Prof Julia Prest

Prof Julia Prest

Deputy Head of School

Researcher profile

+44 (0)1334 46 3646
Room 307
Office hours
Tuesday 3:30-4:30, Thursday 11-12


Research areas

Research areas

Julia Prest is Professor of French and Caribbean Studies.  Prior to coming to St Andrews in 2009, she held academic positions at Yale University and at Jesus College, Oxford.  She wrote her PhD at the University of Cambridge, having studied French and Music at the University of Birmingham.

Current and Recent Research

Julia Prest's research interests focus on early-modern French, francophone and Creole theatre, including opera and dance.  She 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, hundreds of works were performed in different towns by professional theatre troupes before mixed but segregated audiences. She has recently completed a monograph, Public Theatre and the Enslaved People of Colonial Saint-Domingue, which will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2023.  As part of her ongoing research, Julia Prest has put together, with support from The British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust and the University of St Andrews, a trilingual (French-English-Haitian 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 founder of the Colonial-Era Caribbean Theatre and Opera Network, supported by a Royal Society of Edinburgh Network Grant, and her edited volume, Colonial-Era Caribbean Theatre: Issues in Research, Writing and Methodology will appear with Liverpool University Press in 2023.

Research and Impact

Julia Prest has published a critical edition 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, and she acted as dramaturg for a new adaptation of the play premiered in Martinique in 2022.  Her research also formed the basis of a new work by Catherine Bisset, Placeholder, which reimagines the experiences of the most famous performer of colour in Saint-Domingue, known as Minette.

Other Research

Julia Prest wrote her PhD thesis on Molière's comedy-ballets, comparing early performances at the French court with subsequent performances in the public theatre in Paris.  Her second major project culminated in her monograph, Theatre under Louis XIV: Cross-casting and the Performance of Gender in Drama, Ballet and Opera (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006; 2013).  In her next monograph, Controversy in French Drama: Molière's Tartuffe and the Struggle for Influence (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014; 2016), she 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 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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