Prof Katherine Astbury


Katherine Astbury is Professor of French Studies and Head of the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Warwick. Having begun her academic career as a comparatist, looking at the moral tale in 18th-century France and Germany, she now focuses on extending our understanding of French culture during the revolutionary and Napoleonic period by examining the aesthetics and politics of novels, prints, theatrical texts, songs, scores and performances of the time. The ways in which cultural forms inflect the public sphere and shape political legitimacy are central to her work and can be seen in her 2012 monograph Narrative Responses to the Trauma of the French Revolution and a 2018 co-edited volume with Mark Philp Napoleon’s One Hundred Days and the Politics of Legitimacy (Palgrave).

Between 2013 and 2017 she was Principal Investigator on an Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project on French Theatre of the Napoleonic era. As part of the project, she gave a number of public talks and performances in collaboration with Dr Katherine Hambridge, including at the British Museum and the Cheltenham Music Festival.

Recently she has been working closely with English Heritage at Portchester Castle, advising on the reinterpretation of the keep, where French prisoners of war built a theatre and performed Parisian hit plays between 1810 and 1814. From July 2019 until the end of November 2019 the castle is housing a sound installation inspired by her research: | Les Murs Sont Témoins | These Walls Bear Witness | was created by internationally renowned artist Elaine Mitchener to bring to life the experiences of the 2000 black revolutionaries from the Caribbean held at Portchester in 1797 and those from mainland France held there a decade later.

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