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Impact of French Studies research

French Studies at Warwick is one of the UK's leading centres for interdisciplinary work in traditional and emerging fields of scholarship in French and francophone studies. Our research has achieved an enormous impact on public understanding and awareness of the cultural richness of one of the UK's most historic allies, rivals, and closest neighbours.

Our research has enhanced cultural insight and appreciation. It has led to improvements in archival methodology and practice by extending online access to more expertly edited and reliable Old French and Occitan texts. It has informed learning under the national curriculum for primary and secondary school pupils within our local area (the West Midlands and Warwickshire) and more widely across the UK. It has stimulated interest in the acquisition of foreign languages and greater historical and cultural understanding among students of all ages and the general public. Programmes such as our Warwick Young Student Researchers events on the French Revolution have inspired curiosity-driven learning in primary and secondary schools.

Our research has allowed us to explore the UK's strong international heritage and to bring new perspectives to historical and contemporary events through public talks, popular exhibitions, outreach activities, and media work, while also making a significant contribution to the UK economy through the tourist industry and enriching the cultural life and learning of the public of all ages, from school children to adults.

Understanding the Crusades through poetry and songs

crusadesLinda Paterson
Professor Emerita
The Crusades were one of the most important political, social, and religious movements that came to define Medieval Europe. Most of what we know about them has come to us through written records left by the Church. But what did ordinary people think about what the Crusades aimed to achieve and how?

This project explores different secular responses to the Crusades through songs of the Occitan troubadours and Old French trouvères. Students at the University will be using these texts to give a public concert in Spring 2014. In March there will be a workshop on the crusades open to the public, and in 2015 an online poetry competition on the idea of Crusade.

Prints bring the French Revolution to life

La Mort Du Patriote MaratDr Katherine Astbury
Associate Professor and Reader
The French Revolution is usually seen only in retrospect, as the embodiment of the famous slogan: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. But how did the men and women living through the Revolution actually experience some of the events happening around them and to them?

Innovative research by Kate Astbury uses modern trauma theory to understand how writers and artists at the time responded to the traumatic events they were experiencing. Contemporary images are often more accessible to primary school pupils than complex written texts, and offer an exciting and stimulating way of finding out about the French Revolution and understanding what it represented. The prints also provide secondary-school and University students with a fresh and vivid perspective on this crucial phase in French and European history and culture.

Marat image credit: Waddesdon, The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust), Photo: Imaging Services Bodleian Library © The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor.

Staging Napoleonic Theatre

Dr Katherine Astbury
Associate Professor and Reader
Benefiting from AHRC follow-on funding for 12 months (2016-17) to engage with new audiences, Dr Katherine Astbury’s Napoleonic theatre project team have been working with theatre practitioners and musicians on workshops to further our understanding of the performance of theatre during the period, using the manuscript scores of melodramas to reproduce the music that would have accompanied the speech and action to better understand the relationship between form and content. The project culminated in two performances, one a collaboration with the Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond and the other with English Heritage at Portchester Castle.

Our impact

Improving learning on the national curriculum

By presenting new subject areas and showing primary and secondary school students how to conduct their own research

Informing the heritage industry

By improving the knowledge of staff and enhancing the visitor experience through research-informed exhibitions

Increasing access to cultural artefacts

By digitising important historical documents together with reliable modern translations to make them more easily accessible to a wider audience

Podcasts and videos

Unlocking History at Waddesdon Manor (2012)

This series of five videos explores a collection of 400 printed images from the French Revolution assembled by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in the nineteenth century and housed at Waddesdon Manor, the seat of the Rothschild family in Britain and a National Trust historic property in North Oxfordshire.

Professor Nicholas Hewlett discusses his new book The Sarkozy Phenomenon (2011)

Oliver Davis interviews Jacques Rancière at the EYE Film Institut in Amsterdam (2010)

Professor Seán Hand discusses Memory and Memorial within French culture (2009)

The ACCESS students were totally intrigued by the prints. They were fascinated by the degree of humour displayed along with the way in which the artists / engravers were given licence to criticise the ruling elite.

— ACCESS History Course Leader
North Warwickshire College, 2013