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Dr Bradley Stephens

Dr Bradley Stephens

Dr Bradley Stephens
BA , MA, PhD (Cantab)

Senior Lecturer in French

Office 2.61, 19WR
19 Woodland Road,
Clifton, Bristol BS8 1TE
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+44 (0) 117 928 7914


I specialise in French literary culture from the nineteenth century onwards, with particular interests in the life and works of Victor Hugo, in multimedia adaptation, reception theory, and gender. My first book, Victor Hugo, Jean-Paul Sartre and the Liability of Liberty (Legenda, 2011), offered a study of the previously overlooked connections between Romantic and Existentialist thinking for which I was awarded a University Research Fellowship. My latest book, 'Les Mìsérables' and its Afterlives: Between Page, Stage, and Screen, co-edited with Kathryn M. Grossman (Routledge, 2015), offers new readings of both Hugo's globally popular novel and its prolific adaptations. I am currently writing a biography of Hugo for Reaktion Books' 'Critical Lives' series and planning a new monograph on the poetics of masculinity in Hugo's career.

The book on Les Mìsérables is part of a broader project, in collaboration with colleagues across the UK, USA, and France, that investigates how strategies of adaptation vary across medium, nation, and era. For this project, I worked as part of a REACT-funded partnership (The Next Timeline) that looked at how literary data can be coded for touchscreen software, using Les Mìsérables as a telling test case. A second co-edited volume (with Michal P. Ginsburg) develops new approaches to teaching this literary classic (forthcoming as part of the Modern Language Association's 'Approaches to Teaching World Literature' series). An upcoming co-authored chapter with Kathryn Grossman will also consider the novel's transformation in musical theatre in The Oxford Handbook of the British Musical, edited by Robert Gordon and Olaf Jubin (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2017).

A second parallel project concentrates on the masculine figure of the grand homme or 'great man' which writers like Hugo and Alexandre Dumas explored (and came to embody). Combining these interests, I co-edited (with Kate Griffiths and Andrew Watts) a special number of the journal Dix-Neuf on 'Adaptation in Nineteenth-Century France' (2014). This edition included my article on Alexandre Dumas' Les Trois mousquetaires, looking at both the importance of animation as an overlooked adaptive medium, and the construction of masculinity in both the source and its adaptations. I'm preparing further research to consider how adaptation and gender studies may be brought into dialogue with one another.


I am a specialist of French literary culture from the nineteenth century onwards, especially the works of Victor Hugo and the reception / adaptation of narrative fiction. I completed my BA, MPhil and PhD at the University of Cambridge before joining the School of Modern Languages in Bristol in 2006. I was promoted to Senior Lecturer in French in 2013 and became School Impact Director in 2016 for the next REF exercise, in addition to acting as Subject Lead in French for 2016-17. I currently sit on the Executive Committee of the Society for French Studies (the leading subject association for French in the UK and Ireland) as Membership Secretary, and on the Editorial Advisory Boards for Dix-NeufFrench Studies BulletinThe Journal for European Studies, and Sartre Studies International. Within the University, I have chaired the management of InsideArts, the first University Festival of the Arts and Humanities.


Consultation Hours in 2015/16 are as follows: in the first semester, Tuesdays 10:30am-12:30pm; and in the second semester, Mondays 11:30am-12:30pm and Thursdays 2:30-3:30pm. I will usually be available to see students at these times, and mutually convenient alternatives can be arranged via email.

My undergraduate teaching includes: the first-year units 'Shaping France' (FREN10008) and ‘Reading Literary and Visual Cultures in French’ (FREN10010); second-year courses on the French novel (FREN20023) and modern French fiction and film (FREN20048); and final-year special options on Romanticism and Realism (FREN30027) and readings and adaptations of Les Mìsérables (FREN30030). I also supervise final-year 'Independent Study' projects on French thought, literature, and literary adaptation from the nineteenth century to the present day.

At graduate level for the MA in Comparative Literatures and Cultures, I convene a core unit entitled ‘Institutions of Culture' (MODLM0022), and contribute seminars to a range of other units, including ‘The Rise of the Novel in Nineteenth-Century Europe’ (MODLM2035) and 'The Cultural Imagination of Gender' (MODLM0023).

For graduate research, I welcome enquiries from students working on French literary culture since the nineteenth century, especially for projects interested in reception theory, literary activism, masculinity studies, and adaptation. I have supervised MPhil and MA theses on French Romantic writing and on translation projects relating to modern French literature, including modernist prose, postmodern writing, and children's fiction. I am currently co-supervising three PhD theses on: le merveilleux scientifique in late nineteenth-century French literature; the fantastic in late nineteenth-century French and German fiction; and French women Romantic writers. I have previously co-supervised completed PhD projects on Jules Verne's utopian narratives and on the symbolism surrounding glass objects in late nineteenth-century French fiction.


  • Romanticism
  • Victor Hugo
  • Alexandre Dumas
  • adaptation studies
  • the novel
  • masculinity studies
  • Existentialism.

Selected publications

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