Professor Sarah Knight

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Professor of Renaissance Literature

Department: EnglishProf Sarah Knight

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 2631


Office: Room 1402, Attenborough Tower

Address: School of Arts, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester, LE1 7RH

Personal details


I teach, edit, translate and write about sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature, especially works written in English and Latin. My academic background is in Classics and English, and questions of why and how Greek and Latin texts and ideas informed Renaissance literature are at the heart of my research and teaching. I am interested in early modern student life across Europe: my PhD was on academic drama, and since then a lot of my research has focused on what authors wrote either at or about institutions of learning (schools, colleges, universities, and Inns of Court). I tend to concentrate on authors who wrote in and read other languages as well as English, and their multilingualism has prompted my interest in translation, cosmopolitanism and different kinds of linguistic contact with the wider world.

These interests in early modern writing, comparative literature and classical reception have fed into other activities. I am a former President of the national Society for Neo-Latin Studies, and am Chair of the Academic Advisory Board of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Neo-Latin Studies in Innsbruck. With Prof. Hugh Adlington (Birmingham), I co-convene the British Milton Seminar. In 2014, I was a British Academy Mid-Career Fellow, became a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2018 and was invited in 2019 to become a Fellow of the English Association.


  • PhD in Renaissance Studies, Yale University
  • M.A. in Combined Historical Studies (The Renaissance), Warburg Institute, University of London
  • B.A. in Classics and English, University of Oxford


I am one of the two Leicester Site Directors of the Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership. I sit on the University of Sanctuary Steering Group.



  • The European Contexts of Ramism, ed. by Sarah Knight and Emma Annette Wilson (Turnhout: Brepols, 2019). Late Medieval and Early Modern Studies, 27. ISBN 9782503574998.
  • The Oxford Handbook of Neo-Latin, ed. by Sarah Knight and Stefan Tilg (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015). ISBN 9780199948178. Published in paperback in 2018. Click here to read more about Latin as a world language.
  • John Nichols, The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth I: A New Edition of the Early Modern Sources. General Editors: Elizabeth Clarke, Elizabeth Goldring, Faith Eales, Jayne Elisabeth Archer; Associate General Editors: Gabriel Heaton, Sarah Knight (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014). 5 vols. ISBN 9780199205066. Awarded the 2015 MLA Prize for a Scholarly Edition and the 2015 Roland H. Bainton Book Prize for Reference by the Sixteenth Century Society.
  • For the Nichols edition, I edited and translated the following sections: Queen Elizabeth's Visit to the University of Oxford, 1566; Accounts of Dinners Held for the Court of Exchequer at Westminster Hall, 1573-1574; Baron Łaski’s Visit to the University of Oxford, 1583; and Queen Elizabeth's Second Visit to the University of Oxford, 1592.
  • The Intellectual and Cultural World of the Early Modern Inns of Court, ed. by Jayne Elisabeth Archer, Elizabeth Goldring, Sarah Knight (Manchester University Press, 2011). ISBN 9780719082368. Published in paperback in 2013.
  • The Progresses, Pageants, and Entertainments of Queen Elizabeth I, ed. by Jayne Elisabeth Archer, Elizabeth Goldring, Sarah Knight (Oxford University Press, 2007). ISBN 9780199291571. Published in paperback in  2014. Long-listed for the William MB Berger Prize for British Art History (2007).
  • Leon Battista Alberti, Momus, trans. and co-ed. with Virginia Brown (I Tatti Renaissance Library No. 8, Harvard University Press, 2003). ISBN 0674007549.

Articles and book chapters

  • ‘"Their Garments variegate like ye fishes in ye Euxine sea": fashion, languages and perceptions of the Ottoman world at the early modern English universities', in A World of Words: Writing Distant Travels and Linguistic Otherness in Early Modern England, ed. by Chloë Houston, Ladan Niayesh and Sophie Lemercier-Goddard (Brepols, forthcoming).
  • 'Education and Pedagogy', in The Oxford Handbook of Philip Sidney, ed. by Catherine Bates (New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).
  • 'Universities', in Rhetoric in the Renaissance 1380-1640, Vol. 3 of The Cambridge History of Rhetoric, ed. by Jennifer Richards and Virginia Cox (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).
  • 'Pyrrhus and the Tiger', MLN 135.5 (December 2020; Comparative Literature Issue): 1062-1077.
  • '"Eleganter fabulata est Antiquitas": Le problème de l’autorité classique dans l’écriture de Milton étudiant', in Inqualifiables fureurs. Poétique des invocations inspirées aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles, ed. by Anne-Pascale Pouey-Mounou (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2019), pp. 335-345. ISBN 9782406090328.
  • '"If some of the eminent learned would dare to begin": Neo-Latin Metre at the Early Modern English Universities', in Neulateinische Metrik: Formen und Kontexte zwischen Rezeption und Innovation, ed. by Stefan Tilg and Benjamin Harter (NeoLatina 33) (Tübingen: Narr, 2019), pp. 239-255. ISBN 9783823382669.
  • 'Teacher, Rival, Martyr: Ramus in French Literature and Thought', in The European Contexts of Ramism, ed. by Sarah Knight and Emma Annette Wilson (Turnhout: Brepols, 2019).
  • ‘"Not with the Ancient, nor yet with the Modern": Greville, Education and Tragedy', in Fulke Greville and the Culture of the English Renaissance, ed. by Russ Leo, Katrin Röder and Freya Sierhuis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), pp. 195-209. ISBN 9780198823445.
  • ‘La mise en scène de l’érudition au cours des processions universitaires élisabéthaines’, in Théâtralisation des arts et des lettres de la Renaissance anglaise, ed. by Yona Dureau (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2018), pp. 177-194. ISBN 978240606622-4.
  • 'How the Young Man Should Study Latin Poetry: Neo-Latin Literature and Early Modern Education', in A Guide to Neo-Latin Literature, ed. by Victoria Moul (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), pp. 52-65. ISBN 9781107029293.
  • ‘Enriching the Judgement: Fulke Greville and Didactic Drama’, Parergon 33.3 (2016), pp. 145-160. Special issue: Poetry, the Arts of Discourse and the Discourse of the Arts: Rethinking Early Modern Poetic Theory and Practice, guest edited by Zenón Luis-Martínez, Attila Kiss and Sonia Hernández Santano.
  • 'A fabulis ad veritatem: Latin Tragedy, Truth and Education in Early Modern England', in Politics and Aesthetics in European Baroque and Classicist Tragedy, ed. by Jan Bloemendal and Nigel Smith (Leiden: Brill, 2016), pp. 239-259. ISBN 9789004323421.
  • 'Exact Latinity and Excellent English: Milton’s Early Poetry', in A New Companion to Milton, ed. by Thomas Corns (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2016), pp. 282-290. ISBN 9781118827826.
  • 'Texts Presented to Elizabeth I on the University Progresses', in A Concise Companion to the Study of Manuscripts, Printed Books, and the Production of Early Modern Texts: A Festschrift for Gordon Campbell, ed. by Edward Jones (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015), pp. 21-40. ISBN  9781118635292.
  • 'University', in The Oxford Handbook of Neo-Latin, ed. by Sarah Knight and Stefan Tilg, pp. 233-248 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).
  • (Co-written with Mary Ann Lund), 'Richard Crookback', Times Literary Supplement (February 8, 2013), pp. 14-15.
  • '"Et spes et ratio studiorum in Caesare tantum": Robert Burton and patronage', in The Early Modern Cultures of Neo-Latin Drama, ed. by Philip Ford and Andrew Taylor, Supplementa Humanistica Lovaniensia XXXII (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2013), pp. 175-188. ISBN 9789058679260.
  • 'Milton and the Idea of the University', in Young Milton: The Emerging Author, 1620-1642, ed. by Edward Jones (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 135-156. ISBN 9780199698707.
  • 'Juvenes Ornatissimi: The Student Writing of George Herbert and John Milton', in Neo-Latin Poetry in the British Isles, ed. by Luke Houghton and Gesine Manuwald (London: Bloomsbury Academic/Bristol Classical Press, 2012), pp. 51-68. ISBN 9781780930145.
  • 'The Niniversity at the Bankside: Robert Greene's Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay', in The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Drama, ed. by Thomas Betteridge and Greg Walker (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 355-370. ISBN 9780199566471.
  • 'Milton's Forced Themes', Milton Quarterly 45 (3) (October 2011), pp. 145-60.
  • 'Flat dichotomists and learned men: Ramism in Elizabethan drama and satire', in Ramus, Pedagogy and the Liberal Arts, ed. by Steven J. Reid and Emma Annette Wilson (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2011), pp. 47-68. ISBN 9780754667940.
  • 'Royal Milton', Times Literary Supplement, February 5 2010, p. 15.
  • 'Milton's Student Verses of 1629', Notes and Queries, Vol. 255 No. 1 (March 2010), pp. 37-39.
  • '"Goodlie anticke apparrell?": Sophocles’ Ajax at early modern Oxford and Cambridge', Shakespeare Studies 37 (September 2009), pp. 25-42.
  • ‘Fantastical Distempers: The Psychopathology of Early Modern Scholars’, in Early Modern Academic Drama, ed. by Jonathan Walker and Paul D. Streufert (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008), pp. 129-152. ISBN 9780754664642.
  • '"It was not mine intent to prostitute my Muse in English": Academic Publication in Early Modern England', in Print and Power in France and England, 1500-1800, ed. by David Adams and Adrian Armstrong (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), pp. 39-52. ISBN 0754655911.
  • '"He is indeed a kind of Scholler-Mountebank": Academic Liars in Jacobean Satire', in Shell Games: Studies in Scams, Frauds, and Deceits (1300-1650), ed. by Mark Crane, Richard Raiswell, Margaret Reeves (Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies Publications, 2004), pp. 59-80. ISBN 0772720231.

Other publications

  • Milton's 'Elegia Tertia': a baroque Latin poem? Baroque Latinity blog (August 2020)
  • Latin Drama, Religion and Politics in Early Modern Europe. Special issue of Renaissance Studies 30.4 (2016), guest edited by Sarah Knight and Elizabeth Sandis.
  • 'Neo-Latin Literature'. Oxford Bibliographies. British and Irish Literature. 2016.
  • 'John Day', 'Nicholas Grimald', 'William Horman', 'Robert Whittington' in The Encyclopaedia of English Renaissance Literature, ed. by Garrett A. Sullivan Jr. and Alan Stewart (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012). ISBN 9781405194495.
  • Queen Elizabeth’s Book of Oxford, ed. by Louise Durning, trans. by Sarah Knight (Latin) and Helen Spurling (Hebrew) (Oxford: Bodleian Library Publications/Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006). ISBN 9781851243150.
  • Europa Triumphans: Court and Civic Festivals in Early Modern Europe. General Editors: J.R. Mulryne, Helen Watanabe-O'Kelly, Margaret Shewring; Associate General Editors: Elizabeth Goldring, Sarah Knight (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004). 2 vols. ISBN 9780754638735.
  • 'Thomas Farnaby', 'Barten Holyday', 'Michael Maittaire' in The Dictionary of British Classicists, 1500-1960, General Editor: Robert B. Todd (Bristol: Thoemmes/Continuum Press, 2004). ISBN 1855069970.


I have edited and translated a number of Latin works, including Leon Battista Alberti's prose satire Momus (1440s), and the accounts of Elizabeth I's visits to the University of Oxford in 1566 and 1592. I have published widely on the associations between poetic and rhetorical composition and educational experience, especially in universities. I am interested in how multilingual authors learned about other ancient and contemporary cultures and language groups, and how that learning informed their subsequent writing. These various interests cohere around my two main research projects at the moment: I am editing and translating John Milton's student Latin speeches (the Prolusiones) and his Latin letters (the Epistolae Familiares), and editing Fulke Greville's two tragedies Alaham and Mustapha (both for Oxford University Press).

I am currently involved in three main research collaborations: 'On Difficulty in Early Modern Literature', with Dr. Hannah Crawforth (King's College London); 'Eloquentia Academica: The Theory and Practice of Latin Academic Rhetoric', with Dr. William Barton and Dr. Isabella Walser-Bürgler (Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Neo-Latin Studies), funded by the AHRC 'Language Acts and Worldmaking' project; and the AHRC-funded 'Baroque Latinity' network based at University College London.


At postgraduate level, I teach on the MA in English Studies, on the following modules:


I have supervised PhD projects variously based within the disciplines of English, Classics, Italian and Translation Studies. I welcome applications and enquiries from prospective postgraduate students interested in working on Renaissance and early modern literature and culture, especially:

  • Drama and poetry
  • Comparative literature (English, French, Greek, Italian, Latin)
  • Multilingualism and language-learning
  • Literature and institutions of learning: schools, universities, Inns of Court
  • Translation and adaptation
  • The reception of classical texts and ideas


I was a consultant on fifteenth- and sixteenth-century literary and historical sources on the University of Leicester's Richard III project, and gave a series of interviews, broadcasts, and public talks, many in collaboration with my colleague Dr. Mary Ann Lund. More recently, in 2018-19 on BBC Radio 3 I have been interviewed for a podcast and 'Free Thinking' broadcast on the subject of difficulty in early modern literature, with Dr. Crawforth, stemming from our research collaboration on that topic.

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