Ertegun Staff and Scholar Profiles

Kelsey Rubin-Detlev

DPhil Medieval & Modern Languages | 2015 Graduate


I received my BA in Russian and French from Christ Church, Oxford, and my MA in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Columbia University in New York.  As an Ertegun Scholar, I wrote a DPhil thesis entitled ‘The Letters of Catherine the Great and the Rhetoric of Enlightenment’, under the supervision of Professor Andrew Kahn.  I also undertook with my supervisor a still ongoing pilot project for a Digital Correspondence of Catherine the Great online database, funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme and the John Fell Fund.

In October 2015, I became the Foote Junior Research Fellow in Russian at The Queen’s College, Oxford.  My work as a Junior Research Fellow focuses on revising my thesis into a book and beginning a new project on friendship in eighteenth-century Russia.

I am co-convenor of the TORCH Enlightenment Correspondences Network ( and co-ordinator of the TORCH Enlightenment Programme/Besterman Centre for the Enlightenment (



Critical edition of ‘Lettres et réponses de M. Palissot et de Monsieur de Voltaire’, in Voltaire, Œuvres complètes de Voltaire, ed. by Theodore Besterman and others (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1968-), vol. 51A (2015), pp. 245-339.

Review of Prince Charles-Joseph de Ligne, Correspondances russes, 2 vols, ed. by Alexandre Stroev and Jeroom Vercruysse (Paris: Honoré Champion, 2013), French Studies, 68, 2 (April 2014), 249.

Review of Julia V. Douthwaite, The Frankenstein of 1790 and Other Lost Chapters from Revolutionary France (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), Journal of European Studies, 43 (June 2013), 175-77.

Contributed editorial notes to Voltaire, Corpus des notes marginales, 8: Rollin-Sommier, ed. by Natalia Elaguina, (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2012).

‘Voltaire and the Affair of the Bottle Conjuror: the authorship of the review of Tristram Shandy in the Gazette littéraire de l’Europe (20 March 1765)’, Revue Voltaire, 12 (June 2012), 285-92.

‘La Correspondance de Voltaire et Catherine II: un jeu de rôle littéraire’, Revue Voltaire, 11 (June 2011), 237-56.



14th International Congress for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
‘Voltaire in Catherine the Great’s Poetics of the Letter’ (July 2015).

Enlightenment Correspondences: A Two-Day Workshop, Ertegun House, Oxford
Conference co-organised with Andrew Kahn and funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust.  Presented a paper entitled ‘Catherine the Great’s Letters as Objects of Value’ (June 2015).

American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, CA
‘“Elle a écrit de sa propre main”: Catherine the Great’s Letters in Periodicals and Polemics of Eighteenth-Century France’ (March 2015).

Digital Humanities @ Oxford Summer School Poster Session, University of Oxford
Presented a poster on the ‘Digital Correspondence of Catherine the Great’ project (July 2013).

Early Modern French Seminar: Graduate Research Showcase, University of Oxford
‘“Au rang des plus grands hommes”: Voltaire and the concept of the “grand homme” in the correspondence of Catherine the Great’ (April 2013).

Was there a Russian Enlightenment?, a one-day conference held at Ertegun House, Oxford, co-organizer and presenter, ‘The Enlightenment in the Correspondence of Catherine the Great and Friedrich Melchior Grimm’
(Audio recordings of the entire conference can be found at (November 2012).
The French Language in Russia: An international interdisciplinary conference, University of Bristol
‘An imperial salonnière?  Catherine the Great, Voltaire and Diderot’ (September 2012) (An audio recording of this paper can be found at
North East Slavic, East European and Eurasian Conference, Seton Hall University
‘Was there a polemic between Catherine the Great and Nikolai Novikov in 1769?’ (March 2012).
Columbia-Princeton Graduate Mini-Conference, Columbia University in New York
‘“Ya ne iz chisla l'stetsov”: Derzhavin and the 17th-Century French Discourse of Flattery’ (March 2011).