Dr Gemma King

PhD (University of Melbourne, Paris 3- Sorbonne Nouvelle), BA Hons (University of Melbourne)
Senior Lecturer in French
College Arts & Social Sciences
T: 02 6125 9029

Areas of expertise

  • Cinema Studies 190201
  • French Language 200306
  • Film, Television And Digital Media 1902
  • Postcolonial Studies 200211
  • Museum Studies 210204
  • Multicultural, Intercultural And Cross Cultural Studies 200209

Research interests

French cinema; contemporary French culture and society; multilingualism and codeswitching; museum studies; European cinema studies; immigration; language, power and violence in film; (post/de)colonialism and cultural representation; transnational film studies


My research focuses on language, culture, violence and power in French and Francophone cultures. Specifically, I investigate the representation of linguistic and cultural difference in French film, focusing on the relationship between multilingualism and social power. I also work on the interplay between power and violence in cinema more broadly, and the (non-)representation of multiculturalism and colonialism in French museums.

I am Convenor of the ANU French Research Cluster, the French Honours Program and the SLLL Outreach and Engagement Reference Group, Editor of Publications for the Australian Society for French Studies and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I received the ANU Vice Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence in 2018 and taught in French, English and Cinema studies at the University of Melbourne, the Université Paris 3: Sorbonne Nouvelle and the Université Paris-Est Créteil before joining the ANU as a Lecturer in 2016. My work has been published in Contemporary French Civilization, L'Esprit Créateur, the Australian Journal of French Studies, Francosphères, Linguistica Antverpiensia, French Cultural Studies, The Conversation and numerous edited volumes, and I run Les Musées de Paris, a blog about the lesser-known museums of Paris. My first book Decentring France: Multilingualism and Power in Contemporary French Cinema was published with Manchester University Press in 2017 and my second book, Jacques Audiard, is in press for Manchester's French Film Directors series.

Researcher's projects

Decentring France: Multilingualism and Power in Contemporary French Cinema (Manchester University Press 2017)

In a world defined by the flow of people, goods, and cultures, many contemporary French films explore the multicultural nature of today’s France through language. From rival lingua francas such as English to socio-politically marginalised languages such as Arabic or Kurdish, multilingual characters in these films exploit their knowledge of multiple languages, and offer counter-perspectives to dominant ideologies of the role of linguistic diversity in society. Decentring France is the first substantial study of multilingual film in France, unpacking the power dynamics at play in the dialogue of eight emblematic films (Entre les murs [Laurent Cantet 2008], Polisse [Maïwenn 2011], Un prophète  [Jacques Audiard 2009], Dheepan [Jacques Audiard 2015], Welcome [Philippe Lioret 2009], La Graine et le mulet [Abdellatif Kechiche 2007], Des hommes et des dieux [Xavier Beauvois 2010] and London River [Rachid Bouchareb 2009]). This book argues that many contemporary French films take a new approach to language and power, showing how even the most historically-maligned languages can empower speakers. This book offers a unique insight to academics and students alike, into the place of language and power in French cinema today.

Jacques Audiard, in press with Manchester University Press, French Film Directors series

This volume of the French Film Directors series is the first book-length project on Jacques Audiard and uses the motif of border-crossing to analyse his oeuvre. Spanning traditional French contexts and transnational spaces, exploring gender and disability alongside language and violence, it defines Audiard as a key figure in contemporary French cinema.

Available student projects

I am available to supervise PhD, Masters and Honours students in any of my fields of expertise.

Past student projects

‘Discourses and Divergences: a critical exploration of climate change adaptation governance in New Caledonia.’ Thomas Overton-Skinner, 2020.

‘La langue qui agit: les cinémas de Tran, Villeneuve et Dolan.’ Esther Lee, 2017.


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Updated:  23 October 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers