The ANR AGON project focuses on early modern disputes (cases, querelles or controversies) and their relationship to creation. It involves researchers of early modern culture in both France and England.
Associate Professor of French, Fellow of St Catherine's College
I work in the field of eighteenth-century literature and thought, with a particular interest in the ways in which authors create a public image of themselves, both in their lifetime and after their death.
My main research interests lie in early modern French literature and thought, and include comparative and interdisciplinary work in several other fields as well as early modern studies, among them translation studies, critical methodologies, and postcolonial Francophone Caribbean studies. In each of these fields, my research is principally concerned with the keywords, linguistic structures, and literary forms that writers use to test the limits of thought and expression and that thus reveal specific cultural instances of what it is to be human. I am the author of two books: Montaigne and the Art of Free-Thinking (2010; revised paperback edn, 2017) and The Je-Ne-Sais-Quoi in Early Modern Europe: Encounters with a Certain Something (2005). Both have appeared in French. I am currently working on two books, one studying a cluster of French words that turned English, the other offering a reevaluation of Thomas More’s Utopia and its afterlives in European literature and thought.
Eighteenth-century and Enlightenment writing; literary and philosophical materialism; Diderot; æsthetics and art criticism; figures of the author; anonymity and pseudonymity; disputes, controversies, and querelles.
Associate Professor in French, Fellow of Jesus College
I am interested in literature and the circulation of ideas, especially in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I am currently looking at Diderot’s Eléments de physiologie in the context of the thinking of his contemporaries on matter, physiology and consciousness. I want ideas and texts to be able to flow between French and English as much as they did in the period I study, and have therefore translated and edited a selection of Isabelle de Charrière’s novellas (Penguin Classics, 2012), and co-translated (with Kate Tunstall) Marian Hobson’s essays on the Enlightenment (SVEC, 2011) and Denis Diderot’s Neveu de Rameau (OpenBook Publishers, 2014), see here. I co-ordinated the translation by 102 students and colleagues of Tolerance: The Beacon of the Enlightenment which was published on the first anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo assassinations. You can read the book for free here. We also co-organised (with Isabelle Moreau of UCL) a conference on the topic of ‘Thinking Matter’ in May 2012. I am a member of the ANR funded research project on ‘Querelles’ in England and France in the Early Modern Period, see here.
Wes Williams’ main research interests are in the field of Renaissance and/or early modern literature; he has written a book on pilgrimage writing, and continues to explore travel narratives of various kinds across the period. He is now writing a book on monsters and their meanings from, roughly, Rabelais to Racine (by way of Shakespeare, Montaigne and a few others). He also works on European film, and in the theatre as a writer and director.