First Voltaire Hackathon, Friday 24 January 2020

Voltaire Hackathon

Date: Friday 24 January 2020

Venue: St Luke’s Chapel, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, Woodstock Road, Oxford

The Voltaire Foundation is pleased to announce its first one-day hackathon centred on the extensive works and correspondence of Voltaire, one of the Enlightenment’s best-known and most prolific writers. This event is sponsored by the Voltaire Lab, the Voltaire Foundation’s digital humanities research network, with support from the John Fell Fund.

The Voltaire Hackathon encourages students, researchers from all disciplines, and members of the public with an interest in the intersection between technology, history and literature to work together to develop a project using Voltaire’s texts and the data they may generate.

The corpus used for the hackathon comprises the works and correspondence of Voltaire, as drawn from the TOUT Voltaire and Electronic Enlightenment databases (more information below), and will be made available as plain text and TEI-XML files for the day. Both databases contain texts of incomparable significance for research across all academic disciplines, including literature, history, philosophy, linguistics, theology, music, fine arts, education, mathematics, and science.

Prizes will be given to the best of the day’s projects. Additionally, the winning projects might be given time to develop further under guidance of the Voltaire Lab, and result in an online publication on the Voltaire Foundation’s website.

Participants: We are looking for all kinds of people to participate; those with an interest in data visualisation, geospatial analysis, corpus linguistics, written and spoken word, web applications and programming, data/text mining, design, art, film and more are welcome. You don’t have to be an expert to join, but you do need to be enthusiastic and prepared to help develop a project.

Registration: To sign up, please fill in our webform under this link:

Knowledge of French and/ or technical skills are welcome but not essential – we can team you up with a speaker of French or IT-savvy participant.


9:30am             Welcome and introduction to the dataset

10:00am           “Speedmeeting” – formation of teams for the day

10:30am           Begin of teams working on their project ideas

12:30pm           Lunch starts; teams can reshuffle or ask for support in specific areas

Afternoon:        Further work on mini projects

5pm                   Project presentations; jury decides on winner of the day and presents prizes

6pm                   End of Hackathon, reconvene at Royal Oak for drinks


About TOUT Voltaire (

This database brings you in fully-searchable form all of Voltaire’s writings. Included are all of Voltaire’s works apart from his correspondence, which can be searched separately, as part of the Electronic Enlightenment project. Editions used to establish this database are clearly marked; when possible we have included Voltaire’s notes, and some variants depending on the edition.

The Voltaire Foundation is currently publishing the Complete works of Voltaire in print – the first definitive critical edition of his complete writings. An online version of this edition is planned sometime after 2018. In the meantime, this plain text version of Voltaire’s writings (without critical apparatus or notes) is the most reliable version available anywhere on the web.

This research tool is made available free of charge by the Voltaire Foundation (University of Oxford) and the ARTFL Project (University of Chicago).


About Electronic Enlightenment (

With 79,254 letters and documents and 10,232 correspondents as of Winter 2018–2019, EE is the most wide-ranging online collection of edited correspondence of the early modern period, linking people across Europe, the Americas and Asia from the early 17th to the mid-19th century.

Drawn from the best available critical editions, EE is not simply an “electronic bookshelf” of isolated texts but a network of interconnected documents, allowing you to see the complex web of personal relationships in the early modern period and the making of the modern world.

The rich variety of people in EE represents a real cross-section of early modern society in Europe and the Americas. By treating every correspondent — not only the “great men” — as someone significant, EE reveals the existence of the myriad unknown and ignored figures of the period and raises questions about their place in the structures of their time, challenging the traditional concept of the “Enlightenment” as the preserve of philosophers.

Through EE you can see the ideas and concerns not only of thinkers and scholars, politicians and diplomats, but also butchers and housewives, servants and shopkeepers. With a wealth of personal detail revealed in these personal documents, you can explore as never before the relationships, correspondence networks and movement of ideas, the letters and lives of the early modern world.

Voltaire Foundation

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