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Dr Susannah Wilson

Associate Professor in French Studies

s wilsonEmail: 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 representations of mental health and illness; gender and criminality; psychoanalytical theory; the history of the French psychological sciences; cultural history; and ‘self-writing’ (autobiography, memoir writing, and correspondence). 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 of a number of women writers incarcerated in French psychiatric hospitals during this period 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. 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 into three autonomous strands of enquiry, with separate outputs: First, an article considering 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 numerous papers on these research findings at conferences and seminars in Warwick, Oxford, London, Paris and other UK universities.

I am also working on an article on psychopathology, writing and the epistolary pact in the letters of Antonin Artaud in the 1930s-40s.

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 forthcoming publication of an edited book with the provisional title, Prohibitions and Psychoactive Substances in History, Culture and Theory, to be published with Routledge in the Warwick Series in the Humanities.

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 this 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)

  • LN101 Languages and Cultures Across Boundaries: convenor 2016-2018.
  • French translation
  • FR260 Women and Madness in Nineteenth-Century French Writing: convenor.
  • FR327 Deviant Bodies, Unruly Minds: Disability and "Madness" in Modern French Culture: convenor
  • FR121 The Story of Modern France: seminar tutor
  • FR231 Modern Masterpieces
  • FR109 Aspects of Modern French Literature

Administrative roles

  • Senior Tutor




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 (Forthcoming with Routledge, 2019).

Articles and chapters:
  • 'A medicine for the Soul: Morphine in the Nineteenth-Century Imagination' (Journal article under review).
  • '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).