Ben Shears



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

I am a postgraduate research student in Modern Languages (French). My research is centred around the conception of 'science' in French Enlightenment literature, particularly through the lens of Voltaire and his later corpus (namely the Questions sur l'Encyclopédie, 1770-1774), although I will also examine his earlier texts in order to interrogate how Voltaire interprets 'science' throughout his lifetime. I am fully funded as a Niklaus-Cartwright scholar, and am under the supervision of Professor Melissa Percival 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.