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Gary Ferguson

Douglas Huntly Gordon Distinguished Professor

Gary Ferguson is a specialist of the literature and culture of sixteenth-century France, and of early modern Europe more broadly. His research focuses on the areas of gender, sexuality, and queer studies; women’s writing; and the history of religion.

His latest book, Same-Sex Marriage in Renaissance Rome: Sexuality, Identity, and Community in Early Modern Europe, explores the case of a group of mostly Iberian men living in Rome, executed in 1578 for reportedly having celebrated weddings between themselves at the church of Saint John at the Latin Gate. Meticulously analyzing the available sources, including the Travel Journal of the French essayist Michel de Montaigne, Ferguson examines what they reveal about the individuals involved, their actions, how they might fit into a history of marriage, and their import for the history of sexuality. An article about the book was published by The Conversation; a longer interview can be found on the NOTCHES blog.  The Italian translation, Si sposavano uomini con uomini: voci, storie e fantasmi della Roma rinascimentale, appeared in 2023.

Ferguson’s previous book, Queer (Re)Readings in the French Renaissance: Homosexuality, Gender, Culture (2008), was among the first to bring questions from the history of sexuality and queer theory to bear on both canonical and lesser-known literary texts from sixteenth-century France. Ferguson has also published extensively on women writers, notably Marguerite de Navarre and Anne de Marquets, and on religious questions.

Before moving to UVA in 2015, he taught at the University of Delaware, where he held the Elias Ahuja Professorship of French.


Bachelor of Arts (B.A., Hons, First Class), Durham University, U.K.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Durham University, U.K.

Visiting Appointments

University of Virginia (2014-2015)
University of Pennsylvania (2013)
Université Jean Monnet–Saint-Étienne (2012)
Université Rennes 2­–Haute Bretagne (2010)
Université Paris 13–Paris Nord (2005)



Same-Sex Marriage in Renaissance Rome: Sexuality, Identity, and Community in Early Modern Europe (Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 2016)
Queer (Re)Readings in the French Renaissance: Homosexuality, Gender, Culture (Aldershot and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2008)
Mirroring Belief: Marguerite de Navarre’s Devotional Poetry (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1992)

Critical Edition:

Anne de Marquets, Sonets spirituels (Geneva: Droz, 1997)

Edited Collections:

Les Évêques, les lettres et les arts, Seizième Siècle, 11 (2015)
A Companion to Marguerite de Navarre, coedited with Mary B. McKinley, Brill’s Companions to the Christian Tradition, 42 (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2013)
L’Homme en tous genres : Masculinités, textes et contextes, Itinéraires. Littérature, textes, cultures (2008; Paris: L’Harmattan, 2009)
Narrative Worlds: Essays on the “Nouvelle” in Fifteenth- and Sixteenth-Century France, coedited with David LaGuardia (Tempe, AZ: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 2005)
(Re)Inventing the Past: Essays on French Early Modern Culture, Literature and Thought in Honour of Ann Moss, coedited with Catherine Hampton, Durham Modern Languages Series (Durham: University of Durham, 2003)

Honors and Professional Activities

Vice-President of the Société française d’Étude du Seizième Siècle (2009-2017)
Comité de lecture, Seizième Siècle (2009-)
Series Editor, with Meredith K. Ray, The Early Modern Exchange, University of Delaware Press (2015-)
Member of Council of the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference (2015-2017)
International Expert, AERES – Agence d’évaluation de la recherche et de l’enseignement supérieur (2010)
Member of the Delegate Assembly, Modern Language Association of America (2008-2010)
University of Delaware, General University Research Grant (2010)
Folger Institute, Washington D.C., Grant-in-Aid (1992)
National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Stipend (1992)
University of Delaware, General University Research Grant (1992)
British Academy, Three Year Major Studentship (1985-1988)

Recent Courses


FREN 5520/8520 - Masculine/Feminine: Writing the Self and the Other in Renaissance France


FREN 3032 – Text, Image, Culture
FREN 3050 – History and Civilization of France: Middle Ages to Revolution
FREN 3585 – Love, Sex, Marriage, and Friendship in Renaissance France