Scholarship is nothing if not a work of emulation, and I am fortunate to have profited from many models of academic excellence and encouragement. Friends and colleagues in England, France, and America have generously offered their time, their critical spirit, and their support to this project.
Institutional support is not the least of the debts I have acquired in the production of this book. The Rhodes Trust funded the initial dissertation research out of which this project grew. Auburn University offered me release time in which to finish revisions, and the Tanner Humanities Center of the University of Utah funded a year's leave in 1996-7 during which I wrote the bulk of the manuscript.
My thanks are also due to archivists, librarians, and latter-day emulators in France. In particular, Henri Hours of the departmental archives of the Jura and Odile Jurbert of the municipal archives in Mulhouse acquainted me with important collections that I might otherwise have overlooked. The emulation societies of Besançon and of Lons le Saunier welcomed me to their meetings. Roger Marlin, Bisontin emulator and long-time secretaire perpétuel of the Academy, first introduced me to learned society life in the twentieth century. Claude-Isabelle Brelot shared with me her knowledge of the emulation society of Lons and of the nineteenth-century Franche Comté. My thoughts on French learned societies received their first audition in the friendly setting of the bicentennial celebration of the emulation society of the Seine-Maritime in Rouen in 1993. Discovering the still-active world of provincial learned societies convinced me that French associative life was indeed a topic worth investigating.
In Oxford, Robert Gildea supervised this project as a dissertation and then patiently saw the manuscript through publication. Martin Conway was also an encouraging reader whose thoughts on middle age, in particular, have enriched this book. Colin Jones and Geoff Ellis were model examiners who made me see how a dissertation might be transformed.
In the United States, colleagues in the Auburn University history department were as welcoming of me and of my research as any young