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 major projects. The first is a book on Literature and Apocalypse in the Reformation. 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 concerns kinesis and literature. As a Research Lecturer on the project ‘Literature as an Object of Knowledge’, directed by Terence Cave, I began exploring insights into thinking provided by the cognitive neurosciences, particularly accounts of embodied cognition from neuroscience, linguistics, and psychology. I am especially interested in the notion of ‘kinesic intelligence’ and the question of how far it might illuminate both so-called ‘figurative’ language, and also the function and representation of movement in literature. This project will be developed using my 2013 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 currently Senior Lecturer in French, and a member of Durham’s Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies. 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 am keen to receive applications from potential PhD students. I am currently supervising theses on aspects of sixteenth-century and medieval literature.
- Sixteenth-century French literature, culture, thought, and history
- Apocalypse and 'Poetic Prophecy'
- 'Kinesic Intelligence' in the Renaissance
- Movement and embodiment in literature
- Specificities of literary 'thinking' in relation to other modes of knowledge
- Cognitive approaches to literature
- 2008 Cosmos and Image in the Renaissance: French Love Lyric and Natural-Philosophical Poetry, Legenda, 219 pp.
Chapter in book
- 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.
- 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
- 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 XLIX, pp. 62-78
- 2010 'Difference, Cognition, and Causality: Maurice Scève’s Délie and Charles de Bovelles’s Ars Oppositorum', French Studies LXIV, pp. 139-149
- 2008 'Opposites and Identities: Maurice Scève's Délie and Charles de Bovelles's Ars Oppositorum', French Studies LXII, 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