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John Renwick


Personal profile


MA (Oxon), MA (Cantab), PhD (Glasgow), DLitt (Glasgow)
Commandeur des Palmes Académiques

Senior Honorary Professorial Fellow

John Renwick’s teaching career took him from Glasgow (1964), to Cambridge (1966), Clermont-Ferrand (1970-71, 72-74), the New University of Ulster (Chair of French, 1974-80), and finally to Edinburgh where he occupied the John Orr Chair of French for 26 years (1980-2006).

Upon retirement he was appointed an Honorary Fellow in French in recognition of his continuing association with the academic and scholarly activities of the School (Director of the Centre de Recherches francophones belges; on-going supervision of doctoral candidates, etc.).

Research Interests

His research interests are varied, moving with increasing frequency over the years between Literature and History (his standing in the latter field was recognised with his election to a Fellowship of the Royal Historical Society in 1996).

He is internationally known inter alia not only as the scholar who rediscovered and then rehabilitated the XVIIIth century writer Jean-François Marmontel (critical editions of both the Mémoires,and theCorrespondance; two monographs; more than 20 articles), but as one of the mainstays of the important critical edition of the Œuvres complètes de Voltaire, a project of the Voltaire Foundation, University of Oxford, which has been under way since 1967 and with which he has been very actively associated since 1970. Not only is he a Research Fellow of Foundation (2008), but also a member (1997) of the Editorial Board of those Œuvres complètes for which he has produced 45 critical editions, all of which are now in print.. ’Essentially he is now engaged in being general editor of certain volumes being prepared for publication, directing (with the historian Bruno Bernard) the 7 volume edition of the Essai sur les mœurs, and contributing to the on-going edition  of the Questions sur l’Encyclopédie.

Other interests encompass, for example, the moralist Chamfort (1 book and 5 articles) and the interpretation of XVIIIth century library catalogues (3 critical editions and 5 articles). He is the initiator of the large-scale, international research project: Voltaire, la tolérance et la justice (1762-1778) which has been awarded over £100,000 in public monies (£78,000 by the Leverhulme Trust in 2002), and whose findings have progressively been published since 2005. In recognition of his various scholarly achievements, John Renwick was promoted to the rank of Commandeur des Palmes Académiques in 2002, and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2008.


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