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Eric Robertson - Professor of Modern French Literary and Visual Culture

Eric Robertson - Professor of Modern French Literary and Visual Culture

I teach on the French and Comparative Literature and Culture programmes in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, mainly focusing on literature, the visual arts and film. My research focuses on the French and European avant-gardes, text-image interactions, and multilingual writing, especially poetry.

I typically (co)-teach on courses focusing on modern French literature and the visual arts: these include FR1105 The Visual Image in French Culture and SocietyML1301 Visual Arts 1: Artists and their MaterialsML1102 The Birth of FilmML1301 Visual Arts 1: Artists and their Materials; FR2107 The Illustrated Text in France; FR2410 Advanced French Translation: Skills and Practice; ML2302 Visual Arts 2: Genres and MovementsFR3113 Text and Image in France from Cubism to the Present and ML3215 Translingual Literature: Writing Across Borders and Identities.  Much of my teaching is comparative and interdisciplinary in nature.

To date I have authored or co-authored eight books and co-edited a further four on modern French and European writers, the international avant-gardes, and modern and contemporary art. My 2022 monograph, Blaise Cendrars: the Invention of Life examines the poetry, novels and autofiction of this extraordinary writer. It builds on my other books on the Surrealist poet Robert Desnos and the multilingual authors René Schickele and Yvan and Claire Goll. My fascination with avant-garde art and its relations to literature has resulted in two authored books on the Franco-German painter, poet and sculptor Hans Jean Arp: the first, Arp: Painter, Poet, Sculptor, won the 2007 R. Gapper Book Prize, and the second, Arp: the Poetry of Forms, accompanied the international touring exhibition that I co-curated for Kröller-Müller Museum (Otterlo, Netherlands) and Turner Contemporary in 2017-18. This was the most important retrospective of Arp’s work in the UK for over half a century. It attracted 250,000 visitors and received widespread international press and media attention. In the field of modern and contemporary art, I have co-authored the books Schwitters, Miró, Arp,  Words Without Thoughts Never to Heaven Go and  Jean-Michel Basquiat: Xerox and written the essay for an exhibition on the Spanish sculptor Baltasar Lobo; in 2022, I authored a book on the Catalan Surrealist artist Joan Miró to coincide with an exhibition of his work at Luxembourg + Co in New York.

My research on modern artists has led me to give talks, write essays and contribute to exhibitions for art museums and galleries beyond those mentioned above, including  Almine Rech Gallery (New York), Arp Museum (Bahnhof Rolandseck, Germany), Stiftung Arp (Berlin), Cabaret Voltaire (Zurich), Connaught Brown (London), Hauser & Wirth (Zurich, London, Los Angeles, Somerset, Hong Kong, Gstaad), Luxembourg + Co (London and New York), Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain (Strasbourg), Nahmad Contemporary (New York), and the Nasher Sculpture Center (Dallas).

I am currently the Departmental Year Abroad Coordinator.


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