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Name: Antonia Wimbush

PhD: French Studies

Thesis Title: Exile in Francophone Women's Autobiographical Writing


Thesis Description:

My research explores exile in Francophone women’s autobiographical writing, through a gendered focus on identity and cross cultural transmission, with particular attention to postcolonialism, diaspora and transnationalism. My work draws on Kristeva’s theories of exile (1986), which state that exiled women writers who flee to France, the former colonizer, due to unrest and poverty also suffer from metaphorical exile due to their status as women writers. I am studying the representation of this triple exile in the autobiographical work of four Francophone authors, working in four distinct geographic areas: Kim Lefèvre (Vietnam), Véronique Tadjo (Ivory Coast), Nina Bouraoui (Algeria) and Gisèle Pineau (Guadeloupe). Considering each author in turn, and comparing texts where appropriate, the overarching methodology is the consideration of how Kristeva’s three forms of gendered exile influence the construction of identity in these postcolonial texts. I will explore how these texts harness postcolonial strategies of resistance and resilience, with reference to Bhabha and Spivak. This comparative approach will produce new readings of the ways in which exile is a paradigm for cultural crossing in Francophone women’s autobiographical fiction.


Supervisors and Institutions: 

Dr Louise Hardwick, University of Birmingham

Dr Jean-Xavier Ridon, University of Nottingham



Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:

2014- 2015:

  • Public Engagement presentation, 'The Francophone World', to students at King Edward VI High School for Girls, Birmingham, in March 2015.
  • Fieldwork in Martinique in April 2015, looking at archives on economic migration to France and the BUMIDOM state-run migration scheme at the Bibiothèque Schoelcher and Archives Départementales in Fort-de-France. Antonia also shadowed Dr Louise Hardwick on her Public Engagement Activities on Martinican author Jospeh Zobel, speaking to school pupils, teachers, archivists and museum curators about Zobel’s literary legacy and his migration to metropolitan France.This fieldwork was funded through M3C's Student Development Fund. For more information about the outputs of this research trip, see the report on UoB French departmental website: 
  • Delivered a paper entitled 'Personal Memory and Exile in Nina Bouraoui's Autobiographical Fiction' at Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies (SFPS) Postgraduate Workshop, Queen's University, Belfast, in May 2015.
  • 'Women's Immigration to France: A Caribbean Case Study', College of Arts and Law PG Interdisciplinary Conference, Birmingham, in June 2015.
  • Work-in-progress paper on Nina Bouraoui's autofiction at French Department Postgraduate Seminar Series, University of Nottingham, June 2015.
  • Postgraduate representative of Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies.
  • PGCARMS modules (Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Research Methods and Skills) on Public Engagement and Managing your Research Project.


  • Tutor for the Academic Skills Centre, University of Birmingham.
  • Conference paper entitled 'Women's Immigration to France: A Caribbean Case Study of Pineau and Ega' at SFPS Annual Conference, Institute of Modern Languages Research, London, in November 2015.
  • Postgraduate representative of Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies.

  • Worked with a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow (Dr Claire Peters) on an AHRC-funded Cultural Engagement project (Spring 2016): ‘Francophone Postcolonial Film Screenings’. This involved working with the MAC, the Drum, the Mockingbird and local audiences. 

  • Postgraduate mentor for languages, University of Birmingham.
  • Co-organised the SFPS annual postgraduate conference with a PhD student from the University of Warwick, to be held on 20 June at University of Birmingham.
  • Presented at the Modern Languages Postgraduate Interdisciplinary Workshop, University of Birmingham, in June 2016.
  • Conference paper entitled 'Effacer mes mauvaises pensées': Memory, Writing and Trauma in Nina Bouraoui's Autofiction' at 'Memory and Postcolonial Studies: Synergies and New Directions' Symposium, University of Nottingham, in June 2016.
  • Conference paper entitled 'Women, Migration, and Agency in French Caribbean Literature' at 'Femmes Créa(c)tives' conference, University of Exeter, in June 2016.
  • Conference paper entitled 'Remembering Migration: A Caribbean Case Study' at Society for French Studies Annual Conference, University of Glasgow, in June 2016.



  • Gave assembly at Wakefield Girls' High School Junior School for European Day of Languages and led French workshops for Y6 pupils.
  • Seminar tutor for Y1 module, 'La France moderne', at the University of Birmingham.
  • Gave a presentation on best practice in public engagement and impact from a PGR perspective at a workshop for the school of LCAHM, University of Birmingham, in October 2016.
  • Work-in-progress paper on Véronique Tadjo's Loin de mon père at French Department Postgraduate Seminar Series, University of Nottingham, in October 2016.
  • Invited blog post for the French History Network Blog Post on researching in the Bibliothèque Schoelcher in Martinique:
  • Postgraduate representative and conference secretary of Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies. Co-organising SFPS Annual Conference at Senate House, London, on 17-18 November 2017
  • Conference paper entitled 'Return as Exile in Véronique Tadjo's Loin de mon père' at Australian Society for French Studies Annual Conference in Adelaide in December 2016.
  • Co-organising 'Imagining the Body in France and the Francophone World', to be held at University of Birmingham on 19-20 January 2018. Successfully obtained external funding (£800 from Institute of Modern Languages Research, £400 from Society of French Studies).
  • Presenting on Kim Lefèvre at SFPS PG Study day in Lancaster in June 2017.
  • Research assistant on Dr Louise Hardwick's Impact project 'Teaching Zobel and Francophonie in UK High Schools'. Designing and trialing a set of teaching resources on French Caribbean literature and the Francophone world.




Other Research Interests:

  • Language teaching in Higher Education.
  • Second language acquisition.
  • Translation studies.


Social Media Presence:

  • Twitter: @wimbush_antonia

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