In 2009 Charlotte received a BA in French and English from the University of Reading. She returned to Reading for an MRes in French Studies in 2010-11. On completion she then moved to the University of Southampton to begin her PhD, having been drawn there by the research specialities of her supervisor, Professor Mary Orr.
Her research interests lie in the representations of women protagonists in French women’s fiction of the late-revolutionary and early-Napoleonic eras, and how these subvert traditional literary forms to challenge contemporary gender prejudice.
Her thesis focuses on the female sentimental author Sophie Cottin (1770-1807) and her exploration of the socially ‘anomalous’ woman – in particular young widows, wards, and women writers – in her five novels. These novels, Claire d’Albe(1799), Malvina (1800), Amélie Mansfield (1803), Mathilde(1805), and Élisabeth, ou les exilés de Sibérie (1806) were contemporary best-sellers but have since disappeared from public notice. The first three novels were criticised on publication for their depiction of what Mme de Genlis labelled ‘une immoralité révoltante’. The final two are considered more traditional in their depiction of the sentimental heroine, however, Charlotte’s thesis will examine Cottin’s use of the genre to question the contemporary ‘condition féminine’.