Prof Mary Orr

Buchanan Chair in French

Researcher profile

+44 (0)1334 46 3658
Room 122
Office hours
Wednesday 9-11, or by email appointment at other times



Professor Mary Orr is the first woman to hold the Buchanan Professor of French at the University of St Andrews. She is also the founding director of its Centre for Cross-Cultural c19th-century Studies (c19c). Mary returns to the department which formed her initial research interests (MA French and German, St Andrews), and shaped her early career (Lecturer in French, 1990-1994) after a PhD in French (Cambridge, Queens’ College, on intertextuality in the works of 1985 Nobel Prize Winner for Literature, Claude Simon), and temporary lectureships in French at the University of Wales, Swansea, Christ Church, Oxford and Queens’ College Cambridge. Mary then moved to a Readership at the University of Exeter where she was promoted to a Personal Chair in French Studies in 1999. In 2005 she was appointed Professor of French at the University of Southampton, where she served until September 2016 as its Humanities Director of Postgraduate Research (2007-2009), Director of Research for Modern Languages (2005-6; 2008-9; 2013-2016) and Director of its Institute of Language and Culture (2013-16).


Mary Orr's research-led undergraduate teaching focuses on French literature and culture from the nineteenth century to the present. Her current honours modules are ‘Flaubert’s France’ (based on her longstanding and ongoing research) and the innovative 'Nineteenth-Century French Narratives of the Sea' which introduces students to the many sea spaces of the University. Both modules encourage and enable students to question and understand the importance of French texts in their multiple contexts, parallel histories and generic developments, and to investigate closely their rhetorical details and forms. Mary Orr currently convenes the second year module, 'French Literature from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Century' and the 'French Science Project Dissertation'. She also contributes variously to French First Year and Comparative Literature programmes and to the supervision of French undergraduate dissertations.

Research areas

In the interdisciplinary research spirit of European Renaissance scholar, George Buchanan, after whom the Buchanan Chair of French is named, Mary Orr’s current research projects interconnect literature, history and science of the French long nineteenth-century, including in comparative contexts. She is the academic advisor to Dr Sarah Arens (BA Postdoctoral Fellow, St Andrews) on the project entitled 'Constructing a Geopolitics of Nationhood: Belgium's Scientific and Cultural Colonial Project (1830-1958)'. Mary welcomes prospective Postdoctoral Award Holders in her fields of research interest to contact her to discuss their projects.  

Selected publications


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