Dr Manon Mathias
- Lecturer (French) (French)
literature and science
the nineteenth-century novel
history of science
food and health
history of medicine
food and politics
My research examines the literary, visual, medical and scientific culture of nineteenth-century France. My first monograph, Vision in the Novels of George Sand (OUP, 2015), considers the pull between the visual and the visionary in this period through an examination of Sand’s novels, in particular by exploring internal vision, the model of painting, and the scientific gaze. The book draws on my PhD thesis which was awarded the George Sand Memorial Prize in 2013. Inspired by Sand’s scientific explorations, I continued to examine engagements between the novel and the natural sciences, in particular in the works of Sand, Flaubert and Zola. This led to significant findings such as unexpected links drawn by thinkers of the time between transformist theories and reincarnation. This research was funded by the British Society for the History of Science and the Carnegie Trust. In my more recent work I have examined the cultural impact of bacteriology on attitudes towards dirt and hygiene in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Digestive Health project
Inspired by my work on the dirty body and the tendency to avoid or dismiss the 'lower body' in recent Western culture, I am now beginning the first interdisciplinary study of digestive health in French culture by looking at advice on diet and digestion in nineteenth-century novels, cookbooks and health manuals. As part of the project I organized an international, cross-disciplinary workshop in May 2017 on Gut Feeling to examine changing attitudes towards the digestive system in modern Western culture. The event was funded by a range of external sources including the British Academy. I also led a public discussion in collaboration with historians of medicine, microbiologists, and nutritionists to consider the value of historical and cultural approaches to questions of modern health. A key insight that emerged is the importance of emotion and psychology in eating and digesting. The event provided the basis for a volume of essays, Gut Feeling: Digestive Health in Nineteenth-Century Literature, History and Culture, which I am co-editing with Alison Moore (Western Sydney University). To foster further research on digestive health from a historical and cultural perspective, I organized a round table on 'Digestive Health: Then and Now' in November 2017 and a two-day workshop on 'The Gut-Brain Axis: Cultural and Historical Perspectives' in May 2018.
I am also writing my next monograph, Digestive Health in Nineteenth-Century French Culture
Reviews of Vision in the Novels of George Sand:
‘Mathias has written a well-structured, articulate, and convincing work. She demonstrates an impressive mastery of Sand’s œuvre and draws on a significant corpus of literary theory and history, as well as Sand criticism, in order to illuminate Sand’s original conceptions of vision. Mathias’ examples […] are remarkably effective and analyzed with fine attention to detail. […] Vision in the Novels of George Sand is a fascinating study, wide-ranging in scope. It offers not only an original perspective on Sand’s work but also a renewed challenge to the clichéd categories of literary history.’ (Mary Jane Cowles, Nineteenth-Century French Studies)
‘Manon Mathias’s elegant and insightful study, Vision in the Novels of George Sand, presents a scrupulously researched and beautifully written exploration of the ideas of physical and abstract vision in George Sand’s oeuvre. Going far beyond its modest title both in the scope of its analyses and in its intellectual range, Mathias’s monograph brings refreshing new perspectives to our understanding of the most important female author in nineteenth-century France.’ (Alexandra K. Wettlaufer, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature)
‘Mathias's well-researched and comprehensive book on Sand's distinct syncretic approach to visuality makes a substantial contribution to our understanding of nineteenth-century realism’ (Aimée Boutin, French Studies)
2017 British Academy Small Research Grant (£8,840)
2017 Society for French History (£500)
2017 British Society for Literature and Science Small Research Grant (£400)
2016 Society for French Studies Conference Grant (£300)
2016 British Society for the History of Science Conference Grant (£300)
2016 Carnegie Research Incentive Grant (£4,300)
2015 British Society for the History of Science Research Grant (£300)
2014 Carnegie Trust Research Grant (£2,500)
2007–2010 Saunders Lewis Fellowship (£7,500)
Nineteenth-century France is a deeply invigorating period to study and teach and I enjoy developing new courses that draw on exciting new work in nineteenth-century studies. For example, I have recently launched a new Honours option on Food in French Culture, inspired by my current research project on digestive health. I also enjoy teaching all aspects of language and have experience of teaching grammar; composition; and translation into and out of French at all levels.
I currently teach on the following courses:
French Language 2; French Culture 2; Junior Honours French Written Language; Food and Culture in France
I was born and raised in Cardiff where I attended a Welsh-medium comprehensive. I undertook my undergraduate degree in French and German at the University of Oxford (Trinity College) where I also completed my postgraduate degrees. After a Masters of Studies on European Literature, I was awarded a D.Phil in 2011 on the novelist George Sand. I worked as Rhys Fund Celtic Teaching Fellow, University of Oxford in 2007–2008 and then as Lecturer in French at Worcester College, University of Oxford from 2010 to 2011. I was Lecturer in French at Bangor University (2011–2012) and the University of Aberdeen (2013–2017), and was appointed as Lecturer in French at Glasgow in 2017.
- Go Abroad Officer
- Chair, Medical Humanities Discussion Group
- 2017–: Treasurer, Society of Dix-Neuviémistes
- 2017–: Consultative Panel, French Studies Bulletin