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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Simon Gaunt FBA (1959-2021)

It is with great sadness that the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics learned that Simon Gaunt died on 4 December 2021. Simon was a University Lecturer in French from 1989 until his departure for the Professorship and Head of Department of French at King’s College London in 1998. He continued to work closely with colleagues in Cambridge and many times acted as External Examiner both for our undergraduate programme and for PhDs. Simon was a leading figure in medieval studies, whose interests spanned Italian and Occitan as well as French. His many books, from Troubadours and Irony (1989) through Gender and Genre in Medieval French Literature (1995) and Love and Death in Medieval French and Occitan Courtly Literature (2006) to Marco Polo’s Le Devisement du Monde: Narrative Voice, Language and Diversity (2013) blazed a trail with approaches informed by feminist theory, psychoanalysis, queer studies, and postcolonialism. His most recent work, centred on the collaborative projects Medieval Francophone Literary Culture outside France and The Values of French, turned to the exploration of French as a transnational language in the Middle Ages, confounding notions of stable national literary histories. Simon was elected an Honorary Fellow of St Catharine’s in 2016, and Fellow of the British Academy in 2018. His unique gifts, his inspirational teaching of undergraduates as well as postgraduates, his collegiality and his friendship will be sorely missed by the modern languages community in Cambridge.