Network Members – Gavin Jacobson & Ken Loiselle

As a growing network, it’s important we all introduce ourselves, so we will be posting ‘mini-bios’ of members and their research interests, in no particular order as they become available. Here are two:

Ken Loiselle, Trinity University,

Since the Revolution itself, observers from paranoid conservatives to professional historians have been intrigued by the possible connections between the revolutionary upheaval and Freemasonry, one of the most prevalent voluntary associations in eighteenth-century France. My first book dealt with this topic in a chapter, and a new book co-authored with Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire will continue to probe the revolutionary experience of this fraternity in both the colonial and metropolitan context.  We will be utilizing a number of sources, from private correspondence to lodge records, and drawing most notably from the so-called “Russian archives” of the Grand Orient and Grand Lodge of France. Our chronology regarding the Revolution is from 1789 to the middle of the first decade of the 19th century. As a whole, the book will span from the 1720s to the middle of the first decade of the 19th century.


Gavin Jacobson, University of Oxford,

I am a final year D.Phil (Phd) student at Balliol College, University of Oxford. My work concentrates on the political thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and the history of French and European republican traditions from the eighteenth century until the twentieth. My doctoral thesis (titled: Fraternity in Combat: The French Republican Tradition from Rousseau to the Resistance, and supervised by Sudhir Hazareesingh) examines the concept of fraternity in the context of republican war, resistance to tyrannical rule, and revolutionary endeavor.

Scholars have chiefly recognised fraternity as being associated with notions of charity, unity and togetherness, all of which are undoubtedly important aspects to its conceptual make-up. Nevertheless, the thesis shows how they constitute only a surface manifestation of a much larger, comprehensive, and more challenging ideal. It does this in two key ways: first, it argues that fraternity is the means to reconnect people to ‘the sacred’, that is, something that lies beyond individuals but yet unites them and gives them political meaning (revolution, the Republic, the nation, popular sovereignty, and of course, liberty). Second, it shows how the concept of fraternity took on international dimensions. A central part of the tradition of fraternity in combat is to be located in the intricate history of international border crossings. These represent moments when individuals voluntarily hurdled national frontiers to support others during times of war and revolutionary struggle. My aim is to make sense of the complex relationships that played out between the French and their ideological brethren across Europe. The thesis endeavours to answer the question of why republicans in the modern era considered international, or universal, commitments to be such an integral part of their moral code.

Following the completion of the doctorate, there are a number of other research topics I am interested in pursuing. These include: how exile shaped republican thinking on citizenship and international relations; the concept of heroism in the European republican tradition; and the relationship between Jacobin republicanism and the development of communism in France in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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