Gemma Tidman

Gemma Tidman BA, MSt (Oxon)
Worcester College Lecturer in French (2017-18)


My research focuses on eighteenth-century French literature and cultural history. I have recently completed my doctoral thesis, entitled ‘Ce qui s’enseigne. The Querelle des collèges and the Birth of Littérature, 1750–1789’. In this work, I explored the history of the school discipline known as ‘littérature’ which, I argue, emerged in eighteenth-century France, in the context of disputes about education in the collèges. My research taps into the famous Enlightenment interest in education, focusing on how disputes about literary education, in particular, preoccupied contemporary thinkers, from teaching orders such as the Jesuits, to the philosophes (notably, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot and d’Alembert), to the directors of the prestigious Écoles royales militaires. I reveal how, through their querelles, these individuals helped to redefine the meaning of the word ‘littérature’, how it should be taught, to whom, and to what ends. By shedding light on this cluster of querelles, my thesis contends that the discipline of ‘littérature’ was not a post-Revolutionary invention, as has been claimed, but rather that it emerged in the mid-eighteenth century, when ideas about what the French nation should be, and how French boys might be turned into ‘grands hommes’, were being challenged. Beyond the DPhil, I am interested in the work of Rousseau, literary education in France, early-modern querelles, and sociological approaches to the study of literature. 


Prelims Papers I (Summary), IIA & B (Translation into English), III (Literature: Commentary) and IV (Literature: Essay)
FHS Papers IIA (Translation into English), VII and VIII (18th- and 19th-century authors) and X (Voltaire and Diderot)

2017-18 Lecturer in French (Worcester College, Oxford) - sabbatical cover for Dr Kate E. Tunstall
2016-17 Retained Lecturer in French (Worcester College, Oxford)
2014-15 Lectrice at l’Université de Paris X — Nanterre

Select Publications and Papers

  • ‘Les notes marginales sur l’« Emile » de J.-J. Rousseau dans l’exemplaire de Genève’, in Corpus des notes marginales de Voltaire, 10: Marginalia outside St Petersburg. Les Œuvres complètes de Voltaire, v. 145 (Forthcoming — Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2018)

  • ‘Les mots sont des pistolets chargés’: Literary Education at the École Royale Militaire, 1751-1788’, Education in the Long Eighteenth Century Seminars, IHR, London (11 March, 2017)

  • Conference report: ‘Éditorialités: Practices of Editing and Publishing’, French Studies Bulletin, 143.38 (2017), 34-36

  • Review: ‘Nicolas-Edmé Rétif de la Bretonne, Ingénue Saxancour ou La Femme séparée, ed. by Mary S. Trouille’, Modern Language Review, 112.1 (2017), 252-253

  • ‘The Literary Art of the Legislator. Rousseau, Julie, and the Political Power of the Novel’, University of York Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Postgraduate Seminar (25 October, 2016)

  • ‘Teaching Literature: The Birth of Modern Littérature in French Education, 1750 to the Revolution’ [Society for French Studies Conference Poster Report], French Studies Bulletin, 141.37 (2016), 106-107

  • ‘The rise of ‘émulation’ and its relation to literary practices in mid-eighteenth-century France’, British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Conference, University of Oxford (6-8 January, 2016). Awarded BSECS President’s Prize, for the best postgraduate paper at the annual conference

  • ‘When the Year 10s met Denis Diderot’, Oxford Early Career Outreach Network Blog (2016). Link to article here

  • ”Exercices’ in the collèges of late Ancien-Régime France’, Colloque: Matérialités du texte, Université de Fribourg, Switzerland (15 January, 2015)

University Memberships and Roles

2015-16 Co-convenor, Oxford French Graduate Seminars, in conjunction with the IMLR
2015-16 Graduate representative for the sub-faculty of French, University of Oxford
2014-present Member of Oxford Early Career Academic Outreach Network
2014-present Member of Enlightenment Correspondences Network, University of Oxford

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