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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Marina Perkins

College: Jesus


Supervisor: Dr Timothy Chesters

Research Topic: Communication, Relevance, and Power in Montaigne’s Essais



Marina completed her BA at Brown University, where she double majored in Comparative Literature and History of Art and Architecture. She then pursued an MPhil in European Languages and Cultures at Cambridge, dissertating on portraiture in La Princesse de Clèves. Upon graduating, she took up a post teaching high school history at St. Luke's School in Connecticut. She also served as a coach to the Speech and Debate Team and an interviewer and application reader for the Office of Admissions. She returned to Cambridge in 2018 for the PhD.



Marina’s doctoral research considers Michel de Montaigne's portrayal of communication in his 'Essais', first published in 1580. The thesis traces Montaigne's interest in the role of intention, inference, and interpretation in communication across the contexts of conversation and civility, diplomacy, law and jurisprudence, and theology and devotion. It makes use of a novel theoretical framework adapted from pragmatic language philosophy.



Marina’s research is funded by a Gates Cambridge Scholarship.



Supervisor for Fr4: Rethinking the Human

Guest lecturer for Fr8: Wondrous Forms in the Age of Montaigne  

Guest lecturer for Fr1: Introduction to French Literature, Film and Thought


Conference papers

‘Acts of Deeming in the Case of Martin Guerre: Category Extension, Legal Fiction, and Identity Formation in Private and Legal Contexts’. Society for Early Modern French Studies annual conference, September 2021.

‘Conversation as Discursive Fortification in Montaigne’s “De l’art de conferer”’. Society for French Studies annual conference, June 2021.

‘“Le plus fructueux et naturel exercise de nostre esprit”: conversation et domaine public dans les œuvres de Montaigne, de Guazzo et de Castiglione’. Nouvelles perspectives Montaignistes, Bulletin de la société internationale des amis de Montaigne, May 2021.

‘Stilted Encounters: Conversation and Kingship in Montaigne’s Essais and Early Modern Civility Manuals’. Workshop for the Early Modern Period, University of Cambridge, November 2020.                                       

‘Combative Conversation: The Implications of Montaigne’s “De l’art de conferer” and “de l’incommodité de la grandeur” for Communication in the Public Sphere’. French Graduate Research Seminar, University of Cambridge, October 2020.    

 ‘“Un parler ouvert”: A Comparative Reading of Diplomatic Exchanges in Montaigne’s “Un traict de quelques ambassadeurs” and “De l’utile et de l’honneste”’. The Society for Early Modern French Studies annual conference, September 2019.

‘“Commandements precis et prefix”: Delayed Communication and Ambassadorial Interpretation in Montaigne’s “Un traict de quelques ambassadeurs”’. French Graduate Conference, University of Cambridge, April 2019.



Marina Perkins, ‘A Message from the Margins: The Role of the Infante in Corneille’s Le Cid’, French Studies 74.4 (2020), 519-535.

Marina Perkins, ‘Words, Meaning and Force: The Placebo Effect in Montaigne’s Essais and Vair’s Des Charmes’, Montaigne Studies 29 (2017), 213-224.


Other activities and roles

Co-convener of the Early Modern French Reading Group.

Co-convener of the Cambridge Renaissance Seminar.