History | The French Revolution and Its Interpreters
H620 | 27956 | Craiutu

Above section open to majors only
Above section meets with POLS-Y 675

Topic:  The French Revolution and its Interpreters

The purpose of this course is to offer a detailed analysis of the
debates triggered by the French Revolution.  Special emphasis will
be put on studying the interplay between events, actors,
institutions, and ideas.  We shall read closely some of the main
texts and documents published during the Revolution such as
the "Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizen, The
Constitution of 1791", Sieyès’s "What is the Third Estate?" as well
as his "Views of the Executive Means Available to the
Representatives of France in 1789".  We’ll also study the debates on
the royal veto and authority in 1790, the documents of the Committee
on Public Safety and a selection from Robespierre’s speeches.  In
our discussions, we focus on major concepts and themes that loomed
large in the debates of this period such as sovereignty,
representation, democracy, republic, the rights of man, and the
relationship between the legislative and the executive power.

The final section of the course will examine the works of some of
the most important interpreters of the French Revolution.  It will
include representative selections from Madame de
Staël’s "Consideration on the Principal Events of the French
Revolution", Tocqueville’s "The Old Regime and the Revolution",
Joseph de Maistre’s "Considerations on France", Burke’s "Reflections
on the Revolution in France", and Tom Paine’s "The Rights of Man".
The required secondary literature will include selections from
François Furet & Mona Ozouf eds., "A Critical Dictionary of the
French Revolution" (Harvard, 1989), François Furet, "Interpreting
the French Revolution" (Cambridge, 1981), and Keith
Baker, "Inventing the French Revolution" (Cambridge, 1990).
Knowledge of French is not required for this course.