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Ruth Hemus - Professor of French and Visual Culture

Ruth Hemus - Professor of French and Visual Culture

I am the current Head of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, where I teach on the French, Liberal Arts, and Comparative Literature and Culture programmes. My area of interest is avant-garde women artists, writers and performers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

My first book Dada’s Women (Yale University Press, 2009) focused on the contribution of five women associated with the Dada arts movement: Emmy Hennings and Sophie Taeuber in Zurich, Hannah Höch in Berlin, and Suzanne Duchamp and Céline Arnauld in Paris. The prolific poetry and intriguing life story of the latter is the subject of my second book Céline Arnauld: From Dada to Ultra-Modern (Legenda, 2020). My final-year course ‘Wanton Women: Artists and Writers of the French avant-garde’ encourages further research by students into pioneering women who shaped Dada and Surrealism.

My research has informed numerous exhibitions and events internationally. In the UK I have worked with The National Theatre, Southbank Centre and Tate Exchange in London, The Centre for Contemporary Arts and Wasps Studios in Glasgow, and The Hatton Gallery, Newcastle. Further afield I have collaborated on exhibitions and catalogues with the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter in Norway, The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark, The Nicola Trussardi Foundation in Italy, and the Cabaret Voltaire and Forum Schlossplatz Aarau in Switzerland. Public engagement is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job as an academic. Each year I co-organise a series of public workshops at Tate Exchange as part of Royal Holloway’s associate partnership founded by the Department of Drama.

Interactivity and accessibility are at the heart of my research, teaching, and outreach. Collaborative work with the composer Sonia Allori and visual artist Vaia Paziana has produced original multimedia works. Through participatory workshops we draw attention to Dada’s women and their relevance one hundred years on. You can follow our journey here.

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