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Dr Bradley Stephens

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. Many of my publications and public engagement activities focus on cutting through the clichés surrounding Hugo and other iconic male figures to reveal new insights into their writing and its reception.  

My first book, Victor Hugo, Jean-Paul Sartre and the Liability of Liberty (Legenda, 2011), examined the previously overlooked connections between Romantic and Existentialist thinking through two of France's most celebrated writers. My latest books both explore the legacy of Hugo's most famous novel, Les Mìsérables (1862). The first, '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).

More recently, I have written a biography of Hugo that will appear in Reaktion Books' 'Critical Lives' series in 2019. This book provides a concise but comprehensive study of Hugo's monumental body of work as both a writer and a statesman within the context of his dramatic life. The research for this biography underpins my current project on the poetics and politics of masculinity in Hugo's career, which develops my broader interest in how the public personas of male French writers are created and appropriated for cultural and political purposes.


Research keywords

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