Dr Kate E Tunstall

Kate E. Tunstall, M.A. (B.A., M.Phil., Ph.D. Cambridge) [On leave 2017-18]
Clarendon Associate Professor of French, and Tutorial Fellow of Worcester College
Organizing Tutor for Fine Art
Director of Masters Courses in Modern Languages
Convenor, Masters in European Enlightenment


My research interests are mostly in eighteenth-century and Enlightenment writing, from philosophy to æsthetics, Diderot in particular. I have published work in other fields too, including the nineteenth-century novel, silent cinema, and eighteenth-century painting.

I am the author of Blindness and Enlightenment. An Essay (2011), and am currently working on a book, provisionally entitled The Making of Diderot: Thinking Matter and Dressing Gowns. 

Central to my academic practice is translation, which I have often done in collaboration: Diderot’s Regrets on Parting with My Old Dressing Gown, co-translated with Katie Scott; and Diderot’s Rameau’s Nephewco-translated with Caroline Warman, for a free-access, multi-media edition, winner of the 2015 British Society for 18thc Studies Prize for digital resources.

From 2010-2015, I co-steered the ANR-funded research collective, AGON. La dispute: cas, controverses et querelles à l’âge classique (Oxford-Paris-IV), and was from 2007-2010 Programme Director of TORCH’s Besterman Centre for the Enlightenment.

Undergraduate Teaching

I teach undergraduates in lectures, seminars and tutorials, in both English and French, introducing them to a wide variety of texts and topics in French literature and culture from the sixteenth to the twenty-first centuries, some of which I am more of an expert on than others. I also teach translation into English.

Background / Access to HE

I was educated at a Comprehensive School in South London and went from there to Cambridge, where I did a B.A. in French and German, followed by a Ph.D in French. I also spend a year at Harvard as a Kennedy Scholar. I am always delighted to receive applications from sixth-formers from non-selective state schools and colleges.

Graduate Teaching

I coordinate the Masters in European Enlightenment, which is run in collaboration with the Wallace Collection. I welcome applications from graduate students at Masters or D.Phil level, wishing to study any aspect of  French eighteenth-century writing, Enlightenment, Diderot, materialism, aesthetics. Doctoral students of mine have worked or are working on subjects as diverse as religious tolerance and Bayle, biography and Ovid, theories and practices of education, editing Rabelais, the history of plagiarism.

I coordinate the early modern graduate exchange with the department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures at Johns Hopkins University, and the FribOx programme, which runs an annual conference with the Université de Fribourg (Switzerland). I have twice held the College position of Tutor for Graduates (2001-5 and 2011-15), and am currently Director of Masters Courses in the Faculty. 


Director, Oxford Amnesty Lectures.
Radio: Series on Diderot (with Caroline Warman) for Radio 3 ‘The Essay’.
Member: Campaign for the Public University. For an intervention in the debate about higher education, see here.

Select Publications


1. Blindness and Enlightenment. An Essay. With New Translations of Diderot’s ‘Lettre sur les aveugles’ and La Mothe Le Vayer’s ‘Of a Man Born Blind’ (New York and London: Continuum, 2011). See here. Reviewed by Julian Bell in London Review of Books; and on H-Net: ‘Her writing succeeds in uniting serious scholarship of high quality with the traditions of an almost extinct vein of learned and lightly satiric British wit. […] It deserves a place in the library of every person at all interested in Enlightenment thought and its central ideas.’

2. (As editor), Self-Evident Truths? Human Rights and the Enlightenment. The Oxford Amnesty Lectures (New York and London: Continuum, 2012). See here.

3. (As co-translator, with Caroline Warman), Denis Diderot’s Rameau’s Nephew, a multi-media edition. See here. Review: “it’s a scholarly edition and a very highbrow gossip magazine rolled into one! And, dulcis in fundo, the new translation is a tour de force of grace and intuition, a profoundly intelligent rendition of the many nuances of Diderot’s language. Miraculously, it manages to be both contemporary and absolutely dix-huitième. A fantastic teaching tool, one that brings the highest scholarship down to earth.”

4. (As co-editor and co-translator, with Caroline Warman), Diderot and Rousseau: Networks of Enlightenment. Collected Essays by Marian Hobson (SVEC 2011:4). See here. And here and here for reviews.

5. (As co-editor with Guillaume Pigeard de Gurbert and Jean Salem), Qu’est-ce que les Lumières? (SVEC 2006:12).


Diderot’s Regrets on Parting with My Old Dressing Gown, co-translated with Katie Scott, Oxford Art Journal, 39.2 (2016).

Diderot’s Rameau’s Nephew co-translated with Caroline Warman. A bi-lingual, free-access, multi-media edition — with images and music. It won the 2015 British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Prize for Digital Resources.

My Blindness and Enlightenment also contains new translations of Diderot’s Lettre sur les aveugles and La Mothe Le Vayer’s ‘D’un aveugle-nay’.

Journal Special Double Issue

(co-edited with Wilda Anderson), Naming, Un-Naming, and Re-Naming in Early Modern and Enlightenment Europe, a special double issue of Romance Studies 31.3-4 (2013)

Articles (selection)

1. ‘Diderot-Voltaire: la co-édition comme coalition’, French Studies Bulletin (forthcoming, 2017).

2. ‘The Making of Diderot-philosophe, 1765-1782’, Les dossiers du GRIHL (forthcoming, 2017).

3. ’‘Ne nous engageons point dans des querelles’: un projet de guerre perpétuelle?’Revue de Synthèse, tome 137, 6e série, 3-4 (2016), 345-372.

4. ‘Eighteenth-Century Aesthetic Thought’, in The Cambridge History of French Thought, ed. Michael Moriarty and Jeremy Jennings (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).

5. ‘Le Neveu de Rameau, règne des pagodes et des magots’, Diderot Studies, 35 (2016), 53-70.

6. ‘A Case in Transit: Reading Diderot (reading Montaigne) reading Augustine’, in Montaigne in Transit, ed. Neil Kenny, Richard Scholar, and Wes Williams (Oxford: Legenda, 2016), pp. 19-35. 

7. ‘Diderot, Rameau’s Nephew, and the Figure of the Philosophe in Eighteenth-Century Paris’, in A History of Modern French Literature, ed. Christopher Prendergast (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016), pp. 371-92.

8. ‘The Early Modern Embodied Mind and the Entomological Imaginary’ in Mind, Body, Motion, Matter: Eighteenth-Century British and French Literary Perspectives, eds. Mary Helen McMurran and Alison Conway (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2016), pp. 202-229. 98. “Pseudonyms, Ghosts, and Vampires in the Republic of Letters: Adrien Baillet’s Auteurs déguisez (1690)”, in Romance Studies 31. 3–4 (2013), pp. 200–211. 

10. ”You’re either anonymous or you’re not!’ Variations on Anonymity in Modern and Early Modern Culture’, in MLN (2011). 

11. ‘Eyes Wide Shut: Le Rêve de d’Alembert’, in New Essays on Diderot, ed. James Fowler (Cambridge: CUP, 2011), pp. 141-157. 

12. ‘Philosophy, Ethics and the Work of Fiction’, ed. Alexis Tadié and Richard Scholar, Fiction and the Frontiers of Knowledge in Europe, 1500–1800 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2011), pp. 107–21.

13. ‘Sexe, mensonges et colonies: les discours de l’amour dans le Supplément au Voyage de Bougainville’, Littératures classiques 69 (2009), pp. 17-34. 

14. ‘L’Aveugle qui suit l’aveugle qui suit l’aveugle: la philosophie intertextuelle de la Lettre sur les aveugles’ in Marion Chottin (ed.), L’Aveugle et le philosophe (Paris: Presses Universitaires de Paris-Sorbonne, 2009), pp. 63–81.

15. ‘Pré-histoire d’un emblème des Lumières: l’aveugle-né de Montaigne à Diderot’, in Isabelle Moreau (ed.), Les Lumières en mouvement: la circulation des idées au XVIIIe siècle (Lyon: ENS, 2009), pp. 173–97.

16. ‘Portraits and Afterlives: Diderot and Montaigne’, in Pre-Histories and Afterlives: Studies in Critical Method for Terence Cave, ed. Anna Holland and Richard Scholar (Legenda, 2008), pp. 95-105. 

17. ‘The Judgement of Experience: Reading and Seeing in Diderot’s Lettre sur les aveugles’ in French Studies, 62.4 (2008), 404–16

18. ‘Diderot, Chardin et la matière sensible’, Dix-Huitième Siècle, 39 (2007), pp. 577-593. 

19. ‘Paradoxe sur le portrait : Auto-portrait de Diderot en Montaigne’, Diderot Studies, XXX (2007), pp. 197-210. 

20. ‘‘Des circonstances assez peu philosophiques’: Diderot’s‘aveugle-né du Puiseaux’’ in French Studies Bulletin, 99 (2006), 33–6

21. ‘Le récit est un voile: esthétique et Lumières’, in Qu’est-ce que les lumières?, ed. Guillaume Pigeard de Gurbert, Jean Salem and Kate E. Tunstall (SVEC, 2006:12), pp. 143-154.

22. ‘Text, Image, Intertext: Diderot, Chardin, Pliny’, SVEC, (2006:12), pp. 345-357.

23. ‘Racine in 1769 and 1910, or Racine à l’usage de ceux qui voient’, SVEC, (2006:08), pp. 190-205.

24. ”Crânement beau tout de même’: Still life and Le Ventre de Paris’, French Studies, LVIII, no. 2 (2004), pp. 177-187. 

25. ‘Word meets Image: Racine and silent film’, Word and Image, 19.4 (2003), pp. 247-260. 

26. ‘Diderot’s ‘promenade Vernet’ or the salon as landscape garden’, French Studies, LV, no. 3 (2001), pp. 339-49

27. ‘Courbet, Advertising and Femininity’, French Cultural Studies, 12:1, No. 34 (2001), 109-14. 

28. ‘Chardin’s Games’, Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century (2000:08), pp. 131–41.

Academic Activism

Editor, Self-Evident Truths? Human Rights and the Enlightenment. The Oxford Amnesty Lectures. See here.

Editor, Displacement, Asylum, Migration: The Oxford Amnesty Lectures 2004 (OUP, 2006). See here.

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