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Dr James Connolly
Foster Court, First Floor, 1-4 Malet Place
  • Lecturer in Modern French History
  • Faculty of Arts & Humanities
UCL Subsidiary Supervisor

I am a historian of modern Europe, especially France, with a particular focus on military conflict, occupation, and the First World War.  My interest in these subjects began when I studied for my BA (Hons.) History at Royal Holloway, University of London, where a third of my degree was with the French Department, including French-language classes.  I stayed on at Royal Holloway for my AHRC-funded MA Modern History, and I was especially influenced by the classes of Professor Pamela Pilbeam, who supervised my BA and MA dissertations.  I then moved to King's College London for my AHRC-funded PhD, carried out under the supervision of Professor Richard Vinen and awarded in February 2013.  My thesis was entitled 'Encountering Germans: the Experience of Occupation in the Nord, 1914-1918.'

I joined UCL in January 2018 as Lecturer in Modern French History, and have been Director (convenor) of MA Language, Culture and History since June 2019.  I was delighted to be nominated for a 'Student Choice Award for Excellent Personal Tutoring' in May 2020.

Prior to moving to UCL, I held a number of different roles: during my PhD, I was a Graduate Teaching Assistant at King's College London (2010-11), a Scouloudi Junior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research (2011-12), and a visiting staff member at Royal Holloway, University of London (2012).  After completing my PhD, I was a visiting staff member at Royal Holloway (2012-13), a Temporary Lecturer in Modern European History (part-time) at King's College London (2012-13), and chercheur postdoctoral et secrétaire scientifique (April 2013-August 2014) for the research axis 'L'Europe des guerres et des traces de guerres' at the Sorbonne (SIRICE, Paris I and IV Universities), part of the project LabEx 'Écrire une histoire nouvelle de l'Europe.'  I subsequently returned to the UK, working at the University of Manchester from September 2014 until December 2017, where I was a Lecturer in Modern European History (until August 2015) and then a Simon Postdoctoral Fellow.

I am a Fellow of the International Society for First World War Studies, a co-covenor of the Institute of Historical Research Modern French History Seminar, and an associate editor of H-France.

I have co-organised multiple conferences and workshops on the military occupations of the First and Second World Wars, as well as a conference in association with the Institut Français du  Royaume-Uni  commemorating the First World War.  I am a member of the Organising Team for the Society for the Study of French History Annual Conference 2020, which has been postponed to 2021.

I lived in Lille for 15 months in 2009-10 and Paris for 14 months in 2013-14.

Research Summary

My research focuses on military occupations in modern Europe, especially the experience and perspective of the French.  My wider research interests include warfare (notably the social and cultural history of war), occupier-occupied relations, local and national identity, the First World War, and modern French and European history more generally.

Much of my work to date has focused on the German occupation of northern France in the First World War, considering French behaviours under occupation, especially relations with the Germans. I am particularly interested in notions such as resistance, complicity, and criminality, as well as the memory and perception of this experience.  My approach comprises both cultural and social history, and also touches on notions of local and national identity.  I have published a number of articles on this topic, and my first monograph was published by Manchester University Press in May 2018.  It is entitled The Experience of Occupation in the Nord, 1914-1918: Living with the Enemy in First World War France and can be downloaded for free via Open Access.  This book received the 'Honorable Mention' (second-place) award for the 2019 inaugural Eugen Weber Book Award, given by the Department of History at UCLA for the best book on modern French history (post-1815) published internationally in English or French in 2017 or 2018.  It was also shortlisted for the 2018 Franco-British Society Book Prize.

Alongside Emmanuel Debruyne, Élise Julien, and Matthias Merlaien, I co-edited the book En territoire ennemi: Expériences d'occupation, transferts, héritages (1914-1949) (Lille: Presses universitaires du Septentrion, 2018).

My current research examines the French experience of the Allied occupation of the Rhineland in the inter-war period, aiming to consider the perspective of both occupier and occupied, relations between the two, German behaviours under occupation, and the role of violence.  I hope to compare this occupation to that of northern France in 1914-18, and consider the links (experiential, political, administrative and other) between them.  I also wish to assess whether this allows for a framework of behaviours and modes of thinking under occupation (what I previously label 'occupied culture') to be proposed.

Beyond military occupations, I have written a chapter about British adoptions of French towns after the First World War, which touches upon humanitarianism, philanthropic history, the history of the British press, and Franco-British relations.  This was translated into German and published in Städtepartnerschaften in Europa im 20. Jahrhundert in May 2020.

My research has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, King's College London, the Historial de la Grande Guerre, and the Institute of Historical Research.

Teaching Summary

I have previously taught at the University of Manchester, King's College London, and Royal Holloway, University of London.  Past modules include general survey courses on modern European history, plus modules on: the notion of a European 'civil war' from 1914-1947; the world wars; nationalism and nation-building; intellectual history; the notion of a French 'civil war' from 1934-1970; and twentieth-century French history.

At UCL in 2020-21 I am teaching on the following undergraduate modules:

  • FREN0005 (first-year): The Making of Modern France (module convenor)
  • ELCS0003 (first-year): Understanding European History: Facts, Interpretations, Stories (module convenor)
  • FREN0074 (second-year): A Century of Conflict and Crisis: France, 1870-1970 (module convenor)
  • FREN0048 (final-year): Topics in Modern French History: France and the Great War (module convenor)

I am also Director (convenor) of MA Language, Culture, History, and teach the following MA modules:
  • ELCS0065: Language, Culture, History: Warfare (module convenor)
  • CMII0025: Global Europe (module convenor)
  • (MA bolt-on) FREN0077: Topics in Modern French History: France and the Great War (module convenor)

At Manchester, I supervised c.30 undergraduate dissertations on topics in modern French history, and would welcome the opportunity to supervise more.  At UCL, I have supervised two MA dissertations on modern European history and society more generally, and two undergraduate dissertations on modern French history or society.

01-JAN-2018 Lecturer in Modern French History French Department, SELCS UCL, United Kingdom
01-SEP-2015 – 31-DEC-2017 Simon Postdoctoral Research Fellow History Department University of Manchester, United Kingdom
01-SEP-2014 – 31-AUG-2015 Lecturer in Modern European History History Department University of Manchester, United Kingdom
01-APR-2013 – 31-AUG-2014 Postdoctorant et secrétaire scientifique SIRICE, LabEx Écrire une Histoire Nouvelle de l'Europe Paris IV Sorbonne and Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne Universities, France
01-SEP-2012 – 31-AUG-2013 Temporary Lecturer in Modern European History (part-time) History Department King's College London, United Kingdom
01-SEP-2012 – 31-MAR-2013 Visiting Teaching Staff History Department Royal Holloway, University of London, United Kingdom
01-JAN-2012 – 31-MAR-2012 Visting Teaching Staff History Department Royal Holloway, University of London, United Kingdom
Academic Background
2013   Doctor of Philosophy King's College London
2008   Master of Arts Royal Holloway
2007   Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Royal Holloway
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