Professor Emily Butterworth
Professor of Early Modern French
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 literature and thought
- Early modern women’s writing
- Marguerite de Navarre
Emily works on early modern literature and thought, with a particular interest in deviant speech and language. Her first book, Poisoned Words: Slander and Satire in Early Modern France, explored reputation and constructions of subjectivity and identity through the lens of wounding language.
In 2012-2015, Emily was Co-Investigator on an AHRC-funded project, Gossip and Nonsense in the French Renaissance: http://gossipandnonsense.exeter.ac.uk/.
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.
Her most recent book, Marguerite de Navarre: A Critical Companion, is a critical introduction to Marguerite de Navarre’s writing, exploring the historical, political, and cultural contexts of her poetry, plays, and diplomatic letters alongside her best-known work, The Heptameron.
Emily has also worked on obscenity, scandal, censorship, rhetoric, and women’s writing in the early modern period, and is currently working on languages of dissent and concord in sixteenth-century France.
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: http://spinningstories.wordpress.com/
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 parlour game: http://gossipandnonsense.exeter.ac.uk/2015/08/
‘Waiting …. In a Hairdressers’ is a podcast by poet Malika Booker about things overheard in a hairdresser’s on the Walworth Rd. http://www.fueltheatre.com/projects/while-you-wait
Emily has appeared on radio and podcasts:
Radio 4’s Something Understood on gossip, rumour and the ‘Chinese Whispers’ project. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04tchvv
Radio 3’s Arts and Ideas podcast on early modern news and gossip. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p070p54j
Radio 3’s Free Thinking on the value of gossip. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000fwfb
Marguerite de Navarre: A Critical Companion (Cambridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2022)
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)
‘Disinformation and Discrimination in Marguerite de Navarre’s Heptameron (1559) and Sixteenth-Century News Culture’, Past and Present 257 (2022), 172-200
‘Apothecaries’ Cornets: Books as Waste Paper in the Renaissance’, MLN 133 (2018), 891-913