Barbara Giraud works mainly on 19th Century French literature, culture and society. Her interests are in the French novel and its interactions with the history of medicine. Her PhD thesis focused on the scientific discourses built around hysteria and neurosis on women and their representations in French naturalist novels more particularly that of the Goncourt brothers. It sought to establish a link with the birth of psychology as a science in the second part of the 19th Century.
Immediate research project
Broadly, her interests lie in the study of the interaction between science and French literature. More specifically, she is seeking to unfold how medical knowledge – mainly the new hygienist theories on cleanliness – is represented in the French literature of the second half of the Nineteenth century. She has recently focused on the use of the bathroom as a new – intimate – space which appeared in the bourgeois homes in the last twenty years of the century. She is currently working on the various usages of soap and its representations in realist/naturalist/symbolist literature and newspapers. Other products and precepts of hygiene are also under study in order to highlight their development process, the contexts in which they were used and the ways they were disseminated and represented (or not) in fin-de-siècle French literature. This work constitutes the basis of a new monograph on the interactions between the medical discourse on hygiene with the social discourse and their literary representations.