Maeve McCusker


  • Room 02.002 - 11 University Square

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I would be happy to supervise suitably qualified students in the general area of postcolonial writing and theory. I have experience supervising comparative projects (on French and English language writing for example) and on early colonial writings. I would also be happy to supervise students working on contemporary fiction and autobiography.

1997 …2023

Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Research Interests

Maeve McCusker was appointed to a lectureship in QUB in 2000, having held a temporary lectureship in NUI Maynooth (1998-99) and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2007. She works mainly on postcolonial  writing in French, with a particular interest in the Francophone Caribbean. Maeve has held a range of editorial positions (inc. membership of editorial board, French Studies Bulletin; Irish Journal of French Studies; Literary Encyclopaedia; Island Studies) and is in her second term on the board of monograph series Francophone Postcolonial Studies (LUP). Her research has been funded by the AHRC and the British Academy. She is currently Subject Lead for French.

Published work:

Maeve’s research takes a number of directions: 1) contemporary postcolonial literature and theory 2) early writings by plantation owners in the French Caribbean and 3) critical race studies. Her major contributions have been in the field of narrative fiction, although she has also worked on autobiography and memoir. Her key publications include a monograph, Patrick Chamoiseau. Recovering Memory (Liverpool, 2007), the first in English on a major global author from Martinique; an AHRC-funded 2-volume critical edition of an early Creole novel, Outre-mer (Louis de Maynard, Paris, 1835) with a substantial critical introduction; a series of journal articles that  continue and expand this exploration of important C19th precursors such as Maynard, Levilloux and Traversay; and a second, British Academy-funded, monograph, Fictions of Whiteness. Imagining the Planter Caste in the French Caribbean Novel (University of Virginia Press, 2021) which is the first study of the planter figure in the French Caribbean imaginary, and also the first to bring this literature into dialogue with Critical Race Studies.

In May 2023, this book was awarded the prestigious Gapper Book Prize by the Society for French Studies, for the best monograph published in French in the UK and Ireland in the previous year. The citation from the judging panel commended the book as follows:


"Fictions of Whiteness focuses on the literary construction of whiteness and white culture in the French Antilles through the figure of the béké, the white plantation master. Within this frame of enquiry, McCusker deftly navigates and analyses the critical issue of race and its relationship to gender, biological affiliations and the preservation of white culture. The temporal scope of the study moves from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first century and across different genres of writing. This results in a longitudinal range that makes for an impressively sustained and informed work, the first of its kind to undertake an in-depth study of the béké. The arguments are always persuasive and make a highly authoritative case for the way in which such an analysis can transform our understanding of whiteness within the French Antilles. It is a remarkable work of scholarship and McCusker accomplishes her study with wonderful critical sophistication and sensitivity throughout. The writing style engages the reader — it has wit and the eloquence on display is of an unusually economical kind: it is never showy or remotely fussy, but marvellously controlled, compelling and rich. And perhaps most importantly, to have entered the well-established terrain of postcolonial studies and emerged with something entirely new is an immense achievement deserving of recognition across the field of francophone postcolonial studies and postcolonial studies more widely. We are delighted that this outstanding, original book is the R. Gapper Prize winner for 2022".


PhD supervision:

Maeve is an experienced supervisor at MA, MRes and PhD level, having  supervised over 20 masters dissertations and 10 PhDs, and currently supervises two doctoral students:

Laura Kennedy: The Politics of Langauge in World Literature

Margaret Cunningham: Narratives of Disaster in the French Caribbean

She welcomes enquiries from students interested in areas related to her research interests. Recent doctoral students have worked on such topics as masculinity in French Caribbean writing, pied noir identity in Algerian culture, slavery in the nineteenth century novel, and transatlantic mobility in the contemporary African novel in French and English. Many of the topics she has supervised adopt an interdisciplinary theoretical framework, and are often comparative in nature.



Maeve has established postcolonial texts and approaches as being core to the undergraduate curriculum in French in a range of research-led modules. Students in QUB normally have a postcolonial option at each stage of their UG career. She also teaches more broadly across the range of French Studies (film; autobiography; theory) and has taught language and convened core modules at all levels. She contributes to the Research Methods course (Postcolonial Theory) on the MRes and for many years ran an annual training course with AHSS PGRs on ‘Publishing a Conference Paper’ (2002-18). She has served as External Examiner for French in UCD (2010-13) and is currently External Examiner in UCC and in Exeter.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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