Dr Ruth Cruickshank

Personal profile


 Dr Ruth Cruickshank


My transdisciplinary research is at the nexus of literary and cultural criticism and food studies, exploring questions of production and consumption: of texts, of food and drink, and of representations of them in fiction, film, thought and art.


Educational Background

University of Leeds BA in French with Italian, 1989.

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, MSt in European Literature, 2000 (Distinction).

The Queen’s College Oxford, DPhil in French, 2004 (Hastings Senior Scholar).



Chartered Linguist: Chartered Institute of Linguists, 2019-.

Member - French: Chartered Institute of Linguists, 2019-.

Editorial Board: French Cultural Studies, 2019-

International Advisory Board: French Cultural Studies, 2015-19

Honorary Treasurer: Society for French Studies 2015-2018.

Centre for Visual Cultures RHUL (Steering Committee).

Centre for GeoHumanities RHUL.

Steering Committee: LINKS London Intercollegiate Network for Comparative Literature (Chair 2015-16; 18-19). 

Centre for Contemporary Women’s Writing. 

Global Cities and Visual Culture (Universities of Amsterdam, Edinburgh, QMUL, RHUL).

Teaching and Supervision

I joined Royal Holloway in 2006 to teach post-War French literature, film and thought and advanced translation. I then spearheaded the development of RHUL’s unique Comparative Literature and Culture BA programmes, of which I have been Progamme Director and convenor and tutor of coure courses since 2012, and I am currently devloping a World and Comparative Literatures and Cultures BA. I also teach on the Liberal Arts and Translation Studies BA programmes.

Undergraduate Teaching

ML1203 Reading Texts: Criticism for Comparative Literature (CLC)

ML2206 Histories of Representation (CLC)

ML2207 Critical Approaches (CLC)

LA1000 Cultural Encounters (Liberal Arts)

FR3112 Image, Identity and Consumer Culture in Post-War Fiction and Film 

FR3003 Advanced Translating Skills

FR2410 Advanced Translation - Skills and Practice (Translation Studies)

FR2005 Socio-Political Issues of Contemporary France in Literature and Translation 

FR2106 French Cinema

FR1111 Introduction to French Literature Key: Critical Skills 

Postgraduate Supervision

I supervise PhD and Masters by Research students of French and of Comparative Literature and Culture working on post-war and contemporary literary and visual cultures, as well as on food cultures and postcolonial issues of consumption and globalization. Interdisciplinary and comparative approaches are especially welcome

ECR Mentoring

Matt Phillips, Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, Depressive Texts: Mental Well-Being and the Modern French Novel'. January 2019-December 2021.


Research interests

Research specialisms

  • The critical potential of representations of food and drink in fiction, film, thought and still life painting.
  • Representations of eating disorders and discourses which affect them (and knowledge of them), notably OSFED (Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder).
  • French and transnational food cultures.
  • Consumer culture and globalization in post-war French fiction, film and thought.
  • Late twentieth- and twenty-first century French fiction and film.

My latest monograph, Leftovers: Eating, Drinking and Rethinking with Case Studies from Post-war French Fiction (2019) develops a new flexible critical tool by drawing on a hitherto unexploited convergence of French thinkers whose work uses or is legible though figures of food and drink to identify ‘leftovers’ - unthought-of ideological, historical and psychological meanings - in representations of food and drink. My case studies are major post-war French novels by Darrieussecq, Ernaux, Houellebecq and Robbe-Grillet, but the approach is applicable across literary, comparative, cultural, film, gender and food studies (and I am currently exploring the critical, creative and educational potential of thinking beyond the conventional frames of reference for the overlooked meanings in still life paintings of food). 

My work on food in literature also includes a recent article using a literary text to raise awareness of the unrecognised prevalence of the eating disorder OSFED (Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder) and another exploring the problamatics of gastrodiplomacy. I have also published articles on food and consumption in fiction (including Beauvoir, Duras, Ernaux, Houellebecq and Redonnet); film (symbolic violence and global market economics in recent filmic images of Paris, the cinema of the Trente glorieuses, Chomet, Denis, Moullet and Varda); critical theory and theories of food culture. 

As well as an edited volume which explores new understandings of the modern, avant-garde and postmodern writing in French, I have written a critically-acclaimed monograph on contemporary French fiction, Fin de millénaire French Fiction: The Aesthetics of Crisis (Oxford University Press, 2009). Selected Reviews include: Carole Sweeney in Modern and Contemporary France, 19.3 (October 2011), pp. 367-8: a ‘meticulous and well-informed work that deftly brings together four contemporary authors’; Vincent Bruyère in Modern Fiction Studies, 57: 2 (Summer 2011), pp.372-374: ‘Cruickshank succeeds in making visible the tension of contemporary intellectual history and literary history through the lens of the literary text itself, as it reflects on these issues. And the primary text of fiction is there, extensively cited and topically commented, giving rise to subtle accounts’; and Willliam Cloonan in French Studies, 64:4 (October, 2010), pp. 509-10: ‘a brilliantly informed analysis of the 'long twentieth-century', concentrating on the last twenty years’ and  ‘a combination of impressive research and remarkably clear synthesis’.


Research interests (continued)

Conference/Seminar Organisation

 ‘Keywords in World-Literary Studies: The "Collective”’, Prof Pablo Mukherjee, LINKS Seminar, IMLR, 6/11/18.

Emily Apter, Against World Literature: On the Politics of Untranslatability' - Cross-Faculty Reading Group: 24/5/16.

 ‘Cosmopolitanism' LINKS Sixth PG conference’ (The London Intercollegiate Network for Comparative Literature), 4/6/16.

Creating Creative Criticism with Dr Stephen Benson and Dr Clare Connors’, LINKS: The London Intercollegiate Network for Comparative Literature London, 16/2/16.

‘Digesting Texts: Comparative Approaches to Food’, Roundtable and discussion, LINKS Comparative Studies Seminar, IMLR London, 20/1/15

 ‘The Value of Eating: Roundtable on Food Value and Gender: Mediated Consumption, Anxiety and Potentiality’, at HARC Dialogues, Science Museum, London, 13/3/14. http://backdoorbroadcasting.net/2014/03/food-value-and-gender-mediated-consumption-anxiety-and-potentiality/

‘Beyond the Global City: Visual, Verbal and Virtual Experiences, International Colloquium’,London, 20-21/5/11. Open to the public and public and postgraduate forums and papers by leading interdisciplinary scholars, includes public podcast: http://beyondtheglobalcity.wordpress.com/

‘ RHUL Christmas Arts Faculty Seminar: Feasting: Eating Drinking and Re-thinking’six specialist speakers followed by a roundtable (‘Feasting on Food Porn: What are we Consuming’) with academics, food professionals, bloggers and TV producers disseminated by public podcast.


‘Contemporary Women’s Writing in French: Recent Fiction’, 7 March 2009: organised speakers, logistics, funding and real-time and recorded public podcast.



Academic Awards  

 PI HEIF Seed Funding, for ‘Food with Feeling’, June-July 2019.

2012 Forum for Modern Languages Essay Prize Runner Up:

‘Eating, Drinking and Re-thinking: Marguerite Duras’ Moderato cantabile (1958)’, Forum for Modern Languages, 49:3 (July 2013), pp. 300-312. 

British Academy Overseas Conference Grant, 30/3-2/4/11.

Early Career Research Award, RHUL,1/11/09.

Kathleen Bourne Junior Research Fellowship, St. Anne's College, Oxford 2003-4.

Hastings Senior Scholarship, The Queen’s College, Oxford, 2000-3.

AHRB Competition B Doctoral Research Award, 2001-3.


Editorial and Advisory Positions

Editorial Board: French Cultural Studies.

Monograph Editorial Reviewer: Bloomsbury, Liverpool Univeristy Press

Peer and Book Reviewer: Food & History, French History, French Studies, Modern & Contemporary France, Mosaic, Style, Utopian Studies.

Other work

Plenary/Invited Papers

  • ‘Feeding Flore-less Literary Posterity?: Playing with intertexts in La Carte et le territoire’, Houellebecq’s Cultural Transgressions, IMLR, London, 29/9/19 
  •  ‘La France ce n’est pas Michel Houellebecq’, Modern & Contemporary France Speciall Issue Launch, Goldsmiths, 14/2/19.
  • Who’s Messed Up? Women Writing and Thinking about Food in Late-capitalist France’, at Disorderly Eating: Food and Disruption in Contemporary Women's Writing Centre for the Study of Contemporary Women’s Writing, School of Advanced Study, University of London, 1/12/17.
  • ‘A Conversation on World Literature Pablo Mukherjee and Ruth Cruickshank’, RHUL, 22/11/17.
  •  ‘Leftover Readings: Eating, Drinking and Rethinking Fiction from Robbe-Grillet to Houellebecq’ at Cambridge Modern French Research Seminar, 13/2/17.
  •  ‘Inside/Outside Comparative Questions’ at LINKS Postgraduate Conference, 4/6/16, London
  •  ‘Literary Cosmopolitanism: Pour une Littérature monde’ at LINKS, 6/6/15, London.
  • SOAS Food Studies Postgraduate Workshop, SOAS, London, 17/6/15
  •  ‘(Post)Structuralism’s Leftovers: Re-thinking and Re-reading Eating’ at LINKS, London, 20/1/15.
  • ‘Scraps and Leftovers: What’s Eating Contemporary French Fiction?’ at University of Leeds French Research Seminar, 20/2/14
  •  ‘Making Links in Postcolonial Politics: Filming and Food Chains in Luc Moullet’s Genèse d’un repas’ French Cultural Studies, 25th Anniversary Conference, Marseilles, 30/5/13
  • Food Fights: Leftover Trauma and Contemporary French Fiction’ at University of London in Paris Research Seminar, 21 February 2013.
  • ‘Eating, Drinking and Re-thinking Leftovers: Case Studies from Post-War French Culture’ at SOAS Food Forum, The SOAS Food Studies Centre, 16 November 2012.
  • ‘Beauvoir’s Food Choices in Les Belles images: Still Throwing up Questions of Global Responsibility’, at Suzanne Dow Memorial Conference, University of Nottingham, 20 September 2012.
  •  ‘Aftertastes: Eating and Re-thinking Post-War French Fiction and Film' at Cambridge Network of Food and Drink, CRASSH, University of Cambridge, 22 May 2012.
  •  ‘Feeding and Reading: Re-thinking Food in Fiction’, RHUL HARC, 16/3/11.
  •  ‘Feeding Female Images: Food, Fiction, Film and the Trente glorieuses’, Exeter University CISSGE Research Seminar, 2/2/11.
  • ‘Feasting on Food Chains: or, Re-thinking Food Documentary by having a Banana with Marx and Moullet’, RHUL Arts Faculty Seminar: 13/12/10.
  •  ‘Reading and Feeding for the Plot in Post-War Fiction’, KCL Research Seminar, 17/11/10.
  •  ‘Feeding for the Plot: Re-reading Post-War Fiction’, Nottingham Research Seminar, 12/11/10.
  •  ‘Contemporary Women’s Writing in French after French Women's Writing: Recent Fiction’, A Decade of Women’s Writing in France, IGRS, 14-16/10/10.
  •  ‘A Long Twentieth Century of Crisis?’, at AMSCF Annual Conference: La France et la Crise, Nottingham Trent University, 9-11/9/10.
  •  ‘Refiguring the Global City: Les Triplettes de Belleville’ at Globalization, Cities and Visual Culture, University of Edinburgh, 23-4/4/10.
  • ‘Dévorez des livres?: Meals and ‘the Real’ in Post-war French Fiction’, at Finding the Plot: On the Importance of Storytelling in Popular Fictions, University of Leeds, 14-16/4/10.
  •  ‘Leftovers: The Politics of Food in Post-war French Fiction, Film and Thought’, University of Oxford Modern French Research Seminar, 3/12/09.

  • ‘Globalization and Cultural Capital: Symbolic Violence in Recent Filmic Images of Paris’ at Globalization, Violence and the Visual Culture of Cities, Amsterdam, 2-3/10/09.

  •  ‘Quels goûts au cinema?’, at Les Plaisirs du goût, Maison Française d’Oxford, 13/3/09.

  • ‘Marie Redonnet New Perspectives: L’Accord de paix (Paris Grasset, 2000)’, at Contemporary Women’s Writing in French: Recent Fiction, 7/3/09.

  • - ‘Le Septième art et les cinq sens à l’heure de la mondialisation: la mise en scène de la gastronomie française’, at Cultures et Saveurs d’Europe, Conseil D’Europe, 10-11/7/08.

  • Film History and Global Market Economics: Memory Cycles in Sylvain Chomet's Les Triplettes de Belleville’, at University of London French Research Seminar, 19/3/08.

  •  ‘Producing Cultural Capital: Exclusion and Exception in Recent Filmic Images of Paris’, at Globalization and Violence, University of London in Paris, 15-16/2/08.

  •  ‘Screening Paris: Exceptionalism, Exclusion and Cultural Equity’, at ASMCF Postgraduate Conference, 16/2/08.

  •  ‘(Re)cycling: Images of Nation and Others in Sylvain Chomet's Les Triplettes de Belleville’, at L’Histoire vue et vécue: Visual Cultures in Modern France, Cardiff University, 5/4/07.

  • ‘Commodification and Contestation: Contemporary French Fiction and Consumer Culture’, at University of Lancaster Humanities Research Seminar, 3/5/06.

Other Selected Conference and Research Papers

  •  ‘Houellebecq, UNESCO and the Future of France: Bad Food Fictions and Questionable Cures’, Society for French Studies, Cork, Republic of Ireland, 2/7/18

  • ‘The Work of Art in the Global Marketplace: Critical Consumption in Michel Houellebecq’s La carte et le territoire (2010) at 20th-/21st-century French and Francophone Studies, New York, 6-8/3/14. 

  • ‘Cross-cultural Challenge: Eating and Re-thinking in Post-War French Women’s Narrative’ at Crossroads in Cultural Studies, Paris Sorbonne Nouvelle/UNESCO, 2-6 July 2012.

  • ‘Food and Friction: Trauma and Culture Shocks in 1950s French Fiction’, at 20th and 21st Century French and Francophone Studies International Colloquium, California State University, Long Beach, 29-31 March 2012.

  • ‘The Raw and the Cooked and Le bifteck et les frites: Structuralism’s Leftovers’, at 20th/21st Century French and Francophone Studies, San Francisco, 30-/3/11-2/4/11.

  • ‘Stepping up to the plate: Narrative Voices and Women’s Lives in Post-war French Fiction’, at 20th- /21st-Century French and Francophone Studies, Toronto, 25-27/3/10.

  •  ‘From fin de siècle to fin de millénaire: Crisis, Criticism and Late Capitalism’, at 20th-/21st- Century French and Francophone Studies, Minneapolis, 26-8/3/09.

  •  ‘Film and the Food Chain: The Politics of Consumption in Moullet and Varda’, at Society for French Studies Annual Conference, University of St Andrews, 4/7/06.

  •  ‘Sex and the Supermarket: Retail, Therapy and The World of Houellebecq’, at The World of Houellebecq, Edinburgh, 28-29/10/05.

  •  ‘De L’Opéra-Mouff' à La Grande Bouffe: Consommation, contestation et déconstruction dans le cinéma des Trente Glorieuses’, at Gastronomie et identité culturelle française, Paris, 17-19/3/05.

  •  ‘Consuming the Other: Claire Denis’s Chocolat (1988)’, at Society for French Studies Annual Conference, Cambridge, 6/7/04.

  • ‘Nevermore: Marie Redonnet and Cultural Production after Auschwitz’, at Contemporary Women’s Writing in French, 8/2/03.


  • Judge, Society of Authors’ Scott Montcrieff Prize for Translation 2010 and 2018. The cross-cultural importance of translation in a globalized world is another core interest, and am the only academic to be invited twice by the Society of Authors to judge the Scott Moncrieff Prize for Translation (2010 and 2018). In 2018, for the first time in the history of the Society of Authors’ translation prizes, we awarded the prize to a graphic novel.

  • Consultant for BBC4:  ‘France on a plate’.

  • Language advisor and translator: ITV Murder on the Orient Express.

Other work

Teaching and Pastoral Prizes and Awards

- College Team Teaching Prize: Commendation, 2020.

- Educational Support Award for Outstanding Individual, 2015.

- Educational Support Award for Outstanding Individual, 2014.                

- Student Union ‘Apple for the Teacher’ Excellence Prize, 2011.

-  College Team Teaching Prize, 2009.


External Engagement

Invited Blog: ‘Leftovers in Lockdown: From Literary Haunts to Re-thinking Eating and Drinking in French Thought’ Rimbaud & Verlaine Foundation, https://www.rimbaudverlaine.org/en/news/leftovers-lockdown/, 20/7/2020

 Invited Panellist - ‘Frogs and Snails’, Roundtable, Westminster Difference Festival, University of Westminster, 26/2/18 

‘Revolutions in French Food’ Pop-up Pilot Meal with Registered Charity, the Rimbaud and Verlaine Foundation, Professor Debra Kelly (Westminster) and Professor Marion Demossier (Southampton) 3/12/16, at Le Beaujolais, 25 Litchfield Street, London

Royal Holloway Year 12 Art Writing Competition 2014 https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/mllc/artwriting.aspx

Plenary Lecture: Prince’s Teaching Institute Newly-Qualified Teachers Day 29/11/14.

Book Club Moderator: Institut Français de Londres, Bonjour Tristesse, 19/6/14.

Plenary Lecture: Prince’s Teaching Institute Newly Qualified Teachers Days, London 30/11/13; Manchester 7/12/13.

Plenary Lecture: Prince’s Teaching Institute CPD Day, Institut Français, 5/12/13.

Plenary Lecture: Prince’s Teaching Institute CPD Day, London 30/11/12.


External Examining

PhD James Bray, University of Aberdeen, 20/4/18, ‘Houellebecq and Myth’

MPhil Ruby Kite, University of Bristol, 12/12/17, Annie Ernaux’s ‘Writing Cure’: The Therapeutic Impact of Telling Traumatic Tales'.

PhD Clare Horackova, Exeter University, 19/12/14, ‘Traumatic Histories: Representations of (Post)Communist Czechoslovakia in Francophone Literature’. 

DPhil Susannah Ellis, University of Oxford, 7/11/13, ‘Re-Writing Community for a Posthuman Age in the Works of Maurice G. Dantec, Michel Houellebecq and Antoine Volodine’.

PhD Delphine Grass, UCL, 26/11/10 and re-submission 31/10/12: ‘The Poetics of Humanity in the Works of Michel Houellebecq’.

PhD James Morrisey, QMUL, 28/4/11 ’Political Engagement in the French Fiction film between 1968-2008 in light of Pierre Bourdieu’s Analyses of the French Cultural Field‘.

External Conulstant - University of Bristol, BA in Comparative Lietratures and Cultures, 2020

External Examiner, MA in Comparative Literatures and Cultures, University of Bristol, 2016-

External Examiner, MA in European Literatures, University of Bristol, 2014-6

Internal Exmainer RHUL Masters by Research: 2014, 2012; 2009; 2006.

External Examiner, BA in French Univeristy of Cardiff, 2011-14


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