Our distinguished friend and colleague Lucille Cairns, Professor of French at Durham University, passed away on 5 July 2017. Her premature death at the age of fifty-four is a tragic loss for her family and friends; it is also a big loss for the field of French studies to which she made major contributions since the early 1990s. Throughout her very active and prestigious career, Lucille was the recipient of numerous prizes and honours. After obtaining the highest first-class degree of the year (Rothery Prize) for her BA in French at King’s College London in 1986, Lucille was awarded a Crompton Scholarship, which entitled her to spend a year at the École normale supérieure in Paris and, by the age of twenty-six, in only two years, she had already completed her PhD on Marie Cardinal. From 1991 to 2005, Lucille was successively Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, and Reader at the University of Stirling before taking up a Chair at Durham University. In 2009, in recognition of her overall contribution to the discipline of French studies, she was made Chevalier dans l’ordre des Palmes académiques by the French government. Through her six sole-authored monographs, Lucille made major contributions to a variety of often new or emerging fields: French women’s writing (Marie Cardinal: Motherhood and Creativity (Glasgow: University of Glasgow French and German Publications, 1992)); gay and lesbian studies (Privileged Pariahdom: Homosexuality in the Novels of Dominique Fernandez (Oxford: Peter Lang, 1996); Lesbian Desire in Post-1968 French Literature (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen, 2002); Sapphism on Screen: Lesbian Desire in French and Francophone Cinema (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006)); and Jewish studies (Post-War Jewish Women’s Writing in French (Oxford: Legenda, 2011); Francophone Jewish Writers Imagining Israel (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2015)). At the time of her death, Lucille had just completed her seventh monograph, entitled Eating Disorders in Contemporary French Women’s Writing (forthcoming in 2021 with Liverpool University Press), which will undoubtedly be a landmark for scholars and students of contemporary French studies. In addition, Lucille was the author of more than forty articles and book chapters on male and female homosexuality in French literature and film, on French women’s writing, and on French Jewish women’s writing. She was sole editor of Gay and Lesbian Cultures in France (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2002), and co-editor of both Re-thinking ‘Identities’: Western Cultural Articulations of Alterity and Resistance in the New Millennium (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2014) and ‘Jewish Identities in Contemporary Europe’ (= special issue of Jewish Culture and History, 14 (2016)). She was editor of Stirling French Publications from 1997 to 2005, and specialist reader for many academic journals across the world, 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). Lucille was utterly devoted to her research, which was in many ways inseparable from and intricately woven into the fabric of her life. In fact, she worked extremely hard until the end because research provided her with some temporary solace from the illness that caused her premature death — anorexia. Poignantly, this is also the subject of her last book. Lucille wanted friends and colleagues to be aware of the ravages of this terrible illness, which she had successfully fought in her youth but which re-occurred a few years ago, with fatal consequences. She felt let down by a medical system that, despite its good intentions, she often experienced as unhelpful and unduly harsh. Besides being an outstanding scholar and a superb linguist (her French was so impeccable that she would never have been identified as a native English speaker), Lucille was also a committed teacher, a generous mentor, and a colleague who made a remarkable contribution to the Durham School of Modern Languages and Cultures, to the University (she was a founding member of the Centre for Sex, Gender, and Sexualities and the Centre for the Study of Jewish Culture, Society, and Politics), and to her discipline more broadly. On the national stage, she was President of the Association of University Professors and Heads of French from 2007 to 2010, and the national representative for French studies on the Executive Committee of the University Council of Modern Languages from 2010 to 2014. She also acted as external advisor on many senior promotion and appointment panels in UK and US universities, and as an external panel member for independent reviews of French departments and schools of modern languages. But her administrative fardeau did not end there; far from it. Lucille’s standing in the field, both in the UK and internationally, was such that she was called upon to embark on many more high-profile responsibilities. Lucille was a member of the REF 2014 sub-panel for Modern Languages and Linguistics, and in 2011–12, under the framework of the French government’s ‘Investissements d’avenir’ programme, she was President of the Humanities committee charged by the French Agence nationale de la recherche with evaluating submissions to the ‘Laboratoires d’excellence’ scheme (a scheme 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, Lucille was President of the Agence nationale de la recherche’s grants selection committee for a new research initiative in the social sciences and humanities. She was also one of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Reviewers for the Block Grant Partnerships scheme. Lucille brought to all these duties her considerable expertise and meticulousness. Above all, Lucille was a wonderful, talented, profoundly modest, and sensitive human being who was much loved and admired by her colleagues and friends. She was tactful, generous, and respectful of others. Her soft, gentle, but determined manner was unique. She will be sorely missed by friends and colleagues in Durham and beyond. Lucille is survived by her mother, her sister Angela, her brother Jonathan, and her partner, Keith Reader. CD-K © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for French Studies. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
French Studies – Oxford University Press
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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