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Institute of Advanced Study

Professor Françoise Deconinck-Brossard

COFUND Senior Research Fellow at St Mary's College (October – December 2015)

Professor Deconinck-Brossard is an eminent French scholar at the Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense (formerly Paris X) working on the borders of English literature and history. The proposed research to be undertaken during the Fellowship focuses on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century hymns and sermons. It lies at the crossroads between literature and history, with a special interest in digital humanities, particularly computer-assisted textual analysis and historical analysis of literary documents. Deconinck-Brossard is in the final stages of preparing a critical edition of a collection of eighteenth-century sermon manuscripts by archdeacon John Sharp (1723-1792) held in Durham Cathedral Library.

The project undertaken during the fellowship will be twofold. First she will use digital transcriptions of the Sharp corpus as the basis for discourse analysis. As textual analytics is essentially comparative, she will compare it with other similar corpora, whether of eighteenth-century texts or sermon literature in general. Another area which she will continue to investigate is the use of relational databases for historical work. For instance, John Sharp meticulously recorded the dates, venues, occasions, duration, and audiences of his sermons, which he constantly recycled during his forty-three year ministry in the Durham diocese. This material fits into a database, which reveals hitherto unknown aspects of religion and society in eighteenth-century England.