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I am interested in literature and the circulation of ideas, especially in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I have recently finished a book on Diderot called The Atheist's Bible: Diderot and the 'Eléments de physiologie' which explores this late work and its fate during the French Revolution. The book is accompanied by a digital edition of Jacques-André Naigeon's Mémoires sur la vie et les ouvrages de Denis DiderotI have also published widely on Sade (see Sade: from materialism to pornography, SVEC, 2002). The common thread is the focus on materialist thought.

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 I therefore do quite a lot of translation, from Isabelle de Charrière’s novellas, The Nobleman and Other Romances (Penguin Classics, 2012), to Diderot's Neveu de Rameau, co-translated with Kate Tunstall and edited by Marian Hobson (OpenBook Publishers, 2014; 2nd edition 2016). Kate Tunstall and I also edited and translated a collection of Marian Hobson's essays, Diderot and Rousseau: Networks of Enlightenment (SVEC, 2011). 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.  

Undergraduate Teaching

I teach the First Year survey courses from medieval to modern. I lecture on aspects of French eighteenth and nineteenth century literature and thought, including the Novel 1700-1900, the Encyclopédie, Nineteenth Century French Thought, Literature and Philosophy in the Revolution, etc. I give tutorials on prescribed authors Voltaire and Diderot, and teach special subjects Rousseau, Women's Writing, Discourses of Race, Histories of Violence. I teach translation into and out of French.

Graduate Teaching

I welcome applications at either masters or doctoral level relating to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, especially any aspect of thought or cultural history. See the European Enlightenment Programme.


I was President of the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, 2018-21. I have been a guest on Melvyn Bragg's Radio 4 programme In Our Time (on 'Materialism', 'The Encyclopédie', 'Candide', 'Rousseau and Education') and co-wrote and co-presented (with Kate Tunstall) four short programmes on Diderot as part of Radio 3's Essay: Enlightenment Voices series, see here. I was a judge of the Oxford Weidenfeld Translation prize in 2006 and 2007, see here. I am a member of OUCHE!, the Oxford University Campaign for Higher Education.

Publications (Books, Editions, Translations)

The Atheist's Bible: Diderot and the Eléments de physiologie (Cambridge, OpenBook Publishers, 2020)

Sade: from materialism to pornography, SVEC 2002:1 (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2002).

Naigeon’s Diderot - "Les Mémoires philosophiques et historiques sur la vie et les ouvrages de Denis Diderot" : a Digital Resource, Medieval and Modern Languages, University of Oxford, Oct. 2020,

(Editor and Co-Translator) Tolerance: The Beacon of the Enlightenment (Cambridge, OpenBook Publishers, 2016).

(Co-Translator with Kate Tunstall) Denis Diderot, Rameau's Nephew, ed. Marian Hobson, music directed by Pascal Duc (Cambridge, OpenBook Publishers, 2014; 2nd edition 2016).

(Translator and Editor) Isabelle de Charrière, The Nobleman and Other Romances (New York, Penguin Classics, 2012).

(Co-Translator and Co-Editor with Kate Tunstall) Marian Hobson, Diderot and Rousseau : Networks of Enlightenment SVEC 2011:4 (Oxford, Voltaire Foundation, 2011); translated into Chinese by Zhenming HU and published by East China Normal University Press (Shanghai, 2014 ISBN 9787567520066). 

(Co-Editor with Mark Darlow) The Discursive Culture: reaction and interaction, text and context, SVEC 2007:06 (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2007).

Publications (Articles and Chapters)

'"The Revolution is to the human mind what the African sun is to vegetation": Revolution, heat, and the normal school project', History of the Human Sciences, Special Issue 'The Critical Genealogy of Normality', ed. Peter Cryle and Elizabeth Stephens, 2020, p.1-18.

 ‘« Autre fait arrivé au château de Nicklspurg,  en Moravie »: Diderot and the horrid case study’ in The Dark Thread: from Tragical Histories to Gothic Tales, ed. John D. Lyons (University of Delaware Press: 2019), p.149-159. 


« Materialism, Deism, Atheism » for The Cambridge History of French Thought, ed. Michael Moriarty and Jeremy Jennings (Cambridge : CUP, 2019), p.234-240. 


 « Comment écrire le vécu : Diderot et le problème matérialiste de l’abstraction » in Le matérialisme en France au 18e siècle, eds. Adrien Paschoud & Barbara Selmeci-Castioni (Berlin: Frank & Timme, 2019), p.103-113. 


 « Du manuscrit à l’ouvrage manuscrit : Naigeon présente Diderot dans les Mémoires historiques et philosophiques sur la vie et les ouvrages de Denis Diderot (1821) », in Ecrire en Europe. De Leibniz à Foscolo, ed. Nathalie Ferrand (Paris : CNRS Editions (Textes et manuscrits), 2019), p.221-232. 


« L’amitié dit, ffffaut pas s’en plaindre » in Littéraire: pour Alain Viala, eds. Marine Roussillon, Sylvaine Guyot, Dominic Glynn, and Marie-Madeleine Fragonard (Arras: Artois Presses Université, 2018), 2 vols; vol.2, pp.261-274. 


« De l’élément à la physiologie: une théorie de l’homme? »  in Diderot, l’humain et la science, eds. François Pépin & Guillaume Lecointre (Paris: Editions Matériologiques, 2017), p.167-180. 


‘The Eighteenth Century: Nature and Enlightenment,’ The Cambridge Companion to French Literature, ed. John D. Lyons (Cambridge: CUP, 2016), p.118-134.

‘Pre-Romantic French Thought,’ in The Oxford Handbook of European Romanticism, ed. Paul Hamilton (Oxford: OUP, 2016), p.17-32.

‘Naigeon, éditeur de Diderot physiologiste’, Diderot Studies 34 (2014), p.283-302.

'Diderot et Cabanis physiologues moralistes: dialogue et dissémination' in Médecine, sciences de la vie et littérature en France et en Europe de la Révolution à nos jours: L'âme et le corps réinventés, ed. Lise Dumasy-Queffelec and Hélène Spengler (Geneva: Droz, 2014), vol.2, p.27-42.

'L'Affaire de Justine et l'échec de la clandestinité' in Sade, l'inconnu? Nouvelles approches critiques, ed. Nicholas Cronk and Manuel Mühlbacher, special issue, Romance Studies 32 (3), July 2014, p.159-170.

‘Caught Between Neologism and the Unmentionable: The Politics of Naming and Non-naming in 1790s France’ in Naming, Unnaming, and Renaming, ed. Kate E. Tunstall and Wilda Anderson, special issue, Romance Studies 31 (3-4), Nov 2013, p. 264-276.

‘Sade et les sciences : parcours d’un engagement matérialiste’ in Sade : sciences, savoirs et invention romanesque, ed. Adrien Paschoud et Alexandre Wenger (Paris : Hermann, 2012), p.9-25.

« L’âme et la vie de l’organe dans la pensée vitaliste de Bordeu, Diderot et Bichat » in Repenser le vitalisme, ed. Pascal Nouvel (Paris : Presses universitaires de France, 2011), p.157-165.

« ‘Un petit homme court et gros, âgé de trente-cinq ans, d’une vigueur incompréhensible, velu comme un ours’: les figures du philosophe chez Sade » in Les Figures du philosophe dans les lettres anglaises et françaises (XVIe-XVIIIe siècles), ed. Alexis Tadié (Paris : Presses Universitaires de Paris Ouest, 2010), p.189-199. Republished in an extended revised version as '"A Little Short Fat Man, Thirty-five Years of Age, Inconceivably Vigorous, and Hairy as a Bear": The Figure of the Philosopher in Sade' in Sade's Sensibilities, ed. Kate Parker and Norbert Sclippa (Lewisburg: Bucknell UP, 2015), p.103-118.

“Intimate, deprived, uncivilised: Diderot and the publication of the private moment” in Representing private lives of the Enlightenment, ed. Andrew Kahn, SVEC 2010:11 (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2010), p.35-51. Re-published in French translation as ‘Diderot et la publication du moment privé’ in Europe 1014 (Oct 2013), p.31-50, in a special issue to mark the tricentenary of Diderot’s birth.

“From pre-normal to abnormal: the emergence of a concept in late eighteenth-century France,” in The natural and the normal in the history of sexuality, ed. Peter Cryle and Lisa Downing, Special Issue of Psychology and Sexuality, 1:3 (September 2010), p.200-213. Re-printed in Asexuality and Sexual Normativity, An Anthology, ed. Mark Carrigan, Kristina Gupta and Todd G. Morrison (Abingdon: Routledge, 2014), p.107-120.

« Les Eléments de physiologie de Diderot : inconnus ou clandestins? Le cas de Garat », in Les Lumières en mouvement : la circulation des idées au XVIIIe siècle, ed. Isabelle Moreau (Lyon, ENS, 2009), p.65-87.

‘« La cristallisation à la mode », ou, vocabulaire de la matière amoureuse’ in Stendhal et la femme, ed. Lucy Garnier, special issue of L’Année stendhalienne 8 (2009), p. 35-50.

‘From Lamarck to Aberration: Nature, Hierarchies, and Gender” in Femininity and the construction of Sexual Pathologies, 1730-1920, ed. Peter Cryle and Lisa Downing. Special Issue of the Journal of the History of Sexuality, vol.18, issue 1 (Jan 2009), p.8-25.

‘Chains of influence, chains of allusion: case studies of clandestine rhetoric in and around the Encyclopédie,’ The Discursive Culture: reaction and interaction, text and context, ed. and introduction Mark Darlow and Caroline Warman, SVEC 2007:6, p.65-82.

“The ironic encounters of the Marquis de Sade and Jane Austen” at (web page no longer active)

‘What’s behind a face? Lavater versus the anatomists,’ Physiognomy in Profile: Lavater’s Impact on European Culture, ed. Melissa Percival and Graham Tytler (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2005), p.94-108.

‘Sade, interprète de la science matérialiste,’ Les Réécritures littéraires des discours scientifiques, ed. Chantal Foucrier (Paris : Michel Houdiard, 2005), p. 45-51.

‘René and the mal du siècle: a literary role model for the negotiation of problematic sexual identity in nineteenth-century Europe – the cases of Custine and Amiel’ in Michael Worton and Nana Wilson-Tagoe, eds., National Healths: Gender, Sexuality and Health in a Cross-Cultural Context (London: UCL Press, 2004), p.201-210.

‘Indices de la clandestinité,’ in Sade en toutes lettres. Autour d’Aline et Valcour, ed. Michel Delon and Catriona Seth (Paris: Desjonquères, 2004), 70-77.

‘Matérialisme et éthique: Sade animateur de la vertu newtonienne,’ in Lire Sade, ed. Norbert Sclippa (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2004), 93-105.

‘Modèles violents et sensations fortes dans la genèse de l’oeuvre de Sade,’ L’épicurisme, ed. Anne Deneys-Tunney and Pierre-François Moreau, Dix-huitième siècle 2003 (35), 231-239.

‘“Broder sur des fonds connus”: Sade récrit la presse périodique,’ Réécritures 1700-1820, ed. Malcolm Cook and Marie-Emmanuelle Plagnol-Diéval, French Studies of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Vol. 4 (Oxford, Bern, Frankfurt a. M., New York: Peter Lang, 2002), 243-252.

‘Charts and Signposts: Following Vitalism and Mechanism through the Encyclopédie (1754-1772), the Encyclopédie méthodique (1787-1830) and the Dictionaire [sic] des sciences médicales (1812-1822),’ Vitalism and mechanism, ed. Mariana Saad, La Lettre de la Maison française d’Oxford 2001 (14): 85-104.

(Co-Written with George Rousseau), ‘Writing as Pathology, Poison or Cure: Henri- Frédéric Amiel’s Journal intime,’ Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 3(3): 229-262 (2002).

(Co-Written with George Rousseau), ‘Cultures of Melancholia in late Capitalism – a reflection, Response to Discussion of Rousseau and Warman by Jeanne Wolff Bernstein,’ Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 3(3): 273-279 (2002).

(Co-Written with George Rousseau), “Made from the Stuff of Saints: Chateaubriand’s René and Custine’s search for a homosexual identity,” GLQ 2001 (7) 1: 1-29.

‘From extremes to rigidity: the mechanism of the passions in mid-eighteenth-century French thought,’ Passion, ed. Ted Nye, SVEC 2001 (12): 393-397.

‘Snakes and Ladders Sade-style,’ Games, ed. Ted Nye, SVEC 2000 (8): 169-173.

‘The Jewels of Virtue: Sade’s claim to the legacy of materialism,’ Sade and his legacy, ed. John Phillips, Paragraph 2000 (23) 1: 87-97.