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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Professor Charles Forsdick

Professor Charles Forsdick
Drapers Professor of French
Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages & Linguistics
Contact details: 
Telephone number: 
01223 762100

Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge
Cambridge, CB3 0DF
United Kingdom


Charles Forsdick studied French as an undergraduate at New College, Oxford. After graduating, he completed a PhD at Lancaster on the author, traveller and naval doctor Victor Segalen, under the supervision of Dr David Steel. Following his first post as Lecturer in French at the University of Glasgow, he moved to the James Barrow Chair of French at the University of Liverpool in 2001, a post he held until his move to Cambridge in 2023. He was President of the Society for French Studies, 2012-14, Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of International Slavery, 2010-13, and served as chair of sub-panel D26 (Modern Languages and Linguistics) for REF2021. From 2012 until 2021, he was AHRC Theme Leadership Fellow for 'Translating Cultures'. A Member of the Academy of Europe, he is also currently Lead Fellow for Languages at the British Academy. Charles is Adjunct Professor in Translation Studies, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University and Honorary Professor in the Centre for the Study of International Slavery at the University of Liverpool. He edits or co-edits three series for Liverpool University Press: 'Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures', ‘World Writing in French: New Archipelagoes’ and the 'Glissant Translation Project'. He also edits a series for Anthem Press called 'Anthem Studies in Travel'. Professor Forsdick is Chair of the Advisory Council of the Institute of Modern Languages Research. Since 2019, he has been a member of the conseil scientifique of the Fondation pour la Mémoire de l’Esclavage. He sits on a number of journal advisory boards, including Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, Australian Journal of French Studies, Irish Journal of French Studies, Journal of Romance Studies, Studies in Travel Writing and Francosphères, and is an Associate Editor of Language, Society and Policy and CFC Intersections.

Teaching interests: 

Francophone postcolonial studies, particularly postcolonial literature; French colonial history; the transatlantic traffic in enslaved Africans; travel writing and exoticism; translation studies; world literature and graphic fiction.

Research interests: 

French and Francophone literature and culture in the modern and contemporary periods (including exoticism; postcolonialism; travel literature; graphic fiction); colonial literature and history; Caribbean literature and history [especially Haiti]; Breton culture; contemporary French novel [including detective fiction]; slavery studies; dark tourism; penal heritage; history of Modern Languages. Also comparative literature, translation studies, World Literature and cultural heritage.

Recent research projects: 

'"Dark Tourism" in Comparative Perspective: Sites of Suffering, Sites of Memory'

‘Antislavery Knowledge Network’

‘Reggae Research Network’

'Common Cause Research: enriching the Arts and Humanities through collaborations between universities and BME community partners'.

Published works: 

Publications (selected)


Victor Segalen and the Aesthetics of Diversity: Journeys between Cultures (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

Travel in Twentieth-Century French and Francophone Cultures: the Persistence of Diversity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).

New Approaches to Twentieth-Century Travel Literature in French: History, Theory, Genre (New York: Lang, 2006; ‘Travel writing across the disciplines’; v. 10). [co-authored with Feroza Basu and Siobhán Shilton.]

Ella Maillart, “Oasis interdites” (Geneva: Zoé, 2008).

Toussaint Louverture: A Black Jacobin in the Age of Revolutions (London: Pluto, 2017) [co-authored with Christian Høgsbjerg]


Francophone Postcolonial Studies: A Critical Introduction, ed. by Charles Forsdick and David Murphy (London: Arnold, 2003).

The Francophone Bande Dessinée, ed. by Charles Forsdick, Laurence Grove and Elizabeth McQuillan (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2005).

The Modern Francophone Essay: Movement, Instability, Performance, ed. by Charles Forsdick and Andrew Stafford (Bern: Peter Lang, 2005).

Grounding a World: Essays on the Work of Kenneth White, ed. by Gavin Bowd, Charles Forsdick, and Norman Bissell (Glasgow: Alba, 2005).

Human Zoos: Science and Spectacle in the Age of Colonial Empire, ed. by Pascal Blanchard, Nicolas Bancel, Gilles Boetsch, Eric Deroo, Sandrine Lemaire and Charles Forsdick (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2008).

Postcolonial Thought in the French-Speaking World, ed. by Charles Forsdick and David Murphy (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2009).

Transnational French Studies: Postcolonialism and Littérature-monde, ed. by Charles Forsdick, Alec Hargreaves and David Murphy (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press; Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies, 2010).

Travel Writing: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies, ed. by Tim Youngs and Charles Forsdick, 4 vols. (New York: Routledge, 2012).

Travel and Ethics: Theory and Practice, ed. by Charles Forsdick, Corinne Fowler, and Ludmilla Kostova (New York: Routledge, 2013).

La Revue: The Twentieth-Century Periodical in French, ed. by Charles Forsdick and Andrew Stafford (Bern: Peter Lang, 2013). The Black Jacobins Reader, ed. by Charles Forsdick and Christian Høgsbjerg (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016).

Keywords for Travel Writing Studies, ed. by Charles Forsdick, Zoe Kinsley and Kate Walchester (London: Anthem Press, 2019).

Georges Perec’s Geographies: Material, Performative and Textual Spaces, ed. by Charles Forsdick, Andrew Leak and Richard Phillips (London: UCL Press, 2019).

Postcolonial Realms of Memory: Sites and Symbols in Modern France, ed. by Etienne Achille, Charles Forsdick and Lydie Moudileno (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2020).

Framing the Penal Colony: Representing, Interpreting and Imagining Convict Transportation, ed. by Sophie Fuggle, Charles Forsdick and Katharina Massing (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2023).

Transnational French Studies, ed. by Charles Forsdick and Claire Launchbury (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2023).