Dr Ruth Hemus

Personal profile

With a background in French and German, I convene and teach modules on our Modern Languages, Comparative Literature and Culture, and Liberal Arts degree courses. I was Programme Director of our Liberal Arts degrees (2015-2018) and Admissions Tutor (2011-15). I am currenty Deputy Head of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, part of the School of Humanities (2019-), and also our Impact Officer (2020-). I was promoted to Reader in 2020.

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

My second book The Poetry of Céline Arnauld: From Dada to Ultra-Modern was published by Legenda (Research Monographs in French Studies no. 58) in September 2020. First brought to light in my book Dada's Women, Arnauld has since been 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). More recently, Arnauld's work featured in 'The Great Monster Dada Show' at the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Høvikodden, Norway (25 Oct. 2019 - 26 Jan. 2020).

Research interests (continued)


I work regularly with museums in the UK and in Europe, in large part informed by my work on Dada's Women, as well as more broadly by my interests in creative research, teaching and learning. This work forms an Impact Case Study for REF 2021 entitled 'Dada's Women: Legacies at the Dada Centenary and Beyond.'

My activities with arts institutions include:

  • Co-ordination of three days of events 'Performance and Power: Participation, Pedagogy and Protest', Tate Exchange, 12-14 March 2020.
  • Co-design and delivery of workshop 'Empower: Avant-Garde Activism, Propaganda and Rebellion', Tate Exchange, 13 March 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-ordination 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 October 2018-16 February 2019.
  • Participation in 'Spring Soup Dada', Wasps Studio, Glasgow, 29 March 2018.
  • Co-ordination 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 February 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 work regularly with the composer and musician Sonia Allori and visual artist Vaia Paziana on collaborative 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: Pratique du Français II (FR2009); 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.

I would be pleased to hear from those interested in postgraduate research in 20th Century avant-garde literature, performance and/or fine arts, especially Dada and Surrealism. Interdisciplinary and comparative approaches are especially welcome.

Educational background

I completed a BA in French and German at the University of Bath, and my MSc and PhD (supported by the AHRC) at the University of Edinburgh as a mature student. I joined Royal Holloway as a  Leverhulme Early Career Fellow 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 O.U., and went to Salamanca to learn Spanish.

  • Published

    Dada's Women

    Research output: Book/ReportBook

View all (26) »

View all (59) »

View all (3) »

ID: 4929