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Supporting a Voltaire Foundation Visiting Fellowship at the Bodleian Libraries

Bodleian visiting fellow

Every year, scholars of all levels, from junior researchers looking to forge a path in their discipline to seasoned academics of international standing, travel from across the world to consult the remarkable wealth of research material available within the Bodleian Libraries’ Special Collections. The Bodleian has established a programme of Visiting Fellowships, offering scholars the opportunity to immerse themselves in University life and allowing the Bodleian to make the most of their intellectual energy for the benefit of the University, the world of scholarship and the wider public.

The Visiting Fellowship programme, now based in the Visiting Scholars’ Centre in the new Weston Library, enables some of the world’s most brilliant minds to consult the Bodleian’s world-renowned Special Collections and work alongside aspiring young scholars, sparking intellectual engagement and generating new ideas.

Having such a vibrant research centre at the heart of the new Library ensures that the incredible range and depth of new insights and knowledge that can be gleaned from some of the world’s most treasured and irreplaceable collections can be brought to life for the academic community - as well as being shared further afield through the Bodleian’s growing online presence.

Visiting Fellows are drawn from scholars across the world of higher education and from the community of research-active or culturally engaged members of the wider community, such as writers, poets and publishers. A rich mix of interests, backgrounds, disciplines, and levels of intellectual achievement creates an active and inspiring hub of research in the Visiting Scholars’ Centre.

The Centre offers individual study offices for scholars, a central area to encourage networking and creative discussion, space for seminars and teaching, and use of state-of-the-art facilities, such as the brand new Conservation Studio and Centre for Digital Scholarship. With access to the Bodleian’s outstanding collections, assistance from expert staff and immersion in the interdisciplinary community of scholars, these Visiting Fellowships have already proven to be highly sought-after awards.

While in residence in the Centre, Fellows are encouraged to contribute to the research culture of the Libraries and the University, and the active programme of outreach activities, through:

– Delivering master-classes and lectures to students, the academic community and the public;

– Advising library curators, conservators and archivists on the cataloguing and conservation of collections;

– Curating mini exhibitions and supporting staff curators in the Bodleian’s major public exhibition programme; creating engaging and diverse content to contribute towards the Bodleian’s digital output;

– Delivering seminars for graduate and undergraduate students.

Voltaire

The Voltaire Foundation

The Voltaire Foundation at the University of Oxford owes its existence to the visionary bequest of Theodore Besterman in the 1970s. It has grown to become today a world leader for eighteenth-century and Enlightenment scholarship. Its core mission is currently twofold: to disseminate the most up-to-date research on the eighteenth century through the book series Studies on the Enlightenment; and to research and publish in French the definitive edition of The Complete works of Voltaire (Œuvres complètes de Voltaire).

Complete works of Voltaire

Writers and historians need to be able to read Voltaire in a definitive version, which, astonishingly, has never been produced. The Oxford Complete works of Voltaire / Œuvres complètes de Voltaire aims to fill this gap. For the first time ever, we are bringing together the entirety of Voltaire’s writings: not only his poems, novels, plays and philosophy, but also all of his letters, even the marginalia in the books in his library, now held in St Petersburg.

To do this, we have trained a team of textual editors who are highly specialised in Enlightenment history and ideas, and in the techniques of textual editing. Their skills ensure the superb quality of the publication and ensure that it will last as a definitive contribution to scholarship.

For the first time, thanks to the research contained in these volumes, readers are able to explore the sources of Voltaire’s ideas and unravel the way in which his thinking evolved over his long life. The edition has received widespread praise, winning the Prix Hervé Deluen from the Académie française in 2010. The new Oxford edition is radically transforming our understanding of Voltaire, and once complete in 2019, it will stand as a landmark in our understanding of the Enlightenment.

Voltaire’s values

Voltaire is one of the greatest French writers and, more than that, he is an iconic figure in European culture. He is the most potent spokesman of those Enlightenment values – rationalism, freedom of speech, tolerance – that inspired the Founding Fathers of the United States, at the end of the eighteenth century, and that remain at the heart of modern western liberal democracies. The challenges of multi-culturalism and religious tolerance in the modern world show that Voltairean values have never been more relevant. The mission of the Voltaire Foundation is to encourage scholarly research into Voltaire and his contemporaries, and to bring the debates of the Enlightenment to the widest possible modern audience.

Creating a Visiting Fellowship

There is a strong international field of scholars competing for the current Visiting Fellowships. The Bodleian is now seeking support to establish further Fellowships, taking full advantage of the facilities available in the Visiting Scholars’ Centre.

Oxford has rich holdings of relevance to the study of the French Enlightenment writer Voltaire. In addition to the main Bodleian collection, a dedicated ‘Voltaire Room’ can be found at the Taylor Institution. Based on the personal collection of editor and bibliographer Theodore Besterman, its contents include everything from early separate printings and fragile ephemera to whole sets of many eighteenth-century editions of the author’s complete works. These are complemented by a full range of secondary literature as well as resources pertaining to other major eighteenth-century French writers. The Voltaire Foundation, a research centre in the Humanities Division of the University, and world- renowned publisher, also has important holdings in Voltaire printed materials and manuscripts. The latter, virtually unstudied, are of particular interest, spanning different types of documents, from correspondence, to drafts and fair copies of known works, to informal working notes.

A Voltaire Foundation Visiting Fellowship would also lend itself to exploring new types of research in the digital humanities. The Electronic Enlightenment project, developed at the Voltaire Foundation before moving to the Bodleian, brings together in digital form the definitive editions of over fifty eighteenth-century correspondences, in English and in French (including Voltaire’s), and is constantly seeking to expand, both in content and in functionality.

Opportunities abound for Fellows to engage with other Enlightenment scholars: The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) supports an Enlightenment Programme, connected with the Voltaire Foundation, and an Enlightenment Correspondences network, both of which welcome the participation of visitors. In the field of eighteenth-century studies, Oxford has unrivalled resources, both human and material, which can contribute to the richest possible experience for a Voltaire Foundation Visiting Fellow.

Recent Visiting Fellows in the area of eighteenth- century studies have included:

Rachel Schneider, PhD candidate, University of Texas at Austin (British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies / Bodleian Fellow): Contesting Fragments: Print, Politics, and Graphic Design in Eighteenth-Century England

Claire Gallien, lecturer, Université Paul Valéry- Montpellier III (British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies / Bodleian Fellow): Orientalism in the making, 1636-1813

Victoria Pickering, PhD candidate, Queen Mary University of London, Natural History Museum, London (David Walker Memorial Fellow in Early Modern History): Botanical Networks and Collecting Practices in Early Modern Britain: The Correspondence of Richard Richardson (1663-1741)

Philanthropic support is instrumental in establishing and maintaining this exciting Centre and its resident Visiting Fellows. The Bodleian invites discussion with potential donors, who would like to help create an exceptional environment in which great minds can develop a richer understanding of the collections at the Bodleian and share their insights with the wider world through a diverse programme of activities.

Vue des Délices de Mr. de Voltaire, près Genève

“To have this experience in Oxford at this early stage in my career and to meet people whom I am sure will be very influential in the future has been tremendous.” – Dr Asa McKercher RBC , Visiting Fellow 2013/14

Example Costs

The breakdown below is presented for illustrative purposes. The cost of supporting a Visiting Fellowship varies depending on the type of fellowship, the activities that the fellow will undertake and other aspects of the position, as defined in discussion with the donor. The Bodleian would be delighted to provide a specific and personalised cost breakdown on request.

 

Half Term (5 weeks)

One Term (10 weeks)

Stipend for accomodation and living expenses

£2,000

£4,000

Dissemination and outcome costs commensurate with length of the Fellowship, from a temporary display or one-day event to an online resource

£1,500

£3,000

Running costs for the study in the Visiting Scholars’ Centre

£200

£400

Administration and support of the Fellowship

£300

£600

Total per annum

£4,000

£8,000

For five years

£20,000

£40,000

Cost to endow

£100,000

£200,000

The Weston Library, Oxford

Opportunity for support

The Bodleian would be delighted to discuss the funding and naming of a Visiting Fellowship with interested individuals. Fellowships can be set up with a residency over a set period of time or permanently endowed.

For further information, please contact:

Professor Nicholas Cronk
Director, Voltaire Foundation
University of Oxford, 99 Banbury Road Oxford, OX2 6JX
E: nicholas.cronk@voltaire.ox.ac.uk
T: +44 (0)1865 284602
www.voltaire.ox.ac.uk

Head of Development, Bodleian Libraries
University Offices, Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JD
E: elaine.gallagher@devoff.ox.ac.uk
T: +44 (0)1865 611551
www.campaign.ox.ac.uk