Thesis working title: The Pursuit of Happiness: Identifying a Happiness Motif within the Complete Works of Isabelle de Charrière
Supervisor: Associate Professor Síofra Pierse
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.