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Dr Bradley StephensBA , MA, PhD (Cantab.)

Associate Professor in French Literature

Bradley Stephens

Dr Bradley StephensBA , MA, PhD (Cantab.)

Associate Professor in French Literature

Member of

External positions

External Examiner (French), University of Manchester


External Examiner (French), University of Birmingham


External Examiner in Modern Languages, Nottingham Trent University

Aug 2012Aug 2016

Research interests

  • French literature from the nineteenth century onwards
  • French Romanticism, especially the life and works of Victor Hugo (1802-85)
  • literary adaptation and reception theory
  • gender and masculinity studies

My publications and public engagement activities primarily focus on cutting through the clichés surrounding Victor Hugo and other iconic male figures from French literature to reveal new insights into their writing and its reception. My most recent project was a biography of Hugo in Reaktion Books' 'Critical Lives' series in early 2019, reviewed by France Today as 'the antidote we never knew we craved in these troubled times of ours [...] Comprehensive and refreshingly accessible'. The writer and statesman behind much-loved stories like Les Misérables and Notre-Dame de Paris (better known in English as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) has a fascinating story of his own that helps us to understand both his massive body of work and his enduring influence. The research for this study underpins my current project on the poetics and politics of masculinity in Hugo's career, which develops my broader interest in the cultural capital of male French writers. 

I have spoken about my work at conferences in the UK and USA and at Literary Festivals in London, Guernsey, and Bristol, in addition to writing opinion pieces for both The Guardian and The Huffington Postand being interviewed by BBC Radio, the L.A.Times, and Dagbladet.

Previous Research Projects

My first project, emerging from my PhD, examined the overlooked connections between Romantic and Existentialist thinking through two of France's most celebrated writers. The main findings were published in my first single-authored book, Victor Hugo, Jean-Paul Sartre and the Liability of Liberty (Legenda, 2011). My subsequent project explored the legacy of Hugo's most famous novel. 'Les Mìsérables' and its Afterlives: Between Page, Stage, and Screen, co-edited with Kathryn M. Grossman (Routledge, 2015), offers new readings of both the epic bestseller and its prolific adaptations; the second, Approaches to Teaching Hugo's Les Mìsérables, co-edited with Michal P. Ginsburg (MLA, 2018), develops new approaches to teaching this literary classic (as part of the Modern Language Association of America's 'Approaches to Teaching World Literature' series).

PhD and MA Supervision 

I have supervised MA theses on multimedia adaptation and on translation projects relating to modern French literature, including modernist prose, postmodern writing, and children's fiction. I have co-supervised PhD and MPhil theses on a range of subjects, including:

  • French women Romantic writers and nationhood (which resulted in Stacie Allan's 2018 monograph study Writing the Self, Writing the Nation)
  • the fantastic in late nineteenth-century French and German fiction
  • le merveilleux scientifique in late nineteenth-century French literature
  • Jules Verne's utopian narratives
  • the figure of the priest in love or prêtre amoureux in French Romantic fiction

View research connections

Postal address:
19 Woodland Road
United Kingdom

Selected research outputs

  1. Published

    The Novel and the (Il)Legibility of History: Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac, and Alexandre Dumas

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

  2. Published
  3. Published

    Animating Animality Through Dumas, D'Artagnan, and Dogtanian

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Published

    Otherwise Than Being: Levinassian Ethics in Victor Hugo's 'La Force des Choses'

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

  5. Published

    How Am I Not Myself? Engaging Ambiguity in David O. Russell's "I Heart Huckabees"'

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

  6. Published

    Victor Hugo, Jean-Paul Sartre, and The Liability of Liberty

    Research output: Book/ReportAuthored book

  7. Published
  8. Published

    'État présent': Victor Hugo

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  9. Published

    Baisez-moi belle Juju! Victor Hugo and the Joy of his Juliette

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

  10. Published

    Transmissions: Essays in French Literature, Thought and Cinema

    Research output: Book/ReportEdited book

  11. Published

    A Surreptitious Romantic? Reading Sartre with Victor Hugo

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

  12. Published
  13. Published

    Victor Hugo, Charles Renouvier, and the Empowerment of the Poet-Philosopher

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  14. Published

View all (54) »

Selected research projects

  1. Book and Print: Timelines

    Project: Research

View all (1) »

Selected awards and activities

  1. Dix-Neuf (Journal)

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial activity

  2. InsideArts (First UoB Festival of the Arts and Humanities)

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesFestival, exhibition, performance

  3. University Research Fellowship

    Activity: Other activity typesFellowship awarded competitively

View all (106) »