Professor Claire Gorrara

Professor Claire Gorrara

Professor of French Studies

School of Modern Languages

+44 (0)29 2087 4955
2.30, 66a Park Place, Cathays, Cardiff, CF10 3AT
Media commentator

My research covers three main areas: narratives and memories of the Second World War in France, post-war French crime fiction and French photography and visual cultures. These areas are connected by my interest in under-represented or marginalised voices in French culture and the ways in which they mediate processes of social and cultural change. In relation to the Second World War, I have worked extensively on the autobiographies, prose fiction and memoirs of French women writers and war. I have published articles, two monographs and an edited collection of essays on post-war French crime fiction and film. I am currently researching visual cultures of war, whilst on a year's research leave. I am working specifically on two projects: photography and representations of the Liberation of Europe 1944-5 and representations of war in francophone comics and graphic novels.

1994: DPhil (French Studies): Oxford University

1991: Masters in European Literature (Distinction): Oxford University

1989: Joint Honours degree in French and English (First Class): Leeds University

Career Overview

1994- present: Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader, Professor of French Studies: Cardiff University, School of Modern Languages.

Honours and awards

2017 (April): Visiting Research Fellow, University of Leuven

2015: Cardiff University, Celebrating Excellence Awards: Outstanding Contribution to Leadership

2012: Elected Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales

2011: Elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

2011: Visiting Fellow, Centre for the Study of Cultural Memory, Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, School of Advanced Studies, University of London


2017-18: Welsh Government: £138,000: Raising the Profile of Modern Foreign Languages: A Mentoring Initiative Phase II

2017: Welsh Government: £40,000: Turbo-Tutoring: Supporting Attainment in AS Level Modern Foreign Languages

2015-17: Welsh Government: £173,000: Raising the Profile of Modern Foreign Languages: A Mentoring Initiative Phase I

2008: Cardiff Humanities Research Institute (CHRI): £1,680: Cardiff Distinguished Visiting Fellow scheme: to fund the visit of Dr Maurizio Ascari (Bologna University) as part of the Crime Narratives in Context Research Network activities

2007: Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France: £350.00 Conference support: ‘The Lost Decade: the 1950s in European History, Society, Economy and Culture’, Cardiff University, 11-13 July 2007

2007: British Academy small grant fund: £2,292. Research support for the project: ‘Reconstructing France: Popular Culture, Crime Fictions and National Identity, 1946-58’

2002: Cassell Foundation funding: £700 and Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France funding: £200 Conference support: ‘Cultural Intersections: Noir Fiction and Film in France and Italy’ conference at the Institute of Romance Studies, London

2001-2: Leverhulme Research Fellowship: £15,646

Professional memberships

2016-present: Executive Committee member of the Society for French Studies

2015-present: Executive Committee member of the Association of University Professors and Heads of French

2014- present: Academic Director of Routes into Language Cymru, pan-Wales advocacy group for modern languages:

2011-2014: University Council for Modern Languages representative for Wales

2007-2014: Peer Review College member of the AHRC

Speaking engagements

I have given over 60 conference and research papers to date, including 20 invited addresses. Since 2012:

  1. 'Connective Histories: Generational Memories of the Holocaust in the French Comic Book', invited keynote address, University of Ghent, Belgium, April 2017
  2. 'Black October: Comics, Memory and Cultural Representations of the Algerian War', University of Edinburgh, Feburary 2017
  3. ‘Ruined Bodies: Photographing Collaboration and the Shaven Headed Woman’, Swansea University, May 2016
  4. ‘What the Liberator Saw: Bert Hardy, Photography and the Liberation of Normandy’, Bristol University, September 2015
  5. Histories, Memories and Fictions: Didier Daeninckx and Representations of October 1961 in French Popular Culture’, Baton Rouge USA, Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, invited panel paper, February 2015
  6. ‘Figuring Memory as Palimpsest: Rereading Cultural Memories of Jewish Persecution in French Crime Fiction about the Second World War’, Durham University, invited keynote address, November 2013
  7. ‘Le Passé recomposé: mémoire et postmemory dans Des gens très bien d’Alexandre Jardin’, Université Paris 3, France, invited panel paper, May 2012
  8. ‘Mobilising Memory: Understanding the Second World War in French Crime Fiction for Younger Readers’, Manchester Metropolitan University, invited paper, April 2012

University committees

2014-6: Head of the School of Modern Languages

2012-14: Acting Head, then Head of the School of European Languages, Translation and Politics

2008-12: Director of Research, School of European Languages, Translation and Politics

2008-2014: Joint Convenor of Crime Narratives in Context, a Cardiff University interdisciplinary research network

I am currently on a year's research leave (1 August 2016-31 July 2017).

My teaching responsibilities in 2015-16 were:


Final Year French Dissertation: subject: legacies of the Second World War in French Culture

Final Year Annotated French Translation: subject: resistance narratives of the Second World War

Postgraduate Taught

MA European Studies: Dissertation: topic: photography and the liberation of France and Naples during the Second World War.

Graduate College: workshop on developing a research trajectory for academic interviews and post-PhD career progression.

Postgraduate Research:

I have co-supervised 6 PhDs to completion and one MPhil on the following topics:

  1. 'Myths and Oppression of Gendered and Racialised Subjects in the Prose Fiction of Rosario Castellanos' (passed May 2003)
  2. 'Representations of Travel and Memory in 1960s and 1970s French- and German-Language Literature' (passed April 2004), AHRC-funded studentship
  3. 'Comparative Perspective on the Poetic Course of Arthur Rimbaud, William Blake and Sohrab Sepehri' (passed 2006)
  4. 'Constructions of the Algerian War Appelés in French Cultural Memory' (passed April 2012) AHRC-funded studentship
  5. 'Cultural Representations of Italians in Wales (1920s-2010s)' (passed April 2012)
  6. 'Sapphic spectres: Interwar German women’s fiction’ (MPhil, passed April 2014)
  7. 'A Study of Scanlation and Japanese Manga' (passed March 2015)

I am currently co-supervising 3 PhDs in the following research areas:

1. Memory, translation and the Holocaust in French texts

2. British women in occupied France (AHRC BGP 2 funded)

3. Francophone graphic novels, translation and adaptation

I would welcome applications from those wishing to work on questions of cultural memory, war and modern France, literary and visual narratives of conflict, both within France and in a broader European frame, and French crime fiction and film.

External Examiner for doctoral awards at the following institutions:

University of Kent (2010 and 2016), University of Leeds (2010), Birkbeck, University of London (2011), Université de la Bretagne Occidentale (2011), University of Auckland (2014).

My research centres on cultural memories of the Second World War. I am currently working on two interrelated projects:

Photography and the Liberation of France: This project explores photographic representations of the liberation of France and the cultural narratives of liberation that these images have come to embody. This project has centred thus far on the work of the British Army Film and Photography Unit and the liberation of Normandy, analysing the cultural narratives of occupied France that such photographs represented for a British reading public when published in popular magazines in the summer of 1944. This work has been published on-line in the Journal of War and Culture Studies (2016). The second phase of this project will explore photographic representations of women, above all 'les tondues', women who had their heads shaved following the liberation of their towns/region in 1944-5, in British press and film.

Graphic Fiction and Memories of the Second World War: This project explores the graphic fiction of second and third generation French authors who make use of the graphic novel to examine their personal, familial and collective affiliations with memories and events of the Second World War, above all the Holocaust. This project focuses on the ways in which the graphic format allows for a set of transgenerational connections and 'post-memories' that open up new vistas on the past from the perspective of the present.

In addition, I am researching the impact of mentoring initiatives on the attitudes of Welsh pupils towards modern languages and take up at GCSE. This project is funded by the Welsh Government and has been developed in partnership with the Universities of Aberystwyth, Bangor and Swansea in collaboration with the 4 educational Welsh consortia.

The project trains university undergraduate modern linguists to act as mentors to pupils in Year 8 and 9. It has been operational in 54 of Wales 203 secondary schools to date. It is having an impact on the numbers of students choosing languages at GCSE, as well as attitudes towards languages. The project promotes the broader benefits of intercultural communication and supports aspirations towards university study for more disadvantaged groupings.

I have written on this subject for The Conversation:

Wider Contribution to the Academic Community


Co-series editor of two series with University of Wales Press: French and Francophone Studies with H. Diamond (Cardiff University) and European Crime Fiction with G. Pieri (Royal Holloway, University of London) and S. Godsland (Amsterdam University).

2007- : Editorial board member of Synergies Royaume Uni et Irlande, an interdisciplinary journal allied to GERFLINT, Groupe d’Etudes et de Recherches pour le Français Langue Internationale.

Referee for the following journals: French Studies, Romance Studies, Modern and Contemporary France, Modern Language Review, Journal of Law and Society, Feminist Review, Témoigner, History, Lublin Journal of Modern Languages, Forum for Modern Language Studies, Australian Journal of French Studies, The Translator

Reader and reviewer for the following publishers: Oxford University Press, Routledge, University of Wales Press, University of Manchester Press, Berghahn Books, Palgrave/Macmillan.