Show/hide main menu

Dr Emily Butterworth

Dr Emily Butterworth

Emily ButterworthReader in Early Modern French

Tel +44 (0)20 7848 2464
Address Department of French
King's College London
Room 4.41 Virginia Woolf Building
22 Kingsway
London WC2B 6LE



Emily studied French at University College London and the University of Cambridge. She was a lecturer at the University of Sheffield for four years before coming to King’s in 2006.

Research interests and PhD supervision
  • Early modern French literature and thought
  • Deviant speech in the early modern period
  • Montaigne

Emily works on early modern literature and thought, with a particular interest in Montaigne and in deviant speech and language. Her first book, Poisoned Words: Slander and Satire in Early Modern France, explored reputation, constructions of subjectivity, and wounding language in the early modern period.

Her second book, The Unbridled Tongue: Babble and Gossip in Renaissance France, looked at forms of excessive speech – babble, gossip and rumour – and why they were considered so personally and politically dangerous in the sixteenth century. In 2012-2015, she was Co-Investigator on an AHRC-funded project, Gossip and Nonsense in the French Renaissance:

She has also worked on obscenity, censorship, rhetoric and women’s writing in the period, and is currently working on theological and secular conceptions of scandal.

She would welcome applications from students in these areas.

For more detail, see my full research profile.

Selected publications
  • The Unbridled Tongue: Babble and Gossip in Renaissance France, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016
  • Poisoned Words: Slander and Satire in Early Modern France, Oxford: Legenda, 2006 (reprinted 2015)
  • ‘Catulle et caquet’, in La Librairie de Montaigne, ed. by Philip Ford and Neil Kenny. Cambridge French Colloquia, 2012, pp. 125-39
  • ‘Scandal in Rabelais’s Tiers Livre: Divination, Interpretation, and Edification’, Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 34:4 (2011), 23-43 (winner of Natalie Zemon Davis Prize)
  • Finding Obscenity in Brantôme’s Dames galantes’, Early Modern France 14 (2010), 75-89

For a complete list of publications, please see my full research profile.


Emily teaches specialist modules on early- and pre-modern French literature and culture, and contributes to the first-year Introduction to French Literature and to final-year language teaching.

Expertise and public engagement

Emily has worked with two artists on projects about gossip.

The Spinning Stories project, with artist Clare Qualmann, explores the places people talk and why they tell stories. Project blog:

The Chinese Whispers project, also with Clare Qualmann and part of the AHRC-funded Gossip and Nonsense project, investigates ideas of rumour and the descent of sense into nonsense through performances of the the parlour game:

‘Waiting …. In a Hairdressers’ is a podcast by poet Malika Booker about things overheard in a hairdresser’s on the Walworth Rd.

Emily has appeared on Radio 4’s Something Understood talking about gossip, rumour and the ‘Chinese Whispers’ project.

Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions  Privacy policy  Accessibility  Modern slavery statement  Contact us

© 2018 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454