Helen Craske

Helen Craske, BA (Oxon) MSt (Oxon)

Research Interests:

My DPhil thesis analyses the conceptualisation of shared crime and guilt in French fin-de-siècle literary culture. I aim to show how specific textual strategies and modes of reception encouraged the creation of relationships of collusion – imagined or otherwise – between writers, readers, and critics at the turn of the century.

I am particularly interested in the intersection between book and periodical cultures, so I analyse a combination of novels, short stories, and journalism. This element of my project has involved extensive archival research in Paris, focusing on the journalistic output of the literary avant-garde in the 1880s and 1890s.


2019-20 — Seminar Tutor, teaching the “Introduction to French Literary Theory” paper for French Sole Prelims students

2017 onwards — Graduate Mentor for students at Merton College 


‘Partners in Crime? Scandalous Complicity Between Rachilde and Jean Lorrain’ – forthcoming in Nineteenth-Century French Studies, Vol. 48, Nos. 3–4, Spring–Summer 2020

‘Desire and the demi-vierge: the Impenetrable Ideal in Decadent Fiction’ – Dix-Neuf, 2018, Vol.22, Issues 1-2, 23-38. DOI: 10.1080/14787318.2018.1476438 

‘La Marquise de Sade’, The Literary Encyclopedia, First published 26 July 2017

Conference and Seminar Papers:

‘“Dear Sapho”: A Fin-de-Siècle Agony Aunt’, presented at the 2019 NCFS Annual Colloquium, ‘Enchantment/Disenchantment’, Sarasota, Florida, 31 Oct.-2 Nov. 2019.

‘Naming and Blaming at the Fin de Siècle’, presented at the 2019 Society for French Studies Annual Conference, Royal Holloway, University of London, 1-3 July 2019

‘Complicity in Fin-de-Siècle Literature’, presented at the Cambridge Seminar Series in 19th Century French Studies, Emmanuel College, Cambridge, 29 April 2019 

‘Selling Scandal: Infamy and Complicity in Rachilde and Lorrain’, presented at the 2018 NCFS Annual Colloquium, ‘Celebrity/Obscurity’, Manhattan Beach L.A., 25-27 October 2018. (Co-awarded the 2018 Naomi Schor Memorial Prize)

‘A Decadent Patroness? Rachilde as Taste-Maker in the Mercure de France’, presented at Women Writing Decadence: European Perspectives, 1880-1920 — University of Oxford, 7-8 July 2018

‘Displacing the Blame: Complicity in Rachilde and Zola’, presented at the SDN Annual Conference 2018, ‘Displacements’, Newcastle University, 9-11 April 2018

‘The Decadent Ideal of Impenetrability’, presented at the 2017 SDN Annual Conference, ‘Spleen et Idéal’, University of Kent, 10-12 April 2017. (Awarded the 2017 SDN Postgraduate Prize)


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