History | French Revolution
H620 | 28350 | Spang
A portion of the above class reserved for majors
Above class open to graduates only
For over a century, the French Revolution has been a crucial topic
of both historical and historiographical debate. Its origins have
been traced to low literature and high politics; its effects have
been detected on everything from economic theory and hair styles to
family dynamics and the map of Europe. From the Revolution, we get
our contemporary notions of political Left and Right, as well as the
word “terrorist”; from the Revolution, France got "départements,"
the “rights of man,” and the metric system.
After an introductory section on eighteenth-century culture,
politics, and society, this course will concentrate on the
revolutionary 1790s. Metropolitan France will provide our primary
focus, but we will also consider the meaning of revolution in
France’s Caribbean colonies and across much of Western Europe. In
April 1792, revolutionary France declared war against the kings of
central Europe; war continued, almost uninterrupted, until 1815. To
study the Revolution is to study ideas of liberty and equality; it
is also to study practices of war and empire.
There are no prerequisites for this course and all required readings
will be in English. Assessment will be based on in-class
participation and on a final, mini-research paper (15-20 pages).
Students who have not studied this period before are encouraged to
attend the lectures for History B356 (“French Revolution and
Napoleon”), which meets Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:20-1:10.