Virtue in early modern France was a broad concept considered by clergymen, philosophers, and moralists as an instrument for measuring and implementing human ethics. This unprecedented research seeks to track the development of the notion of virtue from a gendered and dichotomous notion to a unique and undivided term. The word virtue is constantly present in French texts such as manuels de conduite1 , since the medieval period. Thus, it can be regarded as one of the most significant concepts defining genders in Western civilization. However, it is difficult for modern readers to grasp the complexity of the debate unless it is explained through its socio-historical and cultural implications regarding gender behavior. What is the author referring to when he/she uses the word virtue? Is it chastity for women, strength for men, or just the achievement of the highest moral standard? What are the social implications of virtue? Through an inter and multidisciplinary study involving literature, religion, philosophy, folklore, women and gender studies, and sociology, this cutting-edge research revolves around the literary analysis of conduct manuals, plays, novels and treatises, from the middle ages to the 18th century. Its objective is to map the evolution of the notion of virtue by evidencing social fluctuation of gender differences and conceptualizing our western civilization through the lenses of its moral discourse.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair

Trinquet du Lys, Charlotte


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities



Degree Program



Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access