of the outcomes, I am currently working on a monograph on theatre during the One Hundred Days, that is to say the period of Napoleon's return to power in 1815. In 2016-17 I had AHRC follow-on funding for a project on Staging Napoleonic Theatre which involved working with the Georgian Theatre Royal Richmond, North Yorkshire to put on a performance of Pixerécourt's La Forteresse du Danube and with English Heritage at Portchester Castle to stage a melodrama the Napoleonic prisoners wrote while incarcerated there: Roseliska ou amour, haine et vengeance. The dress rehearsal was filmed and can be seen here.

In 2012 I published a monograph on 'non-political' fiction of the 1790s as a response to the trauma of the Revolution (Narrative Responses to the trauma of the French Revolution (Oxford, Legenda, 2012)). The work for this was funded by a British Academy Small Grant and an AHRC matching leave grant. The research has shown how the apparent continuity of Ancien Régime tropes, settings and characters is in fact an indication of writers' traumatised response to the Revolution. Significantly, it is the writers who experience emigration and who would go on to be the avant-garde of the Romantic movement in France who succeed in working through their responses to the Revolution, while lesser writers remain trapped in the repetitive cycle of reliving the trauma without fully acknowledging the memories.

My first book on The Moral Tale in France and Germany 1750-1789, examining the development of short fiction in the two countries in the years leading up to the French Revolution, was published by the Voltaire Foundation as SVEC 2002:7. Much of my work is centred on questions of literary history and the thorny problem of literary influence.

I have published on many of the principal figures of the 18th century and their relationship to short fiction. This includes Prévost, Beaumarchais, Marmontel, Baculard d'Arnaud and Sade. I have edited 'Memnon ou la sagesse humaine' for the Oeuvres complètes de Voltaire. In 2003-04 I had a grant from the British Academy to look at fiction and the literary press during the Revolution. A number of articles based on this research are now in print.

I also have an interest in women writers of the late eighteenth century, working on the SIEFAR Grand dictionnaire des femmes de l'ancienne France and in collaboration with Suzan van Dijk on an international project on the reception of women writers funded by the NWO (the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research). I am also part of the AHRC-funded team working on the correspondence of Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, collaborating with Catriona Seth (Nancy) on the letters of Bernardin's sister, Catherine.

In December 2008 I organised an international conference on Le Tournant des Lumières at the Institut français in London. Two volumes of papers have been published : Bernardin de Saint-Pierre au tournant des Lumières (Leuven, Peeters, 2012) and Le Tournant des Lumières, ed. by Katherine Astbury and Catriona Seth (Paris, Garnier, 2012).

In 2014 I was awarded the Arts Faculty prize for Public engagement for my work on Revolutionary prints in schools.

Teaching and supervision

My teaching interests lie in the literature and culture of the 18th and 19th centuries and in translation. In particular I run modules on 18th- and 19th-century drama, the French Revolution and First Empire, bestsellers of the 19th century, the literature of the 18th century. I was awarded a Warwick Teaching Excellence Award in 2007 and used the prize money as well as an award from the University's Education Innovation Fund to explore how students can be involved in the process of preserving the Library's Special Marandet Collection of 18th- and 19th century plays. The results of the project can be seen here.

I am happy to supervise theses on the second half of the 18th century and early 19th century. Current and recent projects are listed below:

  • Spectacle in the prints of the French Revolution (AHRC collaborative doctoral award, successfully completed 2012)
    Waddesdon Manor

Claire Trévien with me at Waddesdon Manor where much of the research for her thesis took place

  • The novels of French noblewomen émigrées in London in the 1790s. Memory, Trauma and Female voice in the émigré novel (AHRC doctoral award, successfully completed 2016).Laure Philip with supervisorLaure in Australia
Laure Philip with me after her graduation ceremony and starting her Postdoc in Australia.

  • Rewriting History Through the Performance of Tragedy 1799–1815 (AHRC doctoral scholarship on the French Theatre of the Napoleonic Era project). Successfully completed 2016.Siviter thesis
  • Insects and the Enlightenment (successfully completed autumn 2017)
  • French prisoners of war and their theatricals (successfully completed January 2018)

Administrative roles

  • Academic Director of undergraduate admissions, recruitment and outreach, School of Modern Languages and Cultures (September 2015- )
  • Director of Impact (Jan 2015-September 2016)
  • French senior tutor (Jan-April 2017)

Selected publications


  • Introduction (with Mark Philp) Napoleon's Hundred Days and the Politics of Legitimacy, ed. by Katherine Astbury and Mark Philp (Palgrave, 2018)



  • Critical edition of Pixerécourt’s La Forteresse du Danube in Pixerécourt Mélodrames III (1804-1808), under the direction of Roxane Martin (Paris: Garnier, 2016), pp. 263-411.
  • ‘Les réseaux de Catherine de Saint-Pierre’ (co-written with Catriona Seth), in Bernardin de Saint-Pierre. Idées, réseaux, réception, ed. by Sonia Anton, Laurence Macé, Gabriel-Robert Thibault, PU de Rouen et du Havre, 2016, pp. 95-115. ISBN : 9791024006079.



‘Les politiques du grand spectacle : les mélodrames de Pixerécourt avant 1807’, European Drama and Performance Studies 1 (2013)


  • Narrative Responses to the Trauma of the French Revolution (Oxford, Legenda, 2012), 185 pp. ISBN-13: 978-1907975424
  • Bernardin de Saint-Pierre au tournant des Lumières Mélanges en l'honneur de Professor Malcolm Cook (Leuven, Peeters, 2012), 168 pp. ISBN-13: 978-9042925755
  • Le Tournant des Lumières, ed. by Katherine Astbury and Catriona Seth (Paris, Garnier, 2012), 298 pp. ISBN 978-2-8124-0508-2


  • 'The Trans-National Dimensions of the Émigré Novel during the French Revolution’, Eighteenth-Century Fiction 23.4 (Summer 2011), pp. 801-832
  • ‘Music in Pixerécourt’s early melodramas’, in Melodramatic Voices: Understanding Music Drama, ed. by Sarah Hibberd (Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera) (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2011), pp. 15-26, 978-1-4094-0082-0
  • ‘La Révolution au féminin: Les lettres de Catherine de Saint-Pierre à l’époque révolutionnaire’, in Autour de Bernardin de Saint-Pierre : Les écrits et les hommes des Lumières à l’Empire, ed. by Catriona Seth and Eric Wauters (Rouen, Presses de l’université de Rouen et l’université du Havre, 2011), pp. 91-99, 978-2-87775-504-7


  • ‘Du gothique anglais au gothique français : le roman noir et la Révolution française’, in Imaginaires gothiques : aux sources du roman noir français, ed. by Catriona Seth (Paris : Desjonquères, 2010), pp.131-45, 978-2-84321-124-9


  • ‘Madame Riccoboni et Le Monde de Jean-François Bastide’, Nottingham French Studies 48(3) Autumn 2009. Special issue : Enlightenment and Narrative : Essays in honour of Richard A. Francis by colleagues and friends, ed. by Philip Robinson, pp. 85-92.


  • ‘Charlotte Smith’s The Banished Man in French Translation; or The Politics of Novel Writing during the Revolution’, Charlotte Smith in British Romanticism, ed. by Jacqueline Labbe (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2008), pp. 129-43.
  • ‘The Success of Marmontel’s moral tales on the French stage 1760-1770’, in Voltaire and the 1760s. Essays for John Renwick, ed. by Nicholas Cronk (Oxford, SVEC 2008:10), pp. 55-64


  • 'Les philosophes et la Révolution française dans les contes moraux de Marmontel', in Le philosophe romanesque: L'image du philosophe dans le roman des Lumières, ed by Florence Lotterie and Pierre Hartmann (Travaux du Centre d'études des Lumières de l'Université de Strasbourg – n° 13)
  • Claire du Plessis d’Auguste Lafontaine ou Histoire d’un roman d’émigration allemand’, in Destins romanesques de l’émigration, ed. by Claire Jaquier, Florence Lotterie et Catriona Seth (Paris : Desjonquères, 2007), pp. 53-66.
  • 'The Respectable M. De Sade, literary critic', A Different Sade: Food for Thought Thursday, 7 June 2007 A British Academy discussion evening Editor: Marian Hobson. Available on line at
  • ‘Les éducatrices françaises à Londres pendant la Révolution’, in Femmes éducatrices au Siècle des Lumières, ed. by Isabelle Brouard-Arends and Marie-Emmanuelle Plagnol-Diéval (Rennes : Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2007), pp. 347-356.


  • ‘Une chaumière et un cœur simple. Pastoral fiction and the art of persuasion 1790-92’ in Revolutionary Culture: Continuity and Change, ed. by Mark Darlow, Nottingham French Studies 45 (1), special issue Spring 2006, pp. 5-19.
  • 'Masculinity and Medievalism in the Tales of Baculard d'Arnaud', Medievalism and manière gothique in Enlightenment France,  ed. by Peter Damian-Grint, SVEC 2006:05, 37- 51.


  • ‘Marmontel and Baculard’s immoral tales’, in Enlightenment Uncertainties: moral, pedagogical and scientific debates of eighteenth-century France, ed. by Jean Bloch (SVEC 2005:01), pp. 39-51.


  • Voltaire, Memnon ou la sagesse humaine, Oeuvres complètes de Voltaire, 30B (Voltaire Foundation, 2004), pp. 235-74
  • Katherine Astbury / Marie-Emmanuelle Plagnol-Diéval (eds), Le mâle en France 1715-1830: représentations de la masculinité (Bern: Lang, 2004), 317pp., 1 ill., ISBN 3-03910-177-3


  • 'Marmontel, éditeur du Mercure de France, et ses contes moraux', in Marmontel: une rhétorique de l’apaisement, ed. by Jacques Wagner, Peeters, 2003, pp. 165-74.


  • The Moral Tale in France and Germany 1750-1789 (SVEC 2002:07), ISBN 0 7294 0789 6
  • ‘The Marquis de Sade and the Sentimental Tale: Les Crimes de l’amour as a subversion of sensibility’, Australian Journal of French Studies, 39 (2002), pp. 47-59
  • 'Le Conte moral allemand en France: réécriture et réinterprétation de la morale', in Réécritures 1700-1820, ed. by Malcolm Cook and Marie-Emmanuelle Plagnol-Diéval, Peter Lang, 2002, pp. 197-208, ISBN 3-906768-28-7
  • 'La femme amoureuse et le conte moral des femmes écrivains: vers un conte moral 'féminin'?', in Féminités et masculinités dans le texte narratif avant 1800. La Question du 'gender'. Actes du XIVe Colloque de la SATOR (Amsterdam / Leyde 2000), ed. by Suzan van Dijk and Madeleine van Strien-Chardonneau, Peeters, 2002, pp. 349-61, ISBN 90-429-1111-5


BA, PhD (Exeter)

Office Hours

Thursday 2-3

Friday 11-12

Other times by appointment

Cover of Narrative Responses book

Cover of The Moral Tale in France and Germany 1750-1789