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Title: Ursuline Nuns, pensionnaires and needlework : elite women and social and cultural convergence in British Colonial Quebec City, 1760-1867
Author: Dawson, Joyce Ann Taylor
ISNI:       0000 0004 2677 4725
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2007
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This research is concerned with the Ursuline Nuns of Quebec City, their Convent and school for girls founded in 1639, their boarding pupils, and embroidered textiles stitched by these young women. It focuses on the social and cultural convergence of French- and English-speaking boarders who attended the school during the British Colonial period of 1760-1867, a time in the Convent school's history when it moved from being a unilingual to a bilingual institution paralleling the shift in Quebec's history when the French colony became British. This study considers the interaction of French and English-speaking pupils with the nuns and with each other and their relationship to a collection of textile objects currently held by the Musee des Ursulines de Quebec. The objects selected for study provide examples of embroideries fashioned by pupils during the study period. Analysis of the practices surrounding the creation and use of these objects provides evidence of the convergence of French and English-speaking pupils within the confines of the school. The study also focuses on the impact of nuns and pupils with regard to the social and cultural convergence of the elite French and English speaking populations outside the cloister during the study period. An interdisciplinary methodology developed by the bringing together of diverse primary sources particularly analyses the relationship between the abovementioned practices, the curriculum taught at the school and biographical information attained through the development of a prosopographic database which establishes the eliteness of the pensionnaires. The surprising extent of the cultural duality and religious tolerance found within the school and seen within the objects sheds light on the impact which, as pupils and in maturity, these women may have had on the social and cultural convergence of Quebec's elite Society during the period. It was found that the relationship which the nuns had nurtured from within the cloister at the time of the Conquest and onward with the British Governor and his suite, was an especially significant part of this process. The study has revealed that elite women in British Colonial Quebec faced many challenges and that harmonious co-existence of English and French-speaking women within the small enclosed elite Society in the city was a necessity, not an option. The Ursuline nuns, their pupils and needlework all were shown to play a part in facilitating and encouraging that co-existence. How the Sisters achieved this complex task of supporting the cultural dualism that was at the heart of coexistence was clarified through the analysis of the education, needlework and other life skills provided to their pensionnaires by the Ursulines.
Supervisor: Kelly, Michael Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available