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Photo of Dr Adam Horsley

Dr Adam Horsley

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

4457

01392 724457

I hold a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship for a project entitled ‘Libertine Literature and Criminal Justice in Early Seventeenth-Century France.’ This project comprises a monograph exploring the legal trials of subversive authors, and a critical edition of the complete poetic works of François Maynard (1582-1646). 

I am currently preparing a book entitled Libertines and the Law: Subversive Authors and Criminal Justice in Early Seventeenth-Century France (Oxford University Press). This monograph will be the first to consider the crminal trials of three notorious libertine authors (Giulio Cesare Vanini, Jean Fontanier and Théophile de Viau) from the perspective of criminology rather than literary studies, and will be the culmination of nine years of research into this area. 

My research is mainly concerned with early modern texts and authors who were considered in their day to be libertin – that is to say in some way unorthodox or subversive – and the history of these beyond the field of literary criticism. I have published a number of studies that are broadly related to this central research interest. 

Before coming to Exeter, I taught French history and literature from the fourteenth to twenty-first centuries, as well as the compositional analysis of art works, French language and translation at the University of Nottingham (2011-18), where I also held the position of Honorary Visiting Research Fellow (2015-18).    

I currently serve on the Executive Committee of the Society for Early Modern French Studies (SEMFS) as Media officer. For more details about the society are available at http://www.semfs.org.uk/  

I am also involved in transcription work for the AHRC funded ‘Elizabeth Montagu Letters Project’ (Swansea, King's College London and Oxford Brookes), which aims to create an online digital archive of Montagu’s complete epistolary corpus.

Research interests

I am currently preparing a book entitled Libertines and the Law: Subversive Authors and Criminal Justice in Early Seventeenth-Century France (Oxford University Press). This monograph will be the first to consider the crminal trials of three notorious libertine authors (Giulio Cesare Vanini, Jean Fontanier and Théophile de Viau) from the perspective of criminology rather than literary studies, and will be the culmination of nine years of research into this area. 

My research interests can be divided into two broad categories. First, the critical reception of subversive, unorthodox or ‘libertin’ texts in their day, with a particular focus on their treatment by the early modern French criminal justice system and, to a lesser extent, religious and literary polemicists. Second, the study of texts from the perspective of material bibliography; that is to say, the history of text as material and cultural object, and its various spaces of readership and dissemination. My research is characterised by a close attention to the relationship between texts and their cultural environment, whilst demonstrating the relevance of early modern texts to modern concerns pertaining to otherness, persecution and exclusion.  

Within the field of seventeenth-century French studies, I am also interested in libertin literature more widely (particularly the works of Théophile de Viau, Cyrano de Bergerac and François Maynard), early realist texts, satirical and obscene poetry, and utopian literature.

Contribution to discipline

I serve on the committee for the Society for Early Modern French Studies (SEMFS) as Media and Publicity Officer (since 2017). 

I was recently awarded a European Network Fund as part of the University of Exeter's Global Strategy. This grant will be used to establish research links with the University of Copenhagen's Centre for Privacy Studies, and to host a workshop for delegates from the Centre in Exeter in summer 2019. 

Teaching

I am currently the convenor of three modules across all undergraduate levels. My teaching reflects my general interest in 17th-century French literature and history, and incorporates the latest findings from my research. I have received a number of 'Above and Beyond' awards for my teaching, and in 2019 I was a nominee for 'Best Teacher / Academic' at the Students' Guild Teaching Awards. 


MLF2070 - 'Violence and Virtue: Early Modern French Theatre' (second year) 

"Among the best modules I have had the opportunity to take at university"
"By far my favourite. I enjoyed every bit of the lectures and seminars"
"This module was a joy and I wouldn’t change a thing" 

This second-year module begins with a concise history of theatrical genres, spaces and audiences before studying plays by the three great playwrights of the age: Pierre Corneille, Molière and Jean Racine. The module's most recent cohort were unanimous in awarding this module module maximum marks for its organisation and overall running in anonymous online feedback. 
 

MLF3079 - 'Sex, Subversion and Censorship: Libertine Literature in Seventeenth-Century France' (final year)

"I would strongly recommend this to anyone looking for a module that is more engaging than most"       
"The feedback given was better than any module I have ever done in the past"  
"It is very motivating to have a professor who clearly is passionate about the course texts and who genuinely enjoys the teaching aspect of the job. It really does make a difference to the atmosphere"
 

In this research-led module I offer students an alternative to the polished and classical image of le grand siècle. The module covers the poetry of Théophle de Viau and François Maynard - on whom I have published a number of studies - as well as the Confessions of Jean-Jacques Bouchard and Molière's Dom Juan. This module is  supplemented by my archival and wider historical research on printing practices, material bibliography and the criminal justice system in early-modern France. The module's most recent cohort unanimously awarded the module maximum scores for being well-organised and running smoothly, the level of support offered, and their satisfaction with their experience on the module. 

MLF1017 - 'The Making of Modern France' (first year)

This module (which will run for the first time in the 2019-20 session as a team-taught module) provides students with an overview of French history from the time of Joan of Arc through to the French period of decolonisation. Whereas lectures cover historical themes, events and figures, seminars are used to explore these themes through the compositional analysis of art works as well as literary texts. 

Modules taught