Research Overview

Research activity in French in Maynooth University spans many periods and locations and is concerned with how the French language and its cultural artefacts have influenced societies in the past and present, in France and the French-speaking world. While the main approaches within the department are both literary and historical, much of the research taking place is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing in linguistics, history, literary criticism, gender, religious and political cultures.

Meet a Researcher

Professor Ruth Whelan French Studies

What happens to people when they change places? How do they express the inexpressible? How do we get access to the feelings, inner world, or limit-experiences of early modern people? How do they conceptualise the self? What does their spirituality look like? How do they represent their present or their past? And to what ends? These are some of the questions that interest me in my research on the writings of the Huguenots during the ‘great exile’ after 1681 and the oppression they endured and resisted under the reign of Louis XIV. How did they survive losing the home that they knew, the galleys, prison, solitary confinement? In search of answers to these questions, I pore over their letters, memoirs, sermons, histories, poetry, polemics, focussing particularly on the writings of Pierre Bayle, Jacques Abbadie, Élie (Elias) Neau, Élie Bouhéreau and traces of others whose voices echo in the archives.