Portrait of Dr Sara-Louise Cooper

Dr Sara-Louise Cooper

Lecturer in French


Dr Sara-Louise Cooper holds a BA in French and Russian (ab initio), an MSt in Modern Languages from Brasenose College, Oxford, and a DPhil from Oriel College, Oxford. 

Before coming to the University of Kent in September 2017, Sara-Louise was Stipendiary Lecturer in French at Oriel College, Hertford College and St John’s College, Oxford. 

Research interests

Sara-Louise's research looks at Caribbean literature in French, Russian émigré writing, conceptions of ‘world literature’ and literary expressions of memory and history. 

Her first book, Memory Across Borders, is a comparative study of the autobiographical writing of Vladimir Nabokov, Georges Perec and Patrick Chamoiseau, which offers a reflection on the role of migration and linguistic change in shaping 20th- and 21st-century approaches to memory. 

Her second book, Where Word Meets World, will investigate what it means to read and write in a globalised world through an examination of Caribbean writing in French. Where Word Meets World will draw out the intertwining of the historical, the ecological and the global in Caribbean writing in French. It will offer a view of ‘world literature’ as writing which engages with the material conditions of the emergence of a global world.    


Sara-Louise teaches French language and literature from the nineteenth century to the present day.



  • Cooper, S. (2018). Translating Timelessness: The Relationship between Vladimir Nabokov’s Conclusive Evidence, Drugie berega and Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited. Modern Language Review [Online] 113:39-56. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5699/modelangrevi.113.1.0039.
    Comparing the three full-length versions of Vladimir Nabokov's autobiography reveals shifts in the way he imagines his reader as he moves between languages. Nabokov's tussles with Edmund Wilson over Russian history and literature influence the devices he uses to share his experience of timelessness in Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited. The creation of a ludic text which prompts a rethinking of patterns of perception offers a way of accommodating the author's ambivalent feelings towards the reader, who is desired as a friend as much as he is feared as an enemy.
  • Cooper, S. (2016). Writing Selves, Written Selves: Spiralling Paths from Past to Present in Patrick Chamoiseau's Une Enfance créole. Wasafiri [Online] 31:55-61. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02690055.2016.1112577.
  • Cooper, S. (2016). Des Fils invisibles nous relient: Comparative memory in Caribbean life-writing. Francosphères [Online] 5:25-38. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3828/franc.2016.3.
    This article contributes to debates on comparative approaches to the memory of the Holocaust and Atlantic slavery. It examines comparisons between colonial and Second World War histories in the récits d’enfance by three French-speaking Caribbean writers, Patrick Chamoiseau, Gisèle Pineau and Maryse Condé. It argues that because there are significant difficulties involved in approaching the Caribbean’s colonial history directly, these authors approach it obliquely through the more recent history of the Second World War. The comparative approaches of these literary texts anticipate events in the public sphere such as the 2001 recognition by the French government of slavery as a crime against humanity or Nicolas Sarkozy’s failed 2008 proposal that every French school child should be assigned one of the child victims of the Holocaust to remember. Attention to these comparative approaches is valuable because it points to connections between literature, collective memory and public policy and brings to light the multiple, intersecting histories at play in the French-speaking world. The article concludes by examining the ways in which literary language allows these authors to foreground the linguistic and imaginative processes which create links between separate historical events while maintaining a sense of their difference.
  • Cooper, S. (2016). Contesting the Unconscious: Frederic W. Myers and Vladimir Nabokov's Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited. Journal of Modern Literature [Online] 39:19-32. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.2979/jmodelite.39.4.03.
    As he prepared to write his autobiography, Vladimir Nabokov turned to the work of Victorian investigator of the paranormal, Frederic W. Myers. Myers’s concept of layered selfhood illuminates otherwise obscure connections between Nabokov’s treatment of immortality, family relationships, human evolution and sensory perception. Reading Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited in dialogue with Myers’s ideas points to a close engagement by Nabokov with the debates on the self in time that occurred on the cusp of the twentieth century. It brings to light the subtleties of the autobiography’s critique of Freud and nuances views of the text’s temporal structures as Bergsonian. The new view of Nabokov and Myers that emerges from reading the Nabokov archive suggests the possibility of fruitful interactions between genetic criticism and the history of ideas


  • Cooper, S. (2016). Memory Across Borders: Nabokov, Perec, Chamoiseau. [Online]. Oxford: Routledge. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Memory-Across-Borders-Nabokov-Perec-Chamoiseau/Cooper/p/book/9781910887080.
    Historical memory emerges through dialogue between one generation and the next. But what happens to this dialogue if the children speak a different language to their parents? Literary autobiography offers a space to explore the potential forms of memory in the aftermath of inter-generational linguistic change triggered by violent histories, such as the Holocaust, the Second World War, or imperialism. Through an exploration of the autobiographies of the Russian-American writer, Vladimir Nabokov, the French novelist and poet, Georges Perec, and Caribbean author, Patrick Chamoiseau, Cooper offers a reflection on the role of migration and linguistic change in shaping twentieth and twenty-first century approaches to memory.
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