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Professor Fiona Cox

Head of Department, Professor of French and Comparative Literature


01392 726319

I was brought up in Worcestershire and did a degree in French and Latin at the University of Bristol, where I also gained a PhD supervised by Charles Martindale and David Meakin, entitled 'Virgil's Presence in Twentieth Century French Literature'. This was eventually published as Aeneas Takes the Metro: Virgil’s Presence in Twentieth Century French Literature. While working on the PhD I was able to spend a year teaching English in Bordeaux at Université Michel de Montaigne III. In 1995 I took up a Lectureship in French at University College, Cork and worked there for fifteen years. I joined the University of Exeter in 2010, where I am currently Head of Department of Modern Languages and Cultures and Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature.

I have published widely within the area of classical reception and contemporary women’s writing as well as on Victor Hugo. Current projects include a monograph on the ways in which Les Misérables responds to and reworks classical epic in its bid to become a defining epic for the nineteenth century and the future, and a book on contemporary French and Francophone receptions of Antigone in literature and film.

I have supervised PhDs on classical reception, contemporary women’s writing and nineteenth-century French literature, and should be delighted to hear from prospective PhD candidates

Research interests

Reception of classical literature (especially Virgil and Ovid) in nineteenth, twentieth and twenty first century literature and culture. My main works in this area are Aeneas Takes the Metro - Virgil's Presence in Twentieth Century French Literature (Legenda, 1999), Sibylline Sisters - Virgil's Presence in Contemporary Women's Writing (OUP, 2011),Ovid's Presence in Contemporary Women's Writing - Strange Monsters (OUP, 2018), co-edited with Elena Theodorakopoulos Homer's Daughters - Women's responses to Homer in the twentieth century and beyond (OUP, 2019) and am currently co-editing a volume with Helena Taylor entitled Ovid's receptions in French Women's Writing from the medieval period to the present day (OUP, 2022).

I have published several chapters and articles on the artistic imagination of Victor Hugo, and am currently working on a project which analyses his transformation of epic conventions in Les Mis and how these processes foreshadow the preoccupations of the modern novel.

Translation: I am co-translator of Marius Roux's The Substance and the Shadow (Penn State, 2007). I have also published chapters and articles on translation.

Research supervision

I'd be delighted to hear from any research students interested in working on:

Classical Reception

Contemporary Women's Writing

Literary Translation (especially nineteenth, twentieth and twenty first centuries)

The French novel  - nineteenth and twentieth century

Research students

Dorota Rzycka - 'Dans le prisme de la belgitude - L'analyse des espaces belges dans l'oeuvre d'Emile Verhaeren et Jacques Brel'. PhD awarded 2011 UCC Ireland. Co-supervisor.

Kathleen Hamel - 'Ovid's Metamorphoses in Twentieth Century French Literature and Art' External Supervisor. (UCC- Ireland)

Catherine Burke - 'Homer's Presence in Twentieth Century French Literature' External Supervisor (UCC - Ireland)

Second Supervisor to Catrin Francis - 'The Politics of Appropriation in French Revolutionary Theatre'

Sandra Daroczi. 'Readerly Dialogues: Reception, Intertextuality and the Other in Contemporary French Women's Writing'.

Giada Alessandroni (second supervisor) 'Amongst Women: Literary representations of female homosociality in Belle Epoque France'.


Other information

I am currently on the Executive Committees of the Society for French Studies and of the Society of Dix-Neuviémistes.

Invited Speaker:

Keynote address at the Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in the Reception of the Ancient World, University of Birmingham, December 2012.

Virgil Translation Workshop, University of British Columbia, September 2012

Journée Virgile/ Ovide – Université de Lille III, November 2010

Vergil Society, Symposium at Cuma, Naples - June 2006

'Pastoral after Theocritus and Virgil' University of Crete, May 2006

Research Seminar Series - Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, University of Birmingham, November 2004.

Virgil Society, London, May 2002.

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