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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


David Ewing

College: Clare College        


Supervisor: Dr Martin Crowley

Research Topic: Everyday life and the postwar French novel



David completed an undergraduate degree in History and French in 2017 and a Masters in French and Cultural Studies in 2019, writing on Michel de Certeau, Jacques Rancière and new media, Raymond Williams and the Dardenne brothers, and the question of culture in Michel Houellebecq’s fiction. His current research interests include twentieth and twenty-first century French literature; theories of everyday life; French intellectual history; British cultural studies; critical history and historiography; and the entwined histories of modernities, modernisms and modernization.

Since 2018, David has been involved in assisting and teaching Modern Languages in school and university settings. He tries to apply insights from his research to these projects, both at the level of content and of form. Over the the past two years, David has also worked with fellow PhD students to co-design and teach a non-examined critical theory course for Part IA, IB and II MMLL students and has supervised an introduction to French literature, thought, and culture, as well as a literary translation paper. He is committed to widening participation and outreach at Cambridge and regularly lead sessions for school students aged 13-18, including taster workshops, lectures, and sample supervisions for prospective applicants.



David’s thesis project investigates the relationship between experimental fiction and everyday life in postwar French culture. In the thirty or so years following Liberation, writers including Nathalie Sarraute, Michel Butor, Claude Simon, and Georges Perec were seeking to restage the encounter between the novelistic form and experience. By plotting the movements staged in their novels between everyday experience and its counterpoints (extraordinary experiences, the event, death, life grasped in the singular, and so on), it becomes possible, David argues, to find new ways of seeing and valuing the everyday. In pursuing this investigation at both an historical and literary-theoretical level, his project aims to build on the seminal contribution of the late Michael Sheringham in Everyday Life: Theories and Practices from Surrealism to the Present (2006). In historical terms, David explores the ways in which narrative fiction contributed to the construction of a literary-intellectual tradition of the quotidien in postwar France. At the literary-theoretical level, he is developing strategies for reading narrative fiction that incorporate Sheringham’s account of the relations between literary experimentation and ways of rethinking or attending better to everyday life. David hypothesizes that the latter dimension of the project has meta-methodological upshots for how critics might think the relation between life and fiction, while his historical argument suggests that fiction can help us to tell the history of concepts like that of the everyday, which seem to resist conceptualization.  



Wolfson Scholar, Clare College, Cambridge, 2019-22

AHRC Doctoral Training Programme Masters Studentship, St Catherine’s College, Oxford, 2018-19

Hiddleston Scholar, St Hilda’s College, Oxford, 2014-17



David has taught or lectured on the FR1, FRB2, and FR6 Tripos papers and has taught non-scheduled critical theory classes across all Parts of the MMLL Tripos.


Conference papers

‘Inter-stationary narrative: Michel Butor’s La Modification (1957) and the dialectics of everyday time in postwar France’, Society for French Studies Annual Conference, 2021.

‘Metaphor and its antitheses in Henri Lefebvre’s postcolonial imaginary’, Cambridge Modern French Research Seminar, 2021.

‘The everyday at the limits of representation: Georges Perec’s Things: A Story of the Sixties (1965)’, Art, Aesthetics, and the Philosophy of Everyday Life (Coordinates of Aesthetics, Art, and Culture Conference VI, Society for Aesthetics in Slovakia), 2020.

‘“F*ck you, I would prefer not to”: ugly feelings and the politics of style in Michel Houellebecq’s recent fiction ‘, Rage Against the Machine (Cambridge French Graduate Conference), 2020.

‘Planes, trains, and automatons?: Reading Michel de Certeau’s ‘pratiques d’espace’ in the age of data’, Cambridge French Graduate Research Seminar, 2019.



‘The everyday at the limits of representation: Georges Perec’s Things: A Story of the Sixties (1965)’ in Everydayness: Contemporary Aesthetic Approaches, ed. Lisa Giombini and Adrián Kvokačka (Rome and Presov: Roma Tre Press and Presov University Press, expected 2021).


Other activities and roles

Since 2019, David has been a Session Leader on the Postgraduate Outreach Scheme at Cambridge, for which he has delivered taster sessions and introductory lectures to students aged 13-18. He has also delivered sample supervisions for prospective applicants at several Cambridge colleges and in 2021 he contributed to the Cambridge Collaborative A-Level Resources for Languages project. In 2020-21, David was a co-convenor, with Annalisa Nicholson, of the French Graduate Research Seminar and since 2020-21 he has co-convened the Modern French Research Seminar with Emma Wilson and Lili Owen Rowlands. He is the Postgraduate Officer of the Society for French Studies.