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Dr Susannah Wilson

Associate Professor in 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 concern the areas of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century French culture and literature, with specialist interest in medical cultures of the late nineteenth century, gender and criminality, the history of the French psychological sciences and psychoanalysis, cultural history, and all forms of self-writing. I focus in particular on the period and idea of the fin-de-siècle.

My last 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 during this period and who left first-hand accounts of their experiences.

In 2018 I was awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship to complete a cultural history of morphine in France from c. 1870-1940. I am currently preparing a monograph for publication under the working title, Morphine in the Modern French Imagination: Pains, Pleasures and Pathologies.

The idea for this book 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, to be published with Routledge in the Warwick Series in the Humanities in 2019.

I was also awarded funding from the AHRC 10th Anniversary Cultural Engagement Fund and from the Warwick Institute of Advanced Study to run a series of public engagement events linked to the Addiction and Culture project.

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 (on research leave 2018-19)

Administrative roles

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




Voices from the Asylum: Four French Women Writers, 1850-1920 (Oxford University Press, 2010).

Edited book:

Prohibitions and Psychoactive Substances in History, Culture and Theory (Routledge, 2019).

Articles and chapters:
  • 'Morphinisé/morphinomane/morphinée: cultural representations of a French opioid crisis, 1870-1940', Contemporary French Civilization, vol. 44, issue 4 (2019).

  • 'Morphine and Prohibition in the French Cultural Imagination, 1870-1916', in S. Wilson (ed), Prohibitions and Psychoactive Substances in History, Culture and Theory (Forthcoming, 2019).
  • 'Emaciation as a Subversive Strategy in the Goncourts' Renée Mauperin and an Early Case of Hysterical Anorexia’, in Sophie Leroy (ed.), Medicine and Maladies (Leiden: Brill, 2018).
  • 'Gender, Genius and the Artist’s Double Bind: the Letters of Camille Claudel, 1886-1910’, Modern Language Review, 112: 2 (April 2017).
  • 'Anorexia and its Metaphors', Exchanges, 2016, 3 (2), pp. 216-226.
  • 'The Iconography of Anorexia Nervosa in the Long Nineteenth Century', in Kate Scarth, Francesca Scott and Ji Won Chung (eds), Picturing Women's Health (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2014).
  • ‘Writing from the asylum: a re-assessment of 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, 2009), pp. 99-109.

I also regularly write reviews for French Studies, Nineteenth-Century French Studies, the Modern Language Review and Gender and History, and Modern and Contemporary France.


  • 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.


BA, MA (Manchester), Licence ès Lettres Modernes (Bourgogne), D.Phil (Oxford).

Office Hours

Wednesday 10-11am

Friday 12-1pm

Tel. 02476 151365 (internal x. 51365)