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Linda Kiernan

Research Interests

My research concerns two major strands of historical inquiry into seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France. The first examines gender relations and norms during this time with particular reference to court politics and culture. To this end my doctoral thesis examined the role and image of the royal mistress. The second explores cultural and intellectual discourse regarding behaviour and conduct, and in particular the discussion of character, during this time. This strand has led me to view the methods of the relatively new area of 'history of emotions' in studying the early modern 'self' and its relation to and place in society at large.

Select Publications:

  • 'Feminist Consciousness in historical perspective' in Naples et al (eds) The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality Studies (forthcoming, 2015)
  • 'Absolutely Beautiful? Mme de Pompadour and the Aesthetics of Power' in Christine Adams and Tracy Adams (eds), Female Beauty Systems. Beauty as Social Capital in Western Europe and the United States, from the Middle Ages to the Present (Cambridge, 2015)
  • Book Review: Giora Sternberg, Status Interaction during the Reign of Louis XIV, accessible at:
  • 'Cloister and Community: A Comparative view of the roles of Irish women in the convents of early modern Flanders, France, Spain and Portugal', in Power Strategies: Spain and Ireland, 1600-1825, edited by Oscar Recio Morales (Albatros Ediciones, 2012)
  • ‘Marie-Louise O’Murphy: Louis XV’s Irish Mistress’, History Ireland, Jan/Feb 2006.
  • ‘Matrimony and the Mistress: Attitudes to Marriage at the court of Louis XIV, in Victims or Viragos: Studies on Women in Medieval and Early Modern Europe 4, edited by Christine Meek and Catherine Lawless. (Dublin, 2005).
  • ‘Early Modern Sexuality’, ‘Sexual Politics’, ‘Seduction’, ‘The Pill’, ‘Mistress’ and other articles in Sexuality: The Essential Glossary edited by Jo Eadie (London, 2004).


  • ‘From the Parc-aux-Cerfs to the Sainte-Pélagie: Marie-Louise O’Murphy, 1737-1815’, Annual Conference, French Historical Studies, Arizona, April 2010. 
  • ‘Vice and Visibility: the imagery of the royal mistress during the reign of Louis XV’, Society for the Study of French History, Trinity College Dublin, June 2009.
  • ‘Illusions of Influence; The Evolution of the Maîtresse Royale. An historiographical survey’, French Historical Studies Annual Conference, St Louis, Missouri, March 2009.
  • ‘Marie-Louise O’Murphy and the Court of Louis XV’, Irish and the Iberian Atlantic, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Seville, November 2008. 
  • ‘Assessing Informal Power: The Figure of the Maîtresse Royale at the Court of Louis XIV, 1660-1715’,  Power and Perspective, Society for Seventeenth Century Studies, RIA, UCD & TCD, Dublin, 11-13 Sept 2008. 


I have lectured on several courses: 'Culture and Politics in Europe, 1700-1815', 'Introduction to Gender History' and 'Making of Modernity, 1750-1820', and have taught a course on 'Romance before Romanticism: Life, Love and Death in Ancien Régime and Revolutionary France'.