My newest research examines how seventeenth-century France's rich literary traditions--particularly theatre--intersected with its colonial projects in what is today eastern and maritime Canada. I am interested both in performances of French plays in colonial Quebec and Acadia and in the ways in which France's efforts to colonize the New World may have influenced some of the period's best-known works of literature. I approach this subject from a point of view that is consonant with recent scholarship on the French Atlantic World, preferring to think of the relationship between France and Quebec as one of reciprocal influence between two distinct but related sites of French culture instead of adopting the more traditional vision of France with Paris as its one and only centre. Work in this field has appeared or is forthcoming in well-respected journals like French Studies and French Forum, with more planned. I expect that this work will culminate in a book.
At the same time, I continue to conduct and publish research on the writings of missionaries and other colonists in New France, especially their efforts to describe the Amerindian cultures they encountered there. My book Masters and Students: Jesuit Mission Ethnography in Seventeenth-Century New France (McGill-Queen's UP, 2015) treats the famous Jesuit Relations (1632-1673) as the products of two simultaneous and overlapping missions, in which the Jesuit priests both extracted information from a distant and poorly understood place and attempted to furnish Europe’s religious knowledge to the inhabitants of that place. These two simultaneous missions—gathering information and also transmitting it—provide the framework that the book uses to reflect on the nature of Jesuit mission ethnography, as well as its relationship both to early modern travel narrative and to modern ethnohistory. In progress is a new English translation of Pierre-François-Xavier de Charlevoix's massive eighteenth-century account of his voyage through North America, under contract with Brill Publishing. I also have begun tentatively planning a "biography of the book" style treatment of the famous Jesuit Relations.
In its most general terms, my work concerns French and Francophone Literature, Culture, and Folklore, with particular emphasis on the early modern period (16th -18th centuries) and contact between cultures.