Dr Annabelle Doherty

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

Areas of expertise

  • French Language 200306
  • Literature In French 200511
  • Cinema Studies 190201
  • Film And Television 190204
  • Historical Studies 2103

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 heritage cinema and historical film, 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, cinema, 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 heritage cinema, a contemporary form of historical film, costume and/or period drama, with the primary aim of the publication of a book from my doctoral thesis.  This monograph will draw from my original research but extends the range of historical periods covered in my PhD, expanding the case studies of French heritage films and historical films to include Australian, American, and British heritage films and historical works.  My book will investigate concepts of historical thinking and cultural memory in relation to heritage cinema's historical reconstitution of past eras including: the 20th century conflict of the First World War via French and Australian perspectives; the 18th-19th century French and American Revolutionary Eras; and 16th-17th century French and British Religious Wars and Divine Monarchies.  It will examine topics of auteurism and stardom, considering notions of historical realism, fidelity and the authenticated effect.

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 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 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 teach Introductory French, FREN1003 and FREN1004 at ANU.

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Updated:  12 July 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers