Personal profile

Personal profile

A Professor of French and Visual Arts, I am Head of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures (2021-) and Deputy Executive Dean of the School Of Humanities (2023-). Prior to this I was the Director of the Humanities and Arts Research Institute (2020-23), departmental Deputy Head (2019-21), Impact Officer (2021), Programme Director for our Liberal Arts degrees (2015-2018) and Admissions Tutor (2011-15). I have designed, convened and taught modules across our Modern Languages, Comparative Literature and Culture, History of Art and Visual Cultures, and Liberal Arts degree courses. 

I am a first-generation academic, and first in my family to go to university. I completed a BA in Modern Languages & European Studies (French and German) at the University of Bath, and my MSc and PhD (the latter supported by the AHRC) as a mature student at the University of Edinburgh. I joined Royal Holloway thanks to the award of a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship in 2007. Formerly I taught at the Open University and the University of Edinburgh. Prior to academia I led study abroad programmes in Paris, managed distance-learning courses in German at the Open University, and spent some time in Salamanca learning Spanish.

Research interests

My research specialism is the avant-garde movements of the early 20th Century, spanning literature, performance and visual arts, with a focus on women and gender.

My book The Poetry of Céline Arnauld: From Dada to Ultra-Modern was published by Legenda's Research Monographs in French Studies in September 2020. First brought to light in my first book Dada's Women, Arnauld was afforded renewed attention in an exhibition in Switzerland ('Die Dada La Dada She Dada', Forumschlossplatz Aarau, Oct. 2014 - Jan. 2016) and on stage (Vergessenes Gelächter, Theater Tuchlaube, Aarau, Nov. 2014 - Jan. 2015; Theater National Zürich, June 2016). Subsequently, Arnauld's work featured in 'The Great Monster Dada Show' at the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Høvikodden, Norway (Oct. 2019 - Jan. 2020). I have contributed to each of these instances through my research publications and engagement activities.

My first book Dada's Women was published by Yale University Press in 2009 and was shortlisted and commended for the Gapper Prize in 2010. It was widely reviewed. Comments included:

  • ‘Ruth Hemus’s agitational new book (…) finally grants these women their place in Dada history. Who knows, this book might just kick-start a revolution’ (Anny Shaw, Art World);
  • ‘Hemus has succeeded in introducing the reader to the women of dada, and in bringing to life a subject often regarded as a museum curiosity’ (Jane Finigan, The Art Newspaper);
  • ‘The book is (…) riveting to read.’ (Peter Read, TLS).

For a reflection on Dada's Women in the centenary year (2016) read my guest blog hosted by Yale University Press.

Research interests (continued)


I have worked regularly with museums in the UK and internationally, informed by my research on avant-garde women, as well as by my interests in creative teaching and learning. My work was an Impact Case Study for REF 2021 entitled 'Dada's Women: Legacies at the Dada Centenary and Beyond.'

My activities with arts institutions have included:

  • Co-organiser of three days of events 'Performance and Power: Participation, Pedagogy and Protest', Tate Exchange, 12-14 Mar. 2020.
  • Co-design and delivery of workshop 'Empower: Avant-Garde Activism, Propaganda and Rebellion', Tate Exchange, 13 Mar. 2020.
  • Author of catalogue essay and invited residency (21-25 Nov.) for 'The Great Monster Dada Show', Henie Onstad, Norway, 25 Oct. 2019 - 26 Jan. 2020.
  • Co-organiser of three days of events 'Making Moves: Three Positions', Tate Exchange, 16-18 May 2019.
  • Co-design & delivery of workshop 'Moving from: Avant-garde Women, Activism and Dissent', Tate Exchange 16 May 2019.
  • 'Unlimited Freedom for HH! Never keep both feet on the ground!', Artist team intervention in 'Gathering' alongside the exhibition 'Exploding Collage', The Hatton Gallery, Newcastle, 24 Oct. 2018-16 Feb. 2019.
  • Participation in 'Spring Soup Dada', Wasps Studio, Glasgow, 29 March 2018.
  • Co-organiser of three days of events 'Stages of Production: Review / Remake / Respond', Tate Exchange, 17-19 May 2018.
  • Co-design & delivery of workshop 'World War I: Production, Destruction and the Avant-Garde', Tate Exchange, 17 May 2018.
  • Design & delivery of workshop 'Performing Dada's Women', Tate Exchange, 13 Feb. 2017.
  • Author of essay on Dada's Women for catalogue: 'The Great Mother', The Nicola Trussardi Foundation, Palazzo Reale, Milan, 25 August - 16 Nov. 2015.
  • Invited speaker at 'She Dada' Symposium, Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich, 12 March 2016.
  • Recorded interview, opening public tour guide & lender: 'Die Dada - La Dada - She Dada', Forum Schlossplatz, Aarau, 25 Oct. 2014 - 18 Jan. 2015; Kunstmuseum Appenzell, 22 Mar. - 28 Jun. 2015; Le Manoir de la Ville de Martigny, 3 Oct. 2015 - 10 Jan. 2016) - Switzerland.
  • Co-design & delivery of two public workshops on Expressionism & author of programme essay for Georg Kaiser's play From Morning to Midnight, The National Theatre, London, Nov. 2013 - Jan. 2014;
  • Design & delivery of two public seminars on Dada Photomontage, 'The Rest is Noise' Festival, The Southbank Centre, London, Mar. 2013;
  • Author of introductory essay to the catalogue & public lecture: 'Avant-Garde Women 1920-1940', The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, 14 Feb. - 28 May 2012.

Multimedia Performance

I have collaborated regularly with the composer and musician Dr Sonia Allori and visual artist Vaia Paziana on mixed-media productions and interventions based on Dada's Women. We have staged various workshops and performances for different audiences. Please go to our project page for further details. 


  • 1st year: The Visual Image in French Culture and Society (FR1105); Visual Arts I: Artists and their Materials (ML1301); Cultural Encounters (LA1000).
  • 2nd year: The Illustrated Text (FR2107); Visual Arts II: Genres and Movements (ML2302); Gender and Clothing in 20th Century Literature and Culture (ML2403).
  • Final year: Wanton Women: Artists and Writers of the French Avant-Garde (FR3120); From Aestheticism to the Avant-Garde (ML3202).

I have supervised postgraduate work on rebellion in Dada and Surrealist women's art; formal innovation in avant-garde women's writing; 20th century women writers and the city; mythologies in surrealist women's visual works; the marvelous in surrealist women's literary works; postwar Danish feminist art and literature; Icelandic women avant-garde artists and writers.

I am pleased to hear from those interested in postgraduate research in avant-garde literature, performance and/or fine arts, especially Dada and Surrealism, but also contemporary arts. Interdisciplinary and comparative approaches are especially welcome.


  • Dada
  • Avant-Garde
  • Surrealism
  • Gender
  • Celine Arnauld
  • Sophie Taeuber
  • Hannah Hoech
  • Emmy Hennings
  • Suzanne Duchamp
  • Women artists