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Dr Jessica Wardhaugh

Jessica Wardhaugh

Reader in French Studies

Email: J dot Wardhaugh at warwick dot ac dot uk

Fourth Floor, Faculty of Arts Building
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL


I joined French Studies at Warwick in 2010, after working as a Junior Research Fellow at Christ Church, Oxford, and as a Special Lecturer at Bristol University. I have a B.A. in History with French and an M.A. in History from Durham University, and a D.Phil. in History from Oxford.

Research interests

My research focuses on modern French politics and culture. I'm especially fascinated by the relationship between the two: street politics, satire and caricature, and the interplay between individual commitments and imagined communities. My current research includes a cooperative study of women's resistance in Nazi-Occupied France, on which I will be presenting at the Alliance Française in Oxford in March 2024, and a study of the importance of play — verbal, visual, and physical — in the political culture of the Third Republic (1870–1940). I have recently been involved in two further projects as part of funded research networks: one on Constructing Europe and the other on the effects of the Munich Crisis of 1938 on the peoples of Europe and beyond. I am currently contributing to a research project on conservatism and mass culture at Jaume I University in Spain.

My first monograph, In Pursuit of the People: Political Culture in France, 1934–39 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) explored the battle between left and right to organise the people as political actors in the 1930s, and to imagine them as a community.

With a broader perspective, my 2017 book on Popular Theatre and Political Utopia in France, 1870–1940: Active Citizens (Palgrave Macmillan) revealed the importance of popular theatre to the creation of community in both theory and practice. Tracing the uses of theatre in political integration and subversion, it throws new light on the dynamics between the republican French state and more radical or dissident groups, including regionalists, anarchists, socialists, communists and royalists.

The persistent significance of the French extreme right, and the wider development of right-wing politics and culture, has also been a continuing research focus. In 2007 I published an edited volume on Paris and the Right in the Twentieth Century, and I have recently contibuted a study of royalist cosmopolitanism to the AHRC-funded network on Internationalism and Cultural Exchange, 1870–1920.

Ideas of Europe as a utopian community have equally inspired my research, with a particular focus on the intellectual networks around the Paris-based periodical Europe in the interwar years. I have worked as a visiting researcher at the Humboldt University in Berlin and as a member of the DFG-AHRC funded research network on Europeanization in the twentieth century. As a contributor to the 2017 conference on European borders on at the Prokhorov Centre in Sheffield, I explored Russian influences on perceptions of Europe by four French writers in the 1920s and 1930s, which shaped my recent article in Contemporary European History in 2023.

Through much of my research runs a fascination with the dynamic relationship between the personal and the political. My edited book, Politics and the Individual in France, 1930–50 (Oxford: Legenda, 2015) explores this relationship in historical, philosophical, and artistic contexts, reflecting on individual responses to mass politics and collectivist ideology, and contributing to a deeper understanding of memory, agency, and responsibility in times of crisis. I have also recently explored the relationship between personal and political in an article on the 'ends of democracy' in 1930s France, as part of a collaborative project with the University of Düsseldorf.

I have discussed my research with a wide audience, exploring the mass spectacles of the 1930s on BBC Radio 3 ('Europe: the Art of Austerity'), and offering more hands-on analysis of nineteenth-century caricatures and artefacts for school pupils as part of Warwick's Widening Participation initiative. I have contributed as a country expert to the Varieties of Democracy project, and taken part in the commemoration of the Battle of Cable Street with a blog on how cracking the visual codes of 1930s street politics can help us understand the burkini bans in contemporary France. I have also been interviewed for the French History Network Blog on 'French Historians under the Spotlight'.

I am currently Co-Editor of the Studies in French and Francophone History with MUP.

Teaching and supervision

My teaching and research interests are in modern and contemporary French politics and culture. My research has explored street politics, popular theatre, and imagined communities in nineteenth- and twentieth-century France. I have supervised MA and PhD theses on modern and contemporary French politics and on twentieth-century French theatre. I am also responsible for the following second-year and final-year modules:



  • (ed.), Paris and the Right in the Twentieth Century (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars’ Press, 2007), 248 p.
  • In Pursuit of the People: Political Culture in France, 1934–1939 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 300 p.
  • (ed.), Politics and the Individual in France, 1930-50 (Oxford: Legenda, 2015), 170 p.
  • Popular Theatre and Political Utopia in France, 1870–1940: Active Citizens (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 357 p.

Journal articles

  • ‘Staging reconciliation: popular theatre and political utopia in France in 1937’, Contemporary European History 14.3 (2005), pp. 279–94 (as Jessica Irons)
  • ‘Between Parliament and the people: the problem of representation in France, 1934–39’, Parliaments, Estates and Representation/Parlements, États et Représentation 27 (2007), pp. 207–226
  • ‘Un Rire nouveau: Action Française and the art of political satire’, French History 22.1 (2008), pp. 74–93
  • ‘Fighting for the Unknown Soldier: the contested territory of the French nation in 1934–38’, Modern and Contemporary France 15.2 (2007), pp. 185–201
  • ‘Parisian stars under a Provençal sky: the Théâtre d’Orange and the Making of Mediterranean Identity’, Nottingham French Studies 50 (Special issue on L’Invention du Midi, 2011), pp. 7–18
  • 'Crowds, culture, and power: mass politics and the press in interwar France', Journalism Studies 14.5 (2013), pp. 743-758
  • 'From anarchism to state funding: Louis Lumet and the cultural paradoxes of the Third Republic', French Historical Studies, 43.3 (2020), pp. 597–631
  • 'Europe in the mirror of Russia: how interwar travels to the Soviet Union reshaped European perceptions of borders, time, and history', Contemporary European History, 32.1 (2023), pp. 97–113

Book chapters

  • ‘Fighting for the streets of Paris during the Popular Front, 1934–38’ in Wardhaugh, Paris and the Right, pp. 43–63
  • ‘Popular theatre and revolutionary identity: anarchist and communist culture in Paris, 1900–34’ in Roger Spalding and Alyson Brown (eds), Entertainment, Leisure, and Identities (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars’ Press, 2007), pp. 96–111
  • ‘Europäer erschaffen: die Rolle der Zeitschrift Europe - Revue Mensuelle, 1923–1939’ in Kiran Patel, Veronika Lipphardt, Lorraine Bluche (eds), Der Europäer – ein Konstrukt. Wissenbestände, Diskurse, Praktiken (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2009), pp. 97–117
  • with Christian Bailey and Ruth Leiserowitz, ‘Intellectual dissidents and the construction of European spaces, 1918–1988’ in Kiran Patel and Martin Conway (eds) Europeanization in the Twentieth Century (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)
  • ‘Salvation, satire, and solidarity: right-wing culture in interwar France’ in Sean Kennedy and Samuel Kalman (eds), The French Right between the Wars: Political and Intellectual Movements from Conservatism to Fascism (Berghahn, 2014)
  • 'In the shadow of Danton: theatre, politics, and leadership in interwar France', in Wardhaugh (ed.), Politics and the Individual, pp. 13-27
  • 'Demokratische Experimente in der politischen Kultur Frankreichs' in Tim Müller and Adam Tooze (eds), Normalität und Fragilität: Demokratie nach dem Ersten Weltkreig (Hamburg: 2015)
  • 'The fabulous destiny of Saint-Patrice: royalist cosmopolitanism and republican France' in Grace Brockington, Daniel Laqua and Sarah Victoria Turner (eds), Imagined Cosmopolis: Internationalism and Cultural Exchange 1870s–1920s (Oxford: Peter Lang: 2019)
  • ‘Macht und Schweigen: Das seltsame Ende der französischen Demokratie 1938-1940’ in Christoph Nonn (ed.), Wie Demokratien enden, von Athens bis zu Putins Russland (Paderborn: Brill, 2020), pp. 183–214
  • 'France in the Blue Light of Munich: Popular Agency, Activity, and the Reframing of History' in Julie Gottleib, Daniel Hucker and Richard Toye (eds), The Munich Crisis: Politics and the People (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2021)
  • ‘Two Frances at war and peace: the stories of a nation and its people, 1905–58' in David Andress (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of French History (Abingdon: Routledge, 2024), pp. 459–470

Review articles

  • ‘Sacred Unions: religion and reconciliation in French society, 1919–1945’, French Politics, Culture, and Society 27.3 (2009) pp. 116–28

I have served as Reviews Editor for Contemporary European History (2013-18) and as Associate Editor for French History (2020–23). I have also reviewed books and articles for Modern and Contemporary France, French History, French Studies, The English Historical Review, The Modern Language Review, Social and Cultural History, French Politics, Culture, and Society, The European History Quarterly and Theatre Survey. I have acted as referee for Palgrave Macmillan, Oxford University Press, Manchester University Press and the University of Delaware Press, and for the Canadian Humanities and Social Sciences Research Council. I have also provided translations for the Cahiers d'Histoire du Temps Présent, the Dominican Order, and the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music, Oxford.


BA, MA (Durham), DPhil (Oxford)

Advice and feedback hours, spring term 2024:

Thursdays, 10–12 (FAB 4.34)

You are always welcome to email me at:


Paris and the Right

Politics and the Individual - front cover