• KY16 9PH

    United Kingdom

Accepting Postgraduate Research Students

PhD projects

the eighteenth century ; libertine literature and libertinage; erotic literature and forbidden books; visual arts and literature; the history of night and its representations; illusion and imagination; the Age of Enlightenment; rococo aesthetics

Personal profile


I joined the University of St Andrews in 2014. After receiving a PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2012, I became a lecturer in early modern French literature at New College (University of Oxford) and later at the University of Kent. I served as an officer for the British Society for Eighteenth Century Studies and the International Society of Eighteenth Century Studies in 2015-2017 and was a Visiting Fellow at Yale University in 2020.

Research overview

I am an eighteenth-century literature scholar with a special interest in libertine fiction and all the pleasure-seekers of the French eighteenth century, from its philosophes to its rakes. Overall, my research contends that the Age of Enlightenment was also an age of happiness whose key insight was to place paradise in the “here and now” rather than in the hereafter (“Le paradis terrestre est où je suis” – Voltaire).

Enchantment and Enlightenment

My research currently explores enchantment and magic in the French Age of Enlightenment. I am writing a book on libertine enchantments (L’Enchantement libertin, ou la magie du désir dans la littérature érotique du XVIIIe siècle) which argues that magical metaphors allow libertine authors to hint at the mysterious and ineffable power of desire. The concept of enchantment in the eighteenth century was indeed applied to phenomena that were beyond human understanding. This research project thus challenges the idea that the Enlightenment disenchanted the world, since it shows that the Lumières instead revealed how truly enchanting Nature was in all its unexplained workings.

Libertine nights

Previously, my research focused on the pleasures enjoyed under cover of darkness during the Age of Enlightenment. My book Night in Eighteenth-Century French Libertine Fiction (Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2018, shortlisted for the 2018 Gapper Book Prize) explains that beyond the indulgences they represent for their readers, the nocturnes of libertine fiction offer an amplified echo of the socio-cultural changes that were transforming the understanding and experience of night for a growing number of men and women in the French eighteenth century. This interest for all things nocturnal led me to author several articles on literal nights and metaphorical shadows in the Age of Enlightenment, delving into subjects like the aesthetics of clairs-obscurs or rococo nocturnes. I have also shared some of my literary discoveries with a wider audience by editing a collection of little known but fascinating (and nocturnal) libertine short stories: Petits soupers libertins (Paris, Dix-huitième siècle 2016).


As the most famous libertine of eighteenth-century Europe, Giacomo Casanova occupies a place of choice in my research. I have studied for instance his turbulent nights, his sacralisation of sex or his posing as an “enchanteur”). I have also created a teaching module on the legend surrounding him (FR4128: A Semester with Casanova: myths and afterlives of Histoire de ma vie) and was interviewed to appear in the Sky Arts documentary Casanova Undressed [MOU1] (2016).



Profile Keywords

eighteenth-century studies; early modern studies; libertine fiction; rococo aesthetics; Enlightenment; night studies; magic in the early modern period

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Literature, Night in Eighteenth-Century French Libertine Fiction, University of Cambridge

1 Sept 200830 Aug 2011

Award Date: 21 Mar 2012


  • PQ Romance literatures
  • libertine fiction
  • Enlightenment
  • imagination
  • ND Painting
  • rococo
  • eighteenth century
  • clair-obscur
  • B Philosophy (General)
  • materialism
  • early modern philosophy
  • Enlightenment
  • scepticism


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