School of Modern Languages

Staff Profiles

Dr Gillian Jein

Senior Lecturer in French (Urban Humanities)


I joined Newcastle University as Senior Lecturer in French Studies in the School of Modern Languages (SML) in September 2018.

Research Interests

I work in the emerging field of the "Urban Humanities" and explore interrelations between culture, space and power in the creation of meaning in, and shaping our experience of, cities. One central aim is to map the entanglements of aesthetics and politics in practices of 'placemaking', and in so doing to address questions around who the city is for and how cultural politics feeds into processes of exclusion and inclusion. 

My current project, 'Inventing Grand Paris: Visual Culture, Regeneration and the Right to the City', examines the role of visual culture in the Grand Paris programme's ongoing transformation of contemporary Paris, and seeks to shed light on points of tension, contestation and agonistic role of art in processes of regeneration and gentrification of Seine-Saint-Denis. The project theorizes the 'right to the city' as an aesthetic question, and examines the politics of looking and visibility in the regeneration of this supposedly peripheral territory. This project was awarded an AHRC Leadership Fellowship Grant (2018-2019), and I am currently writing a monograph based on the project, with a number of related articles forthcoming. 


  • Director of Impact for SML.
  • Year Abroad Officer for French (Outgoing). 
I am theme leader for the Cities NUCoRE on 'Defining and Experiencing Cities'.

PhD Supervision

I welcome enquiries from research candidates interested in the following areas of modern and contemporary French  & Francophone Studies: 

  • Grand Paris
  • Urban Cultural Production
  • Travel Writing in French 
  • Street Art & Graffiti  
  • Politics of Aesthetics
  • Urban Theory
  • Visual Culture of cities
  • French Literature on/in the City
  • Histories of Paris


  • PhD in French Studies, Trinity College, Dublin. Supervised by Prof. David Scott and fully funded by the TCD Ussher Fellowship.
  • Diplôme d’études approfondies (DEA), Université Sorbonne Nouvelle—Paris III. Supervised by Philippe Hamon. Pensionnaire at the École Normale Supérieure, rue d’Ulm, Paris.
  • B.A. Two Subject Moderatership in French & History, Trinity College, Dublin. Funded by the Drogheda Credit Union Scholarship.
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


Previous Positions

Before coming to Newcastle in 2018, I was lecturer and senior lecturer at Bangor University in North Wales from 2012. I also served as Director of Graduate Studies in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at Bangor from 2016–2018. Prior to Wales, I worked on fixed-term contracts at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, Ireland (2010–2012) and at the University of Stirling, Scotland (2009–2010).


A researcher in the Urban Humanities, I work on French urban cultures of the modern and contemporary period and I'm interested in how cultural production contributes to the materiality, meanings and experiences of the built environment.


My current project, 'Inventing Grand Paris: Visual Culture, Regeneration and the Right to the City', repositions understandings of the Paris 'banlieues' in light of contemporary redevelopment and attendant gentrification within the context of the Grand Paris programme. I focus on the role played by image-making and visual culture (both state-led and community driven) in the transformation of the banlieues under the onus of this massive regeneration scheme.  

The project’s critical approach is grounded in Lefebvre’s idea of the 'Right to the City', and rethinking this issue of urban agency as an aesthetic question. So following theorists such as John Berger, Jacques Rancière and Chantal Mouffe, the project contends that how places and people are made visible, and how marginal communities make themselves visible are political questions. This is to reframe the old issue of, ‘what do images look like, what do they say?', to ask instead ‘what do images look at?’— what kinds of pasts are they concerned with, what futures do they speculate? And, ‘what can images do’ — what kinds of actions do images promote? In the new metropolitan urbanism, this kind of approach allows us to engage critically with discourses of ‘creativity’ and ‘diversity’ and to explore the ways artistic and design practices can be at once resistive to, but also complicit in, corporate and state-led placemaking practices.


In 2018, I was awarded an AHRC Leadership Fellows grant for this project. The bid was developed as a result of an earlier project ‘Visualizing Everyday Life in Transnational Paris’ (July 2013–July 2014), and subsequent publications, papers and interviews exploring the cultural politics of street art, urban painting, photography and architecture.

Interested in working at the juncture of theory and practice, I've also worked alongside visual artists on creative projects exploring issues such as surveillance, the digital gaze and violence in contemporary society. 

I write on street art and have published a monograph on urban travel writing in French, Alternative Modernities in French Travel Writing: Engaging Urban Space in London and New York, 1851–1986 (London: Anthem Press, 2016 [2019 for paperback]). This book examines narrative practices of urban modernity and mobility through the travel writing of lesser-known as well as canonical French authors including Paul Morand, Jean-Paul Sartre, Georges Perec and Jean Baudrillard.

From 2011-2019, I was co-editor of the Irish Journal of French Studies.

Externally Funded Research / Awards


  • 2018–2019 — PI on 'Inventing Greater Paris: Visual Culture, Regeneration and the Right to the City', AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellows Grant. (£100,000 award). 
  • 2015–2017 — Principle Investigator on generative digital art project, ‘Veillance’. (£70,000 award from The Space). 
  • 2016–2017 — Principle Investigator on ‘The Portable Ocean’, with co-investigator Stephanie Wilson, Ocean Sciences, Bangor University. (£5000 award by Welsh Crucible.) 
  • 2016 — Welsh Crucible Participant.
  • 2013 — British Academy & MHRA Small Grant for project ‘Visualising Everyday Life: Tactics of Representation in Transnational Paris’. (£2800).
  • 2013 — Invited Member of AHRC-NWO funded research network, Visual Culture and Interruption in Global Cities.
  • 2010 — SEED funding for field research on parkour in Paris & London. Awarded by Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick. €800.
  • 2010 — Scholarship: Stage en langue, culture et société québécoises. Awarded by the Ministère des Relations internationales (MRI) of Québec.
  • 2004–2007 — Ussher Research Fellowship. Awarded by Trinity College, Dublin. Fees paid
  • 2002 — Mc Cracken Fellowship. Awarded by New York University.
  • 2001–2002 — Pensionnaire at the École Normale Supérieure, Ulm.
  • 1999 — Dunbar Memorial Prize for History.
  • 1997–2001 — Credit Union Scholarship to attend university.


Invited Talks

  • Keynote Speaker. 'Making Do' in Urbanism and the Arts. Organised by Slow Lab at University of Oregon, Portland. 20 November 2020.  
  • Invitation to participate in British Academy roundtable discussion on 'Representing Urban Violence', held at the British Academy on 15 January 2020. 
  • Keynote Speaker. Jein, G. 'Re-visioning Violence: The Art of the Street in Transnational Paris, Exploring the Transnational Neighbourhood: Integration, Community and Co-habitation, organised by the UCD Humanities Institution, and IMLR, SAS, University of London. 25-26 September 2019. 
  • Keynote Speaker. Jein, G. 'Globalism is Ordinary' at 'Mobilities and Moorings: Renegotiating Spaces and Identities in modern and contemporary French and Francophone Culture', Postgraduate Conference, The Graduate School, Queen's University Belfast, 30–31 May 2019.
  • **Invited Talk: 'Articulating Violence in Urban Space', Centre for Transnational Studies, University of Southampton, 18 March 2020. 
  • **Invited Talk: 'Hypoplace and the Hexagon: The Cultural Production of Grand Paris', as part of workshop 'Variable Geometries: The French Hexagon in Post-war French and Francophone Culture ' organised by UCD Humanities Institute. 3-4 April 2020.  
  • Invited Talk: Cities and Modern Languages seminar at the University of Bristol. 15 May 2019.
  • Invited Talk: 19 April 2016: Jein, G. ‘Black Mirror: Digital Culture and Gentrification in Pantin’. Invited paper delivered as part of the symposium ‘Paris Past and Present: Liquid Spaces, Contested Spaces’ held at the School of Advanced Study, Senate House as part of the Cities@SAS initiative and in collaboration with the University of London Institute in Paris.
  • Invited Talk: 19 January 2017: Jein, G. ‘Reimagining the City’. Presentation and Facilitation of discussion on Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift’s work in urban cultural geography. Session given at the ‘Cities in Theory’ reading group at the School of Advanced Study, Senate House, London.
  • Invited Talk: 26 February 2018: ‘Face Politics & Street Art’ at City, Art and Politics: Reconfiguring the Meaning of Urban Space, organised by Christina Horvath of University of Bath. 44AD Gallery, Bath.

Public Engagement

**postponed events due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Conference Organisation

  • 2017: Organiser of ASMCF [Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France] Annual Conference. 7–9 September at Bangor University. Along with colleagues in French Studies, I co-organised this major Association’s annual conference, which explored the theme of ‘Work and Play’. I also organised two panels, ‘Work & Play in the banlieues’, which dealt with my research area as part of this conference. (Appendix 20)
  • 2014: Organiser of ‘City Margins, City Memories’, Institute of Modern Languages Research, Senate House, London, 7–8 April 2014. This international, interdisciplinary conference was organised in collaboration with colleagues from SMLC and the School of Philosophy and Religion at Bangor University. Both keynote speakers, Prof. Bill Marshall (French Studies, Stirling University) and Prof. Hugh Campbell (Dean of Architecture, UCD), were research colleagues of mine. (Appendix 29)
  • 2007: Organiser of ‘Dislocation’, Postgraduate Research Conference held at Trinity College, Dublin, 23 March 2007. Organised along with peers in the department of French at Trinity College, Dublin.

Presentations at Conferences:

  • Jein, G. ‘Inventing Greater Paris? Playing with Architecture in the Banlieues’, at ASMCF conference, Bangor University, 8 September 2017.
  • Jein, G. ‘(De)Facing the Suburbs: Street Art and the Politics of Spatial Affect in the Paris Banlieues’. Seminar paper at SMLC research forum, Bangor University, December 2015.
  • Jein, G. ‘Decelerating Travel: Endotic Space and Transnational Paris in Leïla Sebbar’s Métro Instantanés’ at Borders & Crossings/Seuils et Traverses Conference, Liverpool Hope University, 22 July 2013.
  • Jein, G. ‘The Transnational Everyday? Decelerating Space in the récit urbain’ at the XIV annual ADEFFI conference, NUI Galway, 20 October 2012.
  • Jein, G. ‘(De)facing the Wall: JR’s 28 millimètres’ at the XIII annual ADEFFI conference (Association d’Etudes française et francophones d’Irlande), Couvent des Oblats, Aix-en-Provence, 21 October 2011.

Research Affiliations

  • Co-Editor Irish Journal of French Studies.
  • External member and co-founder of the Irish Centre for Transnational Studies.
  • Member of the Executive Committee, Association des études françaises et francophones d’Irlande (ADEFFI)



    • Jein, G. Alternative Modernities in French Travel Writing: Engaging Urban Space in London and New York, 1851–1986 (London: Anthem Press, 2016)

    Edited Volume:

    • Jein, Gillian, Daisy Connon and Greg Kerr (eds), Dislocation in French and Francophone Literature and Art: Strategies of Representation (Lampeter: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2009)

    Journal Special Issue:

    • Jein, Gillian, Laura Rorato and Anna Saunders (eds), ‘City Margins, City Memories’, Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 25.4 (2017)

    Peer-Reviewed Articles & Book Chapters:

    • Jein, Gillian, 'Speculative Spaces in Grand Paris: Reading JR in Clichy-sous-Bois and Montfermeil', in Christoph Lindner and Gerardo Sandoval (eds.), Aesthetics of Gentrification: Seductive Spaces and Exclusive Communities, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press (Forthcoming 2021).
    • Jein, Gillian, ‘Urban Dystopias’, in Anna-Louise Milne and Russell Williams (eds.), Contemporary Fiction in French, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Forthcoming).
    • Jein, Gillian, Laura Rorato and Anna Saunders, ‘Introduction: City Margins, City Memories’, Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 25.4 (2017), 405–11.
    • Jein, G. ‘Suburbia Interrupted: Street Art and the Politics of Urban Renewal in the Paris Banlieues’, in Christoph Lindner and Shirley Jordan (eds.) Cities Interrupted: Visual Culture and Urban Space. London: Bloomsbury, 2016, pp. 87–104.
    • Jein, G. ‘From Legislative to Interpretive Modes of Travel: Space, Ethics and Literary Form in Baudrillard’s America’, in Charles Forsdick, Ludmilla Kostova and Corinne Fowler (eds.), Travel and Ethics: Theory and Practice. London: Routledge, 2014, pp. 31–51.
    • Jein, G. ‘(De)Facing the Wall: Traditions, Transactions and Transgressions of Street Art’, Irish Journal of French Studies, 12 (2012), 83–111.
    • Jein, G. ‘Dislocating Travel: New York as anti-domus in Simone de Beauvoir’s Amérique au jour le jour’ in Gillian Jein, Greg Kerr and Daisy Connon (eds.), Dislocation in French and Francophone Literature and Art: Strategies of Representation. Lampeter: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2009, pp. 33–52.
    • Jein, G. ‘Tracing H/histories: Memory, Space and Identity in Georges Perec’s Récits d’Ellis Island: Histoires d’errance et d’espoir, UCD History Review, 15 (2005) 87–98.


Over the academic session 2020-2021 I will teach on the following modules:

Undergraduate Culture Modules:

  • FRE4017: Du Surréalisme au Street Art (Course Coordinator)
  • FRE2009: Paris (Unit 2: Marginalité)