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Dr David Lees


Associate Professor of French

Director of Undergraduate Studies, School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Faculty Senior Tutor, Faculty of Social Sciences

Email: D dot W dot Lees at warwick dot ac dot uk
Tel: +44 (0)24 765 23331 (Ext. 23331)


I am currently the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, where I teach and research modern French history, politics and culture. I am also the Faculty Senior Tutor for the Faculty of Social Sciences and with effect from August 2020 the Student Engagement Coordinator for the Faculty of Arts on a jobshare with my colleague Dr Gavin Schwartz-Leeper from Liberal Arts. With my colleague Professor Oliver Davis (Executive Editor), I will be the Co-Editor of the academic journal Modern & Contemporary France from September 2021.

I was first appointed Teaching Fellow in French in 2014 and then promoted to Senior Teaching Fellow in 2018 and then to Associate Professor of French in 2020. I have taught at the University of Bath and have guest lectured at Newcastle University. I am a product of a State school in Bolton, Greater Manchester, and consider myself to be both English and Welsh.

I was previously the inaugural Director of the Year Abroad for the School of Modern Languages and Cultures (2015-18), leading the team to a commendation for Global Contribution at the Warwick Staff Awards 2018, and the School Senior Tutor (2018-19). I was highly commended for my 'inspirational leadership' in my role as School Year Abroad Director at the Warwick Staff Awards 2016 following the School's response to the November 2015 Paris attacks. I have been widely recognised for excellence in my teaching and was an inaugural winner of the Warwick Award for Teaching Excellence for PGR Students in 2012. I was elected a Fellow of the Warwick International Higher Education Academy (WIHEA) for three years from September 2018. I am leading a WIHEA funded project on peer mentoring and previously led a WIHEA-funded project on wellbeing and study abroad and a small-scale evaluation of peer mentoring in the School. I was made an Associate Fellow of the Warwick Institute of Engagement in 2021. I am proud to be an LGBTUA+ supporter at Warwick. In 2019, I won an inaugural Warwick Award for Personal Tutoring Excellence (WAPTE) in recognition of my leadership of academic pastoral support at the School, Faculty and University levels.

Research and teaching interests

My research concerns aspects of modern and contemporary French politics, history and culture. Broadly speaking, I am a cultural historian with interests in propaganda and political communications, though my background is firmly in French Studies and my research also extends to pedagogic work. My current research interests can be broken down into three major areas:

  1. Political campaigns, communications and propaganda in modern and contemporary France, especially concerning the centre and extreme-right. This includes my recent work on the portrayal of everyday life in propaganda film under the Vichy regime (1940-1944) in the Second World War, alongside other work on contemporary political campaigns, communications and propaganda in France. I am working on a book, Propaganda in Modern France, which will be published with Palgrave Macmillan in 2022.
  2. Pedagogy of the Holocaust and approaches to teaching and learning propaganda of the Vichy regime during the German Occupation of France in the Second World War. This includes recent work on teaching and learning representations of the Holocaust and forthcoming projects on teaching and learning Vichy, the Occupation and propaganda.
  3. Wellbeing and study abroad. This includes recent and forthcoming work on approaches to supporting students with their wellbeing during periods of study and work abroad and is linked to my WIHEA-funded project in 2018-19.

I actively seek to collaborate with colleagues at other institutions. Recent collaborations include:

  • A collaboration with Dr Brian Sudlow (Aston) on an event around teaching and learning the Occupation and Vichy regime, which led to a workshop in July 2019 and will shortly lead to an edited collection.
  • A collaboration with Dr Lindsey Dodd (Huddersfield University), on the conference around 'Vichy and the everyday' which led to the publication of Vichy France and Everyday Life: Confronting the Challenges of Wartime, 1939-1945 with Bloomsbury in 2018.
  • I was part of a team of editors for the Routledge Handbook of French Politics and Culture (2020) including Dr Aurélien Mondon (Bath); Professor Nina Parish (Stirling) and Professor Marion Demossier (Southampton).
  • I am working with Dr Chris Reynolds (Nottingham Trent) and Meg Ison (Portsmouth) on a second edition of the textbook Contemporary France with Routledge, due for publication in 2022, following the French presidential elections.

Since 2015, I have given over 200 media interviews to local, national and international publications and broadcasters. I focus predominantly on my areas of research interests, especially the Second World War in France and its legacies and political communications, campaigns and propaganda, though I have also given interviews on all aspects of the French centre and extreme-right and modern and contemporary French politics, history and culture. I have given broadcast and print interviews to BBC News Channel; Reuters TV; Sky News; France 24; Al Jazeera; CBC News (Canada); CTV News (Canada); Talk Radio UK; CNN; TRT World; The BBC History Magazine; LBC; BBC Coventry & Warwickshire; The Express; Newsweek; The Atlantic (USA); Share Radio and I24 News. I have also written extensively for The Conversation, a website offering expert analysis and opinion.

My teaching interests reflect many of my research interests and I am active in research-led teaching in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at Warwick. I am especially interested in teaching aspects of modern and contemporary French history and politics. I have been widely recognised for my teaching excellence: in 2012, I was awarded an inaugural Warwick Award for Teaching Excellence for PGR Students who teach and nominated again for the award in 2013. I was also nominated for the Warwick Award for Teaching Excellence in 2016. In 2013, I was voted the fifth best feedback practitioner in the Arts Faculty. I have supervised projects through the Undergraduate Research Support Scheme and undergraduate and MA dissertations related to histories of Jewish populations in France under Occupation; Holocaust commemoration; Poujadisme and the extreme-right; and the use of social media by the Front National. I welcome proposals for supervision of undergraduate or MA dissertations in any of my research and teaching areas.

I am active in the promotion of the study of modern French history, politics and culture and sit on the Executive Committee of the Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France as Web Officer (beginning my second period in the role in September 2019, having also served 2013-2016 and as postgraduate representative 2012-13). I have also been active in Outreach and Widening Participation initiatives, working closely with The Brilliant Club as well as delivering sessions for primary and secondary school students at Warwick. I have been a peer reviewer for The Brilliant Club's journal, The Scholar, since 2016. I also regularly write articles on teaching for the academic jobs website,

Teaching and supervision

I am module leader for the following modules:

  • FR346 Occupation: Everyday life in Vichy France
  • LN307 Propaganda and Persuasion in modern Europe
  • LN311 Political propaganda in contemporary Europe

Administrative roles

  • Director of Undergraduate Studies, SMLC (and Course Director for all SMLC Joint Degrees with Arts subjects)
  • Faculty Senior Tutor (based in the Dean of Students' Office) for Social Sciences
  • Senior Tutor for French Studies (acting, term 1, 2018-19)
  • Inaugural Director of the Year Abroad, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, from September 2015 to August 2018
  • Personal tutor

Committee memberships

  • Chair, SMLC Education Committee
  • Member, SMLC School Management Group
  • Member, Faculty Education Committee, Arts (as DUGS) and Social Sciences (as Faculty Senior Tutor)
  • Member, Undergraduate Research Support Scheme review board
  • Former member and representative for the Faculty of Arts, Review of Personal Tutoring at Warwick
  • Former member of the Partnerships Committee (as representative for the Faculty of Arts)
  • Lead, Peer Mentoring Learning Circle, Warwick International Higher Education Academy (WIHEA)
  • Founder member, Wellbeing Learning Circle, (WIHEA
  • Member of the Internationalisation Learning Circle, WIHEA

Professional memberships/affiliations

  • Member, Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France (ASMCF)
  • Member, Society for the Study of French History (SSFH)
  • Member, Society for French Studies (SFS)
  • Member, Royal Historical Society (RHS)
  • Fellow of the Warwick International Higher Education Academy (2018-2021)
  • Associate Fellow, Warwick Institute of Engagement (2021-)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts
  • Founder member of the Midlands HE Peer Mentoring Network



David Lees, Propaganda in Modern France (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, Forthcoming 2022)

Edited collections

Lindsey Dodd and David Lees (Eds.), Vichy France and Everyday Life: Confronting the Challenges of Wartime, 1939-1945, (London: Bloomsbury, 2018)

Peer-reviewed chapters in books

David Lees, 'Defining everyday Frenchness under Vichy,' in Dodd and Lees (Eds.), Vichy France and Everyday Life, op cit.

Peer reviewed journal articles

David Lees, 'A controversial campaign: François Fillon and the decline of the centre-right in the 2017 French presidential elections,' in Modern & Contemporary France, Special Issue on 2017 presidential and legislative elections, Vol. 25, No. 4, November 2017, pp.391-402


Marion Demossier, Aurelien Mondon, Nina Parish and David Lees (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of French Politics and Culture (London: Routledge, 2020).

David Howarth, Georgios Varouxakis, Chris Reynolds and David Lees, Contemporary France, In preparation for Routledge, 2021.

I have also reviewed books related to my teaching and research interests for Modern and Contemporary France, French History, Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, Social History and Modern Language Review. I am a regular peer reviewer for Modern and Contemporary France and have also peer-reviewed for Routledge, European History Quarterly and Exchanges, Warwick's interdisciplinary journal.

Office hours 2020-21(H0.69)

Please email me to book an appointment for a virtual meeting; I am generally available most days.