It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Dr Chris Shorley, Senior Lecturer in French Studies, who died on 20 July 2007 at the age of 59. Chris was a much loved and highly respected colleague and friend to many in Queen’s, where he began his career in 1973, was Head of French between 1992 and 1996, and then chaired the School Learning and Teaching Committee between 1996 and 1999.
Chris’s research interests spanned a number of key areas of French Studies, and his work broke new ground in fields or subjects that are today considered canonical: he wrote the first monograph in English on Raymond Queneau (CUP, 1983), and also had a keen interest in the visual arts (cinema, photography), noir fiction, and music (particularly jazz). These interests are exemplified in his most recent book, A Time of Transition in the French Novel (Mellen, 2006). But even in the areas in which he claimed no specialism at all, you could be sure that Chris knew more than a lot more than most.
Chris was a well-known figure within Queen’s, and had an eclectic range of interests beyond (cricket, football, music, real ale). As an avid reader of both Mojo and Les Inrockuptibles, he was up to speed with the coolest bands, films and cultural happenings in both France and the UK, and connected more easily with students than many lecturers half his age. And indeed it is as a teacher that his loss will be felt most keenly in QUB. For several generations of students, Chris Shorley quite simply was French at Queen’s. His facility and humour in the classroom, his energy, dedication and approachability as a tutor, as well as his legendary inability to tell students directly that they were ‘wrong’, however outlandish some of their suggestions, ensured that they were devoted to him. The volume of correspondence from students over the last months testifies to the profound impression Chris left on them, and is in many ways the most fitting testament to his professional life.
A celebration of Chris’s life took place on 15th September 2007, in Watermen’s Hall, London. On 6th February 2008, the School of Languages, Literatures and Arts will host a memorial lecture in Chris’s honour, in Room 212, Peter Froggatt Centre, at 4pm. Professor Roger Pearson (The Queen’s College, Oxford), a long-standing friend of Chris’s, will deliver the lecture, and the event will be attended by Chris’s widow Debby.