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Dr James Illingworth

Dr James Illingworth

Lecturer in French

School of Modern Languages

+44 (0)29 2087 5643
Room 1.06, 66a Park Place, Cathays, Cardiff, CF10 3AS


I am a specialist of nineteenth-century French literature and culture, with particular interests in gender and the circulation of knowledge and culture. I wrote my PhD thesis on the representation of the body in the work of the foremost woman writer of the period, George Sand (1804-76), which I am currently re-working into a monograph. This project has also given rise to publications on medicine, Sand's reception in America, and Sand's engagement with Ovid.

My next major project emerges from a six-month AHRC-funded placement at the Bowes Museum in County Durham, during which I catalogued over 2,000 volumes in French, Spanish and Italian printed predominantly in the nineteenth century that formed the library of the museum’s founders, John and Joséphine Bowes. Joséphine's collection of French novels offers a fascinating insight into what people read (or thought they should be reading) in the period, including a number of forgotten or now considered 'minor' women writers.


Following undergraduate and masters degrees at the University of Oxford, I obtained my PhD from Queen's University Belfast in 2018. I joined Cardiff in 2021, after teaching and research posts at Leicester, Exeter, and De Montfort University.

I have been a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy since September 2020.

Since March 2020, I have also been the Project Coordinator for the University Council of Modern Languages (UCML). This role has involved working with stakeholders in Modern Languages across higher education and beyond to advocate for the value of languages as a discipline. I have been working particularly closely with colleagues in the Routes into Languages widening participation network, and now chair UCML's Year Abroad Group, which was created to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and the UK's withdrawal from the EU on year abroad students. This work has been profiled in The Linguist and Guardian.

Honours and awards

  • Highly Commended, George Sand Association Memorial Prize (2019)
  • Bourse doctorale de l’Adeffi (2017)
  • ASMCF Poster Prize (2015)

Professional memberships

  • 2020 - present: Project Coordinator, University Council of Modern Languages
  • 2016 - 2018: Postgraduate Representative for the Association for the Study of Modern & Contemporary France

Academic positions

  • 2021 - present: Lecturer, Cardiff University
  • 2021: Research Associate, Political Cartooning and Peace-Building in Conflict and Post-Conflict Contexts, University of Leicester
  • 2019 - 2021: Lecturer, De Montfort University
  • 2019 - 2021: Teaching Fellow, University of Leicester
  • 2019: Lecturer, University of Exeter
  • 2018: Teaching Fellow, University of Leicester

Committees and reviewing

Referee for the following journals: Modern & Contemporary FranceDix-NeufWomen: A Cultural ReviewRomanica Olomucensia.








Advanced French Language Year 1

Beginners French Language Year 1

Ex-Advanced French Language Year 2 (Translation)

I completed my PhD in 2018, which I wrote on the representation of the body in the works of George Sand (1804-76). This work has produced publications on Sand and the environment, Sand and medicine, Sand's reception and influence in the USA, and Sand's engagement with Ovid. I am currently working on articles dealing with Sand's depiction of death and Sand and translation, as well as re-working my thesis into a monograph. My doctoral research was fully funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

In 2021 I was a Research Associate on a project at the University of Leicester funded by the ODA-GCRF that used political cartoons to deliver workshops on political literacy among young people in post-conflict societies (Kenya, South Africa, and Ivory Coast). My role supported partner networking workshops and data analysis, and sat alongside a larger, AHRC-funded project, 'Covid in Cartoons'. I have worked closely with the research teams on both projects to produce an event funded by Leicester's ESRC Impact Acceleration Account that will be included in the ESRC's national Festival of Social Science in November 2021. The event will comprise a take-over of the Instagram account of one of our partner organisations, Shout Out UK, to encourage young people to engage in political cartooning on three themes: the environment, COVID-19, and inequality. The event is also a collaboration with Cartooning for Peace and the Cartoon Museum, and will culminate in a cartoon competition.

My next major project emerges from an AHRC-funded placement at the Bowes Museum, where I catalogued the library of the museum's founders, John and Joséphine Bowes. I am particularly interested in what this library reveals about what people were really reading in the nineteenth century, but also because of the libraries transnational nature; John was an English aristocrat, Joséphine a French actress, and while their collection was amassed in France their museum is located in County Durham. I am especially interested in the woman writers present in this collection, many of whom are now forgotten. This project has already given rise to an article, two book chapters, and contributions to two museum exhibitions.

Areas of expertise

External profiles