Skip to main content

Dr Marie-Claire Barnet

Associate Professor / Director MA in Visual Arts & Cultures

PhD University of California, Davis

AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Associate Professor / Director MA in Visual Arts & Cultures in the School of Modern Languages and CulturesA44, Elvet Riverside I+44 (0) 191 33 43433
Member of the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture  


After studying in France (Université de Bourgogne, Dijon) and the U.S. (Penn University, Philadelphia, and University of California, Davis), I went on working in the U.K.(Edinburgh, St Andrews, Southampton Institute) and joined Durham University in 1999.

My research background is broadly in 20th-21st c. French studies, critical theory, psychoanalysis, surrealism, gender and visual culture.

I have worked extensively in two fields: 'l'extrême contemporain' in literature and the visual arts, and Jacques Derrida and the archives. I am keenly interested in 'récits de vie', autobiography/fiction, linked to photography, and art in general.

The conferences and events I organised on space reconceptualised by contemporary women writers and artists in France (London 2006 and Durham 2011) have resulted in a co-edited volume and a co-edited special issue, with special interviews with Agnès Varda, Valérie Mréjen and Marie Darrieussecq. For another interview with Mréjen see the following link:

Following the film festival and international conference I held at the Tyneside Cinema (Newcastle) in the autumn of 2012, I have worked extensively on Varda’s art installations in France and abroad and I am editing a forthcoming volume on Agnès Varda’s career in film and visual art over the last 5 decades (MHRA/Legenda, Moving Image series).

My second long-standing research interest is Derrida’s autobiography and (self)portraits via different media (film, radio, art installations). I have engaged closely with the ongoing opening of Derrida’s vast archives at IMEC (Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine, Normandy). 

I will be happy to supervise a wide range of research projects on 20th-21st c. French studies, literature, visual culture and critical theory.

Current Research

My current research in visual arts looks closely at the innovative ways artists use to represent changing communities and the self, in an increasingly 'endangered' global environment (Demain, the film, the future, the recreation of the garden of Eden, or the utopia of local economy?). My work on media, archives and Jacques Derrida will focus on the textual/visual interface to offer renewed perspectives on the 'portrayal' of such a legendary thinker, who kept reassessing frames, boundaries, definitions, among other concepts. In my latest volume, my key aim is to reconsider the artist's status and role on the challenging, and highly contested, 'international' art/political scene: Agnès Varda Unlimited: Moving Image, Music, Media. MHRA/Legenda in ‘Moving Image’ series, Cambridge. (out in 2017)

My volume offers a timely re-assessment of legendary Varda as a New Wave film maker and a visual artist of the extreme contemporary, committed to social activism and experimental creativity. In her ever-evolving career, the legendary filmmaker Agnès Varda has gone from being a photographer at the Avignon festival in the late 1940s, through being a director celebrated at the Cannes festival (Cléo de 5 à 7, 1962), to her more ironic self-proclaimed status as a jeune artiste plasticienne. She has recently staged mixed-media projects and exhibitions all over the world from Paris (2006) to Los Angeles (2013-14), and New York (2017). Agnès Varda Unlimited: Image, Music, Media reconsiders the legacy and potential of Vardas radical tour de force cinématique, as seen in the 22-DVD definitive Tout(e) Varda, and her enduring artistic presence. These 12 essays discuss not just when, but also how and why, Varda's renewed artistic forms have ignited with such creative force, and have been so inspiring an influence. The volume concludes with two remarkable interviews: one with Varda herself, and another a rare contribution from the leading actress of Cléo de 5 à 7, Corinne Marchand.

Research interests

  • Critical Theory, Derrida.
  • Gender Studies & Psychoanalysis
  • 20th-21st Century French Literature, Visual Art, L'Extrême contemporain, Récits de vie. Autobiography and (Self) Portraits
  • Word and Image: Contemporary Collaborations between Writers and Artists, Mixed Media

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Language, Literature & the Arts: Available for media contact about: -20th-21st c French literature, critical theory -Visual culture: contemporary French artists


Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article


  • Barnet, M (1998). La Femme cent sexes ou les genres communicants: Deharme, Mansour, Prassinos. Bern, Berlin, Frankfurt/M., New York, Paris, Wien: Peter Lang.

Other (Print)