Join the VUW History Programme for an online seminar by Prof. Colin Kidd (University of St Andrews). Friday 26th March at 10am. Register here: https://vuw.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwocO-orz0iEt19F4XaSjTXLyr72kBgbUzd
Once as notorious as Tom Paine, Volney has slipped out of the radical canon; but was he ever really a radical?
Constantin Volney (1757-1820) was once as much a household name as a fellow radical icon, Tom Paine. Yet Volney’s name has now slipped into obscurity both in the Anglo-American world where he was once so famous (and notorious) and in his native France. This talk will explore Volney’s political career as a French Revolutionary, his travels in the Middle East and North America, and his various intellectual interests – geographical, orientalist, and philosophical; but it will also look at Volney’s subsequent reputation and textual afterlives, and the mismatch between the radical cult of Volney and the moderate republican who compromised – albeit sometimes grumpily – with various post-Thermidorean governments in France between the mid-1790s and 1820.
Colin Kidd was educated at Cambridge, Harvard and Oxford. He was variously a Prize, Post-Doctoral and Fifty-pound Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford 1987-1994 and 2005-2019, and has held chairs at Glasgow, Queen’s Belfast and St Andrews. He is a Fellow of both the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and is a frequent contributor to the London Review of Books, the Guardian and the New Statesman. His latest book, co-edited with Jacqueline Rose, is Political Advice: Past, Present and Future (IB Tauris, 2021), which brings together academics from various disciplines and – from the realm of practitioners – politicians, advisers and senior civil servants.