Dr Angela Kershaw

Photograph of Dr Angela Kershaw

Department of Modern Languages
Senior Lecturer in French Studies

Contact details

Ashley Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am a twentieth century specialist with particular interests in the inter-war and Second World War periods, gender, translation studies and travel writing.


2000 - Institute of Linguists Diploma in Translation (options in Literary Translation and Humanities)

1998 - PhD 'Gender, Politics and Fiction in 1930s France', University of Nottingham

1994 - MA in 20th Century French Studies (Distinction), University of Nottingham

1993 - BA (Hons) French Studies (First Class, with Swiss Embassy Prize for French), University of Nottingham


Originally from the North West of England, I studied at the University of Nottingham where I completed a B.A in French Studies, followed by an M.A. in Twentieth Century French Studies and a PhD entitled ‘Gender, Politics and Fiction in 1930s France’, under the supervision of Professor Rosemary Chapman. Before being appointed at Birmingham, I lectured at Leeds University, St Anne’s College, Oxford and Aston University.


I teach a range of undergraduate courses on the politics and culture of twentieth century France, including an option entitled ‘Before and After Vichy: Conflicts and Cultures in France, 1930-1944’. I also teach translation and translation studies at final year undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Postgraduate supervision

I have recently supervised PhD students working on projects on France and the Second World War, and French travel writing. I am also happy to supervise projects on topics relating to literature and the interwar period 1919-1939, literature and the Second World War, French women's writing, and literary translation and reception.


My longest-standing research interest is in the field of French political fiction of the inter-war years. I have written a monograph on the female-authored political roman à these of the 1930s, and have published various articles related to this topic. This book, entitled Forgotten Engagements: Women, Literature and the Left in 1930s France, studies the work of five little-known female authors (Simone Téry, Edith Thomas, Madeleine Pelletier, Henriette Valet and Louise Weiss) who used fiction in various ways as a means to explore and express leftist political commitment (http://www.rodopi.nl/functions/search.asp?BookId=FAUX+291).

As a development of this research, I published a monograph on Irène Némirovsky, whose previously unpublished Occupation novel Suite française gained a wide readership in 2004 when it appeared in French, and soon in numerous translations. My book, entitled Before Auschwitz: Irène Némirovsky and the Literary Landscape of Inter-war France, [publication launch video] seeks to place Némirovsky’s œuvre as a whole within the context of inter-war French literary production in order to demonstrate the ways in which her identity as a literary star of the 1930s led her to produce a work such as Suite française. It seeks to counter potentially anachronistic readings of Némirovsky’s literary choices which approach her life and work retrospectively, that is, from the perspective of the Occupation period. It also investigates the contemporary reception of Suite française in terms of ongoing processes of memorialisation of the Vichy period.

My other research interests include Translation Studes and travel writing. I am a member of the steering Committee of the Birmingham Centre for Translation: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/bct/index.aspx

I am currently working on a project on the translation of French fiction about the Second World War, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The Second World War involved many nations and therefore many languages. Although our knowledge of the Second World War and the Holocaust is therefore mediated through translated texts, no sustained attempt has been made to read the literature of the war from the point of view of translation. In this project, analysis of key French literary works and their translation into English will shed light on the epistemological and representational problems of writing fiction about the trauma of war. It will address crucial ethical and political questions about cultural memory and cultural transfer. This project is an exercise in what Bella Brodzki (2007) calls reading 'translationally': using translation as a method of literary and cultural critique. The project will analyse a range of significant French war novels and their English translations, focusing on aspects of war and its memorialisation in which multilingualism and translation are strongly implicated. Reading translationally also implies paying attention to the material conditions of translation. The research will therefore pose sociological questions as well as poetic ones, considering circuits of transnational cultural exchange (such as publishing houses and literary critics) and the socio-historical contexts of writing and publication.

I am also researching political travel writing of the inter-war period in the context of a collaborative project (with Dr Martin Hurcombe and Professor Martyn Cornick) entitled 'The Totalitarian Temptation: Travel Writing and Political Engagement in inter-war France'. The project will look at the ways in which travel to countries under 'totalitarian' regimes (the USSR, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Salazar's Portugal and Spain under Primo de Rivera and Franco) shaped the political itineraries of inter-war French intellectuals, and it will analyse the structures, tropes, techniques and themes of political travel writing as a sub-genre of travel writing.   

Other activities

At Birmingham, I am involved in the Birmingham Centre for Translation, the Centre for Second World War Studies, the Centre for Cultural Modernity and the Memory Studies research group.

I also participate in various national and international groups and organisations. I am a member of the Women in French network, and have co-edited two volumes resulting from the activities of this organisation. I am on the editorial board of Key Words, the journal of the Raymond Williams Society. I acted as secretary of the UK Sartre Society between 2007-2009.  I am a member of the British Comparative Literature Association and a member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (http://www.ciol.org.uk/).

I have contributed to The Linguist, the magazine of the CIOL.


Sole authored books

Edited collections

  • Global Landscapes of Translation, Translation Studies 6.2 (2013), special issue ed. and with an introduction by Angela Kershaw and Gabriela Saldanha.
  • Parcours de femmes. Twenty Years of Women in French, ed. and with an introduction by Maggie Allison and Angela Kershaw (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2011).
  • Women in Europe Between the Wars: Politics, Culture, Society, ed. and with and introduction by Angela Kershaw and Angela Kimyongür (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006).
  • The Impossible Space. Explorations of Utopia in French Writing.Strathclyde Modern Language Studies (New Series) No.6, 2004, ed. and with an introduction by Angela Kershaw, Hélène Stafford and Pamela Moores.

Articles in refereed journals

  • 'Influence Revisited: Irène Némirovsky's Creative Reading of English Literature', Modern Language Review 110.2 (2015), 317-340.
  • 'Complexity and Unpredictability in Cultural Flows: Two French Holocaust Novels in English Translation', Translation Studies 7.1 (2014), 34-49; online see http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14781700.2013.806418).
  • (with Gabriela Saldanha): 'Global Landscapes of Translation', Translation Studies 6.2 (2013), 1-15.  
  • 'Intertextuality and Translation in Three Recent French Holocaust Novels', Translation and Literature 23 (2014), 185-96. Special issue on Holocaust Testimony and Translation, ed by Peter Davies.
  • 'History of a Success: Irène Némirovsky’s Posthumous Reputation, 1944 – 2004', Journal of War and Culture Studies 4.1 (2011), 79-95.
  • ‘Sociology of Literature, Sociology of Translation: The Reception of Irène Némirovsky’s Suitefrançaisein France and Britain’, Translation Studies 3.1 (2010), 1-16
  • ‘Simone Téry: Writing the History of the Present in 1930s France’, Feminist Review 85.1 (June 2007), 8-20 (special edition ed. by Ann Heilmann and Mark Llewellyn on ‘Hystorical Fictions’)
  • ‘Finding Irène Némirovsky’, French Cultural Studies 18.1 (February 2007), 59-81.
  • ‘French and British Female Intellectuals and the Soviet Union. The Journey to the USSR, 1929-1942’, E-Revue d’études anglophones 4.2 (Autumn 2006), 62-72. http://www.e-rea.org/
  • ‘Gender, Sexuality and Politics in Paul Nizan’s La Conspiration’, Modern Language Review 98.1 (2003), 27-43.
  • ‘The Body of the Hero in French Political Fiction of the 1930s’, Nottingham French Studies 41.2 (2002), 47-60.
  • ‘Autodidacticism and Criminality in Jean-Paul Sartre’s La Nausée and Edith Thomas’s L’Homme criminel’, Modern Language Review96.3 (2001), 679-92.
  • ‘Louise Weiss: Fin de siècle chez une femme du siècle’, Romance Studies18.1 (June 2000), 45-55.
  • ‘Lettre à moi-même: The Political Memoirs of Edith Thomas’, French Studies Bulletin 71 (Summer 1999), 4-6.

Chapters in books

  • 'Narrating Jewish Identities: Space, Time and Gender in Irène Némirovsky’s Les Chiens et les loups'  in Schwellenräume - Schwellenzeiten in den Werken von Irène Némirovsky, Leo Perutz und Bruno Schulz/Threshold Spaces - Threshold Times in the Works of Irène Némirovsky, Leo Perutz and Bruno Schulz (Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, forthcoming)
  • 'Une compagne de route: Edith Thomas, Agency and the Constraints of Communist Engagement' in Politics and the Individual: French Experiences, 1930-1950, ed by Jessica Wardhaugh (Oxford: Legenda 2015), pp.107-120.
  • ‘La représentation de l’occupant dans les écrits d’Irène Némirovsky, 1940-1942’ in L’Allemagne, la France et l’Ordre Nouveau: un travail sur le passé. Approches littéraires et politiques (Leipziger Universitätsverlag, série “Deutsch-Französische Kulturbibliothek”), forthcoming.
  • ‘Reading Némirovsky Now: Resistant Representations of the Second World War in Contemporary French Literature’ in Readings in Twenty-First-Century Literatures ed by Margaret-Anne Hutton, Michael Gratzke and Claire Whitehead (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2013), pp.139-159.
  • 'Les intertextes anglais de Suite française: Irène Némirovsky, lectrice de E.M. Forster et Percy Lubbock', in Les Ecrivains théoriciens de la littérature (1920-1940) ed by Bruno Curatolo and Julia Peslier (Presses Universitaires de Franche-Comté, 2013), pp.251-268. Full text available at: http://www.fabula.org/colloques/document1839.php
  • 'Suite française, un roman français du 21ième siècle', Mémoires occupées. Fictions françaises et Seconde guerre mondiale, ed by Marc Dambre (Paris: Presses Sorbonne nouvelle, 2013), pp.85-92.
  • ‘Ficitons of Testimony: Irène Némirovsky and Suite française’ in Framing Narratives of the Second World War and Occupation in France: New Readings, ed. by Margaret Atack and Christopher Lloyd (Manchester: Manchester University Press, Durham Modern Language Series, 2012), pp.128-137.
  • ‘For lust of knowing what should not be known’: Ella Maillart, Ethel Mannin and the Journey to Russia in the 1930s’ in Parcours de femmes: Twenty Years of Women in French, ed. by Maggie Allison and Angela Kershaw (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2011), pp.273-290.
  • ‘Irène Némirovsky (1903-1942): Une Russe française, une Française russe?’ in Ecrivains franco-russes ed. by Murielle Lucie Clément (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2008), pp.109-120.
  • ‘French and British Female Intellectuals and the Soviet Union. The Journey to the USSR, 1929-1942’ in Right/Left/Right: Revolving Commitments. France and Britain, 1929-1950 (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008), pp.105-122.
  • ‘Women’s Writing and the Creation of Political Subjectivities in Inter-war France. Louise Weiss: Novelist, Autobiographer and Journalist’ in Women in Europe Between the Wars: Politics, Culture, Society, ed. and with and introduction by Angela Kershaw and Angela Kimyongür (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), pp.55-72.
  • ‘Proletarian Women, Proletarian Writing: The Case of Marguerite Audoux’ in A Belle Epoque? Women in French Society and Culture, ed. by Diana Holmes and Carrie Tarr  (Oxford: Berghahn, 2006), pp.253-68.
  • ‘Disease, Decay and Dread: Literary Constructions of Illness’ in Representing Health: Discourses of Health and Illness in the Media (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2005), ed. by Martin King and Katherine Watson, pp.252-69.
  • ‘L’écriture prolétarienne d’une fille du terroir’ in Le Terroir de Marguerite Audoux. Actes du Colloque organisé par l’équipe Littérature et Histoire, Université d’Orléans, 30 octobre 2004, (Paris: Editons L’Harmattan, 2005), sous la direction de Bernard-Marie Garreau, pp.164-210.
  • ‘Utopia and Dystopia in the Work of Madeleine Pelletier’ in The Impossible Space. Explorations of Utopia in French Writing.Strathclyde Modern Language Studies (New Series) No.6, 2004, ed. and with an introduction by Angela Kershaw, Hélène Stafford and Pamela Moores, pp. 145-79. http://sapiens.strath.ac.uk/smls/smls6/smls6contents.html
  • ‘Utopian Pessimism in Madeleine Pelletier’sUne vie nouvelle’ in La Nature Dévoilée: French Literary Responses to Science, ed. by Larry Duffy and Catherine Emerson (Hull: Hull University Press, 2000), pp.139-48.
  • ‘Homosexuality and Transgression in Three Political Novels of the 1930s’ in Lieux Interdits: Transgression and French Literature, ed. by Larry Duffy and Adrian Tudor (Hull: Hull University Press, 1998), pp. 219-34.