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PhD Studentship: Collecting the Counter-Revolution: Refugees, Religion and Anglo-French Politics in the Library of Richard Viscount Fitzwilliam (1745-1816)

Durham University

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Durham
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 3rd May 2024
Closes: 26th May 2024
  • Start date: 1st October 2024
  • Application Deadline: 26 May 2024
  • Interviews: week beginning 10 June
  • Online information session for applicants: 7 May, please register your interest in attending.

Are you interested in the ways that people, books, images and ideas migrate across cultures, especially at times of conflict? Through immersion in an outstanding collection of rare books, prints and illuminated manuscripts, the PhD student we are looking for will  investigate the impact of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars on British society, culture, and collecting, and contribute to mapping out a new future for the Fitzwilliam Museum library.

The collecting activity of Richard, 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam (1745-1816) took place against the backdrop of extraordinary turmoil, violence and political debate. The library assembled by him bears witness to his deep engagement with the events of the French Revolution, as expressed through his own anonymously published writings, his efforts to acquire books from endangered religious institutions on the continent, and his close relationship with French émigré networks in London. Using a combination of material and textual evidence, the project will reconsider Lord Fitzwilliam's relationship to the political fall-out of the French Revolution, and his participation in cross-Channel networks of ideas, as well as cast new light on Fitzwilliam's personal attitudes towards Catholicism, at a moment when its toleration in Britain as a potentially subversive minority faith was hotly contested.

Preserved intact since his death in 1816, the Museum's Founder's Library offers a fascinating lens onto the revolutionary period, although it has been hidden from visitors and undervalued by scholars. By investigating the library holistically (moving beyond studying its constituent parts - printed books, manuscripts, prints), this project aims to highlight processes of cultural transfer and collaboration between Lord Fitzwilliam and French refugees in London. Centred on the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, the project nonetheless addresses issues with strong contemporary relevance about violence and migration, the scattering and re-gathering of cultural property across borders, and the role of collections in the formation of identities.

This project will be jointly supervised by Dr Tom Stammers and Dr Suzanne Reynolds and the student will undertake research at both the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Department of History at Durham University, as well as becoming part of the wider cohort of CDP-funded students across the UK.

As a collaborative award, students will be expected to spend time at both Durham University and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

To find out more visit Current Opportunities - Durham University

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