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Class of 2023
Francophone Studies


Sponsoring Department
Summer 2022

My project broadly aimed to look at the portrayal and perception of mental health in
French literature. I did this via the lens of Françoise Sagan’s novel Bonjour Tristesse and
research on mental health in France gathered from various libraries throughout the country
including Rennes, Bordeaux, and Paris. The research explored the development of the
definition of mental health in the nation, psychiatric treatment, discrimination and
stereotypes, and literary criticism on Sagan and her novel.

The final product was an essay entitled “Les conséquences désastreuses des moeurs
sociales sur la santé mentale via Bonjour Tristesse de Sagan” – which translates to “The
disastrous consequences of social mores on mental health via Sagan’s Hello Sadness.” The
essay interweaves my travel research with my literary analysis of Sagan’s novel, discussing
the causes of repression and how they are rooted in societal judgements and the detrimental
consequences of repression on people’s psyches.

This research opportunity was a valuable learning opportunity. I gained experience in
library research, especially in a foreign country in a foreign language. This research was
extremely beneficial to my academia; English literature and francophone studies are two of
my three majors, and my plan after graduating from St. Lawrence University is to pursue a
PhD in comparative literature with a specialty in anglophone, francophone, and hispanophone
literature. Thus, the research I conducted was an integral first step to my continued scholarly

The research experience also enriched my Senior Honor Project in francophone
studies. My travel research serves as the basis for what has become my year-long project – a
critical literary study of Sagan’s novels that feature the suicide of a character, which include
Bonjour Tristesse as well as Un Peu de Soleil dans l’Eau Froide, La Laisee, and Le Femme