Professor Warren Boutcher, MA PhD (Cambridge)
Professor of Renaissance Studies | Head of School
For my PhD I worked on Florio’s Montaigne with Lisa Jardine in the English Faculty at Cambridge. After a research fellowship at Trinity Hall, Cambridge and a stint as a fellow and university assistant lecturer at Queens’ College Cambridge I moved to the English department at Queen Mary in 1994. The wide range of approaches and disciplines happily accommodated in the department has allowed me to retain and develop early interests in translation, humanism, and intellectual history, and in late Renaissance European (especially English, French, and Italian) studies.
I have recorded videos about my teaching for Queen Mary's ADEPT programme, including this piece on undergraduate views on feedback.
In recent years I have taught the following undergraduate modules:
- Renaissance European literary and intellectual history:
- Vernacular humanism and literature (esp. English, French, Italian)
- Montaigne and his reception
- Translation and its relationship to wider intellectual and cultural history, including book history, cultural transmission, diplomacy, and transnational literary phenomena.
- Libraries and the relationship between oral, written, and printed media.
- History of the modern humanities
- Application of anthropological theory to literary studies (Alfred Gell)
- Transnational literary studies
Recent and On-Going Research:
I am currently developing and seeking funding and partners for a large collaborative project to produce a literary history of Europe, 1559-1648, centered on histories of literary objects and groups of objects. It aims to recover the dynamics of the transnational literary field—the itineraries, the circuits and networks traced by objects, people, forms, skills, knowledge between cities and regions across retrospectively imposed national borders. It is open to a whole range of literary objects that had a presence in social life and that are of interest to scholars in many different disciplines: words and inscriptions, texts and works, ephemeral and archival documents, manuscripts and printed books. It is interested not just in authors but in actors from publishers and readers to pedlars and players. It includes not only western and central Europe but also Scandinavia, east and southeast Europe, the Americas and other territories connected with Europe by trade, colonialism, missionary evangelism in this period. The range of languages of interest is correspondingly wide. I have spoken in the last couple of years about this project at CUNY New York, Berkeley, Padua, Mainz, UEA Norwich, Eötvös Loránd Budapest, York-Southern Denmark (videoseminar), ENS Paris.
The project emerged from the two-volume study I published in 2017 with Oxford University Press on The School of Montaigne in Early Modern Europe, which analysed and followed the objects, actors, forms and skills comprising Montaigne’s literary heritage as they moved across Europe.
Patrick J. Murray in the Times Literary Supplement of September 29, 2017: ‘[Warren Boutcher] gives us an in-depth account of Montaigne’s literary influence across the Western world from the sixteenth century to the present day. … [T]he two volumes … represent a remarkable achievement, and one that is all the more impressive in light of its single authorship. Boutcher turns his adroit hand to subjects as various as paratextual literature, German idealism, Roman statuary and papal censorship’.
Peter Platt in Renaissance Quarterly (vol. 71, 2018, 397-400): ‘Warren Boutcher's prodigious - and prodigiously important - book is in some ways a remarkably understated project. ... For the school of Montaigne has had - and continues to have - textbooks in many editions, countless students, myriad teachers. Warren Boutcher is, quite simply, one of its finest instructors.’
George Hoffmann in Renaissance and Reformation (vol. 41, 2018, 152-154): ‘Resembling nothing so much as an Anthony Grafton of vernacular scholarship, Boutcher leaps from France to the Netherlands, from England to Italy, and from Spain to Germany in order to track thousands of interlinked references to the Essays. … . The book’s impressive span aims at two distinct ends: as a summation of Montaigne’s reception and influence, Boutcher’s School of Montaigne stands as a reference work for all scholars and the starting point for those likely to want to explore these questions further; at the same time, it mounts a novel and provocative challenge to current literary studies in how it shows that contextualization can not only determine historical actors, it can liberate them.’
Publications (since 2011)
- (2017). The School of Montaigne in Early Modern Europe Volume One: The Patron-Author. Oxford: Oxford University Press
- (2017). The School of Montaigne in Early Modern Europe Volume Two: The Reader-Writer. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Journal articles and book chapters
- (2019). Vernacular Literature. The Oxford Illustrated History of the Renaissance (pp. 303-337). Gordon Campbell (Ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press
ii (2019). The Montaignean essay: Authored miscellanies from antiquity to the nineteenth century. The Literary Essay. Thomas Karshan and Kathryn Murphy (Eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press
iii (2018). Translation and the English book trade c.1640-1660: The Cases of Humphrey Moseley and William London. In Marie-Alice Belle and Brenda M. Hosington (Eds.), Thresholds of Translation: Paratexts, Print, and Cultural Exchange in Early Modern Britain (1473-1660) (pp. 251-277). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
iv (2016). Butchering the Cannibals: Essais I.31 Dismembered for Florio's Modern Readers. In Neil Kenny, Richard Scholar, Wes Williams (Eds.), Montaigne in Transit: Essays in Honour of Ian Maclean (pp. 107-32). Oxford: Legenda
v (2016). La citoyenneté romaine de Montaigne: La supplica des archives dans son context. In Philippe Desan (Ed.). Montaigne à l'étranger: voyages avérés, possibles et imaginés (pp. 293-304). Paris: Classiques Garnier
vi (2016). Montaigne in England and America. In Philippe Desan (Ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Montaigne. Oxford: University Press (pp. 306-27)
vii (2016). Transnational Cervantes: Text, Performance, and Transmission in the World of Don Quixote. In Jacqueline Glomski and Isabelle Moreau (Eds.). Seventeenth-Century Fiction: Text and Transmission (pp. 99-114). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
viii (2016). Intertraffic: Transnational literatures and languages in late Renaissance England and Europe. In Matthew McLean and Sara Barker (Eds.). International Exchange in the Early Modern Book World (pp. 343-73). Leiden: Brill
ix (2016). The private and public sessions of the Accademia dei Ricovrati: Orality, writing, and print in seventeenth-century Padua. In Luca Degl’Innocenti, Brian Richardson, Chiara Sbordoni (Eds.), Interactions between Orality and Writing in Early Modern Italian Culture. Abingdon and New York: Routledge (pp. 213-26)
x (2015). From cultural translation to cultures of translation? Early modern readers, sellers and patrons. In Demetriou, T. & Tomlinson, R. (Eds.), The Culture of Translation in Early Modern England and France, 1500-1660 (pp. 22-40). Basingstoke: Palgrave
xi (2013). Literary Art and Agency? Gell and the Magic of the Early Modern Book. In L. Chua, & M. Elliott (Eds.), Distributed Objects: Meaning and Mattering After Alfred Gell (pp. 155-175). New York and Oxford: Berghahn
xii (2012, September). L'objet livre à l'aube de l'époque moderne. Terrain, (59), 88-103
xiii (2012). The origins of Florio's Montaigne: "Of the institution and education of children, to Madame Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford". Montaigne Studies, 24(1), 7-32
- (2011). Collecting Manuscripts and Printed Books in the Late Renaissance: Naudé and the Last Duke of Urbino's Library. Italian Studies, 66(2), 206-220
I would welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in any of the areas of my research.
I have supervised the following successful PhD projects:
- Jason Scott-Warren, ‘Sir John Harington as a giver of books’ (Cambridge, 1996)
- Ana Gonzalez, 'Thomas Traherne and Seventeenth-Century Religious Discourse: Felicity, Government, Conversation, and Friendship' (2004)
- Katherine O’Mahoney, '"I Shall Goe Gather Flowers and then You’ll Weepe": Self-Murder in Early Modern English Drama' (2005)
- Matt Finch, 'Ernst Gombrich and the Memory of Aby Warburg: Emotion, Identity, and Scholarship' (2007)
- David Barnes, 'Urbs/Passion/Politics: Venice in Selected Works of Ruskin and Pound' (2009), co-supervised with Morag Shiach
- Tom Parkinson, ‘Finding Fynes: Moryson's Biography and the Latin Manuscript of Part One of the Itenerary (1617)’ (2011)
- Eleanor Merchant, '"Doctissimus pater pastorum": Laurence Humphrey and Reformed Humanist Education in Mid-Tudor England' (2013)
- Judith Atty, '"All ment to one volume": Edmund Spenser's Complaints (1591) and its Sources and Models' (2013)
- Clare Whitehead, ‘Performing for the new king: continuity and change at the early Stuart court’, co-supervised with Quentin Skinner (2014)
- Lydia Zeldenrust, ‘Mutations of an Animal-Human Hybrid Monster: The Western European Mélusine Translations (c. 1400-1600)’ (to be examined March 2016), co-supervised with Adrian Armstrong
Interviewed for BBC Newsnight, Thursday 9th December 2010, in a report on the new student fees regime and what the future of higher education holds.
Interviewed by Faculti Media about recent research on the application of Alfred Gell's anthropological theory of art and agency to literature: