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School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Dr Richard Mason


Lecturer in Comparative Literature

Room Number: Arts One 1.10
Office Hours: Feedback and advice hours: Mondays 1–2pm, 1.20A Arts One or by email appointment.


My research affords new perspectives on the categories of reading and writing — and on what it means to learn to read and write — by combining insights from the fields of comparative literary studies, education studies and medical humanities. More specifically, I explore how writers, educators and medical practitioners have mobilised reading and writing to shape institutional configurations and individual and collective identities. I focus primarily on French and francophone contexts, whilst remaining attentive to the international parameters of literary, educational and therapeutic innovation from the late nineteenth century onwards. My research informs my teaching in comparative literary studies in the modern and contemporary period, focusing on prose fiction and poetry from Europe, North Africa and the Caribbean (Proust, Genet, Chraibi, Djebar, Césaire, Chraibi, Schwarz-Bart…) and fostering critical awareness amongst students of the relationship between reading, writing and individual, collective and national identities.  

I am developing my research through two primary avenues:

Pedagogy, psychotherapy and the collective stakes of learning to read and write

  • Investigates a lineage of politically orientated experiments in institutional life across a range of pedagogic and psychotherapeutic settings;
  • Analyses the work of twentieth-century educators and medical practitioners such as Célestin Freinet, Francesc Tosquelles, Fernand Deligny, Frantz Fanon and Félix Guattari;
  • Examines how reading, writing and other expressive and interpretative practices were deployed towards the creation of new forms of institutional organisation and towards political and ethical ends as well as the ways in which such practices propose new ways of understanding reading and writing as developmental categories.

Proust and Education

  • Examines Marcel Proust’s writing within the context of educational experimentation, reform and debate in Third Republic France and internationally through the progressive education movement;
  • Uses Proust’s writing as a privileged case study for thinking about the insights into education and personal development afforded by literary texts.

I am also co-editing a special issue of the critical theory journal Paragraph with Kasia Mika (QMUL) entitled Difficulty’s Knots: Disturbance, Untimeliness, Risk (forthcoming March 2024) that explores how conceptions of difficulty determine the transmission and reception of knowledge across a range of contemporary domains in the arts and humanities.

Prior to joining Queen Mary as Lecturer in French, I held roles as Teaching Fellow at King’s College London, and Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Research Fellow at University College Cork. I am currently Outreach Officer for the Department of Comparative Literatures and Cultures and would be delighted to discuss any matter regarding schools’ engagement activities. I sit on the Executive Committee of the Society for French Studies and previously held the position of Conference Officer (2021–23).


At Queen Mary I have taught the following modules:

As convenor

COM6217 Comparative Modernisms

COM/FRE6006 Narrative in Theory and Practice: Analysing and Creatively Responding to French Literature Through the Ages

SML6204 Research Project in Translation

COM507 European Tragedy

COM4208 Brief Encounters

COM4101 Understanding Culture: Exploring the Big Questions

FRE6202 Literary Commentary

FRE4200 French Grammar

As teacher

COM6063 Global Medical Humanities

COM6201 Comparative Literatures and Cultures Research Project

SML005 Modern Languages Research Project

COM5206 To Be Continued

SML4006 Culture and Language


In 2020 I was awarded Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy



Edited volume

Difficulty’s Knots, a special issue of Paragraph, co-edited by Richard Mason and Kasia Mika, forthcoming March 2024.

Peer-reviewed articles

‘L’absence de l’école et les paramètres de l’éducation dans À la recherche du temps perdu’, in press Bulletin d’informations proustiennes, 2023.

‘Writing and Selfhood in the Pedagogy of Célestin Freinet’, French Studies, 77.1, January 2023, 48–63.

‘Disturbing Visions of Childhood: René Schérer’s Writing on Childhood in the 1970s’, Nottingham French Studies, 59.1 (2020), 80–96.

‘Érotique de la phrase : la mise en scène de la parole de l’autre chez Proust et Genet’, Marcel Proust Aujourd’hui, 14 (2017), 116–29.

Book chapter

‘Le naufrage de l’homme profane: Jean Genet and the Anecdotal’, in Labours of Attention: Work, Class and Society in French and Francophone Literature and Culture, ed. by Adam Watt (Oxford: Legenda, 2022), pp. 132–43.


Gérard Desanges, Marcel Proust et la Politique. Une conscience française (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2019) (forthcoming Modern Language Review)

Cynthia Gamble, Voix entrelacées de Proust et de Ruskin (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2021) (forthcoming Modern Language Review)

Public Engagement

‘Proust’s jeunes filles: a centenary celebration’, Bloomsbury Theatre, October 2019

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