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Dr Susannah Wilson

Associate Professor in French Studies

Head of French Studies

Email: S dot M dot Wilson at warwick dot ac dot uk

Office: room 4.25

Humanities Building, University Road
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL

Research interests

My research interests are framed by an interdisciplinary approach and focus on nineteenth- and twentieth-century French culture and literature, with a special interest in medical cultures of the modern period; sex, gender, pathology and criminality; the history of the French psychological sciences; cultural history; and all forms of self-writing. I focus in particular on the period and idea of the fin-de-siècle.

In 2018 I was awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship to write a cultural history of morphine in France from c. 1870-1940. I am currently preparing a monograph for publication (see publication list below).

My first book, Voices from the Asylum: Four French Women Writers, 1850-1920 (Oxford University Press, 2010) investigated the lives and writings of a number of women incarcerated in French psychiatric hospitals in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The idea for my book on morphine addiction in France grew out of a previous research project, a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellowship which I held from 2014-2011 for a project entitled "Inscribed on the Body: Women, Intoxication and Self-Destruction in Nineteenth-Century France". This project developed three strands of enquiry, with separate outputs: First, an article on the visual representation of clinical photographs of anorexic women; second, a book project on the cultural history of morphine in late nineteenth-century France; third, a paper on gender and genius in the letters of the sculptor Camille Claudel. I have been invited to present papers and presentations on these research findings at conferences and seminars in Warwick, Oxford, London, Paris and elsewhere.

In March 2015 I was awarded a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award to fund and facilitate a series of events on the subject of 'Addiction and Culture since 1800'. This research network has resulted in the publication of a sole-edited book, Prohibitions and Psychoactive Substances in History, Culture and Theory, published with Routledge in 2019.

I welcome enquiries from potential MA and PhD students looking to work in my area of research specialism.

I also have three years of experience teaching (secondary) in the state and private sector.

Teaching and supervision (2020-21)

  • FR3012 French translation (final year)
  • FR121 The Story of Modern France: seminar tutor and lecturer; co-convenor with Cathy Hampton
  • FR122 French Cultural Landmarks
  • FR231 Modern Masterpieces

Administrative roles

  • Head of French Studies (from 2020-21)
  • Senior Tutor in French (2016-18)


Current book project:
  • Morphine Manias: Narratives of Addiction in French Literature and History, 1870-1930 (MS under review, Forthcoming 2022/3). Monograph.
  • Prohibitions and Psychoactive Substances in History, Culture and Theory (London: Routledge, 2019). Edited book.
  • Voices from the Asylum: Four French Women Writers, 1850-1920 (Oxford University Press, 2010). Monograph.
Journal articles and book chapters (peer reviewed):
  • ‘To whom does a Letter Belong? Psychopathology and Epistolography in the Asylum Letters of Antonin Artaud and Camille Claudel’, Modern Languages Open, 2021, vol. 1, no. 1: 1-18.
  • ‘Morphinisé/morphinomane/morphinée: cultural representations of a French opioid crisis, 1870–1940’. Contemporary French Civilization, vol. 44, no. 4 (2019): 332-357.
  • ‘A Medicine for the Soul: Morphine and Prohibition in the French Cultural Imagination, 1870-1916,’ in Susannah Wilson (ed.) Prohibitions and Psychoactive Substances in History, Culture and Theory (London: Routledge, 2019): 51-70.
  • ‘Introduction,’ in Susannah Wilson (ed.) Prohibitions and Psychoactive Substances in History, Culture and Theory (London: Routledge, 2019): 1-9.
  • ‘Emaciation as a Subversive Strategy in the Goncourts’ Renée Mauperin and an Early Case of Hysterical Anorexia,’ in Medicine and Maladies: Representing Affliction in Nineteenth-Century France, ed. Sophie Leroy (Leiden: Brill, 2018): 154-170.
  • ‘Gender, Genius and the Artist’s Double Bind: The Letters of Camille Claudel, 1880-1910,’ Modern Language Review, Vol. 112, No. 2 (April 2017): 362-80.
  • ‘Anorexia and its Metaphors,’ Exchanges, Vol. 3, No. 2 (April 2016): 216-226.
  • ‘The Iconography of Anorexia Nervosa in the Long Nineteenth Century’, in Picturing Women’s Health, ed. by Kate Scarth, et al. (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2014): 77-104.
  • ‘Writing from the Asylum: Re-assessing the Voices of Female Patients in the History of Psychiatry in France’, in Being Human: Reflections on Mental Distress in Society, ed. by Alastair Morgan (Ross-on-Wye: PCCS Books, 2011): 99-109.
  • Foreign Artists and Communities in Modern Paris, 1870-1914: Strangers in Paradise, by Karen L. Carter and Susan Waller (eds), Modern & Contemporary France, Vol. 25, No. 3 (2016): 336-337.

  • Suzanne Noël: Cosmetic Surgery, Feminism and Beauty in Early Twentieth-Century France, by Paula J. Martin, Gender and History, Volume 28, Issue 1 (April 2016): 227–228.

  • Without Ground: Lacanian Ethics and the Assumption of Subjectivity, by Calum Neill, French Studies, Vol. 69, No. 3 (2015): 413-414.

  • Stendhal's Less-Loved Heroines: Fiction, Freedom, and the Female, by Maria C. Scott, Modern Language Review, Vol. 109, No. 4 (2014): 1084-1085.

  • The Man Who Thought He Was Napoleon: Toward a Political History of Madness, by Laure Murat,Nineteenth-Century French Studies, Vol 43, No. 3 & 4 (Spring-Summer 2015): 1259.
  • Autour de l’extrême littéraire, ed. by Alastair Hemmens and Russell Williams, French Studies, Vol. 67, No. 4 (2013): 582-583

  • I provided new translations from the French for a Penguin Classics edition of Charles Darwin's Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (2005), ed. by Dr Michael Neve and Dr Sharon Messenger of the Wellcome Trust Centre for History of Medicine, UCL.

Public Engagement


BA, MA (Manchester), Licence ès Lettres Modernes (Bourgogne), D.Phil (Oxford). I have also completed the Warwick PCAPP qualification (Postgraduate Certificate in Academic and Professional Practice) and I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Office Hours


Meetings available by appointment throughout the week in Term 3

I am available to contact by phone any time during normal office hours (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm)

Tel. 02476 151365 (internal x. 51365)


Undergraduate modules (2020-21)

FR121 The Story of Modern France

FR231 Modern Masterpieces