Bourse doctorale: lauréate 2021

Helen McKelvey, Queen's University Belfast

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My doctoral project, ‘Religious Imagery in Nineteenth-Century French Slavery Narratives’, uses a rich critical framework of historiography, colonial studies, critical race theory, gender studies, theology and literary analysis to examine the multifaceted ways in which tropes and narratives of religion are used to represent slavery in nineteenth-century French literature. Focussing on writing produced predominantly in the 1820s and 1830s, my analysis of a multi-generic corpus (spanning prose, poetry, short stories, print media and archival writings) reveals the extent to which religion played a key and understudied role in the nineteenth-century French imagination of slavery. I also assert that the nineteenth century’s tendency to represent slavery through the lens of religion has unmistakable echoes in writing about the historic slave trade in the twenty-first century. The thesis therefore fills an important lacuna in the field and seeks to redress the marginalisation of the intersection of religion and literature in Francophone post/colonial studies more generally. By reassessing the role of religion in writing about slavery and the slave trade, we expand our understanding of, and challenge our (mis)conceptions about, historical slavery, its perpetrators, victims, and opponents. 

An important aspect of my doctoral project has been the comparison of literary sources with archival sources. The ADEFFI Bourse Doctorale, sponsored by AMOPA, will allow me to undertake a period of archival research in Paris and to examine further the presence of black women within French convents in the nineteenth century. Accessing these archives will allow a more thorough investigation of the experiences of black women within the cloisters, as well as considering, for the first time, those who helped these black women find freedom, and their fellow nuns’ perceptions of them. Using archives comparatively to underscore the development of and inspiration for fictional texts, I will develop my analysis of how this element of religious discourse defines and shapes writing about slavery in the nineteenth century. This will be crucial to developing my research beyond the thesis into publication.  

Supervisor: Dr Steven Wilson, with Prof. Maeve McCusker

Bourse doctorale: lauréat 2020
Marc Olivier-Loiseau, Ulster University 

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Bourse doctorale - lauréate 2019


Emma Dunne, UCD

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My doctoral thesis examines the morphosyntax of a subclass of pronouns (clitics) in Old French. I am interested in their position with regards to infinitives, a context that remains under-documented. We observe a series of differences with other Romance languages: for instance, Spanish and Italian have the order infinitive-clitic, whereas Modern French shows clitic-infinitive. Assuming that clitics appeared during the common Proto-Romance stage, I seek to situate in time when French branched off from the Spanish/Italian ordering. More generally, I look into how clitic placement evolved in French from the earliest records we have. 

Supervisors: Dr Christina Sevdali and Prof Raffaella Folli

My thesis considers the key eighteenth-century theme of happiness in Isabelle de Charrière’s complete works, examining her idiosyncratic vision of, and approach to, happiness, through analysis of her novels, plays, and personal correspondence. Specifically, my thesis addresses the pursuit of happiness in Charrière's writings, focusing on obstacles encountered in its pursuit, such as marriage, societal conventions, and the French Revolution and its related exile, while also addressing the many opportunities for happiness as elucidated in her works, notably through friendship, writing, and musical endeavours. While my thesis reveals Charrière's perspectives on happiness, it also serves to situate Charrière and her ideas on happiness within the wider debates on happiness in the eighteenth-century French narrative.

Supervisor: Dr Siofra Pierse