Sophie Wahnich is Directrice de recherche in history and political science at the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Director of the Interdisciplinary Institute of the Anthropology of the Contemporary World (IIAC), and member of the research group Radical Transformations of the Contemporary World at the IIAC (CNRS) and at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS). A historian by training, Wahnich examined the role of the foreigner in the discourse of the French Revolution before focussing on the role of emotions in politics more generally. She analyzes violent historical events in order to study their impact on society, politics, and collective memory. Her investigations into the emotions of historical agents shed new light on current issues faced by Western democratic societies, such as terrorism, nationalism, globalization, war, and trauma. Her publications and public appearances all point out the continuing relevance of the values and aspirations of the French Revolution today. Wahnich has written and coedited numerous books, including L'Impossible Citoyen. L'étranger dans le discours de la Révolution française (1997; 2nd ed. 2010); Politics of Collective Memory, Cultural Patterns in Post-War Europe (2008); In Defence of the Terror. Liberty or Death in the French Revolution (2012), translated from the French La Liberté ou la mort. Essai sur la terreur et le terrorisme (2003); Les Émotions de la Révolution Française et le présent (2009). She also contributes regularly to the column “Historiques” of the French newspaper Libération.
David Womersley is the Thomas Warton Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford, a Professorial Fellow of St Catherine’s College, and a Fellow of the British Academy. He is the leading authority internationally on the historian Edward Gibbon, on whom his work includes two monographs (The Transformation of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, CUP, 1988; Gibbon and the ‘Watchmen of the Holy City’: The Historian and his Reputation, 1776-1814, OUP, 2002) and, as general editor, the in-progress Oxford edition of The Writings and Correspondence of Edward Gibbon, which is projected to be published in 26 volumes. He is editor of numerous primary works and edited collections, including the standard Cambridge edition (2012) of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, and he has also published extensively on early modern literature and politics, notably in Divinity and State (OUP, 2010), a study of narratives of the national past in sixteenth-century historiography and historical drama. He is currently involved in a collaboration with the University of Lausanne, focused on the rich holdings of the Archives Cantonales and the Archives de la Ville, and writing two monographs, the first on Gibbon and commerce, the second on the concept of barbarism in Western Europe from antiquity to the present day.