Meet the scholar, Gemma King, who is into French cinema as a researcher, horror movies for leisure, and would spend her last dime on a visit to Japan.

Tell us about your researchStylish Academic 1

I research contemporary French cinema. More specifically, I’m interested in the rise of multilingualism in recent French films, and the ways in which language can be used as a form of power.
In the old days, film characters rarely spoke in other languages onscreen, and if they did it was a source of ridicule or shame. But that’s beginning to change, and it’s an exciting evolution.

What’s the best thing about being an academic researcher?

The flexibility. And I don’t just mean the ability to choose your own hours, but to create your own research agenda. Being a researcher not only keeps you curious about new ideas, it gives you the freedom to pursue them.

What book(s) are you reading?

I’m one of those strange people who always have two or three books on the go at once. At the moment, I am reading Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See and Toni Morrison’s Tar Baby.

What style are you comfortable in?

All that time spent in France has rubbed off on me. I am most comfortable in classic, tailored pieces. There isn’t much in my wardrobe that isn’t blue, black or cream, plus my friends make fun of me for all the stripy things I own.

Most favourite item in your wardrobe

A silky, deep blue scarf with tiny white polka dots and horses on it. I wear it every few days and I love it more than is normal for an inanimate object.

Stylish Academic 3Favourite fashion brands

Madewell, Petit Bateau and Modcloth are my vices.

Where do you shop for your outfits?

It’s a predictable response, but Paris is my favourite shopping city by far. I certainly can’t afford to shop in the really fancy places, but there are endless vintage and local designer boutiques tucked around the city, waiting to be discovered. If I’m being honest, though, most of the time I shop online (see above).

Whose style inspires you?

Anna Karina, circa 1965.

If you could ask three (academic juggernauts) for dinner…

I would love to put Plato, Nietzsche and Foucault in a room and just listen to them talk about language and power.

If your research were a fashion item, what would it be?

A trench coat: it’s been a cultural staple since the early twentieth century, but its role has evolved immensely over time.

What would you spend your last cash on?

A trip to Japan.

Academic events or seminars in the next 6 months?

I’m heading to the Australian Society for French Studies conference in December, where I’ll be talking about multiculturalism and politically incorrect humour in the film Intouchables.

Are you a Windows or a Mac?

Windows; I’ve never forgiven Mac for deleting my PowerPoint the night before a presentation that one time in 2007 (ouch! Tim Cook)

Ideal get-away spot from the academic hustle

Anywhere filled with mountains, forests and lakes. I’m a lousy Australian and not very interested in the beach, but I could spend a long time just relaxing in a cabin in the woods.

Who are you when you are not doing research or teaching?Stylish Academic 2

I’m a nomad- my partner is American, so I spend a lot of time travelling to see him. Plus I write constantly: for travel sites, and my own blog on Paris museums. Oh, and I go to a lot of museums!

People are always surprised that…
I love horror movies. Especially ones from the 70s and 80s.

If you were not an academic researcher, what would you be?
I would probably be a full-time travel writer, or a film journalist, or I’d work for a film festival… whatever I did, I would be writing and watching movies.

You can follow Gemma on Twitter @gemma_s_king. Check out her website here, and her blog, Les Musées de Paris.

All photos courtesy, Gemma King.


Meet the Scholar is a weekly Wednesday feature on Stylish Academic. Who’s next?