Historian to give talk on Paris under Nazi occupation for new university society
A historian lauded for his work in capturing the stories of Paris under Nazi occupation is to give a talk at Wrexham Glyndŵr University.
David Drake has been widely-acclaimed for his book, Paris at War – 1939–1944, a narrative of the French capital during World War II which captures the mood of Parisians who wrote diaries and journals of the Occupation.
He will appear at the university as part of a national tour on Monday March 21, and looks forward to recounting tales from the popular collection, published by the prestigious Harvard University Press.
“I am very pleased to be speaking at Wrexham Glyndŵr University about my book, which I am glad to say has been very well received,” said David.
“I have been encouraged by the number of readers who felt it was accessible and something many different people can enjoy, so I’m glad that the talk is open to everybody.”
He added: “This is my first visit to Wrexham and I am very much looking forward to visiting the university and to discovering the town as well.”
David was Head of French and Head of Modern Languages at Middlesex University before teaching at the Institut D’études Européennes (IEE) at Paris VIII University, until his retirement.
He has published extensively on French intellectuals and politics and has gained an international reputation as a Sartre scholar.
He was President of the UK Sartre Society, co-edited Sartre Studies International for many years, and has accepted invitations to lecture on the French philosopher, playwright, critic and political activist across the UK, France, Ireland, North America and China.
In 2005, his contribution to the promotion of French culture was recognised by its government when he was made a Chevalier Dans L’ordre des Palmes Académiques.
Simon Birch, chairman of Glyndŵr Historical Society, says the group is thrilled to have such a renowned speaker appearing at their first meeting, and vowed to bring more respected names to the university over the coming months.
“The Society is looking forward to meeting David and hearing his perspective on the occupation of Paris,” said Simon.
“Living as we do in a country that was fortunate enough not to be occupied I think it is difficult to imagine living under a forced foreign rule and it certainly would be interesting to hear his thoughts on the occupation following the success of the book.”
In the book, David tells the dramatic story of life in Paris through five of the most extraordinary years in its history – from September 1939 when France went to war with Germany, until the liberation of Paris in August 1944.
The collection gains its unique vitality from archival materials never before translated into English, contemporary newspaper articles, radio broadcasts, advertisements, and newsreels, as well as the personal stories found in the letters, diaries, and reminiscences of the people who lived through those tumultuous years.
Wrexham Glyndŵr University has an acclaimed History degree which achieved a score of 95% in the latest National Student Survey (NSS) and a place in the top 15 in the UK for student satisfaction, according to the Complete University Guide.
Lecturer Peter Bolton congratulated Simon and his colleagues and explained why he believes history is growing in popularity as a subject.
“I think people now realise that history provides so many essential skills,” said Peter.
“The way we deliver the programme ensures that students enjoy the experience and develop the tools and knowledge base necessary for when they leave.
“Employability is key, which is why we concentrate on communication, critical thinking, practical sessions and personal development – we try to produce well-rounded characters.”
He added: “Our student satisfaction scores are testament to that, and finishing 38th overall in the Guardian league tables last year – ahead of the University of Manchester – was another big boost for us.”
The free talk by David Drake will be held from 6pm in Lecture Theatre B, next to the library entrance of the Edward Llwyd Centre on main campus in Wrexham.
For more on Glyndŵr Historical Society, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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