Personal profile

Research overview

Matilda Nevin is a third-year PhD Candidate at the University of St Andrews in the School of Modern Languages, supervised by Dr. Elise Hugueny-Léger and Professor Jordi Larios. Her PhD thesis, entitled Mourning, Multilingualism and (M)Other Tongue(s) in Anglophone, Francophone and Italophone Autofiction about Exile, focuses on the representation of language as 'lost object', a ‘haunting presence that disavows historical amnesia’ (Lucy Brisley 2015, 97) and the experiences of linguistic exile in women's writing. Despite recent studies on autofiction (often defined as creative life writing) broadening the scope of study beyond the Francophone world, little attention has been paid to how women writing about exile transform the genre through multilingual interventions across national borders. Due to colonialism, neocolonialism and migration, familial languages are lost between generations in many Francophone, Anglophone and Italophone texts, such as Line Papin's Les os des filles (2019), Assia Djebar's Nulle Part Dans La Maison de Mon Père (2007), Nina Bouraoui's Garçon Manqué (2000), Jessica Au's Cold Enough for Snow (2022) and Claudia Durastanti's La Straniera (2019). Drawing on the work of Jacques Derrida, Hélène Cixous, Adriana Cavarero, Yasemin Yildiz and David Gramling, her thesis looks at the ways in which these texts interrogate the myth of the mother tongue and the limitations of language and challenge the hegemony of national languages. In the second part of her thesis, she also employs Deleuze and Guattari's writings on minor literature to analyse multilingual texts by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (2021), Yara Rodrigues Fowler (Stubborn Archivist, 2020), Stephanie Sy-Quia (Amnion, 2021), Kim Thúy (Mãn, 2013) and Fatima Daas (La petite dernière, 2020) to explore how authors reckon with their emotional attachment to, and the complicated historical legacies of, language. Nevin argues that these texts draw attention to how autofiction itself is a form always in ‘becoming’, to use a Deleuzian term, self-reflexive, theoretical, experimental and collective, rather than narcissistic. 

In January, she will begin an internship with SGSAH at the Glasgow Seed Library as Researcher in Residence, researching the relationship between seed and human migrations and how the 'dehumanizing language of invasion' (Claire Ratinon) is applied to both human and plant migrations. 

Nevin received her BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Oxford (First), where she was the winner of the Frank Bullock Prize for Creative Writing, and her MPhil in European, Latin American and Comparative Literatures and Cultures from the University of Cambridge (Distinction).

Nevin is particularly interested in interdisciplinary and comparative work and is currently working with a composer at the The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland on the 'Intersections' project to create a piece of music based on her research. For this project, the two are focusing on the motif of water and murmur of untraceable voices within these texts. Nevin has also helped facilitate workshops with the Italian artist Davide D'Elia and the artist-in-residence at the Centre for Energy Ethics, Rebecca Sharp, as well as running the Prix Goncourt Reading Group for undergraduate students. She has also run two suites of creative writing workshops for all students at the university, one centred around multilingual writing and the other on writing place and the self. 

Nevin has taught on the Comparative Literature module CO1002, Drama in the Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries.

She has also worked for the Centre for Educational Enhancement and Development as a Study Skills Tutor and Student Developer during her time as a PhD student. Previously, she worked as a Research Assistant to Dr. Charlotte Lee at the University of Cambridge, an Editorial Intern at the Georg Eckert Institut and a lectrice at the Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne.

Papers presented at conferences:

'Mourning, Multilingualism and Methodologies: Using postcolonial, feminist and poststructuralist theory', Women in French UK-Ireland PhD-ECR Showcase, Feminist Futures (01 December 2023). 

'Rumours and "ruisellements: Intergenerational Feminine Memory, Trauma and the Motif of Waters in Assia Djebar’s Nulle part dans la maison de mon père (2007) and Line Papin’s Les os des filles (2021)'. Women in French Australia Guest Curated Seminar Series, Women, Memory, and Intergenerational Transmission in the Francophone World (29 November 2023). 

'Silence, rumours, echoes, laughter and uluations: The voice of the subaltern in Meryem Alaoui’s La vérité sort de la bouche du cheval (2018)', Women in French Conference (26-28 May 2023), Hinsley Hall, Leeds (Awarded Best Postgraduate Paper). 

'La voix et la langue comme fluidité dans l’œuvre autofictionnelle d’Assia Djebar', Journée d’Études (13 April 2023), Cergy University.

‘Language as lost object in Nina Bouraoui’s Garçon Manqué’, Edinburgh Doctoral Workshop, ‘Zoopoetics’ (02-03 March 2023). 

'Dwelling in and outside of language: Francophone and Anglophone autofiction of exile', Cultural Literacy Everywhere Symposium, ‘Dwelling’ (13 May 2022).

'Multilingualism and (M)other Tongues in Women’s Autofiction of Exile', Research Away Day, University of St Andrews (10 March 2022).


Matilda Nevin, CAWS, MARY ANN. Mina Loy: Apology of GeniusForum for Modern Language Studies, Volume 58, Issue 4, October 2022, Page 527,

Matilda Nevin, SAINSBURY, DAISY. Contemporary French Poetry: Towards a Minor PoeticsForum for Modern Language Studies, Volume 59, Issue 1, January 2023, Pages 162–163,

Research interests

  • Contemporary Francophone, Anglophone and Italophone literature
  • Autofiction and memoir
  • Women's writing 
  • Queerness in literature
  • Environmental humanities and ecocriticism
  • Literary theory 


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