Photo of Dr Helen Vassallo

Dr Helen Vassallo

Research interests

Dr Helen Vassallo welcomes enquiries about postgraduate supervision (for MRes and PhD degrees) in any of the following fields: contemporary women's writing, translation (particularly literary translation), and contemporary French/Francophone literature.

Current and Future Research Projects

My two primary areas of research are literature in translation, and contemporary women's writing in French. My current research project, "Women Writing Women Translating Women", brings together my interests in translation and women's writing. I run a blog with weekly book reviews, opinion posts and guest writing (http://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/translatingwomen/) and you can follow the project on Twitter at the @translatewomen account. Located in the context of both social movements (such as #metoo and #timesup), and industry shifts (such as the Year of Publishing Women and Women in Translation month), the main analysis of the project focuses on recent translations into English of women's writing (in any language) by women translators. While the analysis is primarily qualitative, it is supported by quantitative research to establish the proportion of women writers being published in terms of literary output in general, and translations in particular, as well as which women authors get published, who translates them, and whether their geographical location or source language influences publishing decisions, publicity, or literary reception. Bringing together exciting female-authored texts from around the world, "Women Writing Women Translating Women" aims to contribute to the growing awareness of, and interest in, female voices.

Other research interests

My early research resulted in two books on French author Jeanne Hyvrard, and highlighted my interest in the literary and autobiographical manifestations of social and physical conflict and trauma. Moving on from this, I began to focus on narratives of war, or of the transmitted legacy of war.

I have published several articles which focus specifically on literature in French which deals with the legacy of the Algerian War of Independence, and my most recent completed projects are a British Academy-funded monograph titled The Body Besieged: The Embodiment of Historical Memory in Nina Bouraoui and Leïla Sebbar and an article on a previously unpublished text by the actor and playwright Rachid Akbal, written and performed to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Algerian independence from France.

My dual interest in gender and narratives of war also links in to my work on Lebanese playwright and actress Darina Al-Joundi, on whose critically acclaimed play Le Jour où Nina Simone a cessé de chanter I have published a number of articles.