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Professor Neil Kenny

BA, DPhil, FBA
Senior Research Fellow since 2012
Academic Secretary
Professor of French
I mainly work on the literary and intellectual history of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century France. Projects on encyclopaedism, curiosity, and posthumous presence have investigated how different kinds of knowledge and belief were represented, and in particular how they were shaped by language. My current project examines the early modern relation between literature and learning on the one hand, and social hierarchy on the other. As a first step I am studying, in the context of social hierarchy, families that produced more than one writer or scholar.

I am Lead Fellow for Languages at the British Academy. This involves work on language policy within education and society.
Contact: neil.kenny at
Professor Neil Kenny
  • Background

    • Senior Research Fellow, All Souls College (from 2012)
    • Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, then, from 2005, Reader, Department of French, University of Cambridge (from 1994 to 2012)
    • Lecturer in French, Queen Mary, University of London (from 1989 to 1994)
    • Stipendiary Lecturer in French, New College, Oxford (from 1987 to 1989)
    • Frances A. Yates Fellow, Warburg Institute, University of London (from 1985 to 1987)
    • Postgraduate, St John's College, Oxford (from 1982 to 1985)
    • English Assistant, Collège Calvin, Geneva (from 1981 to 1982)
    • Undergraduate, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge (from 1978 to 1981)
  • Research interests

    • Literature, thought, and culture in France and other parts of Europe, especially c. 1530-1650
    • The relation of literature and learning to social hierarchy
    • Montaigne
    • The role of various dimensions of language (e.g. concept-formation; tense) in the shaping of knowledge and belief
  • Teaching and supervision

    • Graduate research training in modern and medieval languages
    • Graduate supervision on aspects of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century French literature and thought
  • Other professional memberships and roles

    • Fellow, Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel (1995, 1996, 1998)
    • Visiting Fellow, Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, University of Toronto (2005)
    • Visiting Lecturer, Institute of French Cultural Studies, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire (2005)
    • Advisory Board, Renaissance Studies (from 2007)
    • Editorial Board, Research Monographs in French Studies, Legenda (from 2007)
    • Co-Editor, French Studies (from 2008 to 2012)
    • Jury for the R.H. Gapper Book Prize awarded by the Society for French Studies (from 2008 to 2010)
    • Executive Committee, Society for French Studies (from 2008 to 2012)
    • Advisory Board, Durham Modern Languages Series (from 2009)
    • Halls Visiting Scholar, University of Wisconsin-Madison (2010)
  • Research awards and grants

    • British Academy Research Readership (from 1998 to 2000).
    • Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship (from 2010 to 2012).