Dr Lucy Rayfield

BA, MST, DPhil

  • BS8 1TE

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Personal profile

Research interests


I grew up in South Wales and studied for my first degree (in French and Italian) at the University of Bristol, before moving to Oxford University for my MSt (2014) and DPhil (awarded 2018). My doctoral thesis examined the reception of Italian comedy in sixteenth-century France, and also focused on the political ramifications of laughter, particularly in the contexts of the Wars of Religion and cultural rivalry. I taught a broad range of topics in both French and Italian at St Anne's College, Lincoln College, and Christ Church College before moving to the University of Exeter to become a Lecturer in French, where I taught translation and a cultural module on Love and Death in French Culture.

As well as teaching at Bristol, I am currently a Research Associate in Modern Languages at St Benet's Hall, University of Oxford, and the MHRA Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, University of Warwick. I also provide teaching and dissertation supervision for the MA in Renaissance studies at Warwick, and continue to teach a number of papers at Oxford.


At Bristol Lucy teaches on the following undergraduate units:

  • Laughter in Medieval and Renaissance Italy (ITAL20043 - course convenor)
  • Modern Italy (ITAL10033)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Italy (ITAL10030)
  • Italian Oral and Aural (ITAL10001)
  • Italian Translation (ITAL3001)
  • French Translation (FREN3001)
  • Independent Study (MODL30005)

Additionally, she teaches on the MA in Comparative Literatures and Cultures and co-convenes a unit for the MA in Translation, as well as providing dissertation supervision. 


Lucy is a specialist in early modern literature and culture, with a particular interest in comedy and laughter in sixteenth-century Italy and France. Her first book, Poetics, Performance and Politics in French and Italian Renaissance Comedy (forthcoming with Legenda in 2021), examines in detail the Italian influence on French comic theatre; it also tells a new story about the relationship between Italy and France, two rival nations which used laughter as a canny means of achieving cultural supremacy in the context of early modern Europe. As well as completing comparative research into Italy and France, she is interested in early modern English culture, and is currently working on a new critical edition of Thomas Kyd’s 1594 play Cornelia (forthcoming with Boydell and Brewer in 2021), a translation of Robert Garnier’s Cornélie, as part of Brian Vickers and Darren Freebury-Jones's The Collected Works of Thomas Kyd. She has written chapters and articles on a range of other subjects, such as poetic treatises, festival culture, the print trade, and humour theory; she also enjoys writing academic reviews, and has reviewed books, plays, and audio dramas for a range of journals including Early TheatreModern Language ReviewEarly Modern Women, the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, and French Studies.

Predictably, Lucy also enjoys performance and comedy outside of her academic work, organising regular theatrical initiatives and public engagement events. She also provides the voice of Mrs Keller for the hit audio drama, Victoriocity.

Selected Publications and Papers

— Poetics, Performance and Politics in French and Italian Renaissance Comedy (Cambridge: Legenda, forthcoming 2021).

— ‘Rewriting ‘Humour’ in Early Modern Europe’, chapter in The Palgrave Handbook of Humour, History, and Methodology, ed. by H. Burrows, D. Derrin (London: Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming 2021).

— Critical edition: Thomas Kyd, Cornelia, in The Collected Works of Thomas Kyd, ed. by D. Freebury-Jones, B. Vickers (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, forthcoming 2021).

— ‘The Legitimacy of Laughter in Renaissance France’, Society for French Studies Conference, University of Bath (forthcoming July 2020).

— ‘Hobbes, Humour, and Laughing out Loud in Early Modern Europe’, Society for Renaissance Studies Conference, University of East Anglia (forthcoming July 2020).

— ‘Poetics, Joy and the Emotions in Sixteenth-Century France’, Scientiae Annual Conference, University of Amsterdam (forthcoming June 2020).

— ‘Charles Estienne’, Literary Encyclopaedia (online, forthcoming March 2020).

— ‘No Laughing Matter: Superiority Theory and Early Modern Humour’, STVDIO Seminar Series, Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, University of Warwick (February 2020).

— Review: BBC Radio 3’s Candide series (read by Adrian Scarborough), British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Criticks (January 2019).

— ‘Translating Dante’s Inferno into Welsh: An Outreach Workshop’, Multilingualism and Multi-identities in Wales Conference, Cardiff University (November 2019).

— ‘Podcasting as a Teaching Resource’, Teacher Development Workshop, University of Exeter (November 2019).

— ‘Festival and Diplomacy in the Ballet de Circé (1627)’, Society for European Festivals Research Conference, Turin (September 2019).

— Review: T. V. Kennedy, Women’s Deliberation: The Heroine in Early Modern French Women’s Theatre (1650-1750) (Routledge, 2018), Early Modern Women (October 2019).

— Review: H. Taylor, The Lives of Ovid in Seventeenth-Century French Culture (OUP, 2017), Modern Language Review (October 2019).

— Review: A. Cayuela, M. Vuillermoz, eds., Les mots et les choses du théâtre: France, ItalieEspagneXVIe-XVIIe siècles (Droz, 2017), French Studies (April 2019).

— Review: J. Stefano, G. Pieri, eds., Chivalry, Academy, and Cultural Dialogues: The Italian Contribution to European CultureItalian Perspectives; 31 (Legenda, 2017), Modern Language Review (January 2019).

— Review: B. Papenburg, ed. Gender: Laughter (Macmillan, 2017), International Society for Humour Studies Quarterly Publication (August 2018).

— ‘Reevaluating Theatrical Space in Early Modern France’, Before Shakespeare Conference, University of Roehampton, London (August 2017).

— ‘Humour and Heritage: Theories on Comic Theatre in Early Modern France’, Humours of the Past Collaboratory: ‘Humour, History and Methodology: A Multidisciplinary and Trans-Professional Enquiry’, University of Durham (July 2017).

— ‘Charles Estienne and Theories on Comic Theatre’, French Graduate Showcase, Maison Française, Oxford (April 2017).

— ‘Charles Estienne: France’s Forerunner of Humanist Comedy’, International Society for Humour Studies Conference, Trinity College Dublin (July 2016).

— ‘Patronage and Performance in Sixteenth-Century French Comedy’, Institute of Modern Languages Research Forum, Senate House, London (June 2016).

— ‘Humanist Comedy at the Early Modern French Court: The Italian Impact’, British Graduate Shakespeare Conference, Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon (May 2016).

— ‘The Migration of Italian Comedy into Early Modern France: Gabiano, Roffet and L’Angelier’, Italian Graduate Seminar, Taylor Institution, Oxford, (March 2016).

— ‘Renaissance Theatre in France’Adventures on the Bookshelf Blog (January 2016).

— ‘St Cross Historical Collections Centre’, Balliol College Annual Report (January 2016).

— ‘A New Perspective on French and Italian Renaissance Theatre’, Arts and Humanities Research Council Forum, St Anne’s College, Oxford (October 2015).

— ”Qui Meurt Suyvant Dieu est Heureux’: Providence and Paradox in French Renaissance Biblical Tragedy’, Institute of Modern Languages Research Forum, Senate House, London (May 2015).

— ‘Performance of the Bacchae at the East Oxford Community Classics Centre’Oxford Early Career Academic Outreach Network Blog (February 2015).

External positions

Research Scholar in Renaissance Literature, University of Warwick

Research Associate in French, University of Oxford


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