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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
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 928 7914


  • 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. 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.

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


I am a specialist of French literary culture from the nineteenth century onwards, especially the works of Victor Hugo, with interests in gender studies and the reception (and multimedia adaptation) of prose 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 2015 for the REF 2021 exercise, in addition to acting as Subject Lead in French for 2016-17. I am currently a member of the AHRC's Peer Review College and have served on the Editorial Advisory Boards for Dix-Neuf (2015 onwards), French Studies Bulletin (2013-2017), The Journal for European Studies (2010 onwards), and Sartre Studies International (2009 onwards). Between 2014 and 2017, I also sat on the Executive Committee of the Society for French Studies (the leading subject association for French in the UK and Ireland) as Membership Secretary. Within the University, I have chaired the management of InsideArts, the first University Festival of the Arts and Humanities.


Consultation Hours for 2018/19 Wednesdays 11am-1pm (TB1); Tuesdays 11am-1pm (TB2), room 2.61, top floor of 19 Woodland Rd.

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 literature, philosophy, and multimedia 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 postgraduate 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 have co-supervised recently completed PhD theses on: French women Romantic writers (which resulted in Stacie Allan's 2018 monograph 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; and on Jules Verne's utopian narratives


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

Selected publications

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View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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