Dr Annabelle Doherty

PhD (The University of Sydney), BA French Hons (The University of London)
Sessional Lecturer in French / Film Studies
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • French Language 200306
  • Literature In French 200511
  • Cultural Studies 2002
  • Cinema Studies 190201
  • Film And Television 190204
  • Screen And Media Culture 200212
  • Historical Studies 2103
  • Fine Arts (Incl. Sculpture And Painting) 190502

Research interests

French cinema (especially contemporary heritage cinema and historical film); adaptation; auteurism; stardom studies; 19th-21st century French literature; French history; national identity and transnationalism in cinema; the artist's biopic; French visual arts; French language and culture; cultural memory; film and memory; the corporeal effect and embodiment theory.


I joined the Australian National University in October 2016, following completion of my doctorate, to pursue further research into French historical film and heritage cinema, and have been teaching as a Sessional Lecturer in French Studies since February 2017.  I am currently working on several journal articles and rewriting my original thesis 'Living the Past through French Heritage Film: Historical Thinking and Cinematic Cultural Memory' for publication as a book.  I completed my PhD in French Studies in September 2016 at the University of Sydney, where I was an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) recipient.  I undertook a BA French (Hons) at the University of London, where I achieved First Class Honours in 2007, specialising in French Cinema and Literature. During my tertiary studies, I often travelled to France for research.  In 2014, I was awarded a doctoral travel grant to undertake archival research at the Paris Cinémathèque and the Bibliothèque nationale de France.  Before teaching Introductory French at ANU, I also taught Intermediate and Advanced French language, literature, history and culture at the University of Sydney.    

Researcher's projects

At present I am pursuing further research at ANU into the genre of French heritage cinema, a contemporary form of French historical film, costume and/or period drama, with the primary aim of publication of a book from my doctoral thesis.  This will draw from my original research but extends the range of historical periods covered in my PhD, expanding the case studies of French and transnational heritage films with French historical films.  My book will investigate concepts of historical thinking and cultural memory in relation to heritage cinema's historical reconstitution of past eras including: the 16th century Religious Wars, the late Ancien Régime, French Revolution and Restoration period, the Belle Époque and World War One.  It will examine topics of stardom, auteurism and filmic technologies, considering notions of historical realism, fidelity and authenticity.  The book will commence with an introduction to heritage cinema and historical film, with definitions of historical thinking and cultural memory via preliminary case study Le Temps retrouvé (Raoul Ruiz: 1999).  The first section of the book will focus on the Great War exploring the impact of cinematic techniques in heritage films La Vie et rien d’autre (Bertrand Tavernier: 1989), La Chambre des officiers (François Dupeyron: 2001), Un long dimanche de fiançailles (Jean-Pierre Jeunet: 2004), Joyeux Noël (Christian Carion: 2005), Les Fragments d’Antonin (Gabriel Le Bomin: 2006), La France (Serge Bozon: 2007), Frantz (François Ozon: 2016), and Au revoir là-haut (Albert Dupontel: 2017) with historical films J’Accuse! (Abel Gance: 1919/1938), Verdun, Visions d’histoire (Léon Poirier: 1928), Les Croix de Bois (Raymond Bernard: 1932), La Grande Illusion (Jean Renoir: 1937), Le Diable au corps (Claude Autant-Lara: 1947), and La Chambre verte (François Truffaut: 1978).  The second section of the book on the French Revolutionary era focuses on auteurism and examines Les Adieux à la Reine (Benoît Jacquot: 2012), Marie Antoinette (Sofia Coppola: 2006), L’Anglaise et le Duc (Éric Rohmer: 2001), Colonel Chabert (Yves Angelo: 1994), and La Duchesse de Langeais (Jacques Rivette: 2007), alongside Napoléon (Abel Gance: 1927), La Marseillaise (Jean Renoir: 1938), and Que la fête commence (Tavernier: 1975).  The final section on the French Wars of Religion considers the influence of stardom in heritage films, analysing La Reine Margot (Patrice Chéreau: 1994), La Princesse de Montpensier (Tavernier: 2010), and La Mort de Louis XIV (Albert Serra: 2016), Vatel (Roland Joffé: 2000), Le Roi danse (Gérard Corbiau: 2000), with reference to historical films Intolerance (D.W. Griffith: 1916), Si Versailles m'était conté (Sacha Guitry: 1954), La Reine Margot (Jean Dréville: 1954), and La prise de pouvoir de Louis XIV (Roberto Rossellini: 1966).

My work seeks to challenge traditional approaches towards heritage cinema, which typically neglect or dismiss the genre as representing mere costume films of fantasy, “romance and adventure”, offering only “history as spectacle” for spectators’ entertainment and “visual pleasure” in a surface and trivial reconstitution of the past.  I argue instead that French heritage cinema promotes “historical thinking” by collective audiences, encouraging a deep understanding of the past by spectators that actively engages with on-going historical discourse.  My study upholds the genre of French heritage film as being equally historically significant and thought provoking as precursor or parallel genres traditionally designated as “serious historical film” such as the “New History film” or “history film”.  My research strives furthermore to extend beyond definitions of heritage cinema as providing simply a reflection of present sociocultural, political and economic contexts in cultural memory and as representing a mere celebratory cinematic vehicle of “nostalgia”.

Available student projects

I am currently teaching Introductory French, FREN1003 and FREN1004 at ANU.

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Updated:  18 August 2019 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers