Experts in: Education
- European discoveries and exploration
- Epistolary exchanges
- Comparative history
- Socio-religious history
- Sexual and gender identity
- Religious orders
- Religions, identities and politics
- Modern Times
My research concerns the comparative history of identity construction in 16th-18th century Europe and the Americas, with a number of complementary aspects: the vision of the Other and the question of self (episteme and mentalities; objectives and methods of persuasion); the role of the two sexes in the individual and collective construction of identity; historical evidence and the memory of self. With regard to this first theme, I published Croire et faire croire. Les missions françaises au 17e siècle(Paris, Fayard, 2003), showing the far-reaching connections between the perception of otherness and the representations of modern identity in the context of the first globalization, i.e. missionary imperialism, at a time when France was undergoing true domestic colonization. A second theme developed from this research, and allowed me to embark on two parallel publications: the first, Les autobiographies spirituelles et l'émergence du sujet moderne, is aimed at understanding how men and women in France and its colonies learned to see themselves as acting subjects. The second publication, the third of my research themes, is entitled Memoire de soi, mémoire des autres, and compares the annals of various religious congregations in France and New France to determine the traces that small communities wished to leave for posterity, sometimes at the cost of a certain distortion of the historical record. On the basis of this work, I was invited to edit a scientific history of the Sulpicians of Canada in which the chapters I wrote concern the duty of memory, identity markers, and relations between others and the Sulpicians, who were key figures in Montreal history (D. Deslandres, John A. Dickinson and Ollivier Hubert, eds. Les Sulpiciens de Montréal. Une histoire de pouvoir et de discrétion (Montreal, Fides, 2007). Along the same lines, I co-edited, with Raymond Brodeur and Thérèse Nadeau-Lacour, Lecture inédite de la modernité aux origines de la Nouvelle France. Marie Guyart de l'Incarnation et les autres fondateurs religieux (Quebec City, Les Presses de l'Université Laval, 2010) to mark the 400th anniversary of Quebec City. I am currently writing a biography of Marie Guyart de l'Incarnation, founder of the very first school for women in America, while continuing my work on the roles of the sexes, religion and politics in the history of modern-day French expansion.
- Medieval church
- Pardon (law)
- Middle Ages
My work initially dealt with the Pontifical Court in the late 14th century. I emphasized the government structures and the career and promotion streams that were common there by studying not ordinances, but the individual paths (prosopography) by making use essentially of practice documents (accounts, letters, releases, petitions, etc.). At present, I am particularly involved in the evolution of government systems towards modernity through the administration of the power of grace. It seems to me that the most significant example of the political use of pardon must be researched at the Pontifical Tribunal responsible for administering it – the Apostolic Penitentiary – the archives of which were recently made available to researchers by Pope John Paul II.
Other recent research is leading me to consider how the Middle Ages are received in our contemporary societies, through film, video games, simulation games. What Middle Ages are we exploring then? What are the links between history and the imaginary worlds of the entertainment industry? It is therefore appropriate to consider the true legacy of this period for the modernity that we are experiencing and its structural contributions (representation, public gatherings, modes of government), intellectual contributions (universities, structuring of the sciences, (in)differentiation of disciplines) and social contributions (gender relations, orders and equality, relationship with wealth).
I am also currently working, either alone or collaboratively, on three main book projects:
- Middle Ages and Mathematics: the case of Alcuin’s Propositiones ad acuendos juvenes (9th cent.).
- Demilitarization of the medieval clergy after the Gregorian reform (11th to 15th cent.) and the distinguishing strategies established by the Church for protecting its own (beatings and injuries to the clergy). Here we are dealing with the matter of punishment (penance) and forgiveness, which are central to the internalization of Christian norms, which were deeply structuring in the Middle Ages.
- Anthropology of animals in the Middle Ages and in the modern era through trials conducted with animals guilty of crimes (13th to 17th cent.) as part of a major research project investigating the connections, both real and symbolic, between humans and animals, from the Middle Ages to the anti-speciesist movement.
- Social history
- Sexual and gender identity
- 18th century
- 19th century
- Socio-religious history
- Canada (Québec)
I am interested in the people who lived in the St. Lawrence Valley in the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly under the British Regime. I want to determine the rules by which they lived, the images that shaped the way they perceived the world, and the power structures they created or suffered under. This curiosity has made me a historian of pre-industrial Quebec society. I began by studying how religious precepts legitimized certain conceptions of order. In the past few years, using documents left by other institutions, tribunals and educational institutions, I have tried to understand how social identities were formed, negotiated and mobilized.