Experts in: Identity
- Sexual and gender identity
- 20th century
My current research focuses on the Sainte-Justine Hospital's fundraising campaigns from the late 1920s to the present, and on how commercial advertising for over-the-counter drugs contributed to the medicalization of Quebec society between 1920 and 1970.
The first project looks both at the message developed by the hospital (and its advertising agencies) to convince the public to dig into their pockets and donate to the hospital, and the physical organization of these fundraising campaigns, to see how it evolved over the years, when and to what extent it became more professional, and the role played by volunteers (most often women) and "experts" (most often men). This research is based on two key concepts: the concept of a mixed social economy, meaning the combination of private and public funding of healthcare and welfare institutions, and that of moral regulation, meaning actions by government or groups from civil society seeking to shape new subjectivities as a way of encouraging new behaviours.
In my second project I intend to study the advertising campaigns for certain over-the-counter drugs so as to analyze how their messages concerning bodies and health and the way they represented them evolved. My initial hypothesis is that the medicalization of society is attributable not only to the doctors and the state that were in the forefront of public health campaigns, but also to the drug companies that capitalized on people's concerns about their health and well-being in marketing their products, thereby reinforcing new norms in these areas. More generally, my research seeks to highlight the connections between health concerns and the rise of consumerism, two major 20th-century cultural phenomena.
- 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.