Alex Drace-Francis is Associate Professor of Modern European Literary and Cultural History in the Department of European Studies. He studied at the Universities of East Anglia (BA) and London (MA, PhD), and taught at the Universities of London and Liverpool, before joining the University of Amsterdam in 2011.
Drace-Francis specializes in the modern social and cultural history of Romania and southeastern Europe. His book The Making of Modern Romanian Culture (2006) investigated cultural institutions, literacy and national identity in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It came out in paperback in 2012, and in Romanian translation in 2016. A second book, The Traditions of Invention (2013), gathered together studies of Romanian and European images, interactions and encounters over the long term. His latest work focuses on mămăligă, a popular Romanian cornmeal dish and a prominent national symbol. The Making of Mămăligă (2022) surveys the cultivation, consumption and commodification of maize in Romanian lands from Ottoman times to the eve of the First World War, as well as the cultural meanings of mămăligă in literature, art, film, folklore and cuisine.
Drace-Francis also works on travel writing, especially in relation to cultural encounter and difference across Europe. With Wendy Bracewell of University College London, he has produced bibliographies, translations and scholarly studies on travel writing from eastern Europe, including Under Eastern Eyes (2008), A Bibliography of East European Travel Writing on Europe (2008), Balkan Departures (2009), and Where to Go in Europe (2013). This research documents social practices and cultural attitudes from the early modern period to the present day, with reference to ideas of eastern and western Europe and other cultural stereotypes. In addition, Drace-Francis has contributed to reference works such as The Cambridge History of Travel Writing and Keywords for Travel Writing Studies.
Drace-Francis's third main specialism is European identity as a whole. His source collection European Identity (2013) traces this theme across cultures from antiquity to modern times, and is used in courses on Europe in universities in Europe and the US. Most recently, he co-edited and wrote the introduction to the volume Networks, Narratives and Nations (2022) which offers a transnational perspective on cultural nationalism in modern Europe and beyond.
Other areas in which he has published include historiography and literary history, Balkan/Southeast European regional identities, and history of childhood.
- Drace-Francis, Alex The Making of Mămăligă. Transimperial recipes for a Romanian national dish (Budapest – Vienna – New York: Central European University Press, 2022)
- Drace-Francis, Alex The Traditions of Invention. Romanian ethnic and social stereotypes in historical context (Leiden – Boston: Brill Publishers, 2013)
- Drace-Francis, Alex The Making of Modern Romanian Culture. Literacy and the development of national identity (London - New York: IB Tauris, 2006) [Romanian edition: Geneza culturii române moderne, trans. M.-A. Hazaparu (Iaşi: Polirom, 2016)]
- Drace-Francis, Alex, editor. European Identity. A historical reader (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)
- Brolsma, Marjet, Alex Drace-Francis, Krisztina Lajosi, Enno Maessen, Marleen Rensen, Jan Rock, Yolanda Rodríguez Pérez, Guido Snel, editors. Networks, Narratives and Nations. Transcultural approaches to cultural nationalism in modern Europe and beyond (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2022)
- Bracewell, Wendy and Alex Drace-Francis, editors. Where to go in Europe (London: UCL, 2013)
- Bracewell, Wendy and Alex Drace-Francis, editors. Balkan Departures. Travel writing from Southeastern Europe (Oxford – New York: Berghahn Books, 2009)
- Bracewell, Wendy and Alex Drace-Francis, editors. Under Eastern Eyes. A comparative introduction to east European travel writing on Europe (Budapest - New York: CEU Press, 2008)
- Bracewell, Wendy and Alex Drace-Francis, editors. A Bibliography of East European Travel Writing on Europe (Budapest - New York: CEU Press, 2008)
Selected articles and chapters in books
- Drace-Francis, A. (2022) Introduction: Of networks, narratives and nations. In Networks, Narratives and Nations, ed. M. Brolsma, A. Drace-Francis et al. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 13-28.
- Drace-Francis, A. (2019) The elephant on the doorstep? East European perspectives on Eurocentrism. In Eurocentrism in European History and Memory, ed. M. Brolsma, R. de Bruin, M. Lok. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 179-94.
- Drace-Francis, A. (2019) Travel writing from Eastern Europe. In The Cambridge History of Travel Writing, ed. N. Das, T. Youngs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 191-205.
- Drace-Francis, A. (2017) Literary history. In European Regions and Boundaries: A conceptual history, ed. D. Mishkova, B. Trencsényi. New York - Oxford: Berghahn, 350-72.
- Livezeanu, I., Ort, T., & Drace-Francis, A. (2017) The cultures of East Central Europe: Imperial, national, revolutionary. In The Routledge History of East Central Europe since 1700, ed. I. Livezeanu, Á. von Klimó. London - New York: Routledge, 215-77.
- Drace-Francis, A. (2015) Locating remembrance. Regimes of time and cultures of autobiography in post-independence Romania. In Childhood in the Ottoman Empire and After, ed. B. Fortna. Leiden - Boston: Brill, 191-222. [Open access]
- Drace-Francis, A. (2014) All you need is love (review essay). Wasafiri, Journal of contemporary writing 29:2, 80-83.
- Drace-Francis, A. (2013) 'Like a member of a free nation, he spoke without shame': The trope of the foreign traveller in the Romanian literary tradition. In Travel Writing and Ethics, ed. C. Forsdick, C. Fowler, L. Kostova. London - New York: Routledge, 183-203.
- Drace-Francis, A. (2013) Beyond the Land of Green Plums: Romanian language and culture in the work of Herta Müller. In Herta Müller, ed. B. Haines, L. Marven. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 32-48.
- Drace-Francis, A. (2012) Review article: War, politics and culture in Romania and East-Central Europe. European History Quarterly 42:1, 105-13.
- Drace-Francis, A. (2009) 'At ten minutes past two I gazed ecstatically upon both lighthouses': Self, time and object in early Romanian travel texts. In Romantism şi modernitate. Atitudini, reevaluări, polemici [Romanticism and modernity. Perspectives, reappraisals, debates], ed. A. Mihalache, A. Istrate. Iaşi: 'A.I. Cuza' University Press, 23-45.
- Drace-Francis, A. (2008) Towards a natural history of East European travel writing. In Under Eastern Eyes, ed. W. Bracewell, A. Drace-Francis. Budapest - New York: Central European University Press, 1-26.
- Drace-Francis, A. (2008) Everybody's gotta be somewhere: Northernness and Southernness in the European imagination, and in the Basque country. In Imaging the Basques. Foreign Views on the Basque Country, ed. S. Leone, J. MacClancy. Donostia.
- Drace-Francis, A. (2006) A provincial imperialist and a Curious Account of Wallachia: Ignaz von Born. European History Quarterly 36:1, 61-89.
- Drace-Francis, A. (2005) Cultural currents and political choices: Romanian intellectuals in the Banat to 1848. Austrian History Yearbook 36: 65-93.
- Drace-Francis, A. (2005) Dinicu Golescu's Account of my Travels (1826): Eurotopia as manifesto. Journeys 6:1-2, 24-53.
- Drace-Francis, A. (2004) Paradoxes of Occidentalism: On travel literature in Ceauşescu's Romania. In The Balkans and the West, ed. A. Hammond. Aldershot, UK, 69-80. [Reprinted in Travel writing: Critical concepts in literary and cultural studies, ed. T. Youngs & C. Forsdick. 4 vols. Routledge, 2012, vol. 2: 231-46]
- Drace-Francis, A. (2004) Travel writing and society: The Romanian tradition. In Călători români în Occident [Romanian travellers to the West], ed. N. Bocşan, I. Bolovan. Cluj-Napoca: Cluj University Press.
- Drace-Francis, A. (2003) Zur Geschichte des Südosteuropakonzepts bis 1914 [On the history of the concept of Southeastern Europe up to 1914]. In Wieser Enzyklopädie des europäischen Ostens , 11: Europa und die Grenzen im Kopf , ed. K. Kaser, D. Gramshammer-Hohl, R. Pichler. Klagenfurt: Wieser Verlag, 275-86.
- Drace-Francis, A. (2003) Romanian book production, 1716-1770. Solanus: International journal for Russian and east European bibliographic, library and publishing studies, n.s., 17, 64-80.
- Drace-Francis, A. (2002) Romanian book production, 1770-1830. Solanus: International journal for Russian and east European bibliographic, library and publishing studies, n.s., 16, 5-26.
- Drace-Francis, A. (2000) Sex, lies and stereotypes: British images of Romania since 1945. In Romanian and British historians on the contemporary history of Romania , ed. G. Cipăianu, V. Ţârău. Cluj-Napoca: Cluj University Press, 87-100.
- Drace-Francis, A. & W. Bracewell (1999) South-Eastern Europe: History, concepts, boundaries. Balkanologie 3:2, 47-66.
Encyclopedias, scholarly reference works
Reviews published in: American Historical Review – Central Europe – Colloquia, A Journal of Central European History – East European Jewish Affairs – English Historical Review – European History Quarterly – H-Romania – Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas – Journal of Ecclesiastical History – Journal of European Studies – Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans – Journeys, The International Journal of Travel and Travel Writing – Nationalities Papers – Nations and Nationalism – Religious Studies Review – Reviews in History – Slavic Review – Slavonic and East European Review – Studies in Travel Writing – Twentieth-Century British History – Wasafiri
Memberships, academic roles
Previous positions, degrees
- 2005-2011: Lecturer, Modern European History, University of Liverpool
- 2001-2004: Postdoctoral research fellow, UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, London
- 2000-2003: Lecturer, UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, London
- 1996-2001: PhD, University of London. Thesis: Literature, Modernity, Nation: The Case of Romania, 1829-1890
- 1995-1996: MA, South-East European Studies, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, London
- 1989-1992: BA, English and American Studies, University of East Anglia, Norwich