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Paul Smith

Associate Professor in French and Francophone Studies and Head of Department, Faculty of Arts

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Biography

As an undergraduate I read History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, which was a Senate Institute of the University of London back in the day, but which is now part of UCL. Then I went up to read for a one-year taught masters at St Antony's Oxford. At Oxford I met up with Robert Gildea (then at Merton, now Professor of Modern History at Worcester College) and who, in due course, became the supervisor for my D.Phil thesis on the French women's movement between the two world wars. My thesis later became my first published book. Since then I have published a history of the French Senate (1870-2004, in 2 volumes) and a study of the Senate under the Fifth Republic. I now work principally on contemporary French politics, with particular emphasis on political relations and institutions and on the making of memory.

I worked at the University of Salford (1990-1991) and University College Dublin (1991-1992), before joining the Department of French and Francophone Studies here at Nottingham in September 1992. In 2012 I was elected visiting professor in the Department of History at the University of Limoges in France.

And I've been on French telly... (scroll forward to about 14 minutes)

http://replay.publicsenat.fr/vod/24h-senat/faustine-saint-genies,fabienne-bock,paul-smith/152331

Expertise Summary

My fields of expertise are contemporary French politics and institutions, and French history in the 19th and 20th centuries

Teaching Summary

My first year undergraduate teaching focuses mainly, though not exclusively, on a module called France: History and Identity. This is a module that uses visual culture as a means to introduce… read more

Research Summary

I am a historian who specialises in 19th and 20th century French politics, political institutions and political culture. I have particular research interests in the French Senate, Feminism in France… read more

My first year undergraduate teaching focuses mainly, though not exclusively, on a module called France: History and Identity. This is a module that uses visual culture as a means to introduce students to French history and the construction of the national myth (or myths) - what the French call the roman national - from the middle ages to the 20th century. The module uses the lives and times of a series of historical figures (beginning with Joan of Arc) as its foundation, but explores much wider questions of identity and the making of France.

Because of my expertise in French institutions, I also contribute lectures on a first-year module called Contemporary France: Politics and Society.

In the second year I teach Huit tableaux: Art and Politics in 19th century France 1799-1871, which again uses visual culture as a way-in to the discovery of French history and politics from the rise of Napoleon to the fall of the Paris Commune. In that period, which historians sometimes call the short nineteenth century, France changed political regime seven times. At the same time, art became a key means of conveying prestige and grandeur and of exploring and expressing political ideas to a degree perhaps not seen before and certainly not since, particularly as the new craze for photography began to push art into the background with its immediacy and perceived (though misleading) 'truth'.

At final-year level, I focus on my interest and expertise in French political institutions and teach a module called La République gaullienne 1958-1969. Put simply, the module is about the first founding decade of the French Fifth Republic under the leadership of Charles de Gaulle. In reality, the module reaches back to the Second World War and the debates about how France, when it emerged after the war, should (re)organize itself politically. While the thought and ideas of de Gaulle are pre-eminent, the module also looks at other models (the Fourth Republic 1946-1958, for example) and introduces students to French political culture before 1958 and how and why de Gaulle sought to shake things up... and with what success.

Current Research

I am a historian who specialises in 19th and 20th century French politics, political institutions and political culture. I have particular research interests in the French Senate, Feminism in France 1914-1945, French local government, and Contemporary French Politics in general.

I am a regular contributor on French politics to The Conversation and a variety of other online publications. I have also made rgaulr contribution to TV, including France 24, TRT World, and Al Jazeera.

I have a French politics blog, called Fifth-and-a-Half Republic, where you can find my recent comments on French politics and also a link to my contributions to The Conversation: - www.fifthandahalfrepublic.com/

My most recent full-length monograph, on the French Senate came out with Palgrave in 2010.

P.Smith, Senate of the Fifth French Republication

In February 2012, I was been visiting professor in the history department at the Université de Limoges (Fra

June 2014 found me back at the French Senate for a colloquium on parliaments and the Great War. Afterwards, I was asked to contribute to a brief discussion on the French parliamentary TV channel. (You have to go about 14 minutes into the clip below)

http://replay.publicsenat.fr/vod/24h-senat/faustine-saint-genies,fabienne-bock,paul-smith/152331

And in late August 2014 on Al Jazeera. Not my finest hour, but in my defence the questions weren't up to much... (Run the video to about 1.50)

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/08/french-leader-calls-assad-jihadist-ally-201482891950519751.html

Here are some thoughts about the 2014 French Senate elections: https://theconversation.com/how-the-far-right-landed-in-the-french-senate-32297

I have also made a number of other contributions to The Conversation

On Sarkozy's return to French politics: https://theconversation.com/sarkozy-sets-his-sights-on-2017-election-as-rivals-flounder-34561

On French local elections in which half the candidates and half the elected councillors are women

https://theconversation.com/in-this-election-50-of-the-winners-are-guaranteed-to-be-women-39076

On conflict within the French Front National:

https://theconversation.com/le-pen-game-of-unhappy-families-unsettles-frances-far-right-front-national-41263

On regional elections in France in December 2015

https://theconversation.com/french-regional-elections-no-one-can-dismiss-le-pen-as-an-also-ran-now-51616

https://theconversation.com/has-france-really-seen-the-back-of-the-front-national-52228

In July 2016 I had a piece published on the portrayal of politics on television, writing on the original British House of Cards for the French periodical Parlement[s]

http://www.parlements.org/revueparlements.html#24

Past Research

French Feminism 1918-1940: the French Senate 1870 to present; French politics; the politics of memory

Future Research

I continue to research and write on the Senate, but my future research plans focus on French politics and elections in the contemporary era, specifically on the period from 2002 until 2017, in the form of a book-length project entitled The Strange Death of the Fifth Republic: France 2002-2017

School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

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