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Languages, Cultures and Visual Studies

Photo of Professor Fiona Handyside

Professor Fiona Handyside

Associate Professor in Film Studies


01392 724208


I grew up in Paignton, Devon, and was educated at the Universities of Southampton, Nottingham, Strasbourg and London. I also worked for a year as a Lectrice at Universite Michel de Montaigne in Bordeaux. I was appointed as a Lecturer in Film Studies at Queen's University Belfast in 2002, and returned to my home roots to work as a Lecturer in  Film Studies at Exeter in 2007. I was promoted to Associate Professor in January 2019.

My recent  book publications are:

My office is 110 Queens.

Please email me for an appointment. 

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Girls and Girlhood in Contemporary Cinema

While I have always been interested in questions of gender and representation in film since my PhD on female American stars in 1950s French cultural discourses, my research has recently taken a new direction into analysing representations of girls and girlhood from a range of different national cinemas. My interest in this is three-fold. First, I am fascinated by the way the figure of the girl has been taken up as an accessible way to debate the legacies of feminism and the question of opportunities and threats for women in contemporary Western cultures. Second, work on contemporary film and television cultures' representations of girls has tended to be dominated by Anglophone, particularly Hollywood Conglomerate, production, leading to an 'echo-chamber' effect where film is critiqued for its narrow range of representation. Through turning to other types and locations of production (from Indiewood, to Europe, to Asia) we can challenge this narrative and look for possibilities of a more diverse and diffuse experience of girlhood. This enables us to do all sorts of exciting things, such as examine how such globalising narratives as neo-liberalism and post-feminism might nevertheless be inflected by local differences; to explain why specific local conditions, such as institutional support, might enable young women to make film, as in France; to explore female directors' investments in, aesthetics of, and affective responses to, contemporary girl culture. Third, understanding some film as a privileged site to tarry with the complex and ambivalent emotions of girlhood enables us to ask questions about how girl audiences themselves might respond to this viewing, how this might shape their media consumption and production, and whether this might enable a productive dialogue about the experiences of being a girl in twenty-first century Europe.

I work on a range of directors from these perspectives, such as Celine Sciamma, Mia Hansen-Love, Delphine and Muriel Coulin, and especially Sofia Coppola.

Place and Space in Cinema

I understand cinema as fundamentally a spatial art: film both mechanically records and artistically interprets place. I trace the dynamic relation between film and place, in a range of studies, and in particular I have written on the liminal, wet-dry, nature-culture, beachscape and its central importance to French cinema, looking at its use in films by Rohmer, Ozon, Varda, Leconte, Blier, Breillat, Kurys, Lopes-Curval, Demy, Truffaut and Tati, and its industrial significance for the Cannes film festival.

Eric Rohmer

Having produced an edited book of interviews from across Rohmer's career in 2013, I retain my unconditional love and passion for this most brilliant of filmmakers. My most recent project on Rohmer brought together my interest in female filmmaking and his films, as I discussed his 1980s work with female cinematographer Sophie Maintigneux.

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I am always happy to hear from prospective doctoral students with proposals linked to my areas of research. I am especially interested in working with candidates on the following areas

  • Contemporary French cinema
  • Spatiality in cinema
  • Postfeminism and cinema
  • The films of Eric Rohmer
  • The films of Sofia Coppola

Research students

I am currently working with the following students:

Gemma Edney: Sounding the Silence: Voicing Girlhood in Contemporary French Film, 2014-2017

Katie Newstead, AHRC funded: Ageing Femininity and the Cinematic Fairy-tale, 2013-2016

Daniel Passes, London Film School joint supervision, PhD by Practice: Reimag(in)ing the Rural, 2014-2017

Rebecca Marshall, London Film School joint supervision, PhD by Practice: Filming and/on the Self, 2013-2016

Former students:

Giulia Baso, AHRC funded, co-supervised with Prof Danielle Hipkins: Contamination and Mediation in the Films of Antonioni and Egoyan, completed January 2015, passed with minor corrections (examiners: Prof Emma Wilson and Prof Will Higbee).

Clara Bradbury-Rance, AHRC funded, MRes 2010-2011. Queer Postfeminism and the films of Lisa Cholodenko, passed with distinction. Clara is now completing a PhD in Manchester with AHRC funding, under the supervision of Prof Jackie Stacey.

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Copyright Notice: Any articles made available for download are for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the copyright holder.

| 2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 |



  • Handyside F. (2022) Jacques Audiard. By Gemma King, French Studies, volume 76, no. 2, pages 309-310, DOI:10.1093/fs/knac029.
  • Hipkins D, Handyside F. (2022) The Ebbs and Flows of Girlhood Experience across European cinema, The Routledge Companion to European Cinema, Routledge.



  • Handyside F. (2020) Things to Come: Fertility, Futurity and the Family in L’ Avenir, Un Chateau en Italie and Post-Coitum Animal Triste, Cross-Generational Relationships and Cinema, Palgrave, 33-52.
  • Handyside F. (2020) "Whoa! Look at all her Louboutins!' Girlhood and Shoes in the Films of Sofia Coppola, Shoe Reels: The History and Philosophy of Footwear in Film, Edinburgh University Press, 261-278.


  • Handyside F. (2019) The Politics of Hair: Girls, Secularism and (Not) the Veil in Mustang and Other Recent French Films, Paragraph, volume 42, no. 3, pages 351-369, DOI:10.3366/para.2019.0311. [PDF]
  • Handyside F. (2019) Mia Hansen-Love, Postfeminism in France, and the Melancholic Girl, Screening Youth: Contemporary French and Francophone Cinema, Edinburgh University Press, 81-98.
  • Handyside F. (2019) Girlhood Luminosities and Topographical Politics: 17 Filles and Bande de Filles, France in Flux: Space, Territory and Contemporary Culture, Liverpool University Press, 113-139.



  • Handyside FJ. (2017) 'La mer, la mer, toujours recommencee': A Centrifugal Reading of the Beach in the Works of Agnes Varda, Agnes Varda Unlimited: Image, Music, Media, Legenda.
  • Handyside FJ. (2017) Postcards and/of Prostitutes: Circulating the City in Atom Egoyan's Chloe, Prostitution and Sex Work in Global Cinemas; New Takes on Fallen Women, Palgrave, 243-263.


  • Handyside FJ. (2016) The Ageing Stars of European Art-House Cinema: Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva in Amour, Lasting Screen Stars: Images that Fade and Personas that Endure, Palgrave, 115-126.
  • Handyside FJ. (2016) Girlhood, Postfeminism and Contemporary Female Art-House Authorship: The “Nameless Trilogies” of Sofia Coppola and Mia Hansen-Løve, Alphaville : Journal of Film and Screen Media, volume 10.
  • Handyside F. (2016) Sofia Coppola: A Cinema of Girlhood, I.B. Tauris.
  • Handyside FJ. (2016) Bodies on the Sand, La Ligne d'ecume: Encountering the French Beach, Pavement Books.
  • Handyside FJ. (2016) Emotion, Girlhood and Music in Naissance des pieuvres and Un amour de jeunesse, International Cinema and the Girl, Palgrave, 121-134.
  • Handyside F, Taylor-Jones K. (2016) International Cinema and the Girl, Palgrave Macmillan, DOI:10.1057/9781137388926.
  • Handyside F, Taylor-Jones K. (2016) International Cinema and the Girl, Palgrave Macmillan, DOI:10.1057/9781137388926.



  • Handyside F. (2014) Queer Enchantments: Gender, Sexuality, and Class in the Fairy-Tale Cinema of Jacques Demy, French Studies, volume 68, no. 3, pages 440-441, DOI:10.1093/fs/knu129.
  • Handyside FJ. (2014) "Walking in the City: Paris in the films of Eric Rohmer", The Films of Eric Rohmer: French New Wave to Old Master, Palgrave, 177-189.
  • Handyside FJ. (2014) "Postfeminist (D)au(gh)teurs: Sofia Coppola and the Girl's Voyage to Italy in Somewhere (Coppola, 2010)", New Visions of the Child in Italian Cinema, 129-148.
  • Handyside FJ. (2014) Cinema At the Shore: The Beach in French Film, Peter Lang.


  • Handyside FJ. (2013) Ghosts on the Sand: Francois Ozon's Haunted Beaches, Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, volume 27, no. 5, pages 663-675.
  • Handyside FJ. (2013) "Continuity and Discontinuity in The Family: Thinking Beyond The Post-Colonial in Il y a longtemps que je t'aime (Claudel, 2008)", France's Colonial Legacies: Memory, Identity and Narrative, University of Wales Press, 169-187.



  • Cox L, Handyside F. (2011) French Studies: Film Studies, The Year’s Work in Modern Language Studies, volume 73, no. 1, pages 89-99, DOI:10.1163/2222-4297-90000846.
  • Handyside FJ. (2011) The Feminist Beachscape: Catherine Breillat, Diane Kurys and Agnes Varda, L'Esprit Createur, volume Spring 2011.


  • Handyside F. (2010) Let’s make love: Whiteness, cleanliness and sexuality in the French reception of Marilyn Monroe, European Journal of Cultural Studies, volume 13, no. 3, pages 291-306, DOI:10.1177/1367549410363198.
  • Handyside FJ. (2010) Love and Desire in Eric Rohmer's Comedies and Proverbs and Tales of the Four Seasons, Senses of Cinema, no. 54, article no. internet publication.
  • Handyside FJ. (2010) Let's Make Love: Whiteness, Cleanliness and Sexuality in the French Reception of Marilyn Monroe', European Journal of Cultural Studies, volume 3, no. 13, pages 1-16.


  • Handyside F. (2009) Romans français du XIXe siècle à l'écran: Problèmes de l'adaptation, French Studies, volume 63, no. 3, pages 367-368, DOI:10.1093/fs/knp100.
  • Handyside FJ. (2009) The Margins Don't Have to Be Marginal: The banlieue in Films by Eric Rohmer, Alienation and Alterity: Otherness in Modern and Contemporary Francophone Contexts, Peter Lang, 201-223.
  • Handyside FJ. (2009) Rohmer a la plage: The Beach in Three Films by Eric Rohmer, Studies in French Cinema, volume 9, no. 2.
  • Handyside FJ. (2009) 'J'ai aime vivre la': Rethinking the suburbs in Annie Ernaux and Eric Rohmer, Nottingham French Studies.


  • Handyside FJ. (2008) Alternative Inheritances: Rethinking Adaptation in Francois Ozon's Le temps qui reste/ Time to Leave, Literature/ Film Quarterly, volume 36, no. 4, pages 88-99.


  • Handyside FJ. (2007) It's Either Fake or Foreign: The Cityscape in Sex and the City, Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, volume 21, no. 3, pages 405-418.
  • Handyside FJ. (2007) ‘Girls on Film: Mothers, Sisters and Daughters in Contemporary French Cinema', Affaires de famille: The Family in Contemporary French Culture and Theory, Rodopi, 221-237.
  • Handyside FJ. (2007) Melodrama and Ethics in Francois Ozon's Gouttes d'eau sur pierres brulantes (2000), Studies in French Cinema, volume 7, no. 3, pages 207-218.
  • Handyside FJ. (2007) Belle Toujours: Catherine Deneuve as Fashion Icon, Catherine Deneuve: From Perversion to Purity, Manchester University Press, 161-179.
  • Handyside FJ. (2007) ‘Colonising the European Utopia', World Cinema's Dialogues with Hollywood, Palgrave Macmillan, 138-153.

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I teach film modules across the departments of Modern Languages and English, working with a wide range of students from various backgrounds - some of whom have been studying films for several years, and others who are new to the idea of film as an academic subject. I'm committed to communicating to students the importance of cinema as the most powerful art form of the twentieth century, and its lasting impact on all arts, as it continues to shape the structures of contemporary culture. As it is popular in its appeal, and radical in its practices, studying cinema opens up important questions about how we communicate knowledge, belief and meaning, and the role of technology in the forming of culture. From the first seminar of a first year introductory course where we explain what is meant by mise-en-scene to a final year tutorial's complex discussion about how the 'echo chamber' of idealised girlhood might be prised open via film, I am determined that students should be excited by and informed about the role of cinema in our world. I was shortlisted for Best Supervisor in the 2015 Student Guild Teaching Awards.

Modules taught

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More information

Conference Papers Given (since 2001)

  • ‘Catherine Deneuve: the star as fashion icon'
    July 2003, University of Stockholm, Sweden, Popular European Cinema 4: Stars and Methods
  • ‘"The Great American Tourist": The Tourist Gaze in Hollywood Musicals'
    September 2003, NUI: Cork, Ireland, Musicals: An International Conference
  • ‘Girls on Film: Mothers, Daughters and Sisters in Contemporary French Film'
    March 2004, University of Durham, Affaires de famille: Family in French Culture and Thought
  • ‘Flow, not form: Melodrama in François Ozon's Gouttes d'eau sur pierres brûlantes (2000)'
    March 2005, Institut Français, London, Studies in French Cinema Annual Conference
  • ‘Sex and setting: The Beach in Catherine Breillat's A ma soeur' [part of panel on Sex and Setting]
    June 2005, Queen Mary, University of London, Space and Place: Design and Setting in the Cinema International Conference
  • ‘Water Drops Far From Heaven: The Contemporary Melodrama in America and in France'
    July 2005, University of Leeds, European Cinema Research Forum Annual Conference
  • ‘Adaptation in the films of François Ozon' [part of panel on adaptation]
    July 2006, University of Wales, Swansea, European Cinema Research Forum Annual Conference
  • ‘The Beach in Female Authored Films'
    October 2006, Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, University of London, Space, Place and Landscape: Women and Environments in Contemporary French Culture
  • ‘Melodrama for the New Generation: The Role of Melodrama in Contemporary French Cinema'
    July 2007, University of Glasgow, Screen Annual Conference
  • ‘The Margins don't have to be Marginal: Re-thinking Alterity in the Films of Eric Rohmer'
    September 2007, University of Exeter,  Alienation and Alterity: Otherness in Modern and Contemporary Francophone Contexts 

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