Dr K E Tunstall

Kate E. Tunstall, M.A. (B.A., M.Phil., Ph.D. Cambridge)
University Lecturer [Associate Professor] and Fellow of Worcester College
Organizing Tutor for Fine Art, Ruskin School of Fine Art
Director of Masters Courses in Modern Languages
Convenor, Masters in European Enlightenment
Email:   kate.tunstall@worc.ox.ac.uk
Tel:    01865 278343


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.
My first book, Blindness and Enlightenment. An Essay, revealed the importance of the figure of ‘the man born blind’ in French writing, both literary and philosophical, from the mid sixteenth to the mid eighteenth centuries. More recent work has been on the imagery and discourses of materialism, on notions and practices of anonymity, pseudonymity, forgery, and plagiarism, and on disputes and querelles. I am currently I am currently writing a book on Diderot, entitled Thinking Matter and Dressing Gowns: Diderot’s Materialisms.
I am a steering-committee member of AGON. La dispute: cas, controverses et querelles à l’âge classique, and of TORCH’s Besterman Centre for the Enlightenment.


I have co-translated Diderot’s Le Neveu de Rameau with Caroline Warman; it is a multi-media edition - with images and music - available for FREE. It won the 2015 British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Prize for Digital Resources.
I am currently working with Katie Scott (Courtauld) on a new translation and edition, with images, of Diderot’s ‘Regrets sur ma vieille robe de chambre’.
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’.

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 the French Enlightenment, Diderot, materialism, aesthetics, art criticism. I have successfully supervised D.Phils on topics as diverse as Bayle’s Dictonnaire philosophique et critique and early modern lives of Ovid; and am currently supervising D.Phil students working on the uses of Rabelais in the eighteenth century, on the emergence of the idea of literature in the context of the eighteenth-century querelle de l’éducation, and co-supervising a thesis on plagiarism.


Director, Oxford Amnesty Lectures. Download publicity for 2010 Lecture Series here.
Radio: Series on Diderot (with Caroline Warman) for Radio 3 ‘The Essay’.
Member: Campaign for the Public University, Oxford University Campaign for Higher Education (OUCHE!). 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.

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. ”Ne nous engageons point dans des querelles’: un projet de guerre perpétuelle?’ (forthcoming, 2016)
2. ‘Eighteenth-Century Æsthetic Thought’, in The Cambridge History of French Thought, ed. Michael Moriarty and Jeremy Jennings (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming)
3. ‘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. See here.
4. ‘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, forthcoming)
5. ‘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. See here.
6. “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. See here.
7. ”You’re either anonymous or you’re not!’ Variations on Anonymity in Modern and Early Modern Culture’, in MLN (2011), See here.
8. ‘Eyes Wide Shut: Le Rêve de d’Alembert’, in New Essays on Diderot, ed. James Fowler (Cambridge: CUP, 2011). See here.
9. ‘Sexe, mensonges et colonies: les discours de l’amour dans le Supplément au Voyage de Bougainville’, Littératures classiques 69 (2009), pp. 17-34. Click here
10. ‘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.
11.‘L’Aveugle qui suit l’aveugle qui suit l’aveugle: la philosophie intertextuelle de la Lettre sur les aveugles’ inMarion Chottin (ed.), L’Aveugle et le philosophe (Paris: Presses Universitaires de Paris-Sorbonne, 2009), pp. 63–81.
12. ‘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.
13. ‘Portraits and Afterlives: Diderot and Montaigne’, in Pre-Histories and Afterlives: Studies Towards a New Cultural History, ed. Anna Holland and Richard Scholar (Legenda, 2008), pp. 95-105. See here.
14. ‘The Judgement of Experience: Reading and Seeing in Diderot’s Lettre sur les aveugles’ in French Studies, 62.4 (2008), 404–16
15. ‘Diderot, Chardin et la matière sensible’, Dix-Huitième Siècle, 39 (2007), pp. 577-593. See here.
16. ‘Paradoxe sur le portrait : Auto-portrait de Diderot en Montaigne’, Diderot Studies, XXX (2007), pp. 197-210. Click here for link to article.
17. ‘‘Des circonstances assez peu philosophiques’: Diderot’s‘aveugle-né du Puiseaux’’ in French Studies Bulletin, 99 (2006), 33–6
18. ‘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.Click here for link to article.
19. ‘Text, Image, Intertext: Diderot, Chardin, Pliny’, SVEC, (2006:12), pp. 345-357.Click here for link to article.
20. ‘Racine in 1769 and 1910, or Racine à l’usage de ceux qui voient’, SVEC, (2006:08), pp. 190-205.Click here for link to article.
21. ”Crânement beau tout de même’: Still life and Le Ventre de Paris’, French Studies, LVIII, no. 2 (2004), pp. 177-187. Click here for link to article.
22. ‘Word meets Image: Racine and silent film’, Word and Image, 19.4 (2003), pp. 247-260. Click here for link to article.
23. ‘Diderot’s ‘promenade Vernet’ or the salon as landscape garden’, French Studies, LV, no. 3 (2001), pp. 339-49
24. ‘Courbet, Advertising and Femininity’, French Cultural Studies, 12:1, No. 34 (2001), 109-14. Click here for link to article.
25. ‘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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