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Vichy and the everyday

Vichy and the everyday: new perspectives on daily life under German Occupation, 1940-1944

A one-day interdisciplinary conference, University of Warwick, 21 March 2016

Organised by Dr David Lees (French Studies, Warwick) and Dr Lindsey Dodd (History, Huddersfield), this one-day interdisciplinary conference seeks to shed new light on the lived experiences of French men, women and children under German Occupation and Vichy rule.

There is much to be understood about the daily experiences of French people during this period. Knowing more about the experiences of French men, women and children under Occupation will not only provoke intriguing methodological questions, but will open new perspectives on the thorny issues of resistance, collaboration, accommodation, ‘attentisme’ (the concept of ‘waiting’ for the outcome of the war), consent and dissent, and put flesh onto the bones of the anonymous millions who suffered, coped, survived, laughed, played and worked, together at home, or miles apart, in towns and villages across occupied and Vichy France.

This conference will bring together established and up-and-coming academics from the UK, France and beyond. The conference will highlight the interdisciplinary nature of current academic work on the 'dark years,' drawing on sociology, film studies, French studies, history and literary studies. It will explore not only how daily life was viewed and presented at the time of the Occupation—examining, for example, the visual and sensual experiences of ‘ordinary’ French people—but will also consider how such experiences have been represented subsequently. It is hoped that bringing everyday experiences of different sections of the population into comparative perspective will permit new empirical and theoretical insights. Bringing likeminded scholars into an interdisciplinary network would be a timely and useful exercise with future potential.

Conference programme

Registration and coffee 9.30-10.00

Opening remarks: 10-10.15 Lindsey Dodd and David Lees

Panel 1: Coping – 10.15-12.00

Understanding children’s lives in Occupied France through the games they played
Camille Mahé (Sciences Po, France)

Reconstructing the daily life of a Lyonnaise family: possibilities, pitfalls and methodological problems
Isabelle von Bueltzingsloewen (Lyon II, France)

Let them eat bread! Radio propaganda and food in Occupied France
Kay Chadwick (Liverpool)

The daily lives of French railway workers during the Second World War
Sylvère Aït Amour (Rails et Histoire, France)

Coffee 12.00-12.15

Panel 2: Helping – 12.15-13.35

‘De véritables petits Poulbots’: urban lives, rural lives and children’s evacuation, 1943-1945
Lindsey Dodd (Huddersfield, UK)

Hunger, shame, and sociability: the American Friends Service Committee and wartime aid to French middle-class families
Shannon L. Fogg (Missouri University of Science and Technology, USA)

Helping the most needy under Vichy: the role of the Secours national
Jean-Pierre Le Crom (Nantes, CNRS, France)

Lunch (included) 13.35-14.30

Panel 3: Confrontation – 14.30-15.50

Blurring the lines: daily struggles and interactions between colonial prisoners of war and French civilians
Sarah Frank (University of the Free State, South Africa)

‘Sexual energy is the engine of joy and vigour’: prostitution, Wehrmacht brothers and venereal desire in Occupied France
Byron Schirbock (Cologne, Germany)

British women in Occupied France 1939-1945: History, Memory, Legacy
Ayshka Sené (Cardiff, UK)

Coffee 15.50-16.05

Panel 4 – sponsored by the ASMCF: Challenge – 16.05-17.50

Madeleine Blaess: an emotional history of a long Liberation
Wendy Michallat (Sheffield, UK)

Counter-revolution? Resisting Vichy and the National Revolution
Mason Norton (Edge Hill, UK)

Defining everyday Frenchness under Vichy: representations of family, gender and sexuality in propaganda film during the Occupation
David Lees (Warwick, UK)

‘Simples, divertissants, mais nuls’: Vichy cinema and the everyday
Steve Wharton (Bath, UK)

Closing remarks: 18.00-18.30
Hanna Diamond (Cardiff, UK) and Robert Gildea (Oxford, UK)

Vin d'honneur (included) 18.30

Dinner (not included) 19.00

Conference fee for employed delegates is £25; Postgraduates may attend the conference free of charge.

This conference is kindly sponsored by:

School of Modern Languages and Cultures, Warwick

School of Music, Humanities and Media, Huddersfield

Humanities Research Centre, Warwick

Connecting Cultures GRP, Warwick

Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France

Royal Historical Society

Society for the Study of French History


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