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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.


Undergraduate Teaching

In the 2015-16 academic year, I teach on:


Research Interests:

  • Renaissance European literary and intellectual history:
    • Early modern European (esp. English, French, Italian) vernacular humanism and literature
    • Montaigne and his early modern European reception
    • Early modern translation and its relationship to wider intellectual and cultural history, including book history, cultural transmission, diplomacy, and transnational literary phenomena.
    • Early modern libraries and the relationship between oral, written, and printed media.
  • History of the modern humanities and social sciences; application of anthropological theory to literary studies (Alfred Gell). 

Recent and On-Going Research:

My two-volume study of The School of Montaigne in Early Modern Europe (volume one, The Patron-Author; volume two, The Reader-Writer) will be published in the first half of 2016 by Oxford University Press (⟨=en&cc=gb).

This is the first major study of Montaigne’s Essais as a transnational or European text (as opposed to a French text with a primarily French reception that was then secondarily received by the national literatures of England, Holland, Italy etc.). My ongoing research concerns transnational literatures and languages more broadly in late Renaissance Europe.

My most recent publication in this area is ‘From Cultural Translation to Cultures of Translation? Early Modern Readers, Sellers, and Patrons’ in eds. Tania Demetriou and Rowan Tomlinson, The Culture of Translation in Early Modern England and France, 1500-1660 (Palgrave: Basingstoke, 2015), 22-40 (

Forthcoming publications on this topic include ‘Intertraffic: Transnational literatures and languages in late Renaissance England and Europe’ in Matthew McLean and Sara Barker (eds.), International Exchange in the European Book World  (Brill, 2016), and ‘Transnational Cervantes: Text, Performance, and Transmission in the World of Don Quixote’ Jacqueline Glomski and Isabelle Moureau eds. Seventeenth-Century Fiction: Text and Transmission (Oxford University Press, 2016;⟨=en)

I am also serving as a collaborator in Brenda Hosington’s and Marie-Alice Belle’s Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) 3-year research program entitled "Translation and the making of early modern English print culture (1473-1660)’.

I organised roundtables on transnational literatures at the Renaissance Society of America 2014 and 2015 meetings, and a third (entitled ‘Toward a Literary History of Medieval and Renaissance Europe’) is to follow at at RSA 2016, in Boston, to mark the publication of ed. David Wallace, Europe: A Literary History, 1348-1418 (forthcoming, Oxford University Press, January 2016), a volume with over 80 contributors.

I am currently working on a proposal to edit a similar volume for the late Renaissance period and welcome contact from any scholars in any location interested in European and transnational approaches to late Renaissance literary history.

Other upcoming publications include:

  •  a chapter on ‘The private and public sessions of the Accademia dei Ricovrati: orality, writing, and print in 17th-century Padua’ in Interactions between Orality and Writing in Early Modern Italian Culture, eds. Luca Degl’Innocenti, Brian Richardson, and Chiara Sbordoni (forthcoming, Ashgate, February 2016;
  • a chapter on Montaigne’s Roman citizenship in Montaigne à l'étranger: voyages avérés, possibles et imaginés, ed. Philippe Desan (forthcoming, Classiques Garnier, 2016)
  • a chapter on ‘Butchering the Cannibals: Essais I.31 Dismembered for Florio’s Modern Readers’ in Montaigne in Transit: Essays in Honour of Ian Maclean, eds. Neil Kenny, Richard Scholar, and Wes Williams (forthcoming, Legenda, 2016;
  • a chapter on ‘Montaigne’s reception in England and America’ in The Oxford Handbook of Montaigne, ed. Philippe Desan (forthcoming, Oxford University Press, 2016)
  • a chapter on the relationship between the history of the ‘essay’ and of the ‘authored miscellany’ for an Oxford University Press volume on the history of the English essay, eds. Thomas Karshan and Kathryn Murphy.
  • a chapter on the mission of the Venetian representative Giovanni Carlo Scaramelli at the Elizabethan court (1603) in a volume from the ‘Textual Ambassadors’ project provisionally entitled Cultures of Diplomacy and Literary Writing in the Early Modern World: New Approaches, eds. Tracey Sowerby and Joanna Craigwood.
  • a chapter on European Renaissance vernacular literature for the Oxford Illustrated History of the Renaissance, ed. Gordon Campbell.
  • an edition of selected chapters (about half the text) of Florio’s Montaigne for Oxford World’s Classics.


Selected Publications (pre-2014):

‘Literary Art and Agency?: Gell and the Magic of the Early Modern Book’, in Distributed Objects: Meaning and Mattering after Alfred Gell, ed. L. Chua and M. Elliot (New York and Oxford: Berghahn, 2013), pp. 155-75

‘L'objet livre à l'aube de l'époque moderne’, Terrain, 59 (2012), 88-103

‘The Origins of Florio's Montaigne: "Of the institution and education of children, to Madame Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford"’, Montaigne Studies, 24 (2012), 7-32

‘Watson's Polybius (1568): A Case Study in Mid-Tudor Humanism and Historiography’, in Tudor Translation, ed. F. Schurink (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), pp. 101-20

‘Collecting Manuscripts and Printed Books in the Late Renaissance: Naude and the Last Duke of Urbino's Library’, Italian Studies, 66 (2011), 206-20 doi:10.1179/174861811X13009843386558

‘Afterword: Transferring Utopia’, in Thomas More's Utopia in Early Modern Europe: Paratexts and Contexts, ed. T. Cave (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2008), pp. 128-41

‘"Faidaises domestiques": Montaigne marchand bourgeois bordelais lu par un marchand bourgeois rémois’, Nouveau Bulletin de la Société Internationale des Amis de Montaigne, 4 (2008), 401-418

'Unoriginal Authors: How to do Things with Texts in the Renaissance', in Rethinking the Foundations of Modern Political Thought, ed. A. Brett, J. Tully, and H. Hamilton-Bleakley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 73-92

‘Literature’, in Palgrave Advances in Renaissance Historiography, ed. J. Woolfson (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2005), pp. 210-49

‘The Analysis of Culture Revisited: Pure Texts, Applied Texts, Literary Historicisms, Cultural Histories’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 64 (2003), 489-510 doi:10.1353/jhi.2003.0034

‘Humanism and Literature in Late Tudor England: Translation, the Continental Book and the Case of Montaigne's Essais’, in Reassessing Tudor Humanism, ed. J. Woolfson (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), pp. 243-68

 ‘Literature, Thought or Fact?: Past and Present Directions in the Study of the Early Modern Letter’, in Self-Presentation and Social Identification: The Rhetoric and Pragmatics of Letter Writing in Early Modern Times, ed. T. V. Houdt, J. Papy, G. Tournoy, and C. Matheeussen (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2002), pp. 137-63

‘“Who-taught-thee-Rhetoricke-to-deceive-a-maid?”: Christopher Marlowe's 'Hero and Leander', Juan Boscan's 'Leandro', and Renaissance Vernacular Humanism’, Comparative Literature, 52 (2000), 11-52

‘“A French Dexterity, & an Italian Confidence”: New Documents on John Florio, Learned Strangers and Protestant Humanist Study of Modern Languages in Renaissance England from c. 1547 to c. 1625’, Reformation, 2 (1992), 39-109

‘Vernacular Humanism in the Sixteenth Century’, in The Cambridge Companion to Renaissance Humanism, ed. J. Kraye (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 189-202

See also my Queen Mary Research Publications profile

PhD Supervision

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

Public Engagement

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:

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