Dr Gemma King

PhD (University of Melbourne, Paris 3- Sorbonne Nouvelle), BA Hons (University of Melbourne), Cert IV Auslan (Deaf Connect)
Senior Lecturer in French and DECRA Fellow
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: 02 6125 9029

Areas of expertise

  • Screen And Media Culture 200212
  • Cinema Studies 190201
  • Cultural Studies 2002
  • French Language 200306
  • Language Studies 2003
  • Museum Studies 210204
  • Intersectional Studies 440505

Research interests

Contemporary film and television; contemporary French culture and society; sign language and disability on screen; transnational cinema studies; multilingualism; museum studies; language, power and violence on screen; (post/de)colonialism and cultural representation


My research focuses on language, culture and power in contemporary cinemas and cultural studies. I investigate the representation of sign language, multilingualism, deafness, disability, (post)colonial histories, immigration and multiculturalism on screen and in museums. 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, appeared in Manchester's French Film Directors series in 2021. My research has also been published in Contemporary French CivilizationL'Esprit Créateur, the Australian Journal of French StudiesFrancosphères, The Journal of Romance Studies, Linguistica Antverpiensia, French Screen StudiesFrench Cultural Studies, Inside Higher Ed, The Conversation and numerous edited volumes.

I am President of the Australian Society for French Studies, a member of the Diversity, Decolonization, and the French Curriculum Steering Committee and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I serve on the Editorial Boards of Contemporary French Civilization, the Australian Journal of French Studies, the Edinburgh University Press book series New Directions in Francophone Studies: Diversity, Decolonization, Queerness and the Manchester University Press book series French Film Directors. I have received a number of teaching awards: a Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning from the Australian Awards for University Teaching (2020), two ANU Vice Chancellor's Awards for Teaching Excellence (2018) and Programs that Enhance Student Learning with my French Program colleagues (2023) and four teaching awards from the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences (2017, 2020, 2022).

Researcher's projects

Sign on Screen: Language, Culture and Power in Sign Language Cinemas (Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award [DECRA, DE230100070], 2023-2026)

This Australian Research Council DECRA project (DE230100070, 2023-2026) aims to discover how contemporary screens represent deafness and how sign language cinemas filter non-ableist perspectives. Partnering with Deaf Connect and the National Film and Sound Archive, this project provides an intersectional, transdisciplinary framework for analysing sign language on screen in terms of completeness and empowerment. Studying feature films, series, documentaries, shorts and other screen media that include global sign language dialogue, the project generates capacity building for emerging Deaf scholars including PhD and RA roles, a sign language film festival at the NFSA, public database for researcher and public use, articles and a monograph. Ultimately, Sign on Screen aims to create new opportunities for Deaf/hearing dialogue and cohesion and enhanced capacity to harness screen cultures to support and reflect the diversity of signers' experience.

Jacques Audiard (French Film Directors, Manchester University Press 2021)

Fragile yet forceful, macho yet transgressive, Jacques Audiard's films portray disabled, marginalised or otherwise non-normative bodies in constant states of crisis and transformation. Jacques Audiard is the first book on the cinema of one of the most important French directors working today. It studies Audiard's screenwriting background, his collaborative practices and his use of genre motifs alongside his reputation as a celebrated French auteur. Using the motif of border-crossing – both physical and symbolic – the book explores how Audiard's films construct and transcend boundaries of many forms. With chapters focusing first on the representation of the physical body, then on French society and finally on broader transnational contexts, it reveals how Audiard's cinema occupies a space both within and beyond the imaginary of French cinema.

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. It argues that many contemporary French films take a new approach to language and power, showing how even the most historically-maligned languages can empower their speakers.

Available student projects

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

Current student projects

‘In Whose Hands Does Sign Language Belong On Screen?’ Sofya Gollan, PhD in Screen Studies.

‘Girlhood Bodies on French Screens: From Monstrous Feminine to Liminal Resistance’, Sophie Tallis, PhD in Screen Studies.

‘Surveillance Capitalism in 21st Century Media’, Sabine Kildea, PhD in Gender/Screen Studies.

'The NFSA [National Film and Sound Archive] and the Film-Version.' Zachary Karpinellison, PhD in Screen Studies/ Interdisciplinary and Cross-Cultural Research.

'Looking Forward to the Past: Renewed Interest in Accessing Audio-visual Archives.' Alex Robinson, PhD in Interdisciplinary and Cross-Cultural Research (ANU/National Film and Sound Archive).

Past student projects

'Ritualising Resistance and Rebellion: The Rituals of Territory, Gender, and Belonging in the Francophone Girl Gang on Screen.’ Sophie Tallis, Honours in Screen Studies, 2022.

‘Discourses and Divergences: A Critical Exploration of Climate Change Adaptation Governance in New Caledonia.’ Thomas Overton-Skinner, Honours in French Studies, 2020.


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  25 July 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers