Dr Gemma Tidman

Dr Gemma Tidman BA, MSt, DPhil (Oxon)
Supernumerary Teaching Fellow in French, St John's College

I work on early modern, and particularly eighteenth-century, French literature and cultural history. My doctoral thesis ‘The Querelle des collèges and the Emergence of Littérature, 1750–1789’ (currently being revised for publication with Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment) tapped into the Enlightenment interest in education, and offered new insights into the way that modern ideas of ‘littérature’ (‘a national canon’, ‘a discipline for study’) came about. Specifically, it showed that such ideas emerged in the context of a previously overlooked eighteenth-century quarrel about how to reform literary teaching in the French collèges - a quarrel that involved everyone from small-town teachers, to well-known philosophes, to the directors of the École royale militaire. My next book project goes in a more playful direction, and combines the study of literary and material culture to tell a history of ‘jeux littéraires’ in early modern France. Beyond quarrels, games, and literary learning, I am interested in Diderot and Rousseau, in the interdisciplinary study of literature and the visual arts, and in ways that digital tools can enhance reseach and teaching in the humanities.


Current teaching:
Prelims Papers IIA & B (Translation into English), III (Short Texts) and IV (Narrative Fiction)
FHS Papers IIA (Translation into English), VII (16th-, 17th-, & 18th-century authors), X (early modern authors)
Previous teaching:
Prelims Papers I (Summary)
FHS Paper VIII (18th- and 19th-century authors)

2017-18 College Lecturer in French and acting Organising Tutor in French (Worcester College, Oxford)
2016-17 Retained Lecturer in French (Worcester College, Oxford)
2014-15 Lectrice at l’Université de Paris X — Nanterre

Select Publications and Talks

  • The Querelle des collèges and the Emergence of Littérature, 1750–1789 (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, in preparation) Part of the Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment (OUSE) series, formerly SVEC

  • ‘Desperately Seeking Supplement: How Polly Baker Sheds Light on Diderot’s Supplément‘, French Studies, 74.1 (2020), 1-16

  • ‘J.-J. Rousseau, Emile, ou de l’éducation’, in Voltaire, Notes et écrits marginaux conservés hors de la Bibliothèque nationale de Russie : complément au Corpus des notes marginales, dir. by Gillian Pink (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2019), pp. 398-426

  • Review: ‘Dana Villa, Teachers of the People: Political Education in Rousseau, Hegel, Tocqueville, and Mill (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017)’, Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, 42.3 (2019), 393-94

  • Review: ‘Valérie Pérez, Éduquer, gouverner: lire Émile ou de l’éducation de Rousseau avec Michel Foucault (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2017), in French Studies, 72.3 (2018), 437-38

  • ‘The rise of ‘émulation’ and its relation to literary practices in mid-eighteenth-century France’, British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Conference, University of Oxford (6-8 January, 2016). Awarded BSECS President’s Prize, for the best postgraduate paper at the annual conference

  • ‘When the Year 10s met Denis Diderot’, Oxford Early Career Outreach Network Blog (2016). Link to article here.


Committee & Organisational Positions

2018-21 Executive Committee Member of British Society for Eighteenth Century Studies (BSECS)
2015-16 Co-convenor, Oxford French Graduate Seminars, in conjunction with the IMLR
2015-16 Graduate representative for the sub-faculty of French, University of Oxford
2014-present Member of Oxford Early Career Academic Outreach Network

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