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School of Advanced Study honours renowned French historian

Professor Roger Chartier, a leading scholar in early modern European history and culture, is to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of London in this year’s School of Advanced Study’s graduation ceremony.

Professor Roger Chartier
Professor Roger Chartier

Honorary Professeur in the Collège de France, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), and Annenberg Visiting Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, he will receive a Doctor of Literature honoris causa at Senate House on 6 December. 

Alongside his outstanding research on the history of books, publishing and reading, Professor Chartier has also dedicated part of his work to epistemological questions in history. Recently, he has focused on the relationship between written culture as a whole and literature (particularly theatrical plays) for France, England and Spain. 

His work in this specific field, based on the crisscrossing between literary criticism, bibliography and sociocultural history, is not disconnected from broader historiographical and methodological interests, which deal with the relationship between history and other disciplines such as philosophy, sociology and anthropology.

“It seems to me that today are widely shared the perception of the dialectic relationship between text and reading and the fact that you cannot analyse a text, whether canonical or ordinary, without taking into consideration the form of its publication, circulation, translation, and appropriation,” says Professor Chartier. 

“These ideas have penetrated in the different fields of history, and all the historians, whatever their subjects of research may be, are now convinced that this approach is necessary for understanding the meaning given to the texts. The different forms of the mobility of the texts became a key notion in textual studies.” 

He is a sought after lecturer and frequently teaches in the US, Spain, México, Brazil and Argentina. He is the co-editor of several reference books, and his own publications have become reference works, available in several languages. Those in English include The Author’s Hand and the Printer’s Mind; Cardenio between Cervantes and Shakespeare: The Story of a Lost Play; and Inscription and Erasure: Literature and Written Culture from the Eleventh to the Eighteenth Century. His next book will be entitled Won in Translation.

Among Professor Chartier’s many international roles was as director of the Alexandre Koyré Center (School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences, National Center for Scientific Research and National Museum of Natural History). From 2000–4 he was a member of the Scientific Evaluation Committee of Max Planck Institüt für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, and in 2009–10 he was he Weidenfeld Visiting Professor of European Comparative Literature at St Anne’s College, Oxford. 

He has received numerous prizes recognising him as an internationally renowned historian. They include the 1990 Annual Award of the American Printing History Association and the Grand Prix d’histoire (Grand Prix Gobert) of the French Academy for 1992. 

Professor Chartier holds an honorary doctorate from Madrid’s University Carlos III, an honorary degree from Santiago de Chile University, and is a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy.  

Professor Bill Sherman, director of The Warburg Institute, says, “Roger Chartier is best known as a leading scholar on the history of books, readers and printers. But his contributions to history and historiography go far beyond that and I can think of no other scholar who would be more at home in all of the institutes that make up the School of Advanced Study.”

“Professor Chartier is one of the world’s leading and most innovative scholars in book history and related fields,” adds Professor Rick Rylance, the School of Advanced Study’s Dean and Chief Executive. “It is an honour for the School that he will accept this degree in recognition of his achievements. His work, and its international reach, has been influential across so many of the institutes in SAS.”