Junior Research Fellow in French

Alexandra Reza

  • I research anticolonial and ‘postcolonial’ writing in French, Portuguese and English.

  • I am a BBC/AHRC ‘New Generation Thinker’ for 2020.

  • I am currently working on a project about poetry, plays, film and radio in Conakry in the 1960s.

Alexandra Reza stands against a wall.


For undergraduates in French and Portuguese, I teach across the texts prescribed for Prelims (first year), covering francophone authors such as Michel de Montaigne, Denis Diderot, Jean Racine, Charles Baudelaire, Georges Sand, Marcel Proust, Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, Samuel Beckett and Aimé Césaire (Papers III and IV), and lusophone authors such as Pepetela and Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen (Paper III). For students in the Final Honours School, I teach literary theory, twentieth- and twenty-first century literature (Papers VIII and XII). I also enjoy, very much, teaching literary translation (Papers IIA and IIB) from both languages.

I lecture on postcolonial literature and theory for both the French and Portuguese departments in the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, addressing the writing of figures such as Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Ousman Sembène, Édouard Glissant, Amílcar Cabral and others.

For graduate students, my teaching addresses francophone and lusophone postcolonial culture, history and theory, broadly construed.


My research is particularly focussed on cultural production in the conjuncture of decolonisation in the mid-twentieth century, mainly between 1940 and 1970. I read a wide variety of texts produced at the end of empire to understand how writers, and particularly African writers, figured Empire as a political and cultural structure, and what conceptions of freedom, creativity, and society underpinned anti-colonial writing. I am interested in how those ideas were the same and how they differed in French, Portuguese and English, whether they travelled and were translated, and if so how, and what that can tell us about the nature of empire, and nationalism. 

I am particularly interested in periodical culture, so I read and conduct archival research into magazines and journals. I am currently finalising a monograph, entitled Culture, politics and form: Literary journals and African decolonization, about the transnational networks of literary journals that connected francophone and lusophone anti-colonial writers in the 1950s and 1960s with writers working in other languages.

My most recent research has focussed on Conakry, the capital of Guinea in West Africa, as a site of multilingual, creative practice in the 1960s.

The histories of European empires are not spatially, or indeed linguistically, hermetic. My work proposes that the overlaps between them, and the connections between those who resisted them, can help us re-imagine the spatial and aesthetic co-ordinates of culture and politics in literary studies.

Selected Publications

‘Stepping out of line in independent Conakry’, Research in African Literatures (forthcoming, Spring 2020)

‘Penser la différence culturelle du colonial au mondial’ [Review], Journal of Commonwealth Studies (forthcoming)

‘Imagined Transmigrations’, New Left Review, 115 (Jan-Feb 2019), 141-9

‘As geografias de conexão insurgentes da Casa dos Estudantes do Império’ in eds Cláudia Castelo and Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo, Casa dos Estudantes do Império: dinâmicas coloniais, conexões transnacionais (Lisbon: Edições 70, 2017)

‘The literary journal as form: twentieth century African literary expression’ in eds Phillip Rothwell and Margarida Calafate Ribeiro, Heranças pós-coloniais nas literaturas de língua portuguesa, eds., (Porto: Afrontamento, 2019)

‘African Anti-colonialism and the Ultramarinos of the Casa dos Estudantes do Império’, Journal of Lusophone Studies, Vol. 1 (new series) (Summer 2016)

‘Nos & leurs Afriques: constructions littéraires des identités africaines cinquante ans après les décolonisations.’ (Review)’, French Studies, Vol. 70.2 (2016)

Modern Languages and Linguistics
Dr Reza

The histories of European empires are not spatially, or indeed linguistically, hermetic.