Research project's website
Database of quarrels of the early modern period

I am the PI of a research programme funded by the French funding agency (Agence Nationale de la Recherche). Entitled AGON, this programme looks at disputes and quarrels in the early modern period, in France and in England, from a comparative perspective. We look at disputes mainly in the arts but also in science and philosophy and occasionally at religious disputes, when they have a literary component.

The research conducted by this team is based on two comparisons: the first, between the diverse domains of cultural life and the second, between two different countries France and England. Some quarrels and controversies are similar on both sides of the Channel (such as the ‘querelle des Anciens et des Modernes’ and ‘the Battle of the Books’); some involved the same institutions (the theatre quarrels in France and England for example); and some are different, and these differences reveal intellectual dynamics particular to each society. This interdisciplinary approach has helped us rethink literary and cultural history, in which literature, the arts, the sciences and philosophy are understood as the places in which key questions about history and society are negotiated.

The group is organised from Paris by myself and from Oxford by Alain Viala. Over the four years of the programme, which is coming to an end in December, we have organised a variety of seminars and conferences. We have set up a database of quarrels of the early modern period. The dedicated website contains further information about the programme.

We are now engaged in publications. A special issue of the peer-reviewed journal Littératures classiques came out in 2013, staking out our initial findings. A collection edited by Paddy Bullard and myself will be published next year by the Voltaire Foundation: it will offer a fresh perspective on the conflicts between Ancients and Moderns. The collection will, in particular, address the issue across the arts (music, letters, painting) and philosophy, as well as across Europe. Another collection, edited by Jeanne-Marie Hostiou and myself and to be published by Classiques Garnier, will look at the specific issue of the relations between quarrels and literary and artistic creation. I will also edit a special issue of the journal Paragraph wich will come out later in 2016 and will deal with the “Theory of Quarrels” both in the early modern period but also in contemporary contexts.