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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Dr Emma Claussen

Dr Emma Claussen
British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow
Affiliated Lecturer
Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages
Contact details: 

Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics
Raised Faculty Building
University of Cambridge
Sidgwick Avenue
United Kingdom


Emma did her undergraduate degree at Worcester College, Oxford and an MA at KCL, before returning to Oxford for a D.Phil in French at St John’s. She then held a Career Development Fellowship at New College, Oxford (2016-19), before coming to Cambridge in 2019.

Teaching interests: 

Sixteenth and seventeenth-century French literature; theatre; translation

Research interests: 

Early modern French literature and thought; political language and politics; theatre; gender and sexuality; intellectual history; the quarrel of Ancients and Moderns

Recent research projects: 

Emma works at the intersection of literary criticism and the history of ideas. Her first book, under contract with Cambridge University Press, is Politics and Politiques in Sixteenth-Century France: A Conceptual History. It examines uses of the word ‘politique’ and changing conceptions of politics during the Wars of Religion (1562-98).


Her second book project, provisionally entitled ‘What Makes Life Worth Living in Early Modern France?’ is funded by the British Academy. It explores representations of life and living in French writing between c. 1550-1650. In this period life – as an object of knowledge and of literature – was an unstable category. What animates the body? What is the difference between living and merely existing? How do understandings of natural’ life interact with ethical and moral conceptions of a life well lived? The project explores how writers asked and answered these questions in early modern France, with particular attention to how they were influenced by the changing relationship between ethics and natural science.


Emma is involved in collaborative projects including ‘Renaissance Conservations’ (with Simon Park, Oxford), which investigates how early modern writers thought about preserving the past and how that might inflect contemporary attitudes to cultural heritage; and ‘Early Modern Keywords’ (run by Ita Mac Carthy and Richard Scholar, both at Durham). From 2016-19 she was a co-organiser of ‘FribOx’, a network between the universities of Oxford and Fribourg.

Published works: 

‘Intraduisible, ou traduction infidèle? Le mot ‘politique’, 1560-1600’, Littératures classiques, 96 (2018/2), 27-39

‘“Vilain et déshonnête”: Villainy in Anti-Politique Polemic at the end of the French Wars of Religion’, in ‘Vile Beings’, ed. by Jonathan Patterson and Emilia Wilton-Godberfforde, Early Modern French Studies, 39. 2 (2017), 157-168

‘A Sixteenth-Century Modern? Ancients and Moderns in Loys Le Roy’s De la Vicissitude’, Early Modern French Studies, 37.2 (2015), 76-92