I graduated from the University of Aberdeen with an Honours Degree in French and German, 1966, and with a PhD in French literature, 1976. From 1970 until 2008, I taught in the French Department at the University of Stirling. I have also taught for periods up to a year at universities in France and Germany: Haute Bretagne (Rennes), Perpignan and Passau. In 2002 I was invited by the Nobel prize-winning French novelist Claude Simon to edit his collected works in the prestigious Bibliothèque de la Pléiade. In 2012-13 I was scientific advisor to the steering committee which organised a Claude Simon exhibition at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. From 2012 to 2017 I was President of the international Association des lecteurs de Claude Simon and in overall charge of the peer-reviewed journal Cahiers Claude Simon.
I have research interests in French advertising, in the theory and practice of comedy, in second language acquisition, in oral history and in the 20th Century French novel and cinema. In 2010 I co-edited a collection of essays on European laughter: Le rire européen. In 2016 I published an oral history study of my native village, Kirkpatrick Fleming, Dumfriesshire. In recent years my main research interest has been in the works of Claude Simon. My edition of his collected works appeared in two volumes: Oeuvres, in collaboration with Jean. H. Duffy, in 2006 and Oeuvres II, assisted by David Zemmour and Bérénice Bonhomme, in 2013. Various of my articles on Simon have been translated into Italian, Georgian, Czech and Chinese.