Photo of Rowan C Tomlinson

Dr Rowan C Tomlinson

BA(Oxon.), MA(Oxon.), PhD(Oxon.)

  • BS8 1TE


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research interests

Rowan Tomlinson is a specialist in the cultural, literary, and intellectual history of the European Renaissance and her research is fundamentally comparative, covering French, Italian, Latin, and Neo-Latin writers. She is especially interested in the interactions during the long sixteenth century – before the creation of the ‘two cultures’ that separated the arts and the sciences – between the literary and other disciplines (natural history, the visual arts, philosophy, philology) and in the ways in which Renaissance culture worked with the legacies of the classical past. Parallel research interests include the history of education and access to cultures of humanism and the liberal arts by those outside Renaissance institutions and seats of power, be this women, auto-didacts, or religious or political recusants, interests which reflect her concerns with and campaigning about the politics and policies of higher education today.

Publications include essays on Rabelais, Montaigne, Poliziano, the reception of Pliny the Elder, and theories of inspiration and invention in Renaissance poetics, as well as a co-edited volume on the translation culture of England and France from 1500 to 1660, which has been republished in a second, paperback edition. Her first single-authored book, Inventive Inventories. Literature and Natural History in Renaissance Europe, will appear with Oxford University Press. The book examines the intriguing relationship between natural history and literature across the long sixteenth century, beginning in the 1490s with the Florentine humanist Angelo Poliziano and ending in the 1620s with the Jesuit writer Etienne Binet, by way of Erasmus, Juan-Luis Vives, Jacques Peletier Du Mans, Conrad Gessner, Rabelais, and Montaigne, to name a few of the cast who make up her broad and comparative corpus. Rigorous in its faithful depiction of the cultural particularity of the Renaissance, this book at the same time, and more generally, looks to make its readers think harder about the resources on which literature draws, processes of imitation and composition, and the distinctiveness or otherwise of the literary. 

In 2016 Rowan was awarded a two-year Fellowship by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in recognition of the excellence and the impact, past, current, and future, of her distinctive scholarship. The project, 'Scholars, hacks, and gentlemen: the politics of authorship in Renaissance France', is concerned broadly with the socio-political status of different categories of writer from the early sixteenth century to the formation of the Académie française in 1635, telling a story of rival communities, divided disciplines, and the emergence of an increasingly exclusionary vocabulary of taste. The Fellowship has allowed Rowan to do intensive work on single-authored publications but also to establish a network of interested scholars who have met for workshops with radically creative formats, and to organize diverse public-engagement activities, from podcasts to public talks, in collaboration with scholars from across early-modern studies. The project has inspired collaborative work with Simon Park (University of Oxford), a specialist in Portuguese culture. Together they are working to break down barriers between literary history and history of art by exploring new approaches to the myriad interactions between textual and visual cultures that characterize early modern culture. 

Rowan has a strong interest in exploring the methodologies that inform historical study and in developing fruitful interactions between historical studies and other disciplines. She is a member of an ongoing cross-disciplinary research project, 'Early Modern Keywords: A European Vocabulary of Culture and Society in a Global Frame, 1450-1700' and has worked with scholars in the medical humanities, offering a historical perspective on global perceptions of Chinese medicine.


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Research Output

  • 7 Chapter in a book
  • 3 Article (Academic Journal)
  • 2 Book/Film/Article review (Academic Journal)
  • 1 Edited book

"Intelligible sans discipline”: enumeration, observation, and communication in Montaigne’s Apologie de Raimond Sebond

Tomlinson, R. C., Sep 2010, In : Nottingham French Studies. 49, 3, p. 87 - 109 22 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

  • Scandal

    Tomlinson, R. C. & Butterworth, E., 30 Mar 2013, Renaissance Keywords. MacCarthy, I. (ed.). Maney Publishing for the Modern Humanities Research Association (MHRA)

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

    '"Plusieurs choses qu’il n’avoit veuës': Antoine Du Pinet's Translation of Pliny the Elder (1562)"

    Tomlinson, R. C., Jul 2012, In : Translation and Literature. 21, p. 145 - 161 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

  • 3 Citations (Scopus)


    Cases, Hunches, and Anomalies

    Rowan C Tomlinson (Participant)

    20 Apr 2018

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course


    The Profession of Writing: Categories of Authorship in Renaissance Europe

    Alexandra C Hoare (Participant), & Rowan Tomlinson (Participant)

    22 Jun 2018

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

    The Profession of Writing: Categories of Authorship in Renaissance Europe

    Rowan C Tomlinson (Participant)

    22 Jun 2018

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

    Supervised Work

    The Representation of Athens and Sparta in Charles Rollin’s Ancient History of the Egyptians, Carthaginians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes and Persians, Macedonians and Grecians

    Author: Rogers, J. M., 28 Nov 2019

    Supervisor: Tomlinson, R. C. (Supervisor) & Eidinow, E. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Philosophy (MPhil)