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Dr John Lewis

Dr John Lewis
Dr John Lewis

Ba PhD (University College London)

Senior Lecturer

John Lewis took his BA in French and Spanish at University College London and stayed there to complete his PhD under the supervision of M. A. Screech in Para-Rabelaisian Literature. He came to Queen’s University as Lecturer in French in 1979 and was made Senior Lecturer in 1993. His main teaching and research interests lie in sixteenth and seventeenth-century French literature and culture (particularly Rabelais, French scientific literature, and the interplay between contemporary image and text).

He has been Head of the School of Modern and Mediaeval Languages, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Director of the Institute of Theology, and is currently Director of Education in the School of Languages, Literatures and Performing Arts.


He has supervised three students to successful PhD’s in French Renaissance Literature.


His outside interests are sporting (cycling and golf) and astronomical; he is often found in the dark looking through large telescopes, particularly at deep sky objects, with the Irish Astronomical Association.



He has published two single-authored monographs. The first, entitled Adrien Turnèbe: a humanist observed (Droz, Geneva, 1998) was the first full-length study of an important mid-sixteenth century humanist, scholar and editor, Professor of Greek at the Collège de France, teacher of Montaigne, and an influential figure on the Parisian Hellenist movement. Individual chapters focused on Turnèbe’s vast classical scholarship, his disputes with Pierre de la Ramée, the Jesuit presence in Paris, and Turnèbe’s eirenic views in the Wars of Religion.


His most recent work  is entitled Galileo in France: French Reactions to the Theories and Trial of Galileo (Peter Lang, New York, 2006), and traces the differing attitudes in France to Galileo’s astronomical and mechanical theories through writers as diverse as Descartes, Mersenne, Gassendi and Peiresc. Although there have been studies of Galileo’s influence on contemporary English and Italian science and philosophy, this study was the first to look at both the admiration for, and the reaction against Galileo in seventeenth-century France.


Both books were written against a wider publications record in sixteenth- and seven teenth-century literature and culture.



Authored Books

Adrien Turnèbe: a humanist observed (Travaux d’Humanisme et Renaissance, no. 320, Droz, Geneva, 1998). ISBN0-600-00270-7


Galileo in France: French Reactions to the Theories and Trial of Galileo (Currents in Comparative Romance Languages and Literatures no.109, Peter Lang, New York, 2006). ISBN 0-8204-5768-X




Critical Collaborative Editions

Le Disciple de Pantagruel (Sociéte des Textes Français Modernes, Paris, 1982). ISBN 2-86503-174-6

Les Chroniques Gargantuines (Sociéte des Textes Français Modernes, Paris, 1988). ISBN 2-86503-186-1



« Le Songe de Pantagruel, published with an Introduction and Notes » , Etudes Rabelaisiennes , 18 (1985), 103-162.

`Towards a chronology of the Chroniques gargantuines', Etudes Rabelaisiennes, 18 (1985), 83-101.


`Les pronostications et la propagande évangélique' in Divination et Controverse Religieuse en France au XVIe siècle (Paris, 1986), 73-84.

`Aspects de la littérature para-rabelaisienne d'avant 1562' in Rabelais en son demi-millénaire (Geneva, 1988), 357-64.

`Rabelais and the Disciple de Pantagruel', Etudes Rabelaisiennes, 22 (1989), 101-122.

`Why does Gargantua fight the Dutch and the Irish?', Etudes Rabelaisiennes,  23 (1991), 23-27

`Pantagruel reconsidered: Rabelais's first fictional Chronicle as paradigm', Etudes  Rabelaisiennes, 25 (1994), 7-21


`Helen on Lesbos: a Sapphic Echo in Ronsard' French Studies Bulletin, 49 (Winter 1994), 4-8


`Notions changeantes de Dionysos chez Rabelais', in Vin, Carnaval, Ivresse , Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier, 1997, 145-52


Four research-based entries in the Rabelais Encyclopedia, edited by E. C. Zegura (Westport, Connecticut, 2004)

'Playing Safe: Two versions of Mersenne's Questions Théologiques', The Seventeenth Century, 22 no. 1 (2007), 75-95


'Truth and Propaganda in Images of the Trial of Galileo', Journal for the History of Astronomy, 38 (2007), 15-29


'Ramón Lull, a case for special consideration?', forthcoming in Renaissance Studies

Current Projects

I am currently engaged on an article tracing the influence of France and the French on Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, and a longer general monograph on Rabelais for Peter Lang, provisionally entitled Rabelaisian Voices, in which I hope to analyse the various voices (humanist, nationalist, medical, legal, scholastic and classical) with which Rabelais writes throughout his authentic comic Chronicles.