Our PhD students

Emma Dunne

Thesis working title: The Pursuit of Happiness: Identifying a Happiness Motif within the Complete Works of Isabelle de Charrière

Supervisor: Associate Professor Síofra Pierse

Dunne - photo E-portal

I am a graduate of UCD, having previously completed my BA (International) and MA (Modern Languages) in the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics. Prior to commencing my PhD in September 2016,  I worked as a lectrice d’anglais in Paris IV (Paris-Sorbonne) for two years as part of the UCD lecteur exchange agreement. During my two years in Paris, I also worked as a chargée de cours in three other Parisian universities: Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne), Paris III (Sorbonne-Nouvelle) and Paris VIII (Vincennes-Saint-Denis).

My research interests lie in eighteenth-century French literature and the history of ideas, in particular the writings of early-modern female authors such as Isabelle de Charrière and Françoise de Graffigny, as well as the works of more well-known authors of the period, including Rousseau, Voltaire and Diderot.

Thesis: My thesis examines the notion of happiness in the complete works of Dutch-Swiss author, Isabelle de Charrière (1740-1805), who wrote in French. Focusing on all ten volumes of her Œuvres Complètes, which include correspondence, novels, political pamphlets, essays and musical libretti, my research identifies and explores a recurring happiness motif, and more specifically, a spectrum of happiness, in Charrière’s extensive writings, and examines how she defines, manipulates and considers happiness, and its antithesis, throughout her works. Given that happiness in the eighteenth century was of particular interest to many of the philosophes of the time, my research aims to identify the nature of this recurring, yet metamorphic, happiness motif in Charrière’s writings, and ultimately to situate Charrière, and her ideas on happiness, within the wider debate on happiness in eighteenth-century France.


Fergus O’Dwyer

Thesis working title: Language and identity in a Dublin suburb

Supervisor: Professor Bettina Migge

Fergus O'Dwyer

I am currently a Linguistics lecturer at the Westfälische Wilhelms-University of Münster, and aim to finish my PhD thesis at UCD in late-2017.

My ethnography is conducted in a suburban sports -Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA)- club. Identity in interaction is at the centre of the thesis: I wanted to understand how identities are performed in male-only settings. Specifically, I aimed to interpret patterns of variation to create a better understanding of the relationship between linguistic variants and social element of interactions. I examined what kinds of interactional identities are recognized by people in the club and wider area, and how participants deploy linguistic and other social practices to negotiate their alignment with and dissociation from these identities. Language identity issues are explored through participant observation in a variety of contexts, followed by semi-guided interviews and recordings of selected natural interactions of interactions.

I first analyzed the social space from several perspectives ranging from the macro (historical, political, social, cultural, and institutional issues), and then collected primary data. The following emerged to be salient in this case: the typical linguistic behavior – or dominant types of talk- found in the club, two types of interactional identities (authoritative and “tough”), and three variant linguistic variables: the PRICE lexical set, word-final /t/, and the use of humour.

I primarily focus on how the language used orients speakers to certain interactional identities or social positions (e.g. authoritative). The principal findings of the study are that high and front PRICE realizations are often linked with a “tough” interactional identity. Backed and lowered PRICE tokens, and word-final slit, or fricated, /t/ realizations correlate with an authoritative identity. A collegial type of humour creates and maintains solidarity amongst club members, while another “edgy” kind of humour contain an underlying message of “I’m stronger than you”.


Helen McAlister

Thesis working title: Identity in displacement: a comparative study of Francophone Literature from the Caribbean, Quebec to North Africa.

Supervisor: Professor Mary Gallagher

Helen McAlister

I am a second year doctoral student in the French department at UCD. I come from a language background, having studied for my BA in French and Spanish at Queen’s University Belfast, followed by an MPhil in Literary Translation at Trinity College Dublin in 2014. For my MPhil, I completed a dissertation which was an annotated translation of Patrick Chamoiseau’s iconic work on the disappearance of the conteur (story teller) and the Oral tradition, Solibo Magnifique. This partly motivated me to continue with studies in the Antilles and so I began a PhD, which analyses the work of  Chamoiseau amongst other writers from the Antilles and former French colonies. I am currently working abroad as part of UCD’s lector exchange programme. I have just completed a year as a lectrice at the University of Rennes 2 in France and having loved this experience in Rennes, I will be moving to Brest in September to be an English lector at UBO.


Edward O’Sullivan

Thesis working title: Deadness in the Works of le Marquis de Sade

Supervisor: Associate Professor Síofra Pierse

Edward OSullivan

I am currently in my final year of the PhD programme at UCD, where I previously completed an MA in Modern Languages in 2013, and a BA majoring in French with a minor in Politics/International Relations in 2012. I was a teaching assistant in The School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics at UCD for the 2015-6 academic year. I aim to submit my thesis in May 2018.

My thesis employs a text-centred analysis of the fictional works of Sade (1740-1814) to argue that the libertine characters seek to be deadened, or numb, to the world. The research explores the relationships between apathy, guilt, innocence and death by outlining the literary tropes through which they are conveyed. The success or failure of the libertines in achieving liberation through the transgression of all limits is not framed as the central debate. Instead, it is argued that Sade’s textual libertines acutely understood and bemoaned their limitations from the transcript for Les Cent Vingt Journées de Sodome (1785), through L’Histoire de Juliette (1801). The libertines symbolically escape nature’s cycle of destruction and reform through deadness because it demonstrates the ambiguity between life and death.

In the field of eighteenth-century French studies, my research interests include thought, nuances and intrigue within sub-cultures such as the salons and various cults that arose during the Enlightenment, how such groups perceived each other and society at large, the manner in which information was obtained, and what shaped the idiosyncrasies of the people. I aspire to deepen my understanding of the politics involved in financing, building and conducting business during the era. The political career of Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord is of particular interest to me.


Emanuela Caffe

Thesis working title:

Supervisor: Associate Professor Ursula Fanning

E.Caffè -PhotoI am a first year PhD student and language tutor in University College Dublin (UCD)’s School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics. I obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Modern and Contemporary Languages and Cultures in Rome at the Università di Roma Tre, spending one year on Erasmus in Dublin at UCD, and I completed my Master’s in Italian Studies at University College London (UCL). My research interests include Literary Theory -mainly feminist-, Comparative Literature, Women’s Writing especially Italian Women’s Writing of the 20th and 21st century, and gender studies. I am currently writing a thesis on Elena Ferrante and Feminism under the guidance of my supervisor, Professor Ursula Fanning (UCD).


Qing Liang Meng

Thesis working title: Promoting Interpreter Competence Through Input Enhancement of Prefabricated Lexical Chunks

Supervisor: Assistant Professor Sandrine Peraldi

Qing Liang MengI am a first-year PhD student in the School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics at UCD. I got my BA in English Language and Literature from Ludong University and then my MA in Applied Linguistics in Foreign Languages from Donghua University in China. I first worked as a teaching assistant in Shandong Agricultural University for five years after getting my BA, then went into logistics and investment sectors engaging myself in business translation and interpreting after earning my MA. Prior to my PhD study here at UCD, I had been a lecturer in Business English Translation and Interpreting in Jiaxing University, Zhejiang Province, China, and at the same time, I have been an active practitioner in translating and interpreting activities, having completed the translation of over eight million Chinese characters, including the publication of two books.

My research interests lie in translation theory and practice, translation and interpreting pedagogy, second language acquisition and sociolinguistics.

Thesis: As a complex mental process, interpreting involves working memory,  information processing, psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, etc. based on linguistic knowledge and intercultural competence. The aim of my thesis is to prove that, by consciously enhancing the input of prefabricated lexical chunks in interpreter training, we can, on the one hand, help the interpreter save time for meaning abstraction from the source language, and on the other hand, enable him/her to construct the target language more efficiently, to accomplish meaning transference within desirable time limit, thus promoting interpreting competence.