• Room 03.002 - 10 University Square

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

French Studies Medical Humanities; Post-1789 French literature on illness, disease, disability, pain, dying, death; Literary representations of medical practice, care and experience; Literature and religion, especially in the 19th century; Bibliotherapy and scriptotherapy


Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Research Interests

My research is situated at the interface of French Studies and the Global Medical Humanities. It explores the ways in which modern French literature and thought, from the nineteenth century to the present, contribute to culturally aware, linguistically sensitive understandings of disease, illness, pain, medical practice and dying/death. I collaborate in a wide range of national and international scholarly networks and am committed to public engagement on the importance of languages and intercultural knowledge in global healthcare.

My monograph, The Language of Disease: Writing Syphilis in Nineteenth-Century France, was published by Legenda in 2020. Along with Piotr Blumczynski, I co-edited The Languages of COVID-19: Translational and Multilingual Perspectives on Global Healthcare, to appear with Routledge in 2022. I have also edited or co-edited five book-length special issues of leading international journals on themes at the intersection of modern languages and medical humanities. These include: French Thanatology, special issue of L'Esprit Créateur (2021); The Care (Re)Turn in French and Francophone Studies, special issue of the Australian Journal of French Studies (2020); and French Autopathography, special issue of L'Esprit Créateur (2016).

My research has been funded by the AHRC (Leadership Fellowship entitled Global Disease: Language(s) and the Literary Imagination), the British Academy, the MHRA (Modern Humanities Research Association) and the Institute of Modern Languages Research (IMLR). My work for UK research councils includes my membership of the Peer-Review College for the AHRC, the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Future Leaders Fellowships (FLF) Scheme, and the British Academy's Knowledge Frontiers Programme: International Interdisciplinary Research Projects. Internationally, I was elected in January 2022 as an advisor to the Swiss National Research Council programme on 'Covid-19 in Society'.

I am in my second term as a member of the Editorial Board of Modern and Contemporary France, an internationally prominent peer-reviewed journal offering a multidisciplinary view of all aspects of France from 1789 to the present day, and previously served as Assistant Editor of French Studies Bulletin, a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal published by Oxford University Press. I am on the Executive Committee of the Society for French Studies (SFS), the oldest learned association for French studies in the UK and Ireland, and am a member of the three-year working group on medical humanities for the Irish Humanities Alliance (IHA), which seeks to champion humanities research and scholarship across Ireland. 

Postgraduate Research Supervision

I would be pleased to hear from anyone interested in pursuing postgraduate (MRes, PhD or postdoctoral) research in nineteenth-century French literature, especially as it engages with questions of medicine, gender and/or religion; or in intersections of literary French Studies (19th century to the present) with the Medical Humanities (illness, disease, disability, pain, suffering, death, the clinical experience, bibliotherapy, scriptotherapy etc.).

I have supervised to successful completion the following PhD theses:

  • (with Prof. Margaret Topping) James Illingworth, The Mythopoetics of Bodily Representation in the Works of George Sand (2018) [included a placement at the Bowes Museum, Co. Durham]
  • (with Dr Ros Silvester) Poppy Boyd, Multimodality in Contemporary French Women's Writing (2018)
  • (with Dr Claire Moran) Mathew Rickard, Idées Masculines: The Poetics of Non-Normative Masculinity in Decadent French Literature (2020)
  • (with Prof. Maeve McCusker) Helen McKelvey, Religious Imagery in Nineteenth-Century French Slavery Narratives (2021)
  • (with Dr Claire Moran) Rachael Stockdale, Women’s Queer Identities in French Literature at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century (2021) [included a placement at the European Women's Lobby, Brussels]

I am currently supervisor on 5 PhD projects and have supervised over a dozen MA/MRes dissertations since 2016.  



Prior to joining French Studies at Queen's in 2013, I worked at the Universities of Manchester, Exeter and Leicester. I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA), which recognises outstanding achievement in teaching and enhancing the student learning experience, combined with scholarship and academic leadership. I have been privileged to receive a QUB Teaching Award in the student-nominated category and a QUB Students' Union Education Award for 'Best Feedback', and was shortlisted for the 'Excellent Use of Feedback Award' at the Students' Union Education Awards in 2019. I offer undergraduate modules on 'Paris, City of Modernity' (at Level 2), 'Ideologies of Death in Modern French Literature' (at Level 3) and a final-year filière on 'Figures de l’altérité' (Mme de Duras, Ourika; Mérimée, Carmen). I also teach a session on Medical Humanities on the MRes Research Methods in Modern Languages module.

I have been an invited lecturer at the Oxford Medical Humanities Summer School and an MA programme on Medical Humanities at the University of St Gallen in Switzerland. I also coordinate the R. Gapper undergraduate essay prize, an annual award by the Society for French Studies for the best essay submitted by an undergraduate student at a university based in the United Kingdom or Ireland.



Administrative Responsibilities

I am Director of Education for the School of Arts, English and Languages at QUB. 


Contact Details

Office: 10 University Square, Room 301

Tel: +0044 (0)28 9097 1401

Student Feedback and Consultation Hours: Tuesday 9-10 and 11-12 (in person or on MS Teams). Appointments for meetings at other times may be made by email: steven.wilson@qub.ac.uk

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 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality


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