The recent 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings underscored the importance of the Liberation of France in the history of the twentieth century. This PhD project aims to make use of the Cambridge University Library Chadwyck-Healey Liberation Collection to explore particular aspects of France during the Second World War, the Liberation, and/or in the immediate post-war period (1939-1946). The Collection consists of about 3000 books and pamphlets in French on these subjects, published from the Liberation of Paris in August 1944 to the end of 1946, encompassing a wide range of material, including novels, poetry, illustrated books, photographic albums, literature for children, testimonies from the camps, military works and political publications.
The Liberation Collection is catalogued to extremely high standards, providing detailed information about content, contributors, and provenance, and with each record enhanced by a digital picture of the resource’s cover. The catalogue has therefore become a key bibliographic database for primary sources about the French experience of the Second World War. This was a specific goal of Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey, the collector and donor of the Liberation Collection, who continues to be closely involved with the collection. The doctoral student’s research on the collection could lead to the identification of further bibliographical lines of enquiry resulting in the discovery of further titles that could be considered for acquisition (for example, the expansion of the collection’s coverage of Francophone material from outside metropolitan France). Through their work, the student will be able to identify unique items in the Liberation collection and make recommendations for selective digitisation by Cambridge University Library, to promote the Liberation Collection to a global audience.
The student will be trained for the optimal use of the library discovery system and gain inside knowledge of the collection and cataloguing process under the guidance and advice of Cambridge University Library’s French Specialist. They will also benefit from the programme of research training events provided by The Open University.
They will have opportunities to raise public awareness of the collection by the use of social media, participating in the writing of blogposts and in public engagement through the Chadwyck-Healey Liberation Collection Facebook group and by contributing content to OpenLearn, the OU’s online learning platform reaching over 6 million readers each year. They will also be involved in preparing public exhibitions of collection items in relation with the annual Liberation lecture organised by Cambridge University Library. They could contribute to wider outreach activities such as lectures and events at The Open University and the Cambridge Festival of Ideas.
As part of their PhD, the student will present their research on the Liberation Collection at academic conferences and events and publish it in relevant journals.
The collection offers potential for PhD research in history as well as French studies, visual culture, cultural studies, and social sciences. Possible themes for doctoral projects include Résistance movements, war propaganda, “littérature engagée”, trauma and memory, diplomatic and military history, collaborationist or clandestine publishing, network studies (around collaborations between writers, printers, and illustrators, or social and cultural relationships demonstrated by marks of ownership and dedications) and the history of the book. A cross-disciplinary research project could lead to the organisation of events or seminars supported by the Cambridge Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities. We are happy to consider any project pertaining to France during the period 1940-46, provided it makes use of the Liberation Collection.
The lead supervisor for the project will be Dr Luc-André Brunet, Lecturer in Twentieth Century European History at the Open University, whose research focuses on France in the 1940s, with a particular interest in Vichy France and the Second World War.
Applicants should be able to read French and would be expected to have an MA and/or a BA degree in history, French Studies or another relevant discipline.