Dr Gemma Betros

BA (Hons), University of Queensland, M.Phil and PhD University of Cambridge
Lecturer in European History
College Arts & Social Sciences
T: +61 (0)2 6125 2720

Areas of expertise

  • European History (Excl. British, Classical Greek And Roman) 210307

Research interests

  • Gender, politics, and religion in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century France
  • The history of convents and women religious (nuns)
  • Literature, theatre and religion in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century France
  • Napoleon Bonaparte


I began my studies at the University of Queensland where I did a Bachelor of Arts in History and French and an Honours year in History. I pursued my postgraduate studies at the University of Cambridge, completing an M.Phil in European Studies and a PhD in History with the support of a Commonwealth Scholarship, a Peterhouse Research Studentship, and the 2006 University of Cambridge Lightfoot Scholarship. My PhD research attracted a number of grants, including funding from the Society for the Study of French History and the Cambridge Society of Paris, and prizes from the Women’s History Network and Ecclesiastical History Society (see below).

My first academic position was as a Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Leeds from 2007-08. I returned to Australia in 2009 to take up my current position as Lecturer in European History at The Australian National University. In 2011, I was selected for the university’s Early Career Academic Program for ‘outstanding staff in the early stages of their career’ and in 2012-13, I took leave from the ANU to accept a position as Research Associate and Visiting Assistant Professor on the Women’s Studies in Religion Program at the Harvard Divinity School.

I am passionate about teaching and was recently awarded The Australian National University’s 2015 College of Arts and Social Sciences Award for Excellence in Education, and 2016 Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Education. 

I am also involved in several cross-campus initiatives at The Australian National University. Since 2011, I have been a member of the university’s Network for Early Career Teachers, Academics and Researchers (NECTAR). I am a founding member of the university’s French Research Cluster, established in 2014 to promote innovative research into French and Francophone culture and society. In 2015, I was appointed an Early Career Academic Fellow of University House.

As part of my interest in sharing my work with the wider community, I regularly give public lectures, and have spoken at such events as the Jane Austen Festival of Australia and the Australian International Chopin Piano Competition.

Researcher's projects

'Marie de Botidoux and Martha Jefferson: a transatlantic friendship of the French Revolution' 

Sacred Liberty: the nuns of Paris, the French Revolution, and Napoleon. Book adaptation of my PhD on the closure of convents in Paris during the French Revolution. 

Napoleon Bonaparte. A biography of Napoleon Bonaparte. 

Conversion, toleration, and the Parisian convent of the Nouvelles catholiques, 1704-92. Examines the Parisian convent of the 'Nouvelles catholiques' or 'New Catholics' and its efforts to convert Protestant girls and women to Catholicism. 

Catholicism and the novels Adélaïde de Souza. Examines representations of religion and gender in the work of French author Adélaïde de Souza in the wake of the French Revolution.

Available student projects

I welcome enquiries from students interested in:

  • The French Revolution 
  • Napoleon and the Napoleonic empire
  • eighteenth- and nineteenth-century France
  • literature, theatre, and music in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century France
  • women and gender in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe
  • the history of religion in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe
  • the history of women religious (nuns)

Current student projects

  • Thomas Lalevée, 'Vitalism, sociability and human nature in French moral and political thought, 1795-1830' (2014-ongoing) [panel member]
  • David Roth, ‘Life, Death and Release at Callan Park, 1878-1920’ (2016-ongoing) [panel member]

Past student projects

  • Jennifer Clynk, 'Quaker drapers in mid-nineteenth century Hobart, Tasmania' (completed December 2014) [panel member]

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Updated:  08 August 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers