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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 French history in the 19th and 20th centuries, contemporary politics, especially political institutions and elections.

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

Selected Publications

  • SMITH, P., 2005. A History of the French Senate: Vol. I, The Third Republic 1870-1940 Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press.
  • SMITH, P., 2009. The senate of the fifth French republic Palgrave Macmillan.
  • SMITH, PAUL, 2007. 'Sénat ou pas Sénat'? The "First" Council of the Republic. In: KNAPP, A., ed., The Uncertain foundation: France at the Liberation, 1944-47 Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 41-56
  • SMITH, PAUL, 2006. A History of the French Senate: Vol.II, The Fourth and Fifth Republics 1946-2004 Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press.

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.

My most recent large-scale research and publication outputs have concentrated on the French Senate, from 1870 to the present day.

Click on the link below to see my contribution to a colloquium on the French Senate and the Fifth Republic held in the Senate on 3 June 2009

http://videos.senat.fr/video/videos/2009/video2291.html

For the Lusophones among you, here are some thoughts about the state of French politics after the 2010 regional elections:

http://www.correiobraziliense.com.br/app/noticia182/2010/03/22/mundo,i=181293/SARKOZY+REFORMULA+GOVERNO+APOS+DERROTA+DA+DIREITA+NA+FRANCA.shtml

And a contribution to Ezra Klein's blog in the Washington Post:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/02/the_politics_of_nations_france.html

My most recent publication on the 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 (France)

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

  • SMITH, PAUL, 2016. '"You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment" House of Cards de Michael Dobbs Parlement[s]: Revue d'histoire politique. 24(2), 121-30
  • SMITH, P., 2013. "L'histoire bling-bling": Nicolas Sarkozy and the historians. In: KARNER, C. and MERTENS, B., eds., The use and abuse of memory: interpreting World War II in contemporary European politics Transaction Publishers. 121-136
  • SMITH, P., 2013. Et ce qui devait arriver arriva: the Senate falls to the left Nottingham French Studies. 52(2), 144-54
  • SMITH, PAUL and PERRY, SHEILA, 2013. Introduction: The French Electoral Year 2011-2012 Nottingham French Studies. 52(2), 1
  • PERRY, S. and SMITH, P., eds., 2013. Vivement dimanche: media, politics and France's electoral year 2011-12: Nottingham French Studies 52(2) Edinburgh University Press.
  • SMITH, P., 2012. Pluralism, parliament and the possibility of a Sénat fédérateur, 1940-1969. In: WRIGHT, J. and JONES, H.S., eds., Pluralism and the idea of the republic in France Palgrave Macmillan. 231-247
  • SMITH, PAUL, 2010. ‘«Le talent et l’illustration»: A contribution to the prosopography of the Senate of the Third Republic’. In: GARRIGUES, J, ANCEAU, E, ATTAL, F, CASTAGNEZ, N, DAUPHIN, N, JANSEN, S and TORT, O., eds., Assemblées et Parlements dans le monde du Moyen-Âge à nos jours Paris: Assemblée nationale. 315-330
  • SMITH, PAUL, 2009. 'Le défi institutionnel: du Conseil de la République à la réforme Balladur'. In: LES COLLOQUES DU SENAT, ed., Le Sénat de la Cinquième République - Les cinquante ans d'une assemblée bicentenaire Editions du Sénat. 52-57
  • SMITH, P., 2009. The senate of the fifth French republic Palgrave Macmillan.
  • SMITH, PAUL, 2008. Le Parlement dans la Cinquième République (Table ronde): Colloque du 15 mai 2008 In: La Cinquième République au Parlement. 78-80
  • SMITH, PAUL, 2007. 'Sénat ou pas Sénat'? The "First" Council of the Republic. In: KNAPP, A., ed., The Uncertain foundation: France at the Liberation, 1944-47 Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 41-56
  • SMITH, PAUL, 2006. A History of the French Senate: Vol.II, The Fourth and Fifth Republics 1946-2004 Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press.
  • SMITH, PAUL, 2006. Review of Anne Verjus, Le cens de la famille - Les femmes et le vote, 1789-1848 Revue d'Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine. 53(3), 198-200
  • SMITH, PAUL, ed., 2005. Irreconcilable differences? Centre, periphery and the space between in French history [Special issue of Nottingham French Studies 44.1] Nottingham: University of Nottingham.
  • SMITH, P., 2005. A History of the French Senate: Vol. I, The Third Republic 1870-1940 Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press.
  • SMITH, PAUL, 2005. 300 senators in search of a role: the French Senate as 'chambre de la décentralisation'. In: SMITH, PAUL, ed., Irreconcilable differences? Centre, periphery and the space between in French history (a special issue of Nottingham French Studies) 44.1. Nottingham: University of Nottingham. 82-95
  • SMITH, PAUL, 2005. Review of Nagai, N, 'Les conseillers municipaux sous la IIIe Republique (1871-1914)' Modern and Contemporary France. 13(4), 320-321
  • SMITH, PAUL, 2004. Review of The New Biography: Performing Femininity in Nineteenth-Century France English Historical Review. VOL 119(NUMBER 482), 815-816
  • SMITH, PAUL, 2001. Review of Alexander, M.S. (ed), 'French History since Napoleon' (Arnold 1999) Modern and Contemporary France. 9(3), 381
  • SMITH, PAUL, 2001. Contemporary French Cultural Studies - edited by William KIDD and Sian REYNOLDS Journal of European Studies (Abingdon). VOL 9(PART 2), 281
  • SMITH, PAUL, 2000. Le Sénat de la Cinquième République: Évolution d'une chambre de contestation. In: Transgression et contestation; Essais sur la littérature française et francophone II (Actes de la Journée d'études Nottingham/Strasbourg 2000) 97-112
  • SMITH, PAUL, 2000. 'Une anomalie parmi les democraties modernes': reform and the French Senate Modern and Contemporary France. VOL 8(PART 2), 252-254
  • SMITH, PAUL, 2000. Review of Delporte, C., La IIIe République 1919-1940. De Poincaré à Paul Reynaud (Editions Pygmalion-Gérard Watelet, 1998) Modern and Contemporary France. 8(4), 542-543
  • SMITH, PAUL, 1998. Review of Keiger, J, Raymond Poincaré. A Political Life Modern and Contemporary France. 6(1),
  • SMITH, PAUL, 1998. Review of Mayeur, J-M and Corbin, A (eds), Les Immortels du Sénat. Les cent-seize inamovibles de la Troisième République,1875-1918 Modern and Contemporary France. 6(1),
  • SMITH, PAUL., 1997. Review of Kirstin Ross, Fast Cars, Clean Bodies: Decolonisation and the Reordering of French Culture for History 82(265),
  • SMITH, PAUL, 1997. Political Parties, Parliament and Women's Suffrage in France, 1919-1939 French History. VOL 11(NUMBER 3), 338-358
  • SMITH, PAUL, 1996. Feminism and the Third Republic : women's political and civil rights in France, 1918-1945 Oxford : Clarendon.
  • SMITH, PAUL, 1996. 'A quoi sert le Senat?' Reflections on French bicameralism Modern and Contemporary France. VOL 4(NUMBER 1), 51-60
  • SMITH, PAUL, 1995. Fifty years on and more: women's rights in French public life Modern and Contemporary France. VOL 3(NUMBER 2), 198

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