Professor David Looseley


Born and educated in South-East London, I graduated from the University of Exeter in French (with English), where I subsequently obtained a Masters for work on Sartre, Camus and de Beauvoir, and a doctorate on the 20th-century dramatist Armand Salacrou. I began my teaching career at the University of Dijon, then took up successive posts at the Universities of Exeter, Huddersfield and Bradford, before coming to Leeds in 1994.


I am now an active emeritus researcher, writer and translator. I am also Associate Fellow of the Centre for Cultural Policy Studies, University of Warwick and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Bristol. I have been visiting professor at the Universities of Strasbourg (2009), Complutense in Madrid (2010 and 2012) and visiting research scholar at the Remarque Institute, New York University (2010).


In 2005 I founded the Popular Cultures Research Network at Leeds, an international, interdisciplinary community of researchers, postgraduates and practitioners. In 2010, I was decorated by the French government for services to French culture, becoming Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques. In  2015, my book on Edith Piaf was joint winner of the Franco-British Society’s literary prize.


Research interests

My research concerns the contemporary history of cultural practices, personalities, products and institutions, in particular popular culture and music. Interdisciplinary in scope, it combines historical and political perspectives with an interest in discourses and cultural debates. I have written extensively in these areas, on such topics as contemporary popular music, the Nancy Theatre Festival, the Bibliothèque nationale, postcolonial approaches to cultural policy, youth culture, and popular stars such as Edith Piaf and Johnny Hallyday. I have also written on modern languages, the humanities and the impact/engagement agenda.

My latest book, Édith Piaf: A Cultural History (Liverpool University Press, October 2015), analyses the singer’s accreted cultural meanings from the 1930s to the present: the ways in which her global status as singing star has been variously interpreted and used both in France and the Anglophone world. I am currently contracted to Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 series for a new book on Piaf’s Recital 1961 live album, in which she launched her famous song ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’.

I have been commissioned to translate two French-language plays, both of which have been staged in New York: Armand Salacrou’s Nights of Wrath (staged in 2005) and Jalila Baccar’s Araberlin (staged in 2015). I have been invited to speak about my research in a variety of countries including France, Italy, Spain, Norway, the USA, Denmark and the UK, and my work appears on French, music, cultural studies and cultural policy syllabuses in higher education institutions throughout the world. My expertise has frequently been called upon by various public bodies, including the Prince's Teaching Institute, the Yeovil Literary Festival, and a number of radio and TV programmes at home and abroad, including the BBC’s Meet the Author (2015). I have been on the editorial board of the International Journal of Cultural Policy and am currently on the advisory boards of Thélème, Revista Complutense de Estudios Franceses, French Cultural Studies and the French popular music journal Volume. I am a regular book reviewer for journals including French Studies, Modern and Contemporary France, French Politics, Culture and Society, Popular Music, The Historian and H-France. I also regularly assess book and article proposals and various academic projects and applications.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD The Theatre of Armand Salacrou
  • MA The Novels of Beauvoir, Camus and Sartre
  • BA Hons French (with English)

Professional memberships

  • Internatonal Association for the Study of Popular Music
  • French Cultural Studies advisory board
  • Theleme advisory board

Research groups and institutes

  • Popular Culture Research Network