Professor Claire Gorrara
Professor of French Studies
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, three monographs and four edited collections of essays. I am currently researching visual cultures of war and working on two projects: photography and representations of the Liberation of Europe 1944-5 and representations of war in francophone comics and graphic novels. In addition, I am the academic lead for two modern languages projects that work in partnership with schools to support the visibility and uptake of modern languages in schools in Wales.
Education and Qualifications
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
1994- present: Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader, Professor of French Studies: Cardiff University, School of Modern Languages.
Honours and awards
2017 (April): Visiting Research Fellow, KU 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: £139,548: 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
2015-16:Welsh Government: £117,305: Raising the Profile of Modern Foreign Languages: A Mentoring Initiative Phase I
2015: Welsh Government: £56,184: 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
2017: President of the Association of University Professors and Heads of French
2016-present: Executive Committee member of the Society for French Studies
2015-2017: 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: http://routesintolanguagescymru.co.uk/
2011-2014: University Council for Modern Languages representative for Wales
2007-2014: Peer Review College member of the AHRC
I have given over 60 conference and research papers to date, including 20 invited addresses. Since 2012:
2017: 'Connective Histories: Generational Memories of the Holocaust in the French Comic Book', invited keynote address, University of Ghent, Belgium
2017: 'Black October: Comics, Memory and Cultural Representations of the Algerian War', University of Edinburgh
2016: 'Ruined Bodies: Photographing Collaboration and the Shaven Headed Woman’, Swansea University
2015: ‘What the Liberator Saw: Bert Hardy, Photography and the Liberation of Normandy’, Bristol University
2015: '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
2013: ‘Figuring Memory as Palimpsest: Rereading Cultural Memories of Jewish Persecution in French Crime Fiction about the Second World War’, Durham University, invited keynote address
2012: 'Le Passé recomposé: mémoire et postmemory dans Des gens très bien d’Alexandre Jardin’, Université Paris 3, France, invited panel paper
2012: ‘Mobilising Memory: Understanding the Second World War in French Crime Fiction for Younger Readers’, Manchester Metropolitan University, invited paper
Committees and reviewing
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 was 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
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.
I have co-supervised 6 PhDs to completion and one MPhil on the following topics:
- 'Myths and Oppression of Gendered and Racialised Subjects in the Prose Fiction of Rosario Castellanos' (passed May 2003)
- 'Representations of Travel and Memory in 1960s and 1970s French- and German-Language Literature' (passed April 2004), AHRC-funded studentship
- 'Comparative Perspective on the Poetic Course of Arthur Rimbaud, William Blake and Sohrab Sepehri' (passed 2006)
- 'Constructions of the Algerian War Appelés in French Cultural Memory' (passed April 2012) AHRC-funded studentship
- 'Cultural Representations of Italians in Wales (1920s-2010s)' (passed April 2012)
- 'Sapphic spectres: Interwar German women’s fiction’ (MPhil, passed April 2014)
- '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 PhDs
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 visual cultures and memories of war in France. I am currently working on two interrelated projects:
Photography and the Liberation of France, 1944-46: 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.
Comic Books and Memories of War: This project explores comic books and representations of war in a francophone frame. One forthcoming publication will focus on the Algerian War and French comic books. This will be published in the journal French Politics, Culture and Society. A second article examines the work of second and third generation French authors and family memories of the Holocaust. This will appear in a special issue of the Journal of Modern Jewish Studies devoted to comics and the Holocaust. A further commissioned chapter will explore the French comic book and the resurgence of cultural memories of French prisoners of war during the Second World War.
I am the academic lead for a pan-Wales project that mobilises mentoring to improve the attitudes of Welsh pupils towards modern languages and increase 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 in place in 54 of Wales 203 secondary schools to date. It is having a signifiicant impact on the numbers of students choosing languages at GCSE, as well as attitudes towards languages, more then doubling the national average for Welsh pupils electing to study languages at GCSE. The project promotes the broader benefits of intercultural communication and supports aspirations towards university study for more disadvantaged groups.
I have written on this subject for The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/how-mentoring-can-improve-modern-languages-uptake-in-schools-65380 and have an chapter forthcoming on Wales, Brexit and modern languages which profiles the mentoring project.
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.