Dr J Patterson

I am a Departmental Lecturer in French. I teach French language and literature, with a particular focus on the period of my research: the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. My work explores how literature interacts with broader cultural forces of early modern society: morality, law, bureaucracy, and economics.



My first book, Representing Avarice in Late Renaissance France (Oxford University Press, 2015), considers how talk of greed slowly evolved from past traditions to inform wider debates on gender, enrichment and status.

A second book is forthcoming with Oxford University Press in 2021, entitled Villainy in France, 1463-1610: A Transcultural Study of Law and Literature. Obscene poetry, servants’ slanders against their masters, the diabolical acts of those who committed massacre and regicide… This is a book about the harmful, outward manifestation of inner malice – villainy – in French culture. In pre-modern France, villainous offences were countered, if never fully contained, by intersecting legal and literary responses. Combining the methods of legal anthropology with literary and historical analysis, this study examines villainy across juridical documents, criminal records, and literary texts from the age of François Villon to the time of Pierre de L’Estoile. Villainy in France follows this overflowing current of pre-modern French culture, examining its impact within France and across the English Channel.

My next project (from 2019) will be a collaborative venture within the emergent field of Literature and Bureaucracy. This project will explore how administrative systems and literary production have curious overlaps when it comes to ‘paperwork’.



I welcome all graduate teaching enquiries in my areas of research. From 2022 I shall convene the M.St Special Subject on ‘Law and Literature in early modern France’. My undergraduate courses cover a number of early modern authors and topics (sixteenth to eighteenth centuries). Recent lecture series have covered authors such as Rabelais, Montaigne and Pascal; and topics such as ‘money and status’, ‘literature and conflict’, ‘voice and sounds’.

I also teach the Prelims literature syllabus, and language classes. Currently I co-convene the French Sole pre-modern translation classes.

I am committed to outreach and access. I have a longstanding affiliation to the Villiers Park Educational trust, first as a student participant and now as a mentor. Within Oxford I am currenlty a coordinator of the UNIQ summer school in French, and am a former co-organiser of the French Sub-Faculty’s Film Competition for secondary school students.




Villainy in France, 1463 – 1610: A Transcultural Study of Law and Literature (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2021).

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Representing Avarice in Late Renaissance France (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 325 pp.

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Journal articles:

 ‘“Greatness going off” in Renaissance Antony and Cleopatra Tragedies’, in The Relation of Literature and Learning to Social Hierarchy in Early Modern Europe, ed. by Neil Kenny (special volume for the Proceedings of the British Academy, forthcoming 2021)

‘Les fous, les idiots, et les gens de basse condition chez Guillaume Bouchet, lecteur de Huarte’, Bibliothèque d’humanisme et Renaissance, 80:2 (2018), 249-64

‘Obscenity and Censorship in the Reign of Henri III’, Renaissance Quarterly, 70:4 (2017), 1321-65

‘Variations of Vileness: An Introduction’, Early Modern French Studies, 39:2 (2017), 1-9

‘“Diables incarnez, Machiavelistes, Heretiques”: The Villains of Pierre Matthieu’s La Guisiade Reconsidered’, French Studies, 70, (2016), 1-16

‘“Viles personnes”: The Plebeian Multitudes in Charles Loyseau’s Traité des ordres’, The Seventeenth Century, 31:1 (2016), 71-94

‘Rabelais’s Uncommon Villains: A Reinterpretation of Quart Livre 45-7’, Etudes Rabelaisiennes, 54 (2015), 97-113

‘Life Writing in the Early Modern Period: The Case of Guillaume Colletet’s Vie de François Villon’, French Studies Bulletin, 36:134 (2015), 4-7

‘Unresolved Debates on Usury and Greed in Late Renaissance France: Guillaume Bouchet and Others’, Renaissance Studies, 28 (2014), 659-75

‘Avarice in the Moral Landscape of Olivier de Serres’s Theatre d’agriculture et mesnage des champs (1600)’, Forum for Modern Language Studies, 49 (2013), 244-56

‘Marie de Gournay, Poetry and Gender: In Search of “La vraye douceur”’, Seventeenth-Century French Studies, 32 (2010), 206-20


Book chapters:

‘Killing Coligny: Staging the Admiral’s Death, From the Place de Grève to the Rose Theatre’, in Last Scene of All: Representing Death on the Western Stage, ed. by Jessica Goodman (Legenda, forthcoming 2021)

‘Rabelais et son art textuaire: une lecture du Prologue du Quart Livre (1552)’, in the forthcoming Actes du colloque “Inextinguible Rabelais” (12-15 novembre, 2014) (Paris: Classiques Garnier, forthcoming, 2020)

‘Jean Brinon and His Cenacle: An Enduring Sodalitas?’, in Ingrid de Smet and Paul White (eds), Sodalitas Litteratorum: le compagnonnage littéraire néo-latin et français à la Renaissance. Etudes à la mémoire de Philip Ford (Geneva: Droz, 2019), pp. 85-100.



Educational Resources:

‘Joachim Du Bellay, Défense et illustration de la langue française’, in The Literary Encyclopedia (2015), vol French Writing and Culture in the Renaissance, 1500–1500, ed. Tim Unwin, Phillip John Usher, and David Williams. Online. 


Co-authored with Jonathan Rogers, ‘Thérèse Raquin by Emile Zola: Surgical Method in Psychiatry’, British Journal of Psychiatry, Jul. 2015, 207 (1) 36.Online. 

DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.157982

An Analysis of Julia Kristeva, Etrangers à nous-mêmes / Strangers to Ourselves (2013) for Mouseion Professors. Online.



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