Dr Holly Langstaff

College Lecturer in French

Holly is interested in twentieth-century literature and thought, particularly the work of Maurice Blanchot.

Holly teaches French literature from the nineteenth to twenty-first century and translation at all levels.

Holly is interested in modern and contemporary literature and thought.

Her monograph Art and Technology in Maurice Blanchot (Edinburgh University Press, 2023) reappraises the influential French thinker Maurice Blanchot’s writing from the 1940s to his late work in the 1980s, demonstrating how Blanchot’s exploration of the question of technology remains decisive throughout his career. The book situates Blanchot’s fictional and critical work in the context of his thinking of art as techne — the Greek root of ‘technology’ meaning both craft and art — as it develops out of Martin Heidegger’s philosophy. The book is freely available online thanks to the gold open access publishing scheme OpenUP.

Holly is working on a new project which examines representations of the working class in modern French literature.

Monograph: Art and Technology in Maurice Blanchot (Edinburgh University Press, 2023)

‘Uncontrollable Mechanisms: Maurice Blanchot’s Inorganic Writing’, French Studies, 73.3 (July 2019), 401-15 https://doi.org/10.1093/fs/knz130

Review of A World in Ruins: Chronicles of Intellectual Life, 1943 by Maurice Blanchot, trans. by Michael Holland, Modern and Contemporary France, 26: 1 (2018), 103-04


Alongside her research and teaching, Holly runs several outreach and public engagement initiatives connected to her wider interests in literary translation.

Public Engagement

Holly manages the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation, a book prize which celebrates writing by women translated from any language into English.

She is Co-Director, with translator Ros Schwartz, of Bristol Translates Summer School, an online summer school for practising literary translators at any stage in their career.

Holly was a judge for the Oxford Weidenfeld Prize in 2021 and 2022 and she was chair of the judging panel in 2023.

Outreach and Widening Participation

Holly is interested in understanding the barriers preventing students from all backgrounds enjoying, and choosing to study, languages. Before moving to Oxford, she was Widening Participation Lead for the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Warwick between 2018 and 2021.

She currently runs the Anthea Bell Prize for Young Translators at the Queen’s College Translation Exchange, a creative translation initiative for secondary schools in which over 15,000 students participated in 2023 at the Queen’s College Translation Exchange.

Holly also runs the Think Like a Linguist project from the Translation Exchange in partnership with Oxford MML, Cambridge MMLL and the Stephen Spender Trust. In 2023 the participating students visited St Edmund Hall as part of their graduation event.

She previously helped to coordinate the Prismatic Jane Eyre Schools Project, run by OCCT and the Stephen Spender Trust and funded by the AHRC, which was a nationwide translation competition in which students are asked to translate passages from Jane Eyre into any language. She was on the steering committee for Inclusive Outreach through Translation at the Translation Exchange, which developed out of and fed into the Anthea Bell Prize. Over the summer of 2020, she ran the Fiamma Luzzati Covid-19 comic blog translation project.

Where next?

French Language and Literature

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