Valerie Worth
Senior Tutor, Professor of French

The office of Senior Tutor is a long-established one in Oxford colleges, and allows me to be closely involved with all academic aspects of Oxford college life.

I hold a Mellon-TORCH Knowledge Exchange Fellowship (2015-2017), through The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities, to support my collaboration with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the De Partu research group on the history of childbirth. I am a member of the ‘Women’s Voices’ panel of the Royal College, and a lay member of their consensus group looking to establish benign gynaecology indicators for the UK.

I am Senior Tutor at Trinity College Oxford, and Professor of French of the Modern Languages Faculty at Oxford.

Profile

After obtaining my BA and DPhil in Modern Languages at Oxford, I took up my first academic post at the Université de Haute-Bretagne (Rennes), followed by the Kathleen Bourne Junior Research Fellowship (St Anne’s College, Oxford) and a three-year Lecturership in French at Trinity College. Subsequently, I have held the posts of Senior Lecturer in French at King’s College London, Professor of French at Oxford Brookes, and Professor of French and Head of the Department of Modern Languages at Exeter University. I have enjoyed teaching extensively at undergraduate and graduate levels, and undertaking research, including holding major national and international research grants. I have also held senior management roles in arts and humanities departments at a time of rapid changes in Higher Education.

Senior Tutorship

I returned to Trinity College in 2009 to take up the post of Senior Tutor, which also comprises the roles of Tutor for Admissions and Tutor for Graduates. In this capacity, I am responsible for the strategic planning of the college’s academic activities, overseeing appointments of our academics (Fellows and Lecturers); the admission of undergraduates and graduates, and their academic progress once on course. I particularly enjoy working with colleagues and students from across the whole range of arts, social sciences and sciences.

Teaching

Over my academic career, I have taught courses on Early Modern French and European literature and cultural history (especially Rabelais, Montaigne, and sixteenth-century poetry), and French language courses at all levels, including final-year courses in contemporary Advanced French Translation and Translation from Early Modern French. My French grammar books have been regularly used by students of Modern Languages. I enjoy working with graduate students at both Masters and doctoral level on areas related to my research interests.

Research

My main areas of research include: humanism and translation in Renaissance France; medicine in Early Modern Europe; Renaissance French poetry; seventeenth-century French theatre; and the contemporary French language.

I am currently working on vernacular medical writings in early modern France, and recently completed a project on ‘Birthing Tales in French medical works 1500-1650′.

My other current project is a translation into English of Agrippa d’Aubigné’s epic poem, Les Tragiques (1616), which was written during and just after the French Wars of Religion. It sets the sufferings of the French Protestants within the overarching context of what D’Aubigné sees as God’s eternal plan for his chosen faithful. His innovative style deliberately challenged conventions. The complete work has never previously been translated into English; my version is due to be published by AMS Press, Inc. New York.

Key Publications

  • ‘‘Bugge-beares’ or ‘Bouquets’: Translations of the Latin quotations in Florio’s and Gournay’s versions of the Essais‘, in Montaigne in Transit (Legenda, 2016).
  • ‘Exchanges between medical and literary discourses in the French Renaissance: comparing the fascination with “des amas et pieces de chair informes” in Montaigne’s Essais and Joubert’s Erreurs populaires. Australian Journal of French Studies, 52-3 (2015).
  • Pregnancy and Birth in Early Modern France. Treatises by caring physicians and surgeons (1581-1625), in the series The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe (Iter Press, University of Toronto 2013).
  • ‘La théâtralisation de la naissance du dauphin (1601) chez Louise Bourgeois, sage-femme de Marie de Médicis’, in Le “Théâtral” de la France d’Ancien Régime, ed. S. Chaouche (Paris, Honoré Champion, 2010).
  • Les Traités d’obstétrique en langue française au seuil de la modernité. Des “Divers travaulx” d’Euchaire Rosslin” (1536) à l’ “Apologie” de Louyse Bourgeois sage-femme” (1627) (Geneva, Droz, 2007).
  • Marie de Gournay, Oeuvres complètes, 2 vol., critical edition, jointly with J-C. Arnould, E. Berriot, C. Blum, A. Franchetti, M-C. Thomine (Paris, Champion, 2002).
  • French: a handbook of grammar, current usage and word power (London, Cassell, & New York, Macmillan, 1992; London and New York, Cassell, 1993; new edition 2000).
  • Confidential Strategies: the evolving role of the “confident” in French tragic drama (1635-1677), Travaux du grand siècle XII (Geneva, Droz, 1999).
  • Practising Translation in Renaissance France: the example of Etienne Dolet (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1988).
My research sites

For more details of recent and current research projects

A Knowledge Exchange Project
Celebrating 500 years of printed texts on pregnancy and birth

The collaboration with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the De Partu research group runs until September 2016. A study day was held at the Royal College on 4th September 2015, attended by the Director of Midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, and practitioners and historians of childbirth. See the links for a full report of the day, including the Library exhibition that I curated together with Dr Janette Allotey (Chair of De Partu), and our Guide to the exhibition of posters in the Royal College's Education Centre.

Prize for Best Teaching Edition
2013 SSEMW Prize

In October 2014, my volume Pregnancy and Birth in Early Modern France. Treatises by caring physicians and surgeons (1581-1625), won the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women's 2013 Prize for the Best Teaching Edition in the field of gender and women’s studies.