Professor Hugh Roberts

Professor of French Renaissance Literature


Extension: 4226

Telephone: 01392 724226

My research focuses on comic, obscene, and nonsensical works of the French Renaissance.

Emily Butterworth and I were co-editors of Gossip and Nonsense in Renaissance France and England, a special issue of Renaissance Studies, 30 (2016). Our co-authored introduction and all of the articles in the issue are available through open access throughout 2016, including my Comparative Nonsense: French Galimatias and English Fustian.

I recently discovered some annotations in Ben Jonson's copy of Rabelais, including 'churnd bollock', 'little arse', and 'bridle champer', the latter meaning a lawyer, 'from his mule, which attending while her master is in court, hath leisure enough to champ on the bridle':

Previously Unnoticed Annotations to Jonson's Copy of Rabelais

Two recent articles in French Studies are also available for free download:

Obscenity in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Cenutry France

Obscenity and the Politics of Authorship in Early Seventeenth-Century France: Guillaume Colletet and the Parnasse des poetes satyriques (1622)

Current projects include an AHRC research grant, ‘Gossip and Nonsense: Excessive Language in Renaissance France’, in collaboration with Dr Emily Butterworth (King’s College London), and work to edit collections of lewd French verse of the early seventeenth century, in collaboration with Professor Guillaume Peureux (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre) and colleagues from France and Canada.

My book, Dogs’ Tales: Representations of Ancient Cynicism in French Renaissance Texts (2006), examines the humorous and sexually shameless antics of ancient ‘dog’ philosophers, or Cynics. Following the publication of Dogs’ Tales, I put together a network of thirty colleagues to investigate the obscene in French Renaissance culture which, with the aid of AHRC funding, allowed for a series of meetings, a website, a database of obscenities, and two co-authored publications, including Obscénités renaissantes (2011), described in a review as ‘quite simply, a magnificent, bilingual anthology of and about smut’. At the same time, I began work with Dr Annette Tomarken on editing the complete works of the early seventeenth-century stand-up comedian, Bruscambille, which were published in 2012 by Honoré Champion.