FRAME (FRAnce roMan guErre)

FRAME is a major AHRC-funded research project into narratives of the Second World War and Occupation in France since 1939. Based at the University of Leeds, it was a collaborative project involving the universities of Leeds and Durham.

In 2006, the Arts and Humanities Research Council awarded £450k to Professors Margaret Atack and Christopher Lloyd to carry out the following three year project: 'Narratives of the Second World War and Occupation in France 1939 to the present: Cultural Production and Narrative Identity'.  

The project was established to address a series of key questions in relation to fictional and cultural representations of the Occupation and WW2 in France since 1939:

  • How valid are the current critical and historiographical approaches underpinning analysis of representations of the Occupation, being essentially derived from major literary and historical research in the 1980s on 'the Vichy syndrome' and 'la mode rétro'?
  • What relations can be established between narratives addressing themes and problems of the years of Occupation and War, and their own contemporary contexts?  How do these relations change over the decades?  What evolution can one detect in key themes in relation to the history and memory of these years?
  • To what extent will the fact of surveying and analysing large numbers of minor and neglected texts provoke a revision in the canon of war and occupation novels in France, and in itself affect the periodisation of representations across the postwar period?

Early influential studies in the 1980s (from Nettelbeck, 'Getting the Story Right', to Rousso Le Syndrome de Vichy) argued that a 'Resistance myth', playing down any uncomfortable truths about collaboration or antisemitism, predominated until the new investigations and imaginative recreations of the 1970s onwards, and this reading still holds sway.  In 2002, Pierre Nora referred to 'criticism of official versions of history and recovery of areas of history previously suppressed' as putting an end to the version of the Resistance imposed since the Liberation, and described this process as 'the emergence of the dark memory of Vichy France.'  The understanding of trauma and its consequences in the increasingly important Holocaust studies reinforced the cultural approach to the Occupation years through processes of memorialisation, as did the perceived silence surrounding the Algerian war of independence and its belated rediscovery, demonstrating, at the level of the nation, the protective work of the traumatised mind, or, more recently, a dysfunctional body ('ce passé qui ne passe pas' (Conan and Rousso); 'une nourriture non digérée qui "revient"' (Hoffmann)), complicating but not shifting the conceptualisation of the nation as subject.

The sustainability of this analysis across the postwar period is the key focus of the present project: to tackle this effectively we are establishing comprehensive data on the fiction of Occupation and war to parallel the detailed filmographies already in existence.  Our aim is to be able to look beyond the existing canon of exceptional texts to undertake both broad and focused analyses of the cultural production of the postwar period.


Journal Articles

  • Professor Margaret Atack, 'The Politics and Poetics of Space in Les Passagers du Roissy-Express', Modern & Contemporary France Vol. 15, No. 4, November 2007, pp. 443–457.
  • Professor Christopher Lloyd, 'Irène Némirovsky's Suite franÇaise and the Crisis of Rights and Identity', Contemporary French Civilization 32 (2007), pp. 161-182 

Book Chapters

  • Professor Christopher Lloyd, 'Women's Resistance Narratives in France: Redefining Gender and Genre', in D. Hipkins & G. Plain eds., War-torn Tales: Literature, Film and Gender in the Aftermath of World War II, Oxford, Peter Lang, 2007


  • Professor Christopher Lloyd,Henri-Georges Clouzot, Manchester University Press, 2007, ix + 192 pp.