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School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Dr Gemma Tidman


Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

Office Hours: Tuesdays 12-1 and 3-4pm, by email appointment.


I’m a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at Queen Mary, where I’m working on my second book, provisionally entitled Playing on Words. A History of French Literary Play, 1635–1789. Studying literary, visual and material culture, this project examines how a diverse range of publics in France and its colonies engaged with word play and literary games. What were these games, who played them, and why? Was play, in fact, a serious matter? These are some of the questions this project seeks to answer.

Beyond this, my research centres on early modern (and particularly eighteenth-century) French literature and cultural history. I have work published or forthcoming in French Studies, Romanic Review, Forum for Modern Language Studies, and with the Voltaire Foundation. My first book, The Emergence of Literature in Eighteenth-Century France: The Battle of the School Books, is forthcoming with Liverpool University Press. It sheds new light on how, when, and why several modern ideas of literature emerged in France – propelled, I argue, by an eighteenth-century debate about how to reform literary teaching in schools.

Prior to joining QMUL, I held teaching and research posts at Worcester College (2017-18) and St John’s College, Oxford (2018-21). I was a first-generation student, and attended my local, state comprehensive schools before going to university.

I have a strong interest in visual and material culture, developed in part from the year I spent as Marketing Officer at the Wallace Collection, and I’m also very interested in using digital and sociological methodologies (such as social network analysis). I try to bring all of this into both my research and my teaching.

You can find out more about all of the above at my personal site, 


As well as supervising final-year dissertations, I have also convened the following modules at QMUL:

COM5049/FRE5049: Serious Play: European Literary Games from the Past to the Present
COM6201/SML005: Modern Languages and Cultures / Comparative Literature and Cultures Research Project

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA), and have a PGCert in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.



See the Profile tab for a summary of my past and present research interests. My publications include:

Public Engagement

I was selected as a 2023 BBC-AHRC New Generation thinkers. As part of this scheme, I will be presenting a number of programmes based on my research for BBC Radio 3, across 2023-24. For a flavour of what these programmes will include, listen here (13.40).  

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