Evaluation of an unpublished 17th century French encyclopaedia of ornithology The aim of this PhD is to evaluate the scientific, historical and cultural significance of an unpublished 17th-century French ornithological encyclopaedia (992 pages): Traité des Oyseaux by J.-B. Faultrier (1660) recently discovered by Tim Birkhead. The manuscript was dedicated to Louis XIV’s superintendent of finances and eminent patron of the arts, Nicolas Fouquet, in 1660, the year before he was arrested and imprisoned in the fortress of Pignerol. The encyclopaedia was, then, written during a period of political tension, when sponsorship of the arts and sciences was a contested activity.
The PhD is a novel, inter-disciplinary project between the Departments of Animal and Plant Sciences and French, and will be supervised by Professor Tim Birkhead FRS (http://www.shef.ac.uk/aps/stafftimbirkhead.html), who is an internationally known ornithologist with a special interest in the history of ornithology and Dr. Emily Butterworth (http://www.shef.ac.uk/french/staff/butterworth.htm) who is a specialist in early modern French.
This manuscript is unknown to the ornithological community and represents a significant contribution to the history of ornithological knowledge. It is extremely unusual to find such a large and potentially significant manuscript in a field as well known as the history of ornithology. The ultimate goal is to publish the manuscript in full in both French and English. Birds have proved ideal subjects for the study of several major aspects of animal biology and as a result there is a longer and richer history of scientific ornithology than almost any other discipline. The keeping of birds in captivity has played a central, if subtle role in the development of ornithological science because aviculture allowed the close and detailed observation of birds long before binoculars were available and detailed field observation a possibility. Indeed, the observations of captive birds such as pigeons, poultry, falcons and cage-birds constituted the very beginning of ornithological science. Faultrier’s manuscript represents a landmark in the history of ornithology.
The studentship is funded by the University of Sheffield (£12,000 in 2005-06, increasing incrementally), and is available to start in October 2005. The studentship is open to UK citizens and members of the EU, and is tenable for three years, subject to satisfactory progress. Candidates should have a good first degree in French or fluency, an interest in the French language, history, history of science and ornithology.
All enquiries should be addressed to Mrs Sue Carter, Dept of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN. [email protected]