Laureate of the Master's Thesis Prize 2023


Laureate of the 2023 GIS MA Prize

Université de Bretagne Occidentale (UBO Brest)

for her MA thesis entitled:

Corruption et régénération dans Julia (1790) de Helen Maria Williams et Desmond (1792) de Charlotte Smith : redéfinir la sociabilité après la Révolution française”.

Her Master's thesis was defended in September 2023 under the supervision of Kimberley Page-Jones.


Elite sociability in the eighteenth century was extremely coded and exclusive and was thoroughly criticised in the literary production on corrupted manners of the period. Moral corruption was thought to be widespread among the upper classes, mirroring a society that English and French reformists alike denounced as unequal and politically corrupt. Hence, they hoped the French Revolution of 1789 would pave the way to the “regeneration” of man.
In this dissertation, I argue that the eighteenth-century feminine and radical novel served as a means of inducing moral regeneration among its readership. Indeed, English authors Helen Maria Williams and Charlotte Smith respectively wrote Julia (1790) and Desmond (1792) with the hope to inspire moral improvement in their readers. Both novels were deeply influenced by Rousseau’s model of sensibility and his firm belief in sensibility’s didactic potential. Both novels are also informed by the social and political injustices from which women, including themselves, suffered in eighteenth-century England. In their radical and feminist novels, they offer a new and regenerated vision of sociability. Published in the first years of the Revolution, they are deeply rooted in the revolutionary principles of equality and fraternity, crossing both social and national borders.


President of the GIS MA Prize Jury : Prof. Brian Cowan (McGill University, Canada)

Members of the 2023 GIS MA Prize Jury: 

- Claire Barillé (Université de Lille)
- Caroline Bertonèche (Université Grenoble-Alpes)
- Samuel Cuisinier-Delorme (Université Clermont-Auvergne)
- Federica d’Ascenzo (Università Gabriele D'Annunzio, Chieti-Pescara)
- Jean-François Dunyach (Sorbonne Université)
- Dominique Godineau (Université Rennes 2)
- John-Erik Hansson (Université Paris Cité)
- Franck Miroux (Université de Pau)
- Stanis Perez (MSHNord - PLEIADE)
- Sophie Vasset (Université Paul Valéry - Montpellier 3)

Julia and Desmond