Current Postgraduate Students
Dr Kathryn Banks, MA, M.Phil, PhD Cambridge
I am a specialist of sixteenth-century French literature and culture. My research is driven by two interrelated questions. First, what kinds of ‘thinking’ does literature engage in or elicit, and how do they relate to other kinds? Second, what specific sorts of insights into other cultures – and, in particular, into renaissance history – can literature provide, and why?
I am currently preparing a book on Literature and Apocalypse. The Renaissance brought renewed vigour to the notion of poetic prophecy, the idea that literary writers were inspired and their utterances prophetic. At the same time, the anxieties of the Reformation caused the increased currency of apocalyptic. The book argues that this conjunction matters. It offers fresh insights into both apocalyptic thinking and also modes of literary 'thinking' and concepts of literature. Foci of the book are time, embodiment, figurative language, and fiction. Authors who form the basis of case studies include Rabelais, Du Bartas, and D'Aubigne. I am grateful for the assistance of a 2013 Leverhulme Research Fellowship (and, previously, a Durham Institute of Advanced Study 'Fast-Track' Fellowship, www.dur.ac.uk/ias/fellows, and a British Academy Small Research Grant).
I am currently developing my interest in literary thinking and its relationship to other forms of knowledge by employing insights into thinking provided by the cognitive neurosciences. I am a Research Lecturer on the project ‘Literature as an Object of Knowledge’, directed by Terence Cave and funded by his International Balzan Prize. The project explores approaches to literature derived from cognitive science and analyses the cognitive value of literature in relation to other kinds of knowledge. I am especially interested in the idea that literature exploits in distinctive ways brain responses to movement, and particularly in the ways it might use figurative language to do so. This is grounded in the finding by cognitive neuroscientists that the language of movement, even when used figuratively, produces brain responses like those produced by actual movement. I have presented research to the Balzan project analysing Rabelais from this perspective.
My 2008 book, Cosmos and Image in the Renaissance, demonstrates one way in which literature and literary methodologies can enhance our understanding of early modern history. In the Renaissance, human and cosmic images could constitute images not only when employed in language as metaphors but also in their real existence as objects: for example, it was often believed that the human body was literally an image of the cosmos, and the sun an image of God. I show that poets reflected on these real ‘images’ by depicting them in poetic images: for example, poetic representations of the cosmos as human body explored the relationship between cosmos and ‘man’, and did so differently from theological or natural-philosophical (scientific) prose. Thus, through its use of images, poetry made distinctive contributions to thinking about relationships between God, ‘man’, and the world, relationships which were fundamental to the questions at the heart of the Reformation, as well as to thinking about themes as diverse as nature, politics, and love. The book operates through case studies of two poems, namely Du Bartas’s Sepmaine, a sixteenth-century ‘scientific’ poem and European bestseller, and Scève’s Délie, which belongs to the European vogue for Petrarchist lyric and accentuates its underlying tendency to bring religion into love poetry.
I am a member of Durham’s Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies and of the Modern Languages and Cultures research group "Literature, History, Theory".
I am a graduate of the University of Cambridge. Before coming to Durham, I was Lecturer at King’s College, London, a Kennedy Scholar at Harvard, and a pensionnaire étrangère at the Ecole normale supérieure in Paris.
I would be delighted to receive applications from prospective PhD students. I am currently supervising a PhD on hybridity in medieval French literature, and will supervise sixteenth-century PhD projects from next academic year. I also teach on the MA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and the MA in Culture and Difference.
- Banks, Kathryn. (2008). Cosmos and Image in the Renaissance: French Love Lyric and Natural-Philosophical Poetry. Oxford: Legenda.
- Banks, Kathryn. & Bossier, Philiep. (2011). Commonplaces: The Consolidation of God-Given Power. Leuven: Peeters.
- Banks, Kathryn. & Harris, Joseph. (2004). Exposure: Revealing Bodies, Unveiling Representations. Modern French Identities, v. 29. Oxford: Peter Lang.
- Banks, Kathryn. & Ford, Philip. (2004). Self and Other in Sixteenth-Century France: Proceedings of the Seventh Cambridge French Renaissance Colloquium, 7-9 July 2001. Cambridge French Colloquia. Cambridge: Cambridge French Colloquia.
Edited works: journals
- Banks Kathryn (2012). Apocalypse Now and Then. Literature and Theology, 26 (4): Oxford University Press.
Essays in edited volumes
- Banks, Kathryn. (Forthcoming). Apocalypse and Literature in the Sixteenth Century: The Case of Rabelais and the Frozen Words. In Visions of Apocalypse. Archer, Leona. & Stuart, Alex. Peter Lang.
- Banks, Kathryn (Forthcoming). Le « Long Poëme » apocalyptique comme « livre scientifique » discours scientifique dans les poèmes de l’Apocalypse au tournant du XVIe siècle. In Le Livre scientifique. Isabelle Diu & Joëlle Ducos Hermann.
- Banks, Kathryn (2012). Agapè et Éros, amour religieux et amour érotique. In Maurice Sceve ou l'emblème de la perfection enchevêtrée. Bruno Roger-Vasselin Presses Universitaires de France. 117-129.
- Banks, Kathryn. (2011). Royal Authority and Commonplace Similitudes in French Natural-Philosophical Poetry: Duchesne's Grand Miroir du monde and Du Bartas's Sepmaine. In Commonplaces. Bruun, Mette. & Cowling, David. Leuven: Peeters. 129-149.
- Banks, Kathryn. (2009). Interpretations of the Body Politic and of Natural Bodies in Late Sixteenth-Century France. In Metaphor and Discourse. Musolff, Andreas. & Zinken, Joerg. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 205-218.
- Banks, Kathryn. (2009). Les Mondes nouveau-né et vieillissant: La Sepmaine de Du Bartas et la poésie apocalyptique. In Vieillir à la Renaissance. Yandell, Cathy. & Winn, Colette. Paris: Champion. 319-337.
- Banks, Kathryn. (2006). Situating the Masculine: Gender, Identity and the Cosmos, in Maurice Scève's Délie, Marsilio Ficino's De Amore and Leone Ebreo's Dialoghi. In Masculinities in Sixteenth-Century France: Proceedings of the Eighth Cambridge French Renaissance Colloquium 5-7 July 2003. Ford, Philip. & White, Paul. Cambridge: Cambridge French Colloquia. 61-84.
Journal papers: academic
- Banks, Kathryn (2012). ‘I speak like John about the Apocalypse’ Rabelais, Prophecy, and Fiction. Literature and Theology 26(4): 417-438.
- (2012). Apocalypse Now and Then: Fictive and Visual Revelations From Anglo-Saxon England to North-American Modernity. Literature and Theology 361-366.
- Banks, Kathryn (2010). Confessional Identity, Eating, and Reading: Catholic Imitations of Du Bartas’s Sepmaine. Nottingham French Studies XLIX(3 ): 62-78.
- Banks, Kathryn (2010). Difference, Cognition, and Causality: Maurice Scève’s Délie and Charles de Bovelles’s Ars Oppositorum. French Studies LXIV(2): 139-149.
- Banks, Kathryn. (2008). Opposites and Identities: Maurice Scève's Délie and Charles de Bovelles's Ars Oppositorum. French Studies LXII(4): 389-403.
- Banks, Kathryn. (2007). Space and Light: Ficinian Neoplatonism and Jacques Peletier Du Mans's Amour des Amours. Bibliothèque d'humanisme et renaissance 69(1): 83-101.
- Banks, Kathryn. (2003). The Ethics of 'Writing' Enigma: A Reading of Chrétien de Troyes’ Conte du Graal and of Lévinas's Totalité et infini. Comparative Literature 55(2): 95-111.
Journal papers: online
- Banks, Kathryn (2011). Prophecy and Literature. Insights 4.