Portrait of Dr Larry Duffy

Dr Larry Duffy

Senior Lecturer in French


Dr Larry Duffy has a BA in French and Russian and an MA in European Languages and Culture from the University of Manchester, a Licence de Lettres Modernes from the Université de Bourgogne, and a PhD in French from the University of Hull. 

He has taught at universities in Ireland, Britain and Australia, and came to Kent in 2010. He has been Director of Taught Programmes in French since 2015.

Research interests

Larry’s research interests lie mainly in the interplay between literary, scientific, and medical discourses in nineteenth-century France. Recent publications include peer-reviewed journal articles on medical themes in the works of Gustave Flaubert, Émile Zola and Joris-Karl Huysmans, and on Michel Houellebecq’s twentieth- and twenty-first-century articulation of nineteenth-century preoccupations. 

His monograph Flaubert, Zola and the Incorporation of Disciplinary Knowledge was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2015. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Society of Dix-neuviémistes, and co-editor of the nineteenth-century French studies journal Dix-neuf. He is a founder member of the French Studies Medical Humanities network. 

Larry is available to supervise PhD projects in these and similar areas. Recently-supervised PhD theses have been on the following topics: literary representations of women musicians in nineteenth-century France; Science and the Supernatural in the works of J.K. Huysmans; literature, architecture and sexuality at the fin de siècle


Larry's undergraduate teaching is mostly centred on French literature and culture from the nineteenth century to the present; he also teaches language, grammar and translation. 

His teaching on MA programmes focuses on the interaction between literary and medical discourses in nineteenth-century France, and on theoretical approaches to cultural production.  



  • Duffy, L. (2012). Des Oiseaux en St-Esprit: A Further Note on Taxidermy in Flaubert. French Studies Bulletin [Online] 33:48-51. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/frebul/kts015.
  • Duffy, L. (2012). Networks of Good and Evil: Michel Houellebecq’s Fictional Infrastructures. Australian Journal of French Studies [Online] 49:211-225. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3828/AJFS.2012.17.
    A striking feature of Michel Houellebecq's fiction is the pervasive presence of infrastructure, whether consisting of nineteenth-century transport and administrative networks underpinning a national territory, or modern-day electronic networks underpinning those of distribution and exchange in a liberal economy. The former are presented in a largely positive light, and are depicted as creating bonds which connect a cohesive community; the latter, despite their overwhelming presence in all areas of social life, succeed only in disconnecting human beings. The network is thus for Houellebecq a means of establishing the ideological problematics of his work, which critiques the demise of community based on shared moral values, and the rise of an amoral individualism. It represents also a thematic link with other infrastructural networks: those of nineteenth-century fiction. In deconstructing the networks underpinning modern activity, and demonstrating their functioning - and collapse into dysfunction - Houellebecq constructs, like his naturalist predecessors, an epistemological infrastructure of the contemporary world.
  • Duffy, L. (2011). Madame Bovary and the Institutional Transformation of Pharmacy. Dix-Neuf [Online] 15:70-82. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/147873111X12973011702374.
    Discussion of Flaubert's pharmacist Homais has tended to focus on his overbearing personality and representativity of bourgeois values. This essay looks instead at the epistemological and disciplinary substance of his pronouncements on pharmacy for the ways in which they articulate the development of early nineteenth-century pharmacy as a profession. Contextualizing Homais and Charles Bovary as representatives of their respective medical domains in the aftermath of reforms enacted during the Empire, this essay reads the novel alongside texts emblematic of an institutionally reshaped pharmacy. First, it examines material from the influential Bulletin de Pharmacie, which from 1809 to 1814 articulated a new vision of pharmacy — shared by Homais — as 'philosophical' science in the manner of Lavoisier's chemistry. Second, it scrutinizes the 'opuscules scientifiques' by Guillaume Dubuc, a Rouen pharmacist, for the strong correlation between these and numerous pronouncements by Homais. Rather than seek in this correlation a real-life model for Homais, the essay identifies what Foucault refers to as 'les conditions de fonctionnement de pratiques discursives spécifiques', in this case the institutional conditions shaping pharmaceutical and literary discourse.
  • Duffy, L. (2010). Monomania and Perpetual Motion: Insanity and Amateur Scientific Enthusiasm in Nineteenth-Century Medical, Scientific and Literary Discourse. French Cultural Studies [Online] 21:155-166. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0957155810370381.
    This article traces the cultural history of a recurrent association made in nineteenth-century French medical, scientific and literary texts between variants of 'monomania' - a broad term denoting obsessive fixation on a particular object in a subject presumed otherwise sane - and amateur scientific enthusiasm, specifically for perpetual motion, a phenomenon long acknowledged as impossible, and metonymy for similar chimera. A reading of alienist texts in conjunction with literary texts - emblematically, Zola's La Bete humaine, which links human and thermodynamic dysfunctionality - reveals that a specifically homicidal monomania is closely linked with the specific delusion that perpetual motion is possible, at the very moment when monomania is superseded, or considerably modified, by degeneration theories, when the degenerative nature of thermodynamic engines becomes widely accepted, and when disciplinary power - in Foucauldian terms - supersedes sovereignty.
  • Duffy, L. (2009). Du monstre lombrosien à l’anormal zolien: généalogies pathologiques et discursives de 'La Bête humaine’. Les Cahiers Naturalistes 83:91-104.
  • Duffy, L. (2009). Incorporations hypodermiques et épistémologiques chez Zola: Science et littérature. Revue Romane [Online] 44:293-311. Available at: http://benjamins.com/#catalog/journals/rro.44.2.05duf.
    This article, starting from an identification of key differences between realism and naturalism, develops an argument premised on the implicit metaphorical relationship between body and text expressed in Le Docteur Pascal, the last novel in Émile Zola’s Rougon-Macquart series. It examines aspects of the metaphorical problems surrounding the incorporation of documentary material into nineteenth-century French fiction, arguing that the documentary novel’s representation of the human body, and of medical practices concerned with the body’s ingestion of substances – specifically, Le Docteur Pascal’s representation of hypodermic injections – functions self-referentially as a way of representing the naturalist text and its incorporation of documentary, extraliterary material.
  • Duffy, L. (1999). È pericoloso sporgersi: The Hysteria of Compartmental Narrative in Maupassant's Contes. Excavatio 12:82-91.


  • Duffy, L. (2014). Flaubert, Zola and the Incorporation of Disciplinary Knowledge. [Online]. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/9781137297549.
    This book is about how France's two major documentary authors of the nineteenth century – Gustave Flaubert and Émile Zola – incorporate medical knowledge about the body into their works, and in so doing exploit its metaphorical potential of the body to engage in critical reflection about the accumulation and reconfiguration of knowledge
  • Duffy, L. (2005). Le Grand Transit Moderne: Mobility, Modernity and French Naturalist Fiction. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

Book section

  • Duffy, L. (2018). Genre Trouble on the Battlefield: Pharmaceutical, Medical, and Literary Accounts of Napoleonic Campaigns. in: Leroy, S. ed. Medicine and Maladies: Representing Affliction in Nineteenth-Century France. Brill. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/9789004368019.
  • Duffy, L. (2018). Zola et les humanités médicales. Le(s) cas de Lourdes. in: Barjonet, A. and Macke, J. -S. eds. Lire Zola au xxie siècle. Classiques Garnier, pp. 377-389. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.15122/isbn.978-2-406-07961-3.
  • Duffy, L. (2018). Textual (In)Digestions in Flaubert, Zola and Huysmans: Accumulation, Extraction, Regulation. in: Manon, M. and Moore, A. M. eds. Gut Feeling and Digestive Health in Nineteenth-Century Literature, History and Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 177-204. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-01857-3_9.
  • Duffy, L. (2014). Réseaux du bien et du mal: Infrastructures fictives de Michel Houellebecq. in: Van Wesemael, S. ed. L'Unité de l'oeuvre de Michel Houellebecq. Paris: Garnier, pp. 103-114. Available at: http://www.classiques-garnier.com/editions/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage_garnier.tpl&product_id=1433&category_id=10&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1&vmcchk=1&Itemid=1.
  • Duffy, L. (2010). Orthopédie, gymnastique, hypodermie : redresser le corps chez Flaubert. in: Gaillard, J. and Andrieu, B. eds. Vers la fin du handicap? : Pratiques sportives, nouveaux enjeux, nouveaux territoires. Nancy, France: Presses Universitaires de Nancy, pp. 395-412.
    This chapter examines attempts to 'correct' or 'straighten' the body - implicitly perceived as imperfect - as represented in 'documentary' fictions by three key nineteenth-century French authors: Gustave Flaubert, Guy de Maupassant and Emile Zola. Along with their contemporary 'source' texts, two episodes from Flaubert are discussed: attempts by the eponymous heroes of Bouvard et Pecuchet to perform exercises prescribed by a contemporary gymnastics manual, and Charles Bovary's vain attempt in Madame Bovary to perform corrective surgery on a club foot, informed by a contemporary medical treatise. Maupassant's novel Mont-Oriol is discussed in relation to what was known in late-nineteenth-century Paris as 'Swedish gymnastics', in which patients were strapped into machines in order to simulate vigorous physical activities such as horse-riding and swimming. Finally, attempts to 'correct the body', 'redresser le corps' in the words of the French historian of the body Georges Vigarello, by means of hypodermic injections, are discussed in relation to Zola's novel Le Docteur Pascal, and a medical treatise on this kind of treatment on which Zola drew. The chapter concludes by arguing that the representation of these kinds of treatments is connected to the question of knowledge, and how it should be organised. Works by authors such as Flaubert and Zola in particular are in fact engaging with attempts in the broader culture to organise, to 'redresser' the body of savoir.
  • Duffy, L. (2008). Critical introduction to Émile Zola. in: The Ladies' Paradise by Emile Zola. London: Alma Classics, p. vii-xxiii.
  • Duffy, L. (2007). Perdue en traduction: Translation, Betrayal and Death in Mérimée’s Carmen. in: Downing, L. et al. eds. Birth and Death in Ninteenth-Century French Culture. Amsterdam: Rodopi, pp. 49-61.
  • Duffy, L. (2005). Les mots font leurs besognes: Informe as High-Low Hybridity on Board the Ville-de-Montereau. in: Crowley, P. and Hegarty, P. eds. Formless: Ways in and Out of Form. Bern: Peter Lang, pp. 120-133.

Edited book

  • Duffy, L. ed. (2007). Translation of Emile Zola's 'Germinal': With a critical introduction. London: Wordsworth.
  • Duffy, L. and Emerson, C. eds. (2000). La Nature dévoilée: French Literary Responses to Science. Hull: Hull University Press.


  • Duffy, L. and Sainte-Beuve, C. (2018). Ulric Guttinguer et Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve, Arthur. Édition critique par Bernard Gendrel. French Studies [Online] 73:127-128. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/fs/kny244.


  • Duffy, L. (2019). Ce traité médical qui n’en est pas un : récits de lutte disciplinaire sous le régime Orfila. in: Tortonese, P. and D'Andrea, P. eds. Le Cas médical entre norme et exception. Paris, France: Garnier. Available at: https://classiques-garnier.com.
    Le traité Considérations médico-légales sur l’avortement (1844) de Charles-Nicolas Halmagrand est en réalité le récit autobiographique et polémique du conflit entre son auteur et le doyen Mathieu Orfila, qui préside un système de règlement médical sous la monarchie de Juillet. Ce chapitre, constatant des similarités rhétoriques entre certains propos de ce récit et de ceux du pharmacien flaubertien Homais, les situe dans un contexte de luttes autour du règlement de la médecine et de la pharmacie.

    Charles-Nicolas Halmagrand’s 1844 treatise Considérations médico-légales sur l’avortement is an autobiographical polemic recounting its author’s conflict with Mathieu Orfila, Dean of medicine in Paris, who oversees a system of medical regulation during the July Monarchy. This chapter, identifying rhetorical similarities between certain pronouncements in this narrative and those of Flaubert’s pharmacist Homais, situates them in a context of struggle around the regulation of medicine and pharmacy.
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