Rowan Tomlinson is a specialist in the cultural, literary, and intellectual history of the European Renaissance whose research covers French, Latin, Neo-Latin, and Italian writers. She is especially interested in the interactions during the long sixteenth century – before the creation of the ‘two cultures’ that separated the arts and the sciences – between the literary and other disciplines (natural history, philosophy, philology). Parallel research interests include the history of education and access to cultures of humanism and the liberal arts by those outside Renaissance institutions and seats of power, interests which reflect her concerns with and campaigning about the politics and policies of higher education today.
Publications include essays on Rabelais, Montaigne, Poliziano, and the reception of Pliny the Elder, and a co-edited volume on the translation culture of England and France from 1500 to 1660. Her forthcoming monograph, Inventive Inventories: Lists, Literature, and the Natural World in Renaissance Europe (Oxford University Press), examines the relationship between natural history and literature across the long sixteenth century, beginning with the Florentine humanist Angelo Poliziano and ending with the Jesuit writer Etienne Binet, by way of Erasmus, Juan-Luis Vives, Jacques Peletier Du Mans, Conrad Gessner, Rabelais, and Montaigne.
In 2016 Rowan was awarded a two-year Fellowship by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, under its 'Leadership Fellows' scheme. The project, 'Scholars, hacks, and gentlemen: the politics of authorship in Renaissance France', is concerned broadly with the socio-political status of different categories of writer from the early sixteenth century to the formation of the Académie française in 1635, telling a story of rival communities, divided disciplines, and the emergence of an increasingly exclusionary vocabulary of taste. The Fellowship will allow Rowan to do intensive work on single-authored publications, ranging from investigations into the social status of the translator in different regions of France to work on the status of poetry, sacred and profane, and its relationship to philology and history, from the 1490s to the outbreak of the French religious wars in 1562. She will also be establishing a network of interested scholars who will meet for collaborative workshops and organizing diverse public-engagement activities.
Rowan has a strong interest in exploring the methodologies that inform historical study and in developing fruitful interactions between historical studies and other disciplines. She is a member of an ongoing cross-disciplinary research project, 'Early Modern Keywords: A European Vocabulary of Culture and Society in a Global Frame, 1450-1700', while her interdisciplinary interests have led to her contributing a historical perspective to the 'Co-operative economy and collective ownership' strand of the second biggest economics society in Europe.
Before her appointment in October 2011 to a Lectureship at Bristol, Rowan held an early-career post (as Fellow and Tutor in French) at New College, University of Oxford, where she also read for her undergraduate degree in French and English and pursued postgraduate studies (including a year spent as an English assistant at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Lyon). She attended a Brighton comprehensive and a non-selective sixth-form college and is active in promoting languages in the state-school system.
In the wider academic community, Rowan is a member of the Executive Committee of the Council for the Defence of British Universities: http://cdbu.org.uk/, with whom she works to seek to protect higher education from the growing influence of marketisation.
Rowan's courses include five French units and one Modern Languagues unit closely linked to her period of specialism: Introduction to French Renaissance Culture: Conventionality and the Writing Self; Before the Novel: Experiments in Prose Narrative; Identity and Conflict: The Poetics and Politics of French Renaissance Writing;The French Renaissance: Myths and Realities; Journeys Through Poetry (co-taught with Ruth Bush); and Ancients and Moderns: Cultures of Humanism in Renaissance Europe. All these courses are historical in nature and prioritise detailed engagement with primary texts as a means of learning about sixteenth-century culture. However, this concern with the historical particularity of the early modern is underscored by a constant consideration of the ‘timeless’ issues facing the student of literary history (why do we study literature; what do we understand by the ‘literary’; where does the ‘meaning’ of a text lie?), as well as by a belief in the importance of foregrounding and questioning our own methods of reading past cultures (how do we as contemporary readers read the early modern?). In addition, Rowan is a seminar leader and lecturer on the first-year Shaping France course, a lecturer on Reading Literary and Visual Cultures, and teaches prose and translation to final-year students. She also teaches for the Modern Languages MAs and on Bristol's Foundation Year in the Arts and Humanities: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/arts/courses/foundation/.
Rowan is keen to work with postgraduate students and welcomes queries from those interested in exploring work at masters and doctoral level on any topic linked to 16th and 17th century France.
Consultation hours for students in teaching weeks: Wednesday 1pm-3pm
View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system
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