The Future of WWII France in Academia: Contemporary Research Paradigms, Trajectories and Challenges (Funded Project Report, 2020-2021)

This conference, organised at the University of Leicester on 7-8 June 2022, set out to investigate the intellectual trajectories of UK and international mid-career scholars in Modern Languages and related disciplines who specialise in the study of the history, memory and representation of France during and after the Second World War and the Holocaust. In 2018, Drs Manu Braganca and Fransiska Louwagie edited a volume entitled Ego-Histories of France and the Second World War (Palgrave); it was the result of a 2015 two-day workshop during which 14 world-leading scholars from various disciplines reflected critically on their ‘ego-history’ or intellectual journey investigating France and WWII, and particularly on the work they undertook in the wake of the so-called Paxtonian turn in the 1970s, which critically re-examined the role of the Vichy-regime during the Nazi-period. By establishing a generational group portrait, the project allowed a critical reassessment of Pierre Nora’s concept of ego-history. The project also raised new questions about more recent dynamics and shifts in the field. To enable cutting-edge discussions in this area, the June 2022 workshop brought together mid-career scholars from various countries maintaining or developing strong research traditions in French Studies (the UK, Ireland and France, but also the Netherlands and Germany) and from diverse academic settings. Invited speakers included Dr Ludivine Broch; Professor Maxime Decout; Dr Lindsey Dodd; Dr Thomas Fontaine; Professor Claire Gorrara; Dr Aurelia Kalisky; Dr Sébastien Ledoux; Dr Daniel Lee; Dr David Lees; Dr Annelies Schulte Nordholt; Professor Claire Zalc; Dr Manu Braganca; Dr Fransiska Louwagie. Panel sessions systematically combined speakers from the various disciplinary and language backgrounds. Through their own ego-histories, the speakers investigated current research positionalities and examined recent disciplinary and interdisciplinary developments in their respective fields. The next generation of scholars was included via Early Career Bursaries, generously sponsored by the University Council of Modern Languages: the Early Career Academics who joined the event, Drs Ayshka Sené and Dr Rebekah Vince, acted as panel chairs and led a round table session. The workshop was also supported by a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant, the Modern Humanities Research Association, the Institute of Modern Languages Research, the Society of French Studies, the Society for the Study of French History, the School of Arts and Stanley Burton Centre at the University of Leicester, and University College Dublin.  The project will result in a book project and open access outputs, including edited recordings of the event, which will be shared via the project website (https://thefutureofwwiifrance.wordpress.com/).

(Dr Fransiska Louwagie, University of Leicester; Dr Manu Bragança, University College Dublin)

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