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Prof Julia Prest

Prof Julia Prest

Professor of French and Caribbean Studies

Researcher profile

+44 (0)1334 463646
Room 307
Office hours
Tuesday 3-5


Research areas

Current and Recent Research

Julia Prest is Professor of French and Caribbean Studies. Her research interests focus on early-modern French, francophone and Creole theatre, including ballet and opera, and she would welcome doctoral students interested in any aspect of early-modern theatre and society. Julia is currently working on the public theatre tradition in the former French slave colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) where, in the late eighteenth century, over 700 different works were performed in different towns across the island by professional theatre troupes before mixed but segregated audiences. As part of her ongoing research, she has put together, with support from The British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust and the University of St Andrews, a triilingual (French-English-Creole) website featuring a database of public performances of all plays, ballets and operas as documented in the local newspapers between 1764 and 1791: She is currently working with games designers at the University of Northampton on a 3D reconstruction of the 1770s Port-au-Prince playhouse.

In 2017, Julia published a critical edition with the MHRA of the first play known to have been written in Martinique (and performed at least twice in Saint-Domingue): the anonymous comedy, Les Veuves créoles. She has published articles on different aspects of theatre in Saint-Domingue, including ?Iphigénie en Haïti: Performing Gluck?s Paris Operas in the French Colonial Caribbean?, Eighteenth-Century Music 14.1 (March 2017), 13-29,  ?Pale Imitations: White Performances of Slave Dance in the Theatres of Pre-Revolutionary Saint-Domingue?, Atlantic Studies: Global Currents 16.4 (2019), 502-20: and 'Parisian Palimpsests and Creole Creations: Mme Marsan and Dlle Minette play Nina on the Caribbean Stage', Early Modern French Studies 41.2 (2019), 170-88:

Other Research

A graduate in Music and French, Julia Prest wrote her PhD thesis on Molière's comedy-ballets, comparing early performances at the French court (at which Louis XIV was always present and sometimes danced) with subsequent performances in the public theatre in Paris (from which the king was conspicuously absent). Julia's second major project culminated in her monograph, Theatre under Louis XIV: Cross-casting and the Performance of Gender in Drama, Ballet and Opera (Palgrave, 2006; paperback 2013). In her next monograph, Controversy in French Drama: Molière's Tartuffe and the Struggle for Influence (Palgrave, 2014; paperback 2016), she provides a detailed, in-depth account of Molière?s five-year struggle to have a ban on public performances of Tartuffe lifted (1664-69). Drawing on a wide range of theatrical and non-theatrical sources, Julia changes the terms of the debate by challenging received notions regarding the opposition between the sincere believer (vrai dévot) and the hypocrite (faux dévot); she also demonstrates that Tartuffe was itself a key locus for the struggle for influence among competing political and religious factions during the early reign of Louis XIV.  

Julia Prest has published on a variety of other, related subjects including witchcraft and the Affair of the Poisons, medical satire in the work of Molière, the castrato singer, and court ballet as a means of religious reconciliation during the Wars of Religion.  She has published scholarly critical editions of three plays and co-edited (with Guy Rowlands) The Third Reign of Louis XIV, c.1682-1715 (Routledge, 2017) and (with Joseph Harris) Guilty Pleasures: Theater, Piety, and Immorality in Seventeenth-Century France (New Haven, 2016).


Julia Prest?s Honours modules in the Department of French include Saint-Domingue: Theatre and Society in a Caribbean Slave Colony and Translating French Opera ? the only course of its kind, for which she was short-listed for the Most Innovative Teacher of the Year Award 2016 by the Times Higher Education.  She also coordinates the module Performing Early-Modern Sexualities within the Comparative Literature programme.

Selected publications


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