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Barbara C. Bowen

Barbara C. Bowen
Emerita Professor of French and Comparative Literature

French Renaissance Literature

Doctorat de l’Université, Université de Paris (1962) Professor of French and Comparative Literature   In a university career spanning nearly 40 years, I taught most of the undergraduate French language courses in this department, as well as literature surveys, the literature of the Renaissance, and the 20th-century comic book. On the graduate level, I taught research methodology, history of the French language, and Rabelais and Montaigne. I also taught Humanities and Comparative Literature courses when opportunity offered, and once (when the department was really desperate) taught Italian 101.

My research specialty is the French Renaissance, but like most Renaissance enthusiasts I have branched out into Neo-Latin, Italian, German, intellectual history and art history. My research topics have included comic theater, Renaissance jokes (facetiae), emblems, scatological rhetoric, Rabelais, Montaigne, numerous other 16th-century writers, and pictorial versions of the goddess Venus with her shell. Of my five major books, I prefer the two most recent, Enter Rabelais, Laughing (1998), and Humour and Humanism (2004), an anthology of my articles.  I have edited French farces, Renaissance jokes, two homage volumes and one collection of conference proceedings.

Although English by birth, I have lived contentedly in the U.S. for many years, and very happily in Nashville for the last 20+ years. I much enjoyed directing French plays for the department; since my retirement I continue to do research, and also spend time in volunteer work, my church, and with my husband and grandchildren.