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.