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Besterman Centre for the Enlightenment

The TORCH Enlightenment Programme/Besterman Centre for the Enlightenment aims to co-ordinate and foster research that builds on the University of Oxford’s extraordinarily rich resources for the study of the Enlightenment.  Our interdisciplinary events bring together scholars from across the Humanities, the Social Sciences, and beyond. Our research programme has close ties to the Voltaire Foundation, which publishes, alongside the Œuvres complètes de Voltaire and the correspondence of key figures of the French Enlightenment, the newly-renamed Oxford University Studies on the Enlightenment (formerly Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century - SVEC).  Under its new title, the series aims to further expand its interdisciplinary and international reach in publishing innovative studies on the Enlightenment from the widest possible range of perspectives.  The Programme also has close ties with Electronic Enlightenment, a key resource for eighteenth-century scholars providing access to an ever-increasing corpus of Enlightenment letters.  At present, our principal activities as a Programme comprise an annual Besterman Lecture by an invited scholar; an annual conference; and the Enlightenment Workshop, a series of eight seminars held in Hilary Term each year.

Upcoming Events

  • Thursday, 13 November 2014, 17.15 (Maison Française d’Oxford, 2-10 Norham Road): Lauren Clay (Vanderbilt), ‘How the French became Stagestruck: The Making of a Theatre Industry during the Late Old Regime’ (a session of the Early Modern French Seminar)
  • Thursday, 20 November 2014, 5.15 pm (Taylor Institution, Room 2): Annual Besterman Lecture delivered by Joachim Whaley (Cambridge), '"True Enlightenment can be both achieved and beneficial". The German Enlightenment and its Interpretation'.
  • Monday, 1 December 2014 (Ertegun House, Oxford): launch event for ‘Sade, l’inconnu?  Nouvelles approches critiques, deux cents ans après sa mort’, a special issue of Romance Studies (volume 32, issue 3, July 2014)
  • Hilary 2015 (Mondays at 5 pm, Weeks 1-8, Voltaire Foundation): Besterman Enlightenment Workshop
  • 26-27 June 2015 (Ertegun House, Oxford): conference on Enlightenment Correspondences


Enlightenment Programme Steering Group:

  • Professor Nicholas Cronk (French)
  • Professor Ritchie Robertson (German)
  • Professor Laurence Brockliss (History)
  • Professor Michael Burden (Music)
  • Professor John Hyman (Philosophy)
  • Professor Andrew Kahn (Russian)
  • Dr Fiona Macintosh (Classics)
  • Dr Kate Tunstall (French)
  • Professor David Womersley (English)
  • Kelsey Rubin-Detlev (graduate representative)
  • Dr Ruth Scobie (postdoctoral fellow)

Related Networks

Professor Nicholas Cronk
Professor Ritchie Robertson