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Professor Lucille Cairns, BA, PhD London, Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 43426
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 43421
Room number: A37, Elvet Riverside I


Our dear and distinguished colleague, Professor Lucille Cairns, passed away suddenly in July 2017. As an outstanding scholar, a generous mentor and a committed teacher, she made a deeply felt contribution to her discipline and to the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, offering wise and gentle counsel on so many important matters. She will be sorely missed by friends and colleagues in Durham and beyond.

Obituary in the Guardian for Professor Lucille Cairns

Professor Lucille Cairns is the sole author of six monographs: Marie Cardinal: Motherhood and Creativity (1992), Privileged Pariahdom: Homosexuality in the Novels of Dominique Fernandez (1996), Lesbian Desire in Post-1968 French Literature (2002), Sapphism on Screen: Lesbian Desire in French and Francophone Cinema (2006), Post-War Jewish Women's Writing in French (2011), and Francophone Jewish Writers Imagining Israel (2015), as well as of numerous articles/ chapters on male and female homosexuality in French literature and film, on French women's writing generally, and on French Jewish women's writing in particular. She is sole editor of Gay and Lesbian Cultures in France (2002), and co-editor of both Re-thinking ‘Identities’: Western Cultural Articulations of Alterity and Resistance in the New Millennium (2014) and Jewish Identities in Contemporary Europe (2016).

She has been editor of Stirling French Publications (1997-2005), and specialist reader for many academic journals, including Crisolenguas (Puerto Rico), Forum for Modern Language Studies (UK), French Cultural Studies (UK), French Studies (UK), Journal of Lesbian Studies (US), Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge (US), and Women in French Studies (US).

She was President of AUPHF (Association of University Professors and Heads of French) from 2007-2010, and the national representative for French studies on the Executive Committee of UCML (University Council of Modern Languages) from 2010-2014. She has been the external advisor on many senior promotions/ appointments in UK and US universities, external panel member for the Independent Evaluation of Teaching in the French Department, University of Sheffield (2006), and external member of the panel for the review of the School of Modern Languages, University of Bristol (2009).

In 2009, she was made a Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the French government.

Professor Cairns was a member of REF 2014 sub-panel 28 (Modern Languages and Linguistics).

In 2011-12, under the framework of the French government's 'Investissements d'avenir' programme (21.9 billion euros), Professor Cairns was President of the Humanities committee charged by the French National Research Agency with evaluating submissions to the 'Laboratories of Excellence' scheme. This scheme is designed to endow world-renowned laboratories from all academic disciplines with significant means to construct a high-level integrated policy concerning research, education, and research exploitation. 

In 2012 and 2013, she was also President of the French National Research Agency's grants selection committee for a new research initiative in the social and human sciences, entitled ‘Emergences et évolutions des cultures et des phénomènes culturels’. 

She was one of the AHRC Reviewers for the Block Grant Partnerships scheme, Round 2, Full Proposal Stage (BGP2).

Research Interests

  • Corporeal configurations in French literature and film
  • Eating disorders in contemporary French women’s literature, the subject of a sole-authored monograph I’m writing on representations of various eating disorders: anorexia; anorexia and bulimia/ bulimarexia; binge eating disorder
  • French women's writing
  • Jewish women's writing
  • Literary, cinematic and wider cultural mediations of homosexuality in the French language
  • Member of the Culture and Difference research group in MLAC. All of her publications are relevant to this group
  • Professor Cairns is happy to supervise postgraduate students in most areas of 20th- and 21st-century French studies, and especially those areas listed
  • Queer theory

Selected Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

Show all publications