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Dr Elsa Devienne


Department: Humanities

Elsa Devienne joined Northumbria University in 2019 as lecturer in US history. Her research lies at the intersection of urban history, environmental history, and the history of gender, body and sexuality, with a focus on the 20th century. She is particularly interested in the history of Americans’ intense engagement with their coastlines, from the 19th-century beach-bathing boom until today’s climate crisis and its catastrophic consequences for coastal communities.

Her first book, The Sand Rush: An Environmental History of the Los Angeles’s Beaches (Sorbonne Editions, forthcoming), traces the transformation of Los Angeles’s beaches in the twentieth century from relatively untouched natural spaces into artificial playgrounds for the wealthy. She is also the author of several articles published in academic journals in the US and Europe, including in The Journal of Urban HistoryThe European Journal of American Studies, California History, Vingtième Siècle. Revue d'histoire and Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales. Her article, “The Life, Death, and Rebirth of Muscle Beach: Reassessing the Muscular Physique in Postwar America, 1940s-1980s,” published in Southern California Quarterly (Fall 2018) was awarded the 2019 Doyce B. Nunis, Jr. Award by the Historical Society of Southern California.

She was previously a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities at Princeton University and an Assistant Professor in American History and American studies at Université Paris Nanterre in France. 

Elsa Devienne


  • History PhD
  • History MA

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Spectacular Bodies, Devienne, E. 1 Aug 2019, In: European Journal of American Studies
  • Urban Renewal by the Sea, Devienne, E. Jan 2019, In: Journal of Urban History
  • The Life, Death, and Rebirth of Muscle Beach, Devienne, E. 2018, In: Southern California quarterly
  • « Il y a des lois sur la plage ! », Devienne, E. 2017, In: Actes de la Recherche en Sciences Sociales
  • Plages de la discorde, Bidet, J., Devienne, E. 2017, In: Actes de la Recherche en Sciences Sociales
  • La question raciale sur le littoral de Los Angeles (années 1920-années 1970), Devienne, E. 2016, In: Vingtieme Siecle: Revue d'Histoire
  • Shifting Sands, Devienne, E. May 2016, In: California History
  • The Right to the Beach? Urban Renewal, Public Place Policing, and the Definition of a Beach Public in Postwar Los Angeles, 1940s-1960s, Devienne, E. 2016, In: Revue Francaise d'Etudes Americaines
  • Controverses à Los Angeles, Devienne, E. Nov 2015, In: Modes pratiques. Histoire du vêtement et de la mode
  • Comparing Exceptionalism in France and the USA, Devienne, E. 24 Jan 2010, In: European Journal of American Studies


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