Ben Shears

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College: College of Humanities
Discipline: Modern Languages
Department: French/ English
Research Centre/Unit: Eighteenth Century/ Enlightenment

I am a postgraduate research student in Modern Languages (French) and English Literature. My research is centred around Voltaire's Contes philosophiques and the novels of Samuel Richardson. I am interested in how both authors use John Locke's epistemology to create subjective experiences of the truth for characters. I am fully funded as a Niklaus-Cartwright scholar, and am under the supervision of Professor Melissa Percival, Professor Henry Power, and Dr Helena Taylor


Prior to my research at the University of Exeter, I completed a Master's in Modern Languages at the University of Oxford, graduating with distinction. My dissertation, entitled 'The 'Science' of Knowing: How Voltaire Defines Knowledge in the Dictionnaire philosophique' was described by examiners as demonstrating "outstanding qualities of intellectual engagement with the material, coherence and control of argument". I also have a BA (with honours) in English and French from the University of Warwick. I am fortunate enough to have a published research project on sugar in the eighteenth century, which I undertook in my final year of undergraduate:
'Sugar: From Cane to Cup, And a Little Extra to Taste...'.

At Oxford, I presented material at a conference in the Taylor Institution Library, concerning women in science; I used Madame du Châtelet as my main focus. Here in Exeter, I am the Chair of the Postgraduate Research Conference in the Humanities, 2018. I am also editor of Xanthos: A Journal of Foreign Literatures and Languages. As of January 2018, I am the Graduate Teaching Assistant of the Director of Liberal Arts, Dr Mike Finn; this role involves being a seminar tutor, as well as an examiner for the module.

I am a very experienced private tutor and examiner, and I have already completed the Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (LTHE) programme at the University of Exeter; both stage 1 (October 2017) and stage 2 (November 2017). I am eager and enthusiastic to undertake any teaching and/or marking opportunities that may be available.