Staff in the Department of French
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 – in particular, sixteenth-century France – can literature provide, and why?
I am currently working on two book projects. The first is on Literature and Apocalypse in France, 1532-1628. The book takes as its starting point the fact that the Reformation saw a concomitant revival of both ‘poetic prophecy’ and interest in apocalypse. It argues that literary texts – texts which might be conceived as ‘poetic prophecy’ – could therefore do things with apocalypse which other texts did not. The book includes studies of Rabelais, Aubigné, and Du Bartas. The project is funded by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship.
The second project sets up a dialogue between literature and the cognitive sciences, focusing on the author Rabelais. It was conceived as a result of research carried out as a Research Lecturer on the project ‘Literature as an Object of Knowledge’, directed by Terence Cave. I am especially interested in social cognition, as well as ‘kinesic intelligence’ and 'figurative' language. This project is being developed using my Philip Leverhulme Prize (http://www.leverhulme.ac.uk/news/news_item.cfm/newsid/271).
My 2008 book, Cosmos and Image in the Renaissance, took as its starting point the observation that 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 topics 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 participate in events at the Institute of Advanced Study. Previously I have been Lecturer at King’s College, London, a Kennedy Scholar at Harvard, and a pensionnaire étrangère at the Ecole normale supérieure in Paris. I am a graduate of the University of Cambridge.
I have supervised theses on aspects of sixteenth-century literature and culture, and am keen to receive applications from potential PhD students interested in sixteenth-century literature and culture and/or cognitive approaches to literature.
- Sixteenth-century French literature, culture, thought, and history
- Cognitive sciences and literature
- Apocalypse and 'poetic prophecy'
- Movement and embodiment in literature
- Specificities of literary 'thinking' in relation to other modes of knowledge
- 2008 Cosmos and Image in the Renaissance: French Love Lyric and Natural-Philosophical Poetry, Legenda, 219 pp.
Chapter in book
- 2018 '"Look Again", "Listen, listen", "Keep looking": Emergent Properties and Sensorimotor Imagining in Mary Oliver's Poetry', in Cave, Terence & Wilson, Deirdre (eds.), Reading Beyond the Code: Literature and Relevance Theory, Oxford University Press.
- 2018 '"Metaphor", Lexicography, and Rabelais's Prologue to "Gargantua"', in Banks, Kathryn & Chesters, Timothy (eds.), Movement in Renaissance Literature: Exploring Kinesic Intelligence, Palgrave Macmillan.
- 2017 'Le « Long Poëme » apocalyptique comme « livre scientifique » discours scientifique dans les poèmes de l’Apocalypse au tournant du XVIe siècle', in Ducos, Joëlle (ed.), Les Sciences et le livre, Hermann, pp. 235-248
- 2016 'Fiction, Vision, Dream, Revelation: d’Aubigné’s Tragiques and the Ocean episode', in MacCarthy, Ita, Sellevold, Kirsti & Smith, Olivia (eds.), Cognitive Confusions: Dreams, Delusions and Illusions in Early Modern Culture, Legenda, pp. 125-145
- 2013 'Agapè et Éros, amour religieux et amour érotique dans la Délie de Scève', in Roger-Vasselin, Bruno (ed.), Maurice Scève ou l'emblème de la perfection enchevêtrée: Délie objet de plus haute vertu (1544), Presses Universitaires de France, pp. 117-129
- 2013 'Apocalypse and Literature in the Sixteenth Century: The Case of Rabelais and the Frozen Words', in Archer, Leona & Stuart, Alex (eds.), Visions of Apocalypse: representations of the end in French literature and culture, Peter Lang, pp. 83-98
- 2011 'Royal Authority and Commonplace Similitudes in French Natural-Philosophical Poetry: Duchesne's Grand Miroir du monde and Du Bartas's Sepmaine', in Bruun, Mette & Cowling, David (eds.), Commonplace Culture in Western Europe in the Early Modern Period I: Reformation, Counter-Reformation and Revolt, Peeters, pp. 129-149
- 2009 'Interpretations of the Body Politic and of Natural Bodies in Late Sixteenth-Century France', in Musolff, Andreas. & Zinken, Joerg. (eds.), Metaphor and Discourse, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 205-218
- 2009 'Les Mondes nouveau-né et vieillissant: La Sepmaine de Du Bartas et la poésie apocalyptique', in Winn, Colette. & Yandell, Cathy. (eds.), Vieillir à la Renaissance, Honoré Champion, pp. 319-337
- 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 Ford, Philip. & White, Paul. (eds.), Masculinities in Sixteenth-Century France: Proceedings of the Eighth Cambridge French Renaissance Colloquium 5-7 July 2003, Cambridge French Colloquia, pp. 61-84
- 2018 (co-edited with Chesters, Timothy) Movement in Renaissance Literature: Exploring Kinesic Intelligence, Palgrave Macmillan.
- 2011 (co-edited with Bossier, Philiep.) Commonplaces: The Consolidation of God-Given Power, Peeters.
- 2004 (co-edited with Harris, Joseph.) Exposure: Revealing Bodies, Unveiling Representations, Peter Lang, 194 pp.
- 2004 (co-edited with Ford, Philip.) Self and Other in Sixteenth-Century France: Proceedings of the Seventh Cambridge French Renaissance Colloquium, 7-9 July 2001, Cambridge French Colloquia, 246 pp.
- 2012 Apocalypse Now and Then. Literature and Theology, 26 (4): Oxford University Press.
- 2012 '‘I speak like John about the Apocalypse’ Rabelais, Prophecy, and Fiction', Literature and Theology 26, pp. 417-438
- 2012 'Apocalypse Now and Then: Fictive and Visual Revelations From Anglo-Saxon England to North-American Modernity', Literature and Theology 26, pp. 361-366
- 2011 'Prophecy and Literature', Insights 4.
- 2010 'Confessional Identity, Eating, and Reading: Catholic Imitations of Du Bartas’s Sepmaine', Nottingham French Studies 49, pp. 62-78
- 2010 'Difference, Cognition, and Causality: Maurice Scève’s Délie and Charles de Bovelles’s Ars Oppositorum', French Studies 64, pp. 139-149
- 2008 'Opposites and Identities: Maurice Scève's Délie and Charles de Bovelles's Ars Oppositorum', French Studies 62, pp. 389-403
- 2007 'Space and Light: Ficinian Neoplatonism and Jacques Peletier Du Mans's Amour des Amours', Bibliothèque d'humanisme et renaissance 69, pp. 83-101
- 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, pp. 95-111