Professors head French scholarly societies

Congratulations to two colleagues in French, both now at the helm of their scholarly societies – Professor Katherine Ibbett as Chair of the Society for Early Modern French Studies and Professor Jennifer Yee as President of the Society of Dix-Neuviémistes (SDN). What’s on the agenda? Katherine thinks that the role of the scholarly society will be especially important at a moment when young scholars face serious professional uncertainty; she wants to make sure that workshops for both training and reflection can be targeted to the needs of postgraduates and ECRs, and hopes that the society can serve as a permanent touchstone for the precariously-employed. Jenny is helping organise the Society’s first full-remote conference. She has had some practice with this from co-organising a ‘2021 special’ series of remote seminars involving two early-career researchers and one more established ‘moderator’ (‘Dix-Neuf at a Distance’). The series has been so popular that it may outlast the pandemic, if we can all bear the thought of an ongoing future of Zoom events. And in a gesture of post-Brexit desperation, she proposed a model of joint membership to the French equivalent society (the Société des Études Romantiques et Dix-Neuviémistes, SERD). This proposal was accepted with astonishing alacrity and without amendments, leading Jenny to think that everything would have been much simpler if she had been put in charge of the Brexit negotiations…


Katherine and Jenny are following in what is starting to look like a grand tradition of Oxford French Sub-Faculty scholarly leadership. Caroline Warman has just finished a three-year term as President of the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (BSECS) and now holds the title ‘The Past President’; Catriona Seth was until recently President of the Société française d’étude du dix-huitième siècle (la SFEDS).

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