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Personal profile

Contact Details

Room: NX09
Phone: 0121 204 3134
Email: b.sudlow@aston.ac.uk

Biography

I hold an MA (Res) in French Studies (2003) from the University of Nottingham and a PhD in French Studies (2007) from the University of Reading. My PhD was a comparative study of two intellectual traditions (French and English Catholic writers) which grappled with the implications of secularisation and irreligiosity in the Belle Epoque. My monograph Catholic Literature and Secularisation in France and England, 1880-1914 (2011) was published by Manchester University Press.
 
More recently I have turned my attention towards critical reflection on histories of technology and the cultures that surround it. From this perspective, I have written about French government forecasting in the 1960s, about the implications of screen culture as seen through Paul Virilio’s theory of the ‘desert screen’ and about the techno-criticism embedded in the writings of contemporary French intellectual Fabrice Hadjadj. My final year module Bombs, Bullets and Bitcoin: History of Technology, 1900-the present rehearses these and other themes. On French programmes, I also teach topics such as the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Sustainable Development, and I am currently finishing an article on the history of the term ‘Silicon Valley’ and its uses in French public and journalistic rhetoric, co-written with my colleague Henry JonesFuture activities (2021-22) include an oral history project in collaboration with the Aston Villa Foundation and a second oral history project on the history of digital entrepreneurs with Professor Michael Butler (Aston).
 
I am a member of the Society for the History of Technology and a former member of the executive committee of the Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France (2015-17). I currently serve as the chair of the academic board of the Quarterdeck Series at the UK Defence Academy, Shrivenham, and as external member of the academic board for the Maryvale Institute in Birmingham.
 
My office is NX09, North Wing, Tenth Floor.

Research Interests

My early research explored the work of writers and intellectuals in France, dating from the Belle Époque to the present, mostly though not exclusively in the Catholic tradition. My monograph Catholic Literature and Secularisation in France and England 1880-1914 (MUP, 2011) sought to overturn the exoticizing of French and English Catholic writings by testing how their variables correlate with many inflections of secularisation theory broadly understood.

 

Since 2015 my work has taken a turn away from theological imaginaries of divine agency towards empirical explanations of human agency, articulated in histories of technology, technological cultures and techno-criticism. In this regard I have written about French government techno-forecasting in the 1960s and about the implications of screen culture as seen through Paul Virilio’s theory of the ‘desert screen’. In 2020 I published three articles on the writings of contemporary French intellectual and techno-critic Fabrice Hadjadj. 

 

As a trained linguist, I have a particular fondness for rhetoric and communication and in 2021 these interests have taken me in the new direction of oral history. In 2021 and 2022, I will be building a database of oral histories of recent digital entrepreneurs, seeking to understand the development of innovation in the context of the contemporary history of the digital revolution.

 

I welcome inquiries about PhD supervision in any of the following areas:

  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution
  • The history of techno-criticism
  • History of digital technologies
  • French or English Catholic literary production since 1870

Teaching Activity

  • LF2041 - International Business Environment (France) II
  • LQ2007 - Case Studies in Global Histories (South America, the Middle East, South-East Asia)
  • LF3041 - International Business Environment (France) III
  • LF3120 - Vichy France
  • LF3140 - French Technology: Inventing progress and disaster
  • LQ3004 - Bombs, Bullets and Bitcoin: History of technology 1900-the present
  • LPM048 - The Philosophy of Social Science (session on understanding social action)

Qualifications

  • BA (Hons), PGCE
  • MA Res (Nottingham)
  • Maitrise FLE (Paris V)
  • PGCAP
  • PhD (Reading)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Reading

Award Date: 30 Jun 2007

MA

Award Date: 31 Jul 2003

BA

Award Date: 31 Jul 1999

External positions

External Examiner for International Management and Modern Languages (French), University of Bath

20182022

External Examiner MA in Professional Translation, Newcastle University

20172020

Chair of the Advisory Board for the Quarterdeck Seminar Series

2017 → …

External member of the Academic Board

2012 → …

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