Portrait of Dr Lucy O'Meara

Dr Lucy O'Meara

Acting Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, Faculty of Humanities
Senior Lecturer in French


Dr Lucy O'Meara holds a degree in English and French and an MA in modern English literature from University College Cork, and a PhD in French Studies from the University of Nottingham. She arrived at the University of Kent in 2010.

Lucy is the author of a book on Roland Barthes and is currently writing another on attitudes towards encyclopaedic knowledge in European fiction and autobiography from the late 19th century to the present day. 

She is the French editor for the Modern Language Review and a member of the Modern Humanities Research Association executive committee.  

Research interests

Lucy's research interests are in 20th and 21st century literature and literary theory.

She offers research supervision in the fields of modern French literature and critical theory and welcomes enquiries from students interested in doctoral study in the following areas:

  • twentieth-century French literature and theory
  • theories of knowledge in fiction and autobiography
  • the work of Roland Barthes
  • crime fiction
  • the Oulipo group
  • French literary and cultural responses to Japan.


Lucy teaches modern French literature and culture.



  • O'Meara, L. (2016). Barthes and Antonioni in China: the Muffling of Criticism. Textual Practice [Online] 30:267-286. Available at: http://doi.org/10.1080/0950236X.2016.1129729.
    This article examines Michelangelo Antonioni’s documentary film Chung Kuo – Cina (1972) alongside the texts written by Roland Barthes during and after his trip to China with the Tel Quel group in 1974. Antonioni and the Tel Quel travellers had very similar experiences in China: their itinerary was tightly controlled and they were supervised at all times by Communist party officials while visiting officially sanctioned sights. The article will argue that Barthes’s China writings are strongly influenced by Antonioni’s film, and mount a very similar form of oblique critique of the Maoist state. However, it will be seen that there is a disjuncture between Barthes’s published text on the China trip (‘Alors, la Chine?’, published in Le Monde after his return from China) and the recent, posthumously published notebooks and teaching notes on China (Carnets du voyage en Chine [Travels in China] and the 1974 ‘Account of the trip to China’). The posthumous texts articulate a strong ideological critique of the Maoist state which Barthes does not allow to filter through to ‘Alors, la Chine?’ This muffling of criticism is in part due to the self-censorship implied by Barthes’s enmeshing of his public persona, as well as his private friendships, with the Tel Quel project.
  • O'Meara, L. (2015). Killing Joke: Authorship from Barthes to Nothomb. L'Esprit Créateur [Online] 55:101-117. Available at: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/603953.
    In this article, I discuss the ongoing legacy of Barthes’s 1967 essay “La mort de l’auteur” by putting it in dialogue with the fiction of the bestselling Belgian novelist Amélie Nothomb and the biographical criticism of Nothomb’s French-language critics. Nothomb promotes a monological, authorist reading of her work that goes fundamentally against the grain of poststructuralist, anti-authorialist theory. However, Nothomb’s sparring with ideas of authorship and of readers’ interpretation in works such as Hygiène de l’assassin articulates an active – though hostile – engagement with the Barthesian idea of the “death of the author,” demonstrating the ongoing relevance of this totemic essay in the era of the “retour au récit.”
  • Baldwin, T., O'Meara, L. and Haustein, K. (2015). Introduction. Guest-edited special issue of L'Esprit Créateur [Online] 55:1-6. Available at: http://www.dx.doi.org/10.1353/esp.2015.0048.
  • O'Meara, L. (2015). Barthes: Hérétique consacré? Revue Roland Barthes, Barthes à l’étranger, ed. by Claude Coste and Mathieu Messager [Online]. Available at: http://roland-barthes.org/article_omeara.html.
  • O'Meara, L. (2014). Georges Perec and Anne Garréta: Oulipo, Constraint and Crime Fiction. Nottingham French Studies [Online] 53:35-48. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/nfs.2014.0071.
    This article examines two novels written by members of the Oulipo group, exploring the ways in which Georges Perec's La Disparition (1969) and Anne F. Garréta's La Décomposition (1999) both use Oulipian constraints within a narrative infrastructure drawn from subgenres of crime fiction: La Disparition is a whodunnit, and La Décomposition a first-person noir narrative. I argue that Perec and Garréta use the alliance of constraint and crime fiction in order to articulate a probing account of their protagonists’ impossible quests for metaphysical certainty in the face of death and loss. The genre-constraint alliance is also the means by which Perec and Garréta express their dissatisfaction with aspects of contemporary literary culture and reception. The article examines why the tropes of crime fiction are of particular use to these Oulipian authors in their investigation of the purposes and potential of literature.
  • O'Meara, L. (2013). "Not a Question but a Wound": Adorno, Barthes and Aesthetic Reflection. Comparative Literature 65:182-199.
  • O'Meara, L. (2012). Jacques Jouet, Jacques Roubaud and the Ethnographic Metro Poem. Formules: La revue des littératures à contraintes 16:95-106.
  • O'Meara, L. (2008). Atonality and Tonality: Musical Analogies in Roland Barthes's Lectures at the Collège de France. Paragraph [Online] 31:9-22. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/E0264833408000035.
    Though explicit references to music are infrequent in Barthes's Collège de France lectures, Barthes's use of music in other work from the 1970s makes it clear that music can act as a fruitful analogy in consideration of the text. This article uses the serialist or atonal analogy, as set up by Barthes in ‘From Work to Text’ and elsewhere, to examine the structuring of Comment vivre ensemble and The Neutral. In viewing these courses as serial or open works we can, it is hoped, arrive at a fuller understanding of their methodology and the role they ascribe to the listener or reader. The atonal analogy, however, is left behind in 1978, as Barthes's major projects (La Préparation du roman and Camera Lucida) employ more conventional, developmental structuring. It is here, then, that the analogy with tonality, again suggested by Barthes, can be usefully employed.
  • O'Meara, L. (2007). Sontag’s Barthes: A Portrait of the Aesthete. PostScript: Essays in Film and the Humanities 26:105-116.
  • O'Meara, L. (2006). Review article on Roland Barthes, 'The Neutral: Lecture Course at the Collège de France (1977–1978)'. Textual Practice [Online] 20:373-377. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09502360600703419.
  • O'Meara, L. (2005). Review article on Derek Attridge, 'The Singularity of Literature'. Textual Practice [Online] 19:379-382. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09502360500209046.
  • O'Meara, L. (2004). Review article on La Préparation du roman I et II: by Roland Barthes, and Roland Barthes by Graham Allen. Radical Philosophy 125:57-60.


  • O'Meara, L. (2012). Roland Barthes at the Collège de France. [Online]. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. Available at: http://www.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/index.php/?option=com_wrapper&view=wrapper&Itemid=54&AS1=9781846318436.
    Roland Barthes at the Collège de France studies the four lecture courses given by Barthes in Paris between 1977 and 1980. This study, the first full-length account of this material, places Barthes’s teaching within institutional, intellectual and personal contexts. Analysing the texts and recordings of Comment vivre ensemble, Le Neutre and La Préparation du roman I et II in tandem with Barthes’s 1970s output, the book brings together for the first time all the strands of Barthes’s activity as writer, teacher and public intellectual. Theoretically wide-ranging in scope, Lucy O’Meara’s study focuses particularly on Barthes’s pedagogical style, addressing how his wilfully un-magisterial teaching links to the anti-systematic, anti-dogmatic goals of the rest of his work. Barthes’s methodology sought to negotiate the balance between singularity and universality, and central to this endeavour are aesthetic thought and techniques of essayism and fragmentation. Barthes’s strategies are here linked to broad intellectual influences, from the legacies of Montaigne, Kant, Schlegel and Adorno to the contemporary intellectual trends which Barthes sought to evade, and his attraction towards Eastern philosophies such as Zen and Tao. Barthes’s lectures discuss ideal forms of community life, ‘neutral’ modes of discourse and behaviour, and the idea of writing a novel. His consideration of these fantasies involves a profound exploration of the nature of literary creation, social interaction, subjectivity, and the possibility of a universal particular. Roland Barthes at the Collège de France reassesses the critical and ethical priorities of Barthes’s work in the decade before his death, demonstrating the vitally affirmative core of Barthes’s late thought.

Book section

  • O'Meara, L. (2016). Impossibles quêtes de savoir et d’identité dans La Disparition de Georges Perec et La Décomposition d’Anne Garréta. in: Dechêne, A. and Delville, P. eds. Le Thriller métaphysique: D’Edgar Allan Poe à nos jours. Liège: Presses universitaires de Liège, pp. 75-89. Available at: http://www.presses.ulg.ac.be/jcms/c_16868/le-thriller-metaphysique.
  • O'Meara, L. (2013). Jacques Roubaud’s Rejection of Japoniste Influence: Tokyo infra-ordinaire. in: Baldwin, T., Fowler, J. and de Medeiros, A. eds. Questions of Influence in Modern French Literature. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 166-179.
  • O'Meara, L. (2010). Atonality and Tonality: Reading Roland Barthes’s Lectures at the Collège de France Through Musical Analogy. in: Badmington, N. ed. Roland Barthes: Critical Evaluations in Cultural Theory (3 volumes). London: Routledge, pp. 305-316 (vol. 3).
  • O'Meara, L. (2009). Atonalité et tonalité: Une interprétation des Cours au Collège de France. in: Badir, S. and Ducard, D. eds. Roland Barthes en Cours (1977-1980): Un style de vie. Dijon, France: Presses Universitaires de Dijon, pp. 51-62.
  • O'Meara, L. (2007). "L’Affaire Barthes” and Ownership of the Voice. in: Stephens, B. and McNeill, E. eds. Transmissions: Essays in French Thought, Literature and Culture. Oxford: Peter Lang, pp. 141-160.

Edited book

  • O'Meara, L., Arribert-Narce, F. and Kuwanda, K. eds. (2016). Réceptions de la culture japonaise en France depuis 1945. [Online]. Paris: Honoré Champion. Available at: http://www.honorechampion.com/fr/champion/10158-book-08533039-9782745330390.html.
    This book, which brings together the acts of an international symposium, which was held in Tokyo in 2013 Franco-Japanese House, offers a panorama of different receptions of Japanese culture in literature and the french arts since 1945. Studies collected here, signed by researchers from France and Japan, but also to the United Kingdom and the United States, thus questioning a corpus of works varied from the perspective of a cross looks and views (national, disciplinary, etc.), this methodological bias offering the advantage of confronting the sources and methods of analysis keeping of the pitfalls of overly bilateral dialogue. The paths of detours for readers will enable them to get an idea of the features and main trends of neo and the post-japonisme of the post-war period to the present day, both at the theoretical aesthetic level, and authors also various that Chris Marker, Georges Perec or Jacques Roubaud, but also Michaël Ferrier, Philippe Forest and Gérard Macé, these three writers who participated in this volume.

Edited journal

  • Baldwin, T., O'Meara, L. and Haustein, K. eds. (2015). What’s So Great About Roland Barthes? Guest-edited special issue of L’Esprit créateur [Online] 55:1-6. Available at: https://espritcreateur.org/issue/what%E2%80%99s-so-great-about-roland-barthes.
    One hundred years after his birth, the work of Roland Barthes (1915–1980) remains compelling in a wide variety of fields and disciplines. The great power of his work resides, perhaps, in its radical plurality. Nevertheless, beneath such variation we find enduring purpose: Barthes is a consistent advocate of the critique of ideology; of the refusal of middlebrow generalization; of the productivity of text; of attention to the critical response of the individual. The overall aim of this issue is to show how we can continue to work with Barthes today.

Internet publication

  • O'Meara, L. (2014). Some Remarks on Roland Barthes’s Lectures [Special Issue of The Conversant (internet)]. Available at: http://theconversant.org/?p=7997.
  • O'Meara, L. (2011). Ecrire est une affaire de devenir [Acta Fabula 12.6 (Internet)]. Available at: http://www.fabula.org/revue/document6378.php.
    Recherches & Travaux n°77, 2010 : «Le devenir?roman des Mythologies de Barthes », textes réunis et présentés par Guillaume Bellon et Pauline Vachaud, EAN 9782843101878
  • O'Meara, L. (2005). Le Plaisir du texte (by Roland Barthes) [Online Encyclopedia entry (2910 words)]. Available at: http://www.litencyc.com/php/printer_format_works.php?UID=10348.


  • O'Meara, L. (2014). Review of David Platten, ‘The Pleasures of Crime: Reading Modern French Crime Fiction’. Modern Language Review 109:257-258.
  • O'Meara, L. (2014). Review of Margaret-Anne Hutton, 'French Crime Fiction, 1945-2005: Investigating World War II'. French Studies [Online] 68:134-135. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/fs/knt250.
  • O'Meara, L. (2013). Review of Simon Kemp, 'French Fiction into the Twenty-First Century: The Return to the Story'. French Forum [Online] 38:298-301. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/frf.2013.0006.
  • O'Meara, L. (2013). Review of Guillaume Bellon, 'Une parole inquiète: Barthes et Foucault au Collège de France'. French Studies [Online] 67:277-278. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/fs/knt051.
    ISBN 978-2-84310-219-6
Last updated