Ben Shears



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


I am a PhD 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 Inter-Varsity Captain of the University Debating Society, and also an editor and peer reviewer of Xanthos: A Journal of Foreign Literatures and Languages.