Assoc Prof Derval Conroy

Associate Professor in French

Derval attained her PhD in Trinity College where she held her first post before joining UCD. She lectures on 17th-century French literature and history of ideas and has a particular interest in women and political thought, the history of feminisms, and women philosophers. A parallel interest is in the history of the book, looking particularly at peritexts and the relations between text and image.  She is one of the leaders of the UCD College of Arts and Humanities Research Strands, Thresholds of Knowledge.


Publications

New March 2021

Towards an Equality of the Sexes in Early Modern France

Derval Conroy (ed). Towards an Equality of the Sexes in Early Modern France, Routledge Studies in Renaissance and Early Modern Worlds of Knowledge (Abingdon: Routledge, 2021).

This volume sets out to examine the ways in which an equality between the sexes is constructed, conceptualised, imagined or realised in early modern France, a period and a country which produced some of the earliest theorisations on equality. In so doing, it aims to contribute towards the development of the history of equality as an intellectual category within the history of political thought, and to situate “the woman question” within that history. The eleven chapters in the volume span the fields of political theory, philosophy, literature, history and history of ideas, bringing together literary scholars, historians, philosophers and scholars of political thought, and examining an extensive range of primary sources. Whilst most of the chapters focus on the conceptualisation of a moral, metaphysical or intellectual equality between the sexes, space is also given to concrete examples of a de facto gender equality in operation. The volume is aimed at scholars and graduate students of political thought, history of philosophy, women’s history and gender studies alike. It aims to throw light on the history of Western ideas of equality and difference, questions which continue to preoccupy cultural historians, philosophers, political theorists and feminist critics.


Ruling Women, Vol 1: Government, Virtue, and the Female Prince in Seventeenth-Century France

Derval Conroy, Ruling Women, Vol 1: Government, Virtue, and the Female Prince in Seventeenth-Century France; Vol 2: Configuring the Female Prince in Seventeenth-Century French Drama (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)

Ruling Women is the first study of its kind devoted to an analysis of the debate concerning government by women in seventeenth-century France. Drawing on a wide range of political, feminist and dramatic texts, Conroy sets out to demonstrate that the dominant discourse which upholds patriarchy at the time is frequently in conflict with alternative discourses which frame gynæcocracy as a feasible, and laudable reality, and which reconfigure (wittingly or unwittingly) the normative paradigm of male authority. Central to the argument is an analysis of how the discourse which constructs government as a male prerogative quite simply implodes when juxtaposed with the traditional political discourse of virtue ethics. In Government, Virtue, and the Female Prince in Seventeenth-Century France, the first volume of the two-volume study, the author examines the dominant discourse which excludes women from political authority before turning to the configuration of women and rulership in the pro-woman and egalitarian discourses of the period. Highly readable and engaging, Conroy’s work will appeal to those interested in the history of women in political thought and the history of feminism, in addition to scholars of seventeenth-century literature and history of ideas.


Ruling Women, Vol 2: Configuring the Female Prince in Seventeenth-Century French Drama

Derval Conroy, Ruling Women, Vol 1: Government, Virtue, and the Female Prince in Seventeenth-Century France; Vol 2: Configuring the Female Prince in Seventeenth-Century French Drama (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)

Ruling Women is a two-volume study devoted to an analysis of the conflicting discourses concerning government by women in seventeenth-century France. In this second volume, Configuring the Female Prince in Seventeenth-Century French Drama, Conroy analyzes over 30 plays published between 1637 and 1691, examining the range of constructions of queenship that are thrown into relief. The analysis focuses on the ways in which certain texts strive to manage the cultural anxiety produced by female rule and facilitate the diminution of the uneasy cultural reality it represents, while others dramatize the exercise of political virtue by women, explode the myth of gender-differentiated sexual ethics, and suggest alternative constructions of gender relations to those upheld by the normative discourses of sexual difference. The approach is underpinned by an understanding of theatre as fundamentally political, a cultural institution implicated in the maintenance of, and challenge to, societal power relations. Innovative and stimulating, Conroy’s work will appeal to scholars of seventeenth-century drama and history of ideas, in addition to those interested in the history of women in political thought and the history of feminism.   


Outreach

The RTE History Show

Derval talks to Myles Dungan on RTE’s The History Show about early modern women writers and the original La Belle et la Bête, the early modern French fairy tale written by Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve on which the Disney blockbuster Beauty and the Beast is based.


The RTE History Show

As the question of women and government remains ever more topical, Derval discusses the 700-year-old debate regarding women and government in France with Myles Dungan on RTE’s History Show.


Early Modern French Books in Dublin

Print Culture in Early Modern France

Print Culture in Early Modern France, eds. Derval Conroy and Jean-Paul Pittion, Irish Journal of French Studies, 2016

This issue draws entirely on early modern French holdings from Dublin research libraries and highlights the rich collections which Dublin offers.


Marie Meurdrac’s La Chymie charitable et facile, en faveur des Dames (1674, first edition 1666)

Marsh’s Library in Dublin holds many rare and valuable volumes. Here Derval presents the copy of Marie Meurdrac’s La Chymie charitable et facile, en faveur des Dames (1674, first edition 1666), and talks about women in science and the early modern debate regarding gender equality. (Filmed in Marsh’s Library by Vermillion Design as part of the IRC-funded ‘Books in Dublin’ app. © UCD Research)


French collections in Farmleigh House

A fellowship from Marsh’s Library was an opportunity to discover the rich French holdings and livres d’artiste in the Benjamin Iveagh Library at Farmleigh. A wonderful resource which merits scholarly interest.


Teaching

Teaching the Early Modern Period. eds. Derval Conroy and Danielle Clarke,(Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)