Research Profile

Richard Mason


Broadly speaking, my research and teaching interests lie in twentieth-century French literature and theory. In 2016, I completed a thesis in the French Department of King’s College London on literary expressions of intimacy in the novels of Marcel Proust and Jean Genet. My PhD, entitled ‘Writing Intimacy in Proust and Genet’, was supervised by Patrick ffrench and supported by funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

I then held Teaching and Postdoctoral Fellowships at King’s where I taught a range of modules in twentieth-century French literature and theory, as well as courses in French language and translation. My postdoctoral research at King’s focused on the post-war movement in France known as ‘institutional psychotherapy’, which combined progressive approaches to mental health care with radical ideas about collective and institutional life.

In 2017, I was awarded a Modern Humanities Research Association grant. This provided time to work on an ongoing book project that analyses the dramatization of erotic encounters in Jean Genet’s novels. It brings Genet’s work into dialogue with theoretical and philosophical interrogations of intimacy in which intimacy emerges less as a relational ‘category’ than as a site of representational crisis. The book identifies, in Genet’s explorations of intimate relation and representation, a new framework for approaching his novels. It challenges a common critical emphasis on Genet’s refusal of relation and attachment, foregrounding instead Genet’s keen awareness of the role of literature in shaping collective practices of intimacy.

I joined UCC in 2018, following the award of an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship, to pursue a project entitled ‘Emancipatory Pedagogy and Literary Theory in France, 1960–80: Crisis, Exchange, Afterlives’. This research focuses on radical pedagogic critique in France in a period that witnessed dramatic transformations in the educational landscape. My initial interest is in theorists and practitioners – Fernand Deligny, Maud Mannoni, Fernand Oury, René Schérer and others – who challenged orthodox conceptions of educational progress and development, as well as mainstream configurations of institutional life. Currently, I am investigating what led these figures to adopt what could problematically be termed an ‘anti-pedagogic’ stance. I am also looking at the ways in which literature and literary theory were mobilised in these contexts.  

Research Interests

Emancipatory pedagogy in France; pedagogic critique; philosophy of education; history of education; the relationship between psychoanalysis and education;    maturational narratives.

Literary interrogations of intimacy, fantasy and erotic life in twentieth-century French literature; particularly in the work of Marcel Proust, Marcel Jouhandeau, Jean Genet, Violette Leduc and others. 

Research Grants

Start DateEnd DateAward
Emancipatory Pedagogy, Literature and Theory in France, 1960-1980: Crisis, Exchange, AfterlivesIrish Research Council01-OCT-1830-SEP-20€91,846.00


Book Chapters

(2017)'Érotique de la phrase: la mise en scène de la parole de l'autre chez Proust et Genet'
Richard Mason (2017) 'Érotique de la phrase: la mise en scène de la parole de l'autre chez Proust et Genet' In: Marcel Proust Aujourd'hui. Amsterdam: Brill/Rodopi. [DOI] [Details]

Teaching Activities

Teaching Interests

My previous teaching has included the following modules: ‘Proust’, ‘Troubling Desires: Narcissism and its Vicissitudes in Twentieth-Century French Literature’, ‘Recent French Thought’, ‘Reading Theory/Reading Practice’ (MA); a range of undergraduate modules in language and translation.

Contact details

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Department of French

Room 1.22 Block A, First Floor, O'Rahilly Building, University College Cork