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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 ecofeminism, medicine and psychiatry, 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.

Between March 2020 and February 2022 I served as Project Coordinator for the University Council of Modern Languages (UCML). This role involved working with stakeholders in Modern Languages across higher education and beyond to advocate for the value of languages as a discipline, working particularly closely with colleagues in the Routes into Languages widening participation network which UCML has coordinated since 2020.

I currently 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 and includes representatives from modern langauges departments across the UK. I organised UCML's 2022 Winter Plenary which brought together key stakeholders in modern languages mobility to consider the future of the year abroad after Brexit. My work with this group has been profiled in The Linguist, Guardian, and Varsity.

Honours and awards

  • Society of Dix-Neuviémistes Publication Prize (2022) - for 'George Sand's volcanic imagination', Modern & Contemporary France.
  • Highly Commended, George Sand Association Memorial Prize (2019)
  • Bourse doctorale de l’Adeffi (2017)
  • ASMCF Poster Prize (2015)

Professional memberships

  • 2021 - present: Chair, UCML Year Abroad Group
  • 2020 - 2022: Project Coordinator, University Council of Modern Languages (UCML)
  • 2016 - 2018: Postgraduate Representative for the Association for the Study of Modern & Contemporary France

I am also a member of the following learned societies: Society for French Studies, Association for the Study of Modern & Contemporary France, George Sand Association, AUPHF+, Society of Dix-Neuviémistes, Société des études romantiques et dix-neuviémistes.

Academic positions

  • 2021 - present: Lecturer, Cardiff University
  • 2021: Research Associate, Political Cartooning and Peace-Building in Conflict and Post-Conflict Contexts, University of Leicester
  • 2021: ESRC Impact Acceleration Account Coordinator, 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
  • 2015 - 2018: Graduate Teaching Assistant, Queen's University Belfast

Speaking engagements

  • Beyond the Borders of the Page: George Sand's Poetics of Motion, George Sand Association Conference, St Louis University, USA, June 2022
  • Invited Plenary (with Claire Gorrara): The picture for languages in the UK in 2020: the view from UCML (University Council of Modern Languages), UK Association for Language Teaching & Assessment 40th Anniversary Conference, November 2020
  • "J'aimais le merveilleux passionnément": George Sand and Aesthetic Education, ADEFFI Annual Conference, Queen's University Belfast, October 2019
  • George Sand, Sickness, and the Body Politic, The Pathological Body: European Literary and Cultural Perspectives, IMLR London, September 2019
  • Invited paper: George Sand’s Volcanic Imagination, Medical and Environmental Perspectives on French Literature, University of Bristol, May 2019
  • Roundtable: Back to the Future of Nineteenth-Century French Studies: Recuperating Key Terms of Critical Reference (with Mary Orr and Steven Wilson), Society of Dix-Neuviémistes Conference, University of Southampton, April 2019
  • The bibliothèque intime of Joséphine Bowes, Cultures of Intimacy in the Nineteenth Century, Queen’s University Belfast, April 2019
  • ‘Cette langue nouvelle’: George Sand’s Experimentalism, ASMCF Annual Conference, Lancaster University, September 2018
  • The View from Above: George Sand’s Bodily Displacements, Society of Dix-Neuviémistes Conference, Newcastle University, April 2018
  • George Sand’s Confessional, Imagining the Body in France and the Francophone World, University of Birmingham, January 2018
  • Wordsworth Crossing the ‘Northern Bridge’: The Re-Imagining Ireland with Wordsworth Project, British Association for Romantic Studies International Conference, University of York, July 2017
  • Joséphine Bowes (1825-1874): Shopaholic or Patroness of the Arts?, Women in French UK Conference, Hinsley Hall, Leeds, May 2017
  • Collecting the Nineteenth Century: The ‘Ideal’ Library of John and Joséphine Bowes, Society of Dix-Neuviémistes Conference, University of Kent, Canterbury, April 2017
  • Invited Speaker: Lifting the Veil: George Sand’s Mythopoetic Bodies, Oxford French Postgraduate Seminar, All Souls College, Oxford University, November 2016
  • The French Library of John and Joséphine Bowes, Northern Bridge Autumn School, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle, October 2016
  • Sand’s Heterotopias: Domestic Space and the Allegorical Impulse in the Sandian Novel, Domestic Space in France and Belgium: Art, Literature and Design, Queen’s University Belfast, September 2016
  • Language, Fairy Tale, and the Possibility of Utopia in George Sand’s “Histoire du véritable Gribouille”, Society for French Studies Conference, University of Glasgow, June 2016
  • Performance and Resistance in George Sand’s “La Marquise”, or Representing a Body that Matters, Society of Dix-Neuviémistes Conference, Reid Hall, University of Kent in Paris, April 2016
  • Patrimoine/matrimoine: Gendered Subjecthood and the Weight of History in George Sand's "Histoire de ma vie", ASMCF-SSFH Postgraduate Study Day, March 2016
  • Hearing Philomela: Myth and the Revalorization of Woman’s Voice in George Sand’s "Jeanne", ASMCF Conference, University of Hull, September 2015
  • Obliterating the Myth of the Father: Processes of De-Crystallisation in George Sand’s "Laura, Voyage dans le cristal", ADEFFI Postgraduate Symposium, Queen's University Belfast, April 2015

Committees and reviewing

Referee for the following journals: Modern & Contemporary FranceDix-Neuf, Modern Language ReviewWomen: A Cultural Review, George Sand StudiesRomanica Olomucensia.










Advanced French Language Year 1

Beginners French Language Year 1

Ex-Advanced French Language Year 2 (Translation)

I also supervise Year Abroad projects in French, as well as coordinating three extra-curricular activities for French students: the Choix Goncourt UK (with Marie Gastinel-Jones, Claire Gorrara and Hamid Sahki), the 'monde d'après' creative writing competition, and a French-English virtual exchange project with colleagues from Université de Bordeaux, NUI Galway, and De Montfort University.

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 worked closely with the research teams on both projects to produce an event funded by Leicester's ESRC Impact Acceleration Account that was included in the ESRC's national Festival of Social Science in November 2021. The event comprised 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 was also a collaboration with Cartooning for Peace and the Cartoon Museum, and culminated 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.


Past projects