Professor Raylene Ramsay is a distinguished authority on major trends in contemporary French cultural production. She began by establishing her knowledge and understanding of some of the most influential and difficult of the French postmodern writers, including Nathalie Sarraute, Marguerite Duras and, especially, Alain Robbe-Grillet. Her book on Robbe-Grillet and Modernity (1992) related Robbe-Grillet’s work to a paradoxical modern scientific spirit, and her study of The French New Autobiographies (1996) emphasized underlying principles of complementarity; both received warm praise and were admired for their well-informed theoretical perspectives, including the extended fields of microphysics, chaos theory and psychoanalysis. Following these studies, Professor Ramsay extended her work into Francophone literatures of the Pacific, to French women, and the cinema. Her study of French Women in Politics (2003) was highly praised and her strong interest in New Caledonian writing has led to a monograph, nearly completed, entitled Between the Colonial and the Postcolonial: Hybridity in Contemporary French and Francophone Writing.
Professor Ramsay is an active and productive scholar, having already produced four books, three translations and over 50 articles. She also makes an energetic and committed contribution to the profession generally, writing regular reviews (usually for top-level journals such as French Review and Hecate), frequently attending conferences (often to present plenary sessions), serving on several editorial boards, reading manuscripts, and sustaining an active membership of several research networks. She has fostered collaborations between French departments in New Zealand, Australia, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, France and the USA, and she has fostered the development of a number of younger scholars, supervising 11 doctoral theses and assisting them in finding academic positions. At Auckland University she has been Head of the School of Languages and Literature (1997-2000) and Head of French (2002-04). She has been a member of the Humanities panel for the Marsden Fund and of the Humanities and Law panel for the PBRF.
Throughout her career, Professor Ramsay has managed relations with the French academic and cultural world through some difficult times, and in 2006 she was made a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, an award bestowed by the French Ministry of Culture for her outstanding contribution to French culture.