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 (2017), ‘The Querelle des collèges and the Emergence of Littérature, 1750–1789’, offered new perspectives on how modern French notions of ‘littérature’ emerged. These new senses of ‘littérature’ (‘a canon of French authors and texts’ and ‘a discipline for study’) differed from the earlier meaning of the word (‘a type of cultured erudition’). Scholars have often claimed that these modern concepts emerged in the nineteenth century; however, I show that this process began during the Ancien Régime, catalysed by a querelle about how to reform literary teaching in the French collèges. My research taps into the famous Enlightenment interest in education, and shows how literary education preoccupied contemporary thinkers: from teaching orders such as the Jesuits, to the directors of the prestigious Écoles royales militaires; from small-town teachers that history has since forgotten, to well-known figures, including Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot and d’Alembert. Beyond the DPhil, I am interested in Rousseau and Diderot, literary play and games in eighteenth-century France, early modern querelles, and the interdisciplinary study of literature and the visual arts.


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 Conference Papers

  • ‘Les notes marginales sur l’« Emile » de J.-J. Rousseau dans l’exemplaire de Genève’, in Corpus des notes marginales de Voltaire, 10: Marginalia outside St Petersburg. Les Œuvres complètes de Voltaire, v. 145 (forthcoming Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2019)

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

  • Blog article: ‘Prof. Catriona Seth, ‘Girls with Books. Reading, Contagion and Acquired Immunity in Eighteenth-Century Fiction’: The Inaugural Lecture of the eighth Oxford Marshal Foch Professor’, Voltaire Foundation Blog (2019). Link to article here.

  • 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

  • ‘Les mots sont des pistolets chargés’: Literary Education at the École Royale Militaire, 1751-1788’, Education in the Long Eighteenth Century Seminars, IHR, London (11 March, 2017)

  • Conference report: ‘Éditorialités: Practices of Editing and Publishing’, French Studies Bulletin, 143.38 (2017), 34-36

  • Review: ‘Nicolas-Edmé Rétif de la Bretonne, Ingénue Saxancour ou La Femme séparée, ed. by Mary S. Trouille’, Modern Language Review, 112.1 (2017), 252-253

  • ‘The Literary Art of the Legislator. Rousseau, Julie, and the Political Power of the Novel’, University of York Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Postgraduate Seminar (25 October, 2016)

  • ‘Teaching Literature: The Birth of Modern Littérature in French Education, 1750 to the Revolution’ [Society for French Studies Conference Poster Report], French Studies Bulletin, 141.37 (2016), 106-107

  • ‘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

  • ”Exercices’ in the collèges of late Ancien-Régime France’, Colloque: Matérialités du texte, Université de Fribourg, Switzerland (15 January, 2015)

Committee & Organisational Positions

2018-21 Executive Committee Member: Awards Officer (British Society for Eighteenth Century Studies)
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
2014-present Member of Enlightenment Correspondences Network, University of Oxford

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