Experts in: Historiography
- Public space
- Municipal politics
- 19th century
- 20th century
- Canada (Québec)
- United Kingdom
- North America
Cities are my main research topic. I study them through the history of their concrete and symbolic formation. I am interested in showing that the efforts involved in the physical organization of cities shape the way they are governed and help structure social and political relationships at this level. This way of seeing the history of cities as a product of interrelated physical and social factors has led to published papers on the development of public spaces for culture and recreation in Montreal and Toronto in the 19th and 20th centuries, and on the structuring of the municipal domain through drinking water and wastewater networks. I recently published a paper on evolving relationships between Montreal and water, in an attempt to reconstitute the role of water and its successive transformations in the city's urbanization process since the early 19th century. Since then I have been pursuing my work on the history of the environment at the larger scale of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence hydrographic system.
I am also interested in issues relating to the writing and public uses of history in theoretical and practical terms. I have taken part in various debates and roundtables on the teaching of history. I also sometimes collaborate on mounting exhibitions and producing historical documents for various audiences.
- 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.
- Ancient Rome
- Late antiquity
- Roman Empire
- Empire and imperialism
- Greek and Latin epigraphy
- Comparative history
- History of ideas
- Social history
- International relations
I teach Roman history, the so-called auxiliary sciences (epigraphy, numismatics and literature) and advanced Latin courses for the Centre d'études classiques (detached 50%) and the Department of History. My main field of research is the history of the Roman Empire, in particular the Late Empire period (192-565 AD). My research activities fall into three categories.
- My main interest lies in the history of the administration and political system of the Roman Empire, especially the reorganization of its provinces in the Late Empire period.
- A second focus of my research has to do with themes of cultural history and mentalities during the Late Empire. This is a direct outgrowth of my main interest, because I have often had to use literary sources in studying the administrative history of the Empire, and in such cases I have had to first understand the cultural background in order to grasp the opinions expressed regarding administrative changes. My interest in this research has particularly to do with Latin and Greek authors who expressed their opinions on politics, although they are not classified in the "historiography" category, such as the sermons by Church Fathers Ambrose of Milan and John Chrysostom, the panegyrics of Themistius, and epic poetry.
- The third aspect is dedicated to the history of science in antiquity and the historiographical themes related to science, i.e. to famous figures of antiquity (Constantine the Great) or the writings of ancient authors (Livy and Ammianus Marcellinus).
My MA and PhD students have worked on the first two fields of research, but not exclusively. Regardless of the research topic, I consider a good knowledge of ancient languages (Latin and Greek), modern languages (English, German, Italian and Spanish, depending on the subject) and the so-called auxiliary sciences (literature, epigraphy and numismatics) to be key success factors for any kind of advanced research.
- Colonization and decolonization
- Atlantic world
- New France
- 17th century
- North America
- Indigenous people
- Collective memory
My research concerns all aspects of the history of New France, and its European ramifications. I am interested in the circulation of people, goods, knowledge and information between Native and French America and Europe (1660-1800). I am continuing my work on North American fur trade routes, in a hemispheric space extending from Native American lands eastward all the way to Asia.
A project on the circulation of knowledge considers natural history as a means of appropriation, for the moment through the work of Jean-François Gaultier (1708-1756), the King's physician in Quebec City and correspondent for the Académie royale des sciences.
I am also exploring the field of historiography and popular memory, and in particular the fate of the French Regime in Canada after the Conquest of 1759.