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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Kathryn Banks

Banks, Kathryn (2018). Metaphor, Lexicography, and Rabelais’s Prologue to Gargantua. In Movement in Renaissance Literature: Exploring Kinesic Intelligence. Banks, Kathryn & Chesters, Timothy Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. 81-107.

Author(s) from Durham


Marshalling history and contemporary science, Banks investigates what happens when writers revive the embodied content of “dead metaphors” or Latin etymons. Analysing Rabelais’s Prologue to Gargantua and Dolet’s Commentaries on the Latin Language, Banks shows that both fiction and lexicography highlighted semantic continuities between the abstract and the embodied by moving between the two, reflecting humanism’s “language turn.” However, Rabelais’s switches between embodied and abstract are more striking, and often found in discussions of cognition. Drawing on neuroscientific research into how language affects sensorimotor response, Banks argues that Rabelais thereby makes extensive calls on readers’ embodied cognition, which may come to the level of conscious reflection. Further light is shed on this by contrast with Charles de Bovelles’ treatment of the proverbs underlying Rabelais’s Prologue.