Personal profile

Research overview

My research interests are in the literature, history and culture - in French and in Latin, in texts and in images - of Renaissance France, especially in relation to the classical world. I am particularly interested in themes of transgression and restraint. My recent work has focused on areas such as:

  • attitudes in early modern Europe to alcohol, to vileness, to women and sexuality, and to theft;
  • literary and artistic representations of the atrocities committed during the French religious wars;
  • (as part of a wider research network) obscenity.

A recurrent motif in my work is birds, as light and inconsequential figures that can nevertheless carry some weighty themes. My current book-length project, Flights of Fancy: Avian Themes in Renaissance France, examines the relationship between ornithological knowledge and the imaginative representation of sixteenth-century birds and of what they can symbolise.

Teaching activity

I teach French language, literature and culture at all levels, as well as early modern French (and other) texts for Comparative Literature, and I offer three Honours Modules:

  • “Discovering the Renaissance” (FR4111) introduces students to the literature of the period as it looks back to the classical past, focusing on themes of imitation, interpretation and imagination;
  • “Representations of the Renaissance” (FR4115) looks to the future, examining how this peculiarly privileged era in France’s cultural past has been received and portrayed in historical literature and in films from the seventeenth century to the present day;
  • “Women’s Voices in Renaissance France” (FR4118) looks beyond France to explore how women, as writers and as characters, use their voices to challenge or confirm the dominant cultural narratives of the wider European Renaissance.

I also teach postgraduate students, and I actively welcome enquiries from students interested in pursuing a PhD in any aspect of the literature and culture of Renaissance France.


Dive into the research topics where Emma Herdman is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles