William Pooley (Oxford) Scouloudi Fellow

‘Misery in the moorlands’: lived bodies in the Landes de Gascogne, 1870–1914

Will Pooley is completing his doctorate in history at the University of Oxford. He holds degrees in history and French from the University of Oxford, and an MA in folklore from Utah State University. He has published articles and book chapters on gender, family history, witchcraft, and folklore. His dissertation deals with the ethnographic archive of Félix Arnaudin (1844-1921), a native of the Landes de Gascogne in south-western France. Arnaudin's efforts to photograph local landscapes and buildings and record oral narratives, songs, proverbs, dialect, and local history were a reaction against the drastic changes in the region implemented by a national law of 1857. The law stipulated that local communes should sell off their communal moorlands to be planted with pine trees. In one generation, the entire way of life and landscape of the area was revolutionized. The dissertation research is particularly interested in how these changes impacted the local population's understanding and experience of their own bodies. The social and ecological crisis provoked by the national law forced local people to think about their health, sexuality, identity, work, and even their body parts in different ways, and Arnaudin's large collection is an unrivalled source for exploring these changing attitudes.



  • 2013: ‘Man to Man: Placing Masculinity in a Legend Performed for Jean-François Bladé' in Unsettling Assumptions: Tradition, Gender, Drag, Diane Tye and Pauline Greenhill (eds.) (forthcoming).
  • 2012: ‘Can the “Peasant” Speak? Witchcraft and Silence in Guillaume Cazaux’s “The Mass of  Saint Sécaire,’ Western Folklore, 71:2.
  • 2010: 'Independent Women and Independent Body Parts: What the Tales and Legends of Nannette Lévesque can Contribute to French Rural Family History,' Folklore, 121:2.