Visual Cultures of the French-Speaking World (CRIVCOF)

Originally established as a research centre in 2007, the Cluster for Research in the Visual Cultures of the French-Speaking World (CRIVCOF) brings together specialists in this growing interdisciplinary field, both from French Studies and from other academic disciplines.

Visual studies, as an integrated field covering a wide range of cultural forms from manuscript illustrations to photography, painting and graphic arts to cinema and digital media, has recently developed as a dynamic research area within French Studies both nationally and internationally, and more generally within the humanities.

About us

CRIVCOF gathers a critical mass of staff engaged in visual research, and as a result is uniquely placed to contribute decisively to the field. It seeks to enhance visual research within French Studies, while also fostering a culture of intellectual exchange with researchers in other areas who specialize in visual culture.

Our research community

CRIVCOF's activities are complemented by postgraduate programmes, and aim to include an important element of knowledge transfer, practice-oriented initiatives, and collaborations with cultural and educational institutions.

Cultural and educational partners

Our aims

The Cluster aims to promote research, methodological reflection, and postgraduate and postdoctoral recruitment through seminars, conferences, funding applications, exhibitions, film seasons, and residencies for artists.


Research degrees

CRIVCOF provides a stimulating environment for postgraduate research. Staff associated with the Centre have supervised research on topics that range from 18th- and 19th- century book illustration to contemporary film and photography, and from Baroque theatre to fin-de-siecle visual culture.

See our list of staff who are willing to supervise or co-supervise PhD projects in the field of visual studies, and who take an active part in advising current postgraduate students:

Staff research

  • David Adams - Professor of French Enlightenment Studies (retired), Areas of expertise: French Enlightenment thought, illustrated books to 1800, material bibliography.
  • Peter Cooke - Senior Lecturer in French, Areas of Expertise: 19th-Century French painting and literature, Gustave Moreau, poetry, post-Romanticism.
  • Vladimir Kapor - Lecturer in French, Areas of expertise: Textual and visual studies: theoretical models; relationship between pictorial and literary terminology; illustrated book in the eighteenth century.
  • Barbara Lebrun - Lecturer in French, Areas of expertise: Contemporary French popular music; gender representations, performance and visual displays in musical contexts; multiculturalism, nostalgia and 'protest' in popular music.
  • Joseph McGongagle - Lecturer in Cultural Studies in the French-speaking World, Areas of expertise: Ethnicity in French and francophone visual culture, French photography and film, cultural relations between France and Algeria.
  • Floriane Place-Verghnes - Lecturer in French, Areas of expertise: Popular literature and culture, 19th-century French literature and culture, literary theory, media studies (film and cartoon).
  • Dee Reynolds - Professor of French, Areas of expertise: Modern and contemporary dance, comparative aesthetics, poststructuralist and feminist theory.
  • Ursula Tidd - Professor of Modern French Literature and Thought, Areas of expertise: twentieth-century French literature and thought of the post war period, especially: the literature and philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir; women's writing; autobiography; Sartre; critical theory, particularly feminist and queer theory; cultural memory; French literary and filmic representations of the Holocaust (especially Jorge Semprún).
  • Darren Waldron - Lecturer in French Screen Studies, Areas of expertise: Contemporary French cinema and popular culture, queer theory, qualitative audience study.


Major publications by CRIVCOF members in the field of visual studies

Other publications

Peter Cooke

  • Gustave Moreau: History Painting, Spirituality and Symbolism (Yale University Press, forthcoming)
  • 'Les Chimères (1884) de Gustave Moreau: allégorie morale et fête du nu féminin', Revue des Musées de France. La Revue du Louvre, no. 3, June 2010, 60-72
  • 'Symbolism, Decadence and Gustave Moreau', Burlington Magazine, vol. 151 (May 2009), 312-18.
  • 'An Artistic Enmity: Jean-Léon Gérôme and Gustave Moreau', in Reconsidering Gérôme, ed. by Scott. C. Allan and Mary Morton (Malibu: Getty Publications, 2010), pp. 15-47
  • "It Isn't a Dance": Gustave Moreau's Salome and The Apparition', Dance Research, vol. 29.2 (Winter 2011), pp. 214-232.

Vladimir Kapor

  • Local Colour – A Travelling Concept, (Oxford: Peter Lang, Collection “Romanticism and After in France”, 2009) 
  • ‘Reading the image, reviewing the text — on the reception of Bernardin de Saint-Pierre's Voyage a l'Ile de France (1773)’, Word & Image: A Journal of Verbal/Visual Enquiry 28, no. 3 (2012), 302-316.
  • "La Chaumière indienne et la La Chine illustrée d’Athansius Kircher: sur les traces d’une note infrapaginale", in Bernardin de Saint-Pierre et l'Océan indien, ed. by Jean-Michel Racault, Chantale Meure and Angélique Gigan (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2011), pp. 157–169

Dee Reynolds

  • Kinesthetic Empathy in Creative and Cultural Practices, co-edited and introduced by Matthew Reason and Dee Reynolds (Intellect Books, 2012).

Joseph McGonagle

  • 'France and Algeria in Contemporary Visual Culture’, ed. by Joesph McGonagle and Edward Welch, a special issue of Modern and Contemporary France, vol. 19, no. 2, 2011.
  • 'Travelling in Circles: Postcolonial Algiers in Zineb Sedira's Saphir', L'Esprit créateur, 51 (2011): 26-37.

Ursula Tidd

  • Existentialism and Contemporary Cinema: A Beauvoirian Perspective, ed. by Ursula Tidd and Jean-Pierre Boulé (to be published in 2012 by Berghahn Books, Oxford)
  • Jorge Semprún: Writing the European Other (to be published in 2013 by Legenda/MHRA)
  • Existentialism and Contemporary Cinema: A Beauvoirian Perspective (co-edited with Jean-Pierre Boulé) (Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books 2012).

Associated projects

Queer Cinema from Spain and France: the Translation of Desire and the Formation of Transnational Queer Identities

An AHRC-funded project (£282,177) led by Christopher Perriam and Darren Waldron

The project, beginning in February 2012 and lasting 30 months, focuses on the transnational aspects of recent Spanish and French films and filmmakers , foregrounding queer desires, themes and aesthetics. It examines queer film cultures and their audiences in Spain, France and Britain.

Post-Colonial Negotiations: Visualising the Franco-Algerian Relationship in the Post-War Period

An AHRC-funded project (£164,294) led by Joe McGonagle (Manchester) and Edward Welch (Durham)

Our activities

Past seminars

Queer French: Globalization, Language, and Sexual Citizenship in France

6 May 2009

Denis M. Provencher - Associate Professor, Department of Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Visiting Scholar in Residence at Nottingham Trent University.

Denis M. Provencher's Queer French (Ashgate, 2007) has made a highly original contribution to the study of sexual citizenship in contemporary France.

In this presentation, he will examine the tensions between US and French articulations of homosexuality and sexual citizenship as they emerge in various contemporary French popular culture genres and first-person narratives. These include national gay and lesbian news magazines, advertisements, AIDS and post-AIDS fiction, sexual travel novels, commercial French cinema, coming-out stories and map drawings of the "gay city" derived from ethnographic interviews.

In his research, he argues that contemporary French gay and lesbian cultures and their cultural productions rely on a set of long-standing French narratives that withstand US models of gay experience. He maintains that French gay experiences are mitigated through (gay) French language that draws on several canonical voices -- including Jean Genet and Jean-Paul Sartre -- and various universalistic discourses -- based on a republican model of citizenship that does not celebrate "differentiated" or "individual" rights.

His work demonstrates how the (American) "one-size-fits-all" approach to sexual citizenship is complicated by issues of ethnicity, race and class whereby French gays and lesbians take up and reject to varying degrees notions such as "community" and belonging.

Organised by the Centre for the Research into the Visual Culture of the French Speaking World.


Narrative Painting in France

5-7 January 2010

A three-day conference organised by The Centre for Research in the Visual Cultures of the French-Speaking World.

Key-note address - Étienne Jollet (Université de Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense): 'Figurative Poetics and Narration in Painting: some Propositions'

Tuesday 5 January

  • Alyce Jordan (Northern Arizona University): 'Rhetorics of Sanctity and Subversion: The St. Thomas Becket Windows of Medieval France'
  • Valérie Auclair (Université de Marne-la-Vallée, France): 'Les transformations narratives de la matière troyenne dans le cycle des peintures murales de la galerie du château d'Oiron. Leurs enjeux esthétiques et politiques'
  • Marianne Cojannot-Le Blanc (Université de Paris X): 'Le Passage du Rhin de Charles Le Brun dans le régime discursif de la Grande Galerie de Versailles'
  • Claudine Mitchell (University of Leeds): 'Units of Vision and Narrative Structures: upon Reading Poussin's Manna'

Wednesday 6 January

  • Pierre Wachenheim (Université de Nancy 2, France): 'Récit pictural ou "gazette d'une catastrophe": la peinture d'histoire témoignage de l'événement et de l'accident au XVIIIe siècle'
  • Susanna Caviglia (Université de Limoges, France): 'La crise de la narration dans la peinture d'histoire en France au XVIIIe siècle'
  • Mark Ledbury (Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass.): 'Obscurity and Eccentricity in Neo-classical Narrative Painting'
  • Richard Wrigley (University of Nottingham): 'Léopold Robert's L'arrivée des moissonneurs dans les marais Pontins and Narratives of Displacement and Dislocation'
  • Susan Siegfried (University of Michigan): 'Narrative Invention and Picturing Femininity in Early Nineteenth-Century French Art'
  • Beth Wright (University of Texas at Arlington): 'Delacroix and "The Work of the Reader'
  • Peter Cooke (University of Manchester): 'Temporality, Reading, and Specificity: French History Painting before and after Lessing's Laokoön'
  • Scott Allan (J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles): 'Tyrannical Inopportunity: Anti-narrative Strategies in the Art of Gustave Moreau'

Thursday 7 January

  • Nina Lübbren (Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University): 'Eloquent Objects: Gérôme and the Art of Inanimate Narration'
  • John House (Courtauld Institute of Art, London): 'Reading Fashionable Genre Paintings'
  • Pierre Sérié (École du Louvre, Paris): 'Vers une "mise en scène" du tableau d'histoire, le grand genre hypnotisé par le drame (1860-1900)'
  • Belinda Thomson (independent art historian): 'Narrative and Non-narrative in the Art of Paul Gauguin'
  • Jean-Baptiste Chantoiseau (Musée Rodin, Paris): 'Vers un art épuisé ? De l'énervement figuratif (fin XIXe) au vide symbolique dans la peinture contemporaine (XXe)'
  • Silvia Loreti (University of Manchester): 'The Space of Time in Inter-War French Painting'

Organised by Peter Cooke

Supported by the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures at The University of Manchester and the Society of French Studies.


Visualising the Franco-Algerian Relationship since 1954 

7 January 2010

This workshop is being held as part of an AHRC-funded project, 'France-Algeria: Visualising a (Post-) Colonial Relationship'

Its aim is to facilitate the exchange of ideas between contributors to a special issue of Modern and Contemporary France to be published in May 2011.

Bringing together specialists in French and Algerian visual culture from the UK, US, France and Algeria, the workshop and special issue will address the different ways in which the Franco-Algerian relationship has been represented in visual culture from the outbreak of the Algerian War to the present day. It will explore a range of work, including contemporary Algerian cinema and visual culture, and the negotiation of memories of colonisation and the War in French, pied-noir and Franco-Algerian film and photography.


Picturing Stories: Romantic illustrations from Britain and France

Friday, 9 August 2013 to Thursday, 9 January 2014

This exhibition explores the development of French and British Romantic illustration during the period 1770-1860. In contrast to earlier allegorical images, Romantic pictures are full of action, emotion and exciting story-telling.

Highlights of the exhibition include works by Byron, Dante and Walter Scott and images by artists such as Flaxman, Cruikshank and Girodet. A DVD has been installed at the event showing a number of images from the exhibition with voice-over reading excerpts from the featured texts.

New Cartographies: Algeria-France-UK

Co-curated by Joseph McGonagle, with Edward Welch (Durham), New Cartographies: Algeria-France-UK was held at Cornerhouse in Manchester, from 8 April to 5 June 2011. The exhibition received 14,649 attendances.

As part of the exhibition, funding was provided for the emerging Algerian artist, Atef Berredjem, to complete a six-week residency in London at The Delfina Foundation during March-May 2011.

The engagement programme, including seminars, tours, education course and accompanying Arab and Maghrebi film season (organised by Dr McGonagle with Dr Dalia Mostafa, from the Department of Middle Eastern Studies) attracted 426 attendances in addition.