Karine Varley


  • United Kingdom

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Personal profile

Personal Statement

I am a historian of modern Europe with particular interests in modern French history and war. I am a graduate of Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge, the University of Leeds, and Royal Holloway, University of London. Prior to my appointment at Strathclyde, I was Lecturer in Modern European History at the University of Durham and then Lecturer in Modern European History at the University of Edinburgh. Before moving into an academic career, I worked for a major financial services firm in London, specialising in Corporate Tax.

My first research project explored the memory and impact of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. My book, Under the Shadow of Defeat: The War of 1870-71 in French Memory (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), is the first wide-ranging analysis of how memories of the Franco-Prussian War impacted upon French political culture and identities, and analyses the first widespread war remembrance in Europe. This research was funded with grants from the AHRC, Royal Historical Society, University of London Central Research Fund, and Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. I am working on a new related project exploring the European impact of the Franco-Prussian War for the 150th anniversary of the Franco-Prussian War. I sit on the scientific committee organising the official Franco-German commemorations of the 150th anniversary of the Franco-Prussian War led by the Souvenir Français.

I have recently completed my second book, entitled Vichy's Double Bind: French Axis Entanglements and Relations with Fascist Italy, 1940-1943. My research analyses relations between Vichy France and Fascist Italy at government level and locally in south-eastern France, Corsica and North Africa, and the Italian occupation of France. This project seeks to shift the focus of historical investigation away from analyses of collaboration and resistance that are conceived exclusively in Franco-German terms. This research has been funded by grants from the British Academy and the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland.

In 2016-18, I worked on a two-year project funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 'Relations between Britain and France in World War Two'. This is part of a wider project on Britain and France in War and Peace and has involved collaborations with the British Embassy in Paris, the French Embassy in London, the Institut Français d’Ecosse and the Institut Français du Royaume-Uni.

I am also co-editing a volume entitled A Fascist Decade of War? 1935-45 in International Perspective, with Dr Marco Maria Aterrano (Naples), which is due to be published by Routledge.

My research blog on the history of modern France at war can be found at: http://francehistory.wordpress.com/

I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I am currently the Treasurer of the Society for the Study of French History. I am also a member of the AHRC Peer Review College.

Research Interests

My research interests lie primarily in the following areas:

  • Vichy France
  • French-Italian relations in the Second World War
  • Memory and commemoration of war
  • Relations between Britain and France in the Second World War
  • The Franco-Prussian War 
  • Corsican nationalism, history and politics

I have recently completed the manuscript for my second book, Vichy's Double Bind: French Axis Entanglements and Relations with Fascist Italy, 1940-43. This book advances a significant new interpretation of the Vichy regime that governed France between 1940 and 1944. Challenging the often exclusive focus upon French encounters with the Nazis in much of the scholarship on France during the Second World War, this book argues that in its dealings with Fascist Italy, Vichy found itself confronted with a double bind. Offering the first wide-ranging study of French relations with Fascist Italy between 1940 and 1943 across France, North Africa and the Levant, this book suggests that Italy presented a set of challenges that had far-reaching consequences for Vichy’s pursuit of collaboration, its response to occupation and its domestic and foreign policies more broadly.

Teaching Interests

I teach the following undergraduate and postgraduate classes:

V1217 Modern Europe

V1303/V1440 France at War, 1870-1962

R1107/8 French Language 1a/1b

R1203/4 French Language 2a/2b

R1210 French Culture and History 2

R1310 Freedom and Identity in France and the Francophone World

R1408 France since 1945

R1502 French Language (Interpreting)

R1506 French Studies 4 (Core Class)

History and French Dissertations


Postgraduate teaching:

V1977 War, Sacrifice and the Nation in Europe, 1789-1918

Expertise & Capabilities

  • Nineteenth and twentieth century French History
  • Second World War, especially French-Italian relations and relations between Britain and France
  • Memory of the Franco-Prussian War 
  • First World War memory and commemoration
  • Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871
  • Corsican nationalism and identity


  • French History
  • French-Italian relations
  • Nationalism
  • Corsica
  • World War Two

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Karine Varley is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

France Social Sciences
Italy Social Sciences
intimacy Social Sciences
World War Social Sciences
military Social Sciences
Vichy Arts & Humanities
justice Social Sciences
Franco-Prussian War Arts & Humanities

Projects 2015 2015

Research Output 2002 2019

Defending sovereignty without collaboration: Vichy and the Italian fascist threats of 1940-42

Varley, K., 30 Nov 2019, In : French History. 33, 3, p. 422-443 22 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Vers une Europe latine. Acteurs et enjeux des échanges culturels entre la France et l’Italie fasciste

Varley, K., 2016, Modern and Contemporary France, 24, 1, p. 99-100.

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationBook/Film/Article review


From Pittsburgh to Pressburg : the transatlantic Slovak national movement, 1880-1920

Author: O'Donnell, S., 1 Oct 2016

Supervisor: Heimann, M. (Supervisor) & Varley, K. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

Karine Varley (Recipient), 2010

Prize: Election to learned society

Treasurer of the Society for the Study of French History

Karine Varley (Recipient), 2015

Prize: Election to learned society

Activities 2006 2020

La guerre de 1870, conflit européen, conflit global

Karine Varley (Speaker)
6 Feb 20208 Feb 2020

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time - 'The Siege of Paris 1870-71'

Karine Varley (Contributor)
16 Jan 2020

Activity: Other activity typesTypes of Public engagement and outreach - Media article or participation