Russell Williams

Assistant Professor

  • Department: Comparative Literature and English
  • Office: 
    G-108
  • Office Hours: 
    Mondays 13:30-14:30 or by appointment

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Professor Williams came to AUP after completing his doctoral studies at the University of London Institute in Paris and teaching at Université Paris-Est. His research focuses on the novel and his PhD thesis explored the style, poetics and narrative technique of the French writer Michel Houellebecq. Professor Williams is a Fellow at the AUP Teaching and Learning Center

In addition to his ongoing work on Houellebecq and contemporary French writing, Professor Williams’ research concerns American literature of the same period, the cultural resonances between French and English language writing, and European detective fiction, particularly the work of néo-polar writers Thierry Jonquet and Jean-Patrick Manchette. He has also published on the relationships between writing, extremity and intoxication. As well as literary fiction, Professor Williams is interested in contemporary cinema, TV series, visual art, French pop, experimental music and noise. His journalism and literary criticism regularly appears in publications including the Times Literary Supplement, the New Statesman, the Los Angeles Review of Books and The Quietus. He also writes for his website, www.urbanlandfill.co.uk and tweets at @russwilliams_uk.

Professor Williams is presently working on an article exploring Houellebecq’s work in the context of the discourses of the late capitalist workplace, and another considering its relationship with work on neutrality and withdrawal by Roland Barthes, Eugène Ionesco and Georges Perec. He is also preparing his doctoral thesis for publication. 



Education/Degrees

  • PhD, The University of London Institute in Paris
  • MA, The University of Manchester
  • BA, The University of Liverpool

Publications

Books
  • ‘Comment vivre ensemble, selon Houellebecq’, in Marcela Iacub (ed.), Fourier, Kafka et Houellebecq sur l'impossibilité du couple, (Paris: Descartes et Cie, forthcoming)
  • w/ Eugene Brennan, Literature and Intoxication: Writing, Politics and the Experience of Excess (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)
  • w/ Alastair Hemmens, Autour de l’extrême littéraire (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012)
Peer reviewed articles
Book chapters
  • 'La vie littéraire inconnue de Michel Houellebecq', in Agathe Novak-Lechevalier (ed), Cahier Houellebecq (Paris: Editions de l'Herne, 2017)
  • ‘Writing and Intoxication: Drunken Philosophers, Crack Addicts and the Perpetual Present’, in Russell Williams and Eugene Brennan (eds.), Literature and Intoxication: Writing, Politics and the Experience of Excess (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), pp. 25-48
  • ‘« La souffrance à la fois pénétrante et douce ». Depression in Michel Houellebecq’s fiction’, in Gillian Ni Chellaigh, Laura Jackson and Siobhán McIlvanne (eds.), Quand La Folie Parle (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014), pp. 134-150
  • ‘Houellebecq et L’Idiot international : la genèse d’une voix littéraire ?’, in Bruno Viard (ed.), L’Unité de l’œuvre de Michel Houellebecq, (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2014), pp. 337-349
  • ‘Cults, crimes and coprophilia. Subversive 
communities in Richard Morgiève’s Sex Vox Dominam and Thomas Hairmont’s Le Coprophile’, in Alastair Hemmens and Russell Williams (eds.) Autour de l’extrême littéraire, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012)
Review articles

Conferences & Lectures

  • Invited speaker, 'Houellebecq et le terrorisme', Séminaire Droit, histoire et littérature, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, February 6, 2017
  • Invited speaker, ‘Houellebecq et la crise du couple’, Conference on ‘la Fin du couple’, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, December 2, 2016
  • Co-organizer (with Alice Craven) and panel chair, Noire is the New Noire, conference on the Gallimard Série Noire including the participation of Aurélien Masson (Gallimard) and Dominque Manotti (novelist), American University of Paris, November 5, 2016
  • Panel member and organiser, ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’, panel discussion featuring Édouard Louis, author and Hannah Westley, AUP Global Communications, American University of Paris, September 28, 2016,
  • ‘Je n’aurais rien à regretter’, a discussion with Louis Betty (University of Wisconsin-Whitewater), Berkeley Books, Paris, June 28, 2016
  • ‘In conversation’ with photographer John Minihan, École Normale Supérieure, Paris, Paris Beckett Festival 2016, March 18, 2016.
  • Panel member and organiser, ‘Translating Houellebecq’, panel discussion featuring Lorin Stein, The Paris Review and Nelly Kaprièlian, Les Inrockuptibles, American University of Paris, March 15, 2016.
  • ‘Une poétique de la neutralité: soumission, anomie et inertie dans la fiction de Michel Houellebecq’, International Conference, Les « voix » de Michel Houellebecq, Université de Lausanne, March 3, 2016.
  • ‘The ‘Rebranding’ of Michel Houellebecq: Persona, Authorial Presence and Narrative Voice, Society for French Studies conference, Cardiff, June 30, 2015.
  • ‘Michel Houellebecq and the roman noir – between détournement and homage’, Society for French Studies conference, Nottingham, July 2, 2013.
  • Chair and event organiser, ‘Does Paris Own Psychogeography?’, panel discussion with Andrew Hussey and novelist Will Self, University of London Institute in Paris, April 22, 2013.
  • ‘In conversation’ with novelist Aurélien Bellanger, University of London Institute in Paris, March 22, 2013
  • ‘La voix poétique et critique dans les romans de Michel Houellebecq’, L’Unité de l’œuvre de Michel Houellebecq, Université de Provence, May 4, 2012. 
  • ‘Michel Houellebecq (and) the depressive subject’, London French Postgraduate Conference 2011, IGRS London, November 14, 2011.
  • ‘Experiences of transgression in Michel Houellebecq's fiction’, Transgression(s), Université de Provence/Association des Études Françaises et Francophones d’Irlande, October 21, 2011.
  • ‘Cults, crimes and coprophilia. Subversive communities in Richard Morgiève’s Sex Vox Dominam and Thomas Hairmont’s Le Coprophile’, Autour de l’extrême littéraire, University of London Institute in Paris, June 3, 2011.
  • ‘Michel Houellebecq: celebrity, pop star, transgressor’, Interfaces conference, University of Exeter, January 29, 2011.

Research Areas

Michel Houellebecq, contemporary French fiction, detective fiction, the néo-polar, the Franco-American novel, Thierry Jonquet, Jean-Patrick Manchette, French popular culture