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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. 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 was 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 in 2018 as part of the Modern Language Association's 'Approaches to Teaching World Literature' series). A co-authored chapter with Kathryn Grossman also considered 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, 2017).

A second parallel project continues to concentrate 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 can be brought into dialogue with one another.

Research keywords

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