Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


French Studies

Document Type




In France, the 17th century was a crucial period for the development of written French. New spelling rules were implemented but older ones were still in favor. When secular and religious elites established themselves in colonial Nouvelle France, (i.e., Canada and the United States), they brought in this set of old and more modern conventions.

Rare are the studies consecrated on hand-written French in the 17th century. Although a few researchers have looked at the literature produced by some famous French sisters, no one has ever studied their orthography. The originality of this dissertation arises from its protagonists—secluded religious women writing about women over two centuries—, but also from a rarely studied literary genre: monastic eulogies. Even though rhetorical genre is widely mentioned and studied in the Humanities, the monastic eulogy in itself, as written by the Ursulines in their annals, mortuary records and circular letters, remains to be understood. Indeed, each document presents a unique discursive structure, reflecting its complexity.

The main objective of my dissertation is the understanding of the evolution of written French within the religious world. To do so, I have decided to study twelve orthographic conventions in 618 monastic eulogies, all hand-written between the years of 1641 and 1835 by Ursulines in France, Quebec, and New Orleans. The French corpus is composed of 369 eulogies, written in 39 Ursulines convents between 1676 and 1792. This corpus is a solid starting point to my analysis as it helps me contextualize, and grasp, the orthographic tendencies in France at the time. 195 manuscripts were collected in Québec (1689–1800), while 54 are from New Orleans (1727–1835).



Committee Chair

Dubois, Sylvie