Cazes, Helene

Professor, Director for the program of Medieval studies, and Faculty coordinator for the humanities diploma program


Phone number: (250) 721-7367
Department: French

Research description:

- Humanism
- French Medieval and Renaissance literature
- History of medicine
- History of books and printers
-Libraries and collections
Expertise Profile
Why should we preserve mouldy old books that people hardly ever read?

Helene Cazes, a French professor and book historian, says old books and manuscripts can teach us a lot about ourselves. She studies medieval texts to understand how cultural legacies--ideas that we take for granted today, such as sexual equality--were passed down to us over time.

"I scratch the surface of what we take for granted, for example that parents love their children, and I put that in perspective with history," she explains. "When you do that you discover things about our own society right now, including some of our blind spots. Books are very important for self-discovery and for helping us achieve our full potential."

Dr. Cazes studies ancient treatises of medicine, for example, to see how physicians used to describe the human body, and how that informs our modern understanding of anatomy; she traces the construction, through centuries, of an ideal for body shape and structure. She studies the role of images for our understanding of our own bodies.

Yet Dr. Cazes does more than bury herself in ancient books. We learn about who we are and who we can become through dialogue, she says: "When we listen to one another and talk to each other, we go way beyond anything we could have reached on our own." To nurture this growth through dialogue, she often organizes interdisciplinary seminars where UVic students, scholars and community members can come together and share ideas.

Related Links
Helene Cazes Faces of UVic Research video:

-UVic community leadership Award (2014)
-Excellence in Research Humanities (2013)

Health related research:

Dr. Cazes works on the making of medical cultural icons and on "medical humanism"

International research:

-History of Anatomy

International activities:

President of the Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies/Société Canadienne pour les Etudes de la Renaissance.

Countries lived or worked in:

France -Netherlands -Italy


French and Italian

Community projects

Dr. Cazes has researched the history of the Seghers Collection (now on loan in UVic Special Collections): this involves research on John Seghers, second catholic bishop of Victoria (1839-1866) and on the Sisters of St. Ann.

UVic Speakers bureau

Helene Cazes takes part in the UVic Speakers Bureau.
More information about the Speakers Bureau can be found here.

< Browse all experts