Alexandra Paulin-Booth

Wiener-Anspach Postdoctoral Research Fellow

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Page personnelle Alexandra Paulin-Booth



Nom de famille





Wiener-Anspach Postdoctoral Research Fellow


Centre de Recherche Mondes Modernes et Contemporains

Adresse postale

Centre de Recherche MMC, CPI 133/01, avenue Franklin Roosevelt 50, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgique




Présentation des thèmes de recherche

I am a historian of time, and I am particularly interested in how understandings and experiences of time played a role in politics and intellectual life in France during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I ask questions about, for example, the speed at which time was perceived to move, the extent to which the future was thought of as near and graspable, and the ways in which the past was seen to impinge on the present; and I ask how notions of time changed how people thought about political allegiances and ideologies and how they understood the world around them. I began as a historian of metropolitan France but my interests are leading me to study French colonialism in West Africa, and I have taught broadly across nineteenth- and twentieth-century European and world history. 

I am currently completing my first monograph, which is provisionally entitled ‘Cultures of Time: Radical Politics in France between the Dreyfus Affair and the First World War’. Using the thinkers and activists of the poles of left and right (principally socialists, syndicalists, and nationalists) in France between the 1890s and 1914 as a case study, this monograph argues that time provides an important means of exploring how concepts such as nationalism, revolution, and social change were understood in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 

I am also developing my next major research project, which asks how understandings of time shaped French colonialism and the responses to the colonial project in West Africa between 1895 and 1940. While my earlier work concentrated on time-based disputes between and within particular political movements, this project explores clashes of temporalities on a much broader scale. Colonialism was often configured by contemporary observers as an encounter of ‘modern’ and ‘primitive’ societies—forward-looking peoples in contrast to peoples of the past or peoples without time. But behind this ostensibly simple model there lay a diverse and often surprising set of ideas about time, modernity, and acceleration. This new project will argue that time-based contestations and exchanges highlight that many of the political debates of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were rooted in understandings of time—this was an era during which time itself was central to a broader reconfiguration which had the emergence of modern political culture and globalisation at its heart. 

Click here for an audio file and a summary of a talk I gave recently at Edinburgh’s Centre for the Study of Modern and Contemporary History. This talk was based on an article I am currently completing about left-wing futurist fiction in France in at the turn of the twentieth century. 

Titres universitaires

D.Phil. in History, Balliol College, University of Oxford.

MA in Modern History, Durham University.

BA in Combined Arts (History, English Literature, French Literature and Language), Durham University.


I am not currently teaching. I was previously Assistant Professor in Modern European Cultural History at Durham University (2017–18) and College Lecturer in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century European and World History at Balliol College, University of Oxford (2015–17). I taught a broad range of topics in modern history, including: the French Revolution, independence in Latin America, the age of revolutions, the rise of the bourgeoisie, the Indian Mutiny, unification in Germany and Italy, nationalism, anti-Semitism, mass political mobilisation, religion, and art and culture. My methodological and historiographical teaching has included: histories of the French Revolution from the late eighteenth century to the early twenty-first, comparative history of revolutions, anthropology and history, and global history. I also designed a second-year undergraduate course on Third Republican France (1870–1940) for Durham University.


‘A period of transition: political time in the thought of Jean Jaurès’ in L. Jeschke and A. May (eds), Matters of Time: Material Temporalities in Twentieth-Century French Culture (Oxford: Peter Lang), pp. 27–40.

'"Irregular rhythm": empire and ideas of the present in interwar France’ in Julian Wright and Allegra Fryxell (eds), Time on a Human Scale: Experiencing the Present in Europe, 1860–1930 (Oxford: Oxford University Press on behalf of Proceedings of the British Academy, 2020).

In preparation:
Cultures of Time: Radical Politics in France between the Dreyfus Affair and the First World War (monograph).
‘“What we can hope for”: utopias, science, and the French left around 1900’ (article).
‘Time in history and history in time’ (historiographical essay).
‘Letters of the ligueurs: radical right activism in fin-de-siècle France’ (article).

'Donald Trump's slogan betrays a renewed political fixation on the past', The Conversation (24 October 2016). 

Prix et distinctions

2012–17 Peter Storey Scholarship, Balliol College, University of Oxford
2012–15 Arts & Humanities Research Council Studentship, University of Oxford
2015 Vice Chancellors’ Award, University of Oxford
2013 Charterhouse Foundation Award, University of Oxford
2011–12 Faculty Scholarship, Durham University
2011 Best Undergraduate Dissertation in History, Durham University
2011 Distinction in Spoken French, Durham University


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Adresse postale

Centre de Recherche MMC, CPI 133/01, avenue Franklin Roosevelt 50, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgique


Citer ce document

“Page personnelle Alexandra Paulin-Booth,” Centre de Recherche Mondes Modernes et Contemporains, consulté le 20 septembre 2019,

Dernière mise à jour : 3 avr. 2019.