VUW Online History Seminar: ‘Volney: Life and Influence’ by Prof. Colin Kidd

Join the VUW History Programme for an online seminar by Prof. Colin Kidd (University of St Andrews). Friday 26th March at 10am. Register here:

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.