The Project

This project investigates the fictional works and private correspondence of French Humanist writer François Rabelais to demonstrate how his professional medical knowledge informed his approach to writing fiction and his ambitions for what his books might achieve amongst his readers.

Rabelais is a major voice in European culture whose influence extends beyond the purely literary to the fields of medicine, law, theology, philosophy and humour theory and his idiosyncratic style of writing and fusion of genres and disciplines is often cited as having influenced non-Francophone writers, such as Sterne, Márquez and Bakhtin.

Portrait of Dr Alison Williams.

Other Research Projects

Alison is a member of the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Research and of the Medical Humanities Research Centre.

Both research groups are home to a number of innovative research projects in the broad area of Medical Humanities, including the following major research projects also funded by the Wellcome Trust:

  • Disability and industrial society: a comparative cultural history of British coalfields, 1780-1948 | Co-Directors: Professor Ann Borsay  and Dr David Turner

Dr Alison Williams is leading the project.

Funding for the initial research was provided by the Wellcome Trust.

The research will culminate in the publication of a major monograph on the role of medicine in Rabelais' literary works and private letters.

"Rabelais anticipates much of our contemporary thinking on the role of art therapy"