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Languages, Cultures and Visual Studies

Photo of Professor Maria Scott

Professor Maria Scott

Associate Professor of French Literature and Thought


01392 725456


I am currently very interested in the notion that reading fiction can help to develop empathy, including Theory of Mind, in readers; I am exploring (and problematising) this idea from the perspective of (French) literary studies, looking at what literary fiction and literary theory have to say on the subject. My book Empathy and the Strangeness of Fiction: Readings in French Realism came out with Edinburgh University Press in April 2020.

My teaching and research tend to focus on 19th-century literature and culture. Many of my publications have focused on the work of the novelist Stendhal and the poet Charles Baudelaire, both of whom were also art critics. As the titles of my monographs suggest, I like to read works from unorthodox angles: Baudelaire's 'Le Spleen de Paris': Shifting Perspectives (Ashgate, 2005) and Stendhal's Less-Loved Heroines: Fiction, Freedom, and the Female (Legenda, 2013). The Baudelaire book won the Gapper Book Prize for the best monograph published in 2005 by a scholar working in the field of French studies and based in the UK or Ireland. The Stendhal book was published in French by Garnier in 2015.

Generally, I am interested in the processes involved in the reception of literary and visual texts. I welcome any PhD  proposals in the area of post-1800 French studies. In 2018 I won the University of Exeter Student Guild award for Best Postgraduate Research Supervisor.

I am currently the President of the Society of Dix-Neuviémistes. (

In 2014 I became an ASPIRE Fellow. See

Empathy and the Strangeness of Fiction

Stendhal's Less-Loved Heroines By Maria C. Scott

  Baudelaire’s Le Spleen de Paris

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My recent work has focused on the idea of empathy. I have been studying the depiction of empathetic processes in the poetry and prose of Charles Baudelaire, whose work slightly predates the formal theorization of empathy (or 'Einfühlung') in the 1870s, by German aesthetic philosophers. I am also investigating an aspect of the putative link between reading fiction and the development of empathy, and have been arguing for a shift in thinking of the advantages of fiction-reading from the social towards the ethical.

Here is a blog post that I wrote for Edinburgh University Press to accompany the publication of my book in 2020.

For recent reviews of my book Empathy and the Strangeness of Fiction, that summarise its key points, see here by Matt Phillips (Royal Holloway) in French Studiesthis by Suzanne Keen (Hamilton College, USA) in the MLR, this by Thomas Dodman (Columbia University, USA) in the Romanic Review, or this in the Forum for Modern Language Studies.

Research collaborations

I recently co-edited, with Dr Claire Moran (Queen's University Belfast), Prof. Mary Orr (University of Saint Andrew's), and Prof. Therese Dolan (Tyler School of Art, Temple University, U.S.A.) a Special Issue of the journal Dix-Neuf, on the theme of 'Crossings and Interconnections', in memory of Professor Barbara Wright of Trinity College Dublin. 

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I would be very interested to hear from anybody considering research in any area of French nineteenth-century literature, but would also be keen to hear about any twentieth-century French studies project that engages substantially with the question of empathy or Theory of Mind, with problems of interpretation, or with ideas about gender.

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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.

| 2024 | 2023 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2001 |


  • Scott M. (2024) "Des « Lettres sur la sympathie »de Sophie de Grouchy à De l’Amour: une dette inavouée ?", Stendhal, De l’Amour. 200 ans après, tab edizione, 227-250.


  • Dolan T, Moran C, Orr M, Scott MC. (2023) Crossings and Interconnections, Dix-Neuf, volume 27, no. 2-3, pages 83-87, DOI:10.1080/14787318.2023.2218216.



  • Scott M. (2020) Empathy and the Strangeness of Fiction: Readings in French Realism, Edinburgh University Press. [PDF]



  • Scott MC. (2018) 'Should feminists read Baudelaire (2)'.
  • Scott MC. (2018) 'Baudelaire's "L'étranger" and the Limits of Mind-Reading', L'Esprit Createur: a critical quarterly of French literature, volume 58.1, pages 32-47, DOI:10.1353/esp.2018.0003.
  • Scott MC, Wettlaufer AK. (2018) Special Issue: Baudelaire and Other People. L'Esprit Créateur, 58(1), Johns Hopkins University Press. [PDF]
  • Scott MC. (2018) Baudelaire’s “L’Étranger” and the Limits of Mind-Reading, L'Esprit Createur: a critical quarterly of French literature.


  • Scott MC. (2017) ‘How to read (women in) Baudelaire's prose poems’, Approaches to Teaching Baudelaire’s Prose Poems,, Modern Language Association, 96-106.



  • Scott M. (2014) Modern French Visual Theory: A Critical Reader, FRENCH STUDIES, volume 68, no. 4, pages 580-580, DOI:10.1093/fs/knu184. [PDF]
  • Scott M, Manzini F. (2014) Stendhal in the 21st Century/Stendhal au XXIe siècle, Dix-Neuf, vol. 19, no. 1, Maney, 2015.
  • Scott MC. (2014) 'La Belle Dorothée, ou les taches aveugles du regard idéaliste-matérialiste', Lectures du Spleen de Paris, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 237-250.
  • Scott MC. (2014) 'Baudelaire's "Spleen et Idéal": A Brief Rhetorical Analysis', The Poetry of Baudelaire, Salem Press, 126-138.


  • Scott MC. (2013) ‘Le problème du point de vue dans (la lecture de) Le Rouge et le Noir’, Lectures du 'Rouge et le Noir', Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 237-248. [PDF]
  • Scott MC. (2013) ‘Circulation in Baudelaire’s Paris’, Cambridge Companion to the Literature of Paris, Cambridge University Press, 85-102.
  • Scott MC. (2013) Stendhal's Less-Loved Heroines: Fiction, Freedom, and the Female, Legenda.


  • Scott MC. (2012) ‘Stendhal’s Muddy Realism’, Dix-Neuf, volume 1, no. 16, pages 15-27.
  • Scott MC. (2012) ‘Comédie et liberté chez Stendhal: Une étude de ses actrices’, L’Année stendhalienne, no. 11, pages 217-231.
  • Scott MC. (2012) ‘Intertextes et mystifications dans les poèmes en prose de Baudelaire’, Romantisme: revue du dix-neuvieme siecle, volume 2, no. 156, pages 63-73.


  • Scott MC. (2011) ‘Les Femmes et la faculté de vouloir dans Les Promenades dans Rome’, ‘Façons de voir’: Enquêtes sur les Promenades dans Rome, ELLUG, 247-264.


  • Scott MC. (2010) ‘Le Réalisme et la peur du désir? Le cas de Lucien Leuwen’, L’Année stendhalienne, no. 9, pages 35-57.


  • Scott MC. (2009) ‘Reading the Look and Looking at Reading in Baudelaire’, Modern Language Review, volume 2, no. 104, pages 375-388.
  • Scott MC. (2009) ‘Stendhal’s Heroines: Escaping History through History’, Nineteenth-Century French Studies, volume 3-4, no. 37, pages 260-272.
  • Scott MC. (2009) ‘Le Thème de l’amitié féminine chez un “tendre ami des femmes”', L’Année stendhalienne, no. 8, pages 101-115.


  • Scott MC. (2008) ‘Performing Desire: Stendhal’s Theatrical Heroines’, French Studies: a quarterly review, no. 62, pages 259-270.
  • Scott MC. (2008) ‘Simone de Beauvoir on Stendhal: in Good Faith or in Bad?’, The Irish Journal of French Studies, no. 8, pages 55-71.
  • Scott MC. (2008) ‘Lacan’s “Of the Gaze as Objet Petit a” as Anamorphic Discourse’, Paragraph: a journal of modern critical theory, volume 3, no. 31, pages 327-343.


  • Scott MC. (2007) ‘Acts of Suppression: Adapting Le Rouge et le Noir’, Literature/Film Quarterly, volume 3, no. 35, pages 237-243.
  • Scott MC. (2007) ‘Ce singulier panégyriste: Joseph de Maimieux’s Éloge philosophique de l’impertinence’, French Studies Bulletin, volume 105, no. 28, pages 80-82.
  • Scott MC. (2007) ‘Stendhal’s Rebellious Mothers and the Fight Against Death-by-Maternity’, Birth and Death in Nineteenth-Century French Culture, Rodopi, 139-151.


  • Scott MC. (2006) ‘Artful Deceptions: Distortions, Seductions, and Substitutions’, Artful Deceptions: Verbal and Visual Trickery in French Culture, Peter Lang, 15-32.
  • collective. (2006) Artful Deceptions: Verbal and Visual Trickery in French Culture, Peter Lang.


  • Scott MC. (2005) ‘Baudelaire’s Canine Allegories: Le Chien et le flacon and Les Bons Chiens’, Nineteenth-Century French Studies, volume 12, no. 33.
  • Scott MC. (2005) ‘Le “moi” insaisissable du Spleen de Paris’, Bulletin Baudelairien, volume 1-2, no. 40, pages 51-65.
  • Scott MC. (2005) ‘Textual Trompe-l’œil in Jacques Derrida’s Memoirs of the Blind’, On Verbal/Visual Representation, Rodopi, 239-249.
  • Scott MC. (2005) ‘Stendhal, Mathilde et le regard oblique', L’Œil écrit, Slatkine, 221-236.
  • Scott MC. (2005) Baudelaire's 'Le Spleen de Paris': Shifting Perspectives, Ashgate.


  • Scott MC. (2001) ‘Superfluous Intrigues in Baudelaire’s Prose Poems’, French Studies: a quarterly review, volume 3, no. 55, pages 351-362.
  • Scott MC. (2001) ‘Reading Monstrosity in Baudelaire’s Mademoiselle Bistouri’, Australian Journal of French Studies, volume 2, no. 38, pages 228-240.

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After a Community School education in Dublin, I took the first year of a Marketing degree before realising my mistake. I went on to study for a BA (Two-Subject Moderatorship) in French and English at Trinity College Dublin, followed by a DEA and a year teaching English at the Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle -- Paris III, and a PhD in French at TCD. After another year of teaching English, this time at the Université Charles-de-Gaulle -- Lille III, I became a Lecturer in French at University College Dublin for two years, and was then made Lecturer in French at National University of Ireland, Galway, where I worked until my appointment at Exeter in 2013. I was the beneficiary of a Government of Ireland Research Fellowship from 2004 to 2005, was Secretary of the Royal Irish Academy's Modern Languages Committee from 2009 to 2011, was General editor of the Irish Journal of French Studies for four years (Jan 2015 to Dec 2018), Secretary of the executive committee of the Society of Dix-Neuviémistes for five years (Apr 2014 to Apr 2019), and member of the AHRC Peer Review College from 2017 to 2020. I am currently on the editorial board of La Revue Stendhal. I am also the President of the Society of Dix-Neuviémistes. (

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