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Dr Oliver Davis

Dr Oliver DavisReader in French Studies

Email: O dot Davis at warwick dot ac dot uk

Room H4.33
Humanities Building, University Road
University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL.

Please click here for a full list of my recent talks.

Individual research

Security, prison, policing

I am currently writing a genealogical study of 'governance' in the (in)security society.

Public engagement
Jacques Rancière: equality and the politics of aesthetics

Rancière Now, a volume of critical essays on Rancière's work, which I edited, was published by Polity Press in September 2013. The volume includes essays by Carolyn Steedman, Sabine Prokhoris, Tom Conley, Jeremy F. Lane and Jackie Clarke, among other contributors. It also contains a dialogue between Rancière and Jean-Luc Nancy and an interview with Rancière, concerned mainly with his Aisthesis (Galilée 2011 / Verso 2013).

I have also published my own critical introduction to Rancière's work. That book undertakes a comprehensive analysis of his thought from 1965 to the time of writing and aspires to disseminate it to an English-speaking readership of academics from the disciplines of philosophy, history, cultural studies, French studies, English and politics, as well as to artists, policy-makers, activists and other non-academic readers. A German translation of this book, with a new Postscript, is now available from Turia + Kant and a Persian translation is underway.

Other research interests

My doctoral work, later published as a book, analysed narrative constructions of the ageing process in essays and life-writing by selected twentieth-century French authors, foremost among them Beauvoir. That was primarily a literary project, in a broad sense, although one with obvious ramifications into other areas. Also on the literary side I continue to be interested in twentieth-century and contemporary French fiction (particularly the work of François Bon) and in literary-critical methodology. I have a longstanding interest in French gay and queer literary culture (particularly the work of Guillaume Dustan). I warmly welcome enquiries from students who may be considering embarking on an MA, a PhD or a post-doctoral project in areas either squarely within, or adjacent to, my current or recent research.

Collaborative research

Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature and the Arts

I am currently Co-Director of CRPLA, a forum for interdisciplinary research exchange between philosophy and the arts.

Teaching and supervision

My main teaching and research interests lie in Modern and contemporary French philosophy of the Continental tradition, critical theory, queer theory and twentieth-century and contemporary French literature.

I am currently co-supervising Aidan Varney's doctoral work on queer theory and representations of barebacking in recent French literature and cinema and Melissa Pawelski's doctoral project on the translation of Michel Foucault's Surveiller et punir.

I run a one-term final-year undergraduate module on literary representations of sex and sexuality (FR309 Modern Sexualities) and a two-term final-year module: FR325 Policing, Pacification, and Prisons: Coercive Governance in French Culture, History, and Thought from 1925 to the present.

I also contribute to final-year French language teaching and assessment and MA teaching.


Books (monographs)

  • Jacques Rancière : Eine Einführung (Vienna: Turia + Kant, 2014), a German translation by Brita Pohl, with a new Afterword, of the monograph immediately below.
  • Jacques Rancière (Cambridge: Polity, 2010).
  • Age Rage and Going Gently: Stories of the Senescent Subject in Twentieth-Century French Writing (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2006).

Edited volumes

  • Freedom and the Subject of Theory: Essays in Honour of Christina Howells, co-edited with Colin Davis (forthcoming with Legenda in 2019).
  • Rancière Now ​(Cambridge: Polity, 2013).

Book chapters

  • 'Prison everywhere? The imbrication of coercive and pastoral governance in the regulation of "chemsex" and new psychoactive substances', in Susannah Wilson (ed.), Prohibitions and Psychoactive Substances in History, Culture and Theory (London: Routledge, forthcoming in 2019).
  • '"Glearning" from Jacques Rancière', in The Practice of Equality: Jacques Rancière and Critical Pedagogy, ed. by Stephen Cowden and David Ridley, forthcoming with Peter Lang in 2019.
  • 'Foucault and the Queer Pharmatopia', in After Foucault: Culture, Theory, and Criticism in the 21st Century, ed. by Lisa Downing (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 170-184.
  • 'Desublimation in Education for Democracy', in Stiegler & Technics, ed. by Christina Howells and Gerald Moore (Edinburgh: Edinburgh Universtity Press, 2013), 165-178.
  • 'Eastwood reading Beauvoir reading Eastwood: combative self-assertion in Gran Torino (2008) and Old Age [1970]', in Existentialism and Contemporary Cinema: A Beauvoirian Perspective, ed. by Ursula Tidd and Jean-Pierre Boulé (Oxford: Berghahn, 2012), 135-148.
  • 'Guillaume Dustan's "autopornobiographie": Is there room for trash in the queer subcultural archive?', in Alienation and Alterity: Otherness in Modern and Contemporary Francophone contexts, ed. by Helen Vassallo & Paul Cooke (Bern: Peter Lang, 2009), 59-76.
  • ‘Theorizing Writerly Creativity: Jung with Lacan?’, in Post-Jungian Criticism: Theory and Practice, ed. by Baumlin & Jensen (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004), 55-74.

Journal special issues

  • The Anti-Police of Mai '68 Fifty Years On, a special issue of Modern & Contemporary France 26, 2 (May 2018). Read the free-to-access introduction here.
  • Bareback Sex and Queer Theory Across Three National Contexts (France, UK, US), a special issue of Sexualities guest-edited by Oliver Davis. Sexualities 18, 1-2 (February 2015).
  • Queer Theory's Return to France, special issue ed. by Oliver Davis and Hector Kollias, Paragraph 35, 2 (2012). To see the Table of Contents click here.


  • 'Managing (in)security in Paris in Mai 68', Modern & Contemporary France 26, 2 (May 2018), special issue guest-edited by Oliver Davis, The Anti-Police of Mai '68 Fifty Years On: 129-143.
  • 'Mettray revisited in Jean Genet's Le Langage de la muraille', French History 30, 4 (December 2016): 546-566.
  • 'Leading by example: A queer critique of personalization and coercive community governance in Act Up-Paris’s operation against the bareback writers', Sexualities 18, 1-2 (February 2015): 141-157.
  • 'Jacques Rancière et l'art contemporain : un échange d'histoires d'amour et de tyrannicide / Jacques Rancière and Contemporary Art: Swapping Stories of Love and Tyrannicide', Critique d'art 41 (Spring-Summer 2013), 14-30.
  • 'Didier Eribon, restive rationalist: the limits of sociological self-understanding in Retour à Reims', French Cultural Studies 23, 2 (May 2012), special issue on Didier Eribon, ed. by Bill Marshall, 117-126.
  • 'The Radical Pedagogies of François Bon and Jacques Rancière', French Studies 64, 2 (April 2010), 178-91.
  • 'Rancière and Queer Theory: on irritable attachment', in Borderlands 8, 2 (October 2009), special issue: Jacques Rancière on the Shores of Queer Theory, ed. by Samuel Chambers and Michael O'Rourke. To see the special issue click here.
  • ‘The Author at Work in Genetic Criticism’, Paragraph 25,1 (March 2002), 92-101.


  • French Women Philosophers: A Contemporary Reader, ed. by Christina Howells (London: Routledge, 2004), nine chapters thereof, including pieces by Monique Schneider, Sarah Kofman, Monique David-Ménard and Myriam Revault d’Allonnes.
  • Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The World of Perception (London: Routledge, 2004). Seven radio lectures on phenomenology, science and aesthetics, delivered in 1948.


  • 'reading for understanding is problematic: Panagia's Rancière's sentiments', review essay, Theory & Event 21, 4 (2018): 987-992.
  • 'Resiling from "Resilience"', Studies in Gender and Sexuality 17, 2 (2016): 135-138.
  • 'On Sur les toits', for a symposium of short papers on the prison protests in early 1970s France, curated by Marijn Nieuwenhuis, June 2016.
  • 'Jacques Rancière', Oxford Bibliographies in Literary and Critical Theory, ed. by Eugene O’Brien. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.
  • Review article: Cervulle & Rees-Roberts, Homo Exoticus (Armand Colin, 2010) and Grandena and Johnston (eds.), New Queer Images (Peter Lang, 2011), Contemporary French Civilization 37, 1 (2012), 107-110.
  • 'Five Questions for Jacques Rancière / Cinq questions à Jacques Rancière', Contemporary French & Francophone Studies: Sites 16, 2 (2012), 151-6.
  • 'Re-visions: remarks on the love of cinema: An interview with Jacques Rancière by Oliver Davis', The Journal of Visual Culture 10, 3 (December 2011), 294-304.
  • 'Guillaume Dustan', entry for The Literary Encyclopedia: link to article here.

Background and formal qualifications

After studying for a BA in French and Philosophy at Wadham College, Oxford, I stayed on to complete an M.St. and D.Phil in French Literature there. I subsequently taught at Wadham and at the ENS in Paris before starting at Warwick in 2006. I have also completed Warwick's PCAPP qualification (Postgraduate Certificate in Academic and Professional Practice).

Office hours

Friday 2-4, room H4.33


Ranciere Now


Age Rage and Going Gently

French Women Philosophers

World of Perception