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Sample Syllabus: History 458/558

The French Revolution
History 448/558


Instructor: Professor Morag Martin
Office: 122 Brown Building
Phone: 395-5690


Books to buy

William Doyle, The Origins of the French Revolution
Timothy Tackett, When the King Took Flight
Martin Lyons, Napoleon Bonaparte and the Legacy of the French Revolution (1994)
Laurent Dubois and John D. Garrigus, Slave Revolution in the Caribbean 1789-1804
Graduates only: Gary Kates, ed, The French Revolution: Recent Debates and New Controversies

All other readings are available on Angel.



Paper I                                                                         15%
Paper II                                                                        20%
Paper III                                                                       25%
Participation                                                               15%
Presentation                                                               10%
Reading Questions/In class Exercises                15%


You must bring your book or article to class and come prepared to discuss it.  Underlining, taking notes and formulating questions are all essential means of fully digesting the reading.  Please bring to class at least three questions pertaining to the reading.  I will collect reading questions regularly.


You will write three analytical papers based solely on the readings from this class.  The first two papers should be 6-8 pages long, and the third 10-12 pages.   All late papers will be downgraded 1/2 grade per day late.  Please let me know in advance if you will not be able to meet the deadlines.


Attendance is mandatory.  More than 3 absences (excused or unexcused) will significantly lower your grade and more than 4 will be grounds for failing.  Active participation in discussion is essential for a seminar.  If you are shy or have trouble talking in class please let me know.  Posing the questions you bring from your reading is an ideal way of entering into the discussion.

We will have two different types of presentations in class.  Graduate students will be responsible for presenting the articles that they read as a group to the undergraduates.  Each student will pick one article to present in a 5-10 minute overview of the articles main points, argument and how it fits into the other reading for the week.  Undergraduates will be assigned an author on whom they will give a 5 minute bibliographical presentation.  They will be asked to cover where the person got their PhD,  where they are teaching now, what their focus is on and any other books they have published.  This information should be easily available on the web.


Undergraduate/Graduate Students

The class is a mix of undergrads and graduate students.  Certain readings pertain only to the graduate students.   Graduate student work will be graded on a higher standard of academic criteria than undergraduate.
Graduate students will also be expected to lead small groups in exercises and analysis of the reading.   Graduate students should use their greater experience to help undergraduates, but should be careful to not dominate classroom time or intimidate other students.   All students will be given the chance to participate during each class discussion.



Week 1 – Introduction
Movie: Ridicule           

Week 2 – The Causes of the French Revolution: Enlightenment and Popular Culture

Reading: Margaret Jacob, “The Enlightenment: Introduction” (Angel)
            Readings from the Enlightenment: Voltaire, “Political Essays”; Rousseau, “Discourse on the Origins of Inequality”,“Social Contract”, (Angel)
Robert Darnton, “The Forbidden Best sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France” (Angel)
Roger Chartier, The Cultural Origins of the French Revolution (Angel, Graduates)

Biographical Presentation on Darnton and Chartier:
Presentation on Chartier:


Wk 3 – The Coming of the French Revolution: Class Conflict?

Reading: William Doyle, Origins of the French Revolution, parts II, Graduates Part I also
            Sarah Maza, “Luxury, Morality and Social Change: Why there was no middle-class consciousness in pre-revolutionary France” in Kates and Angel

Biographical Presentation on Doyle
Presentation on Doyle, Part I


Wk 4 – Debates about the Shape of the Revolution
Reading: William Doyle, Origins of the French Revolution, part III
            Colin Lucas, “Nobles, Bourgeois and the origins of the French Revolution” in Kates and Angel
            Albert Soboul, “The French Revolution in the history of the contemporary world” in Kates (Graduate Students)

Biographical Presentation on Soboul
Presentation on Soboul

Wk 5 – The Early Revolution

Reading: “Declaration of Rights of Man” (Angel)
            “4 August Decrees” (Angel)
            Robespierre “Speech Denouncing the New conditions for Eligibility” (Angel)
            Clermont-Tonnerre, “Speech on Religious Minorities and Questionable Professions”
            Jeremy Popkin, “The Revolutionary Rupture, 1789-1790” (Angel)
            Keith Baker, “Constitution” in Kates (Graduate Students)

Paper I Due


Wk 6 – Women and Revolution

            Olympe de Gouges, “Declaration of Rights of Woman” (Angel)
            “Petition of Women of the Third Estate to the King” (Angel)
            “Deposition of a Marcher, October Days,” (Angel)
            Darlene Gay Levy and Harriet Applewhite, “Women and Militant Citizenship in Revolutionary Paris,” in Rebel Daughters ed. by Leslie Rabine (Angel)
            Lynn Hunt, “The Many bodies of Marie Antoinette: political pornography and the problem of the feminine in the French Revolution” in Kates (Graduate Students)
            Suzanne Desan, “War Between Brothers and sisters; inheritance law and gender politics in revolutionary France,” in Kates (Graduate Students)

Presentation on Desan
Presentation on Hunt


Wk 7 – The Working Classes and the Revolution

Reading: William Sewell, “The Abolition of Privilege” in Work and Revolution in France (Angel)
            Jonathan Markoff, “Violence, Emancipation and Democracy: The Countryside and the French Revolution” in Kates  (Graduate students)

Biographical Presentation on Sewell
Presentation on Markoff

Wk 8 – The King and the Revolution

Reading: Timothy Tackett, When the King Took Flight, all but ch. 6-7.


Biographical Presentation on Tackett


Wk 9 – Radicalizing the Revolution: Assaults on Symbolism and Religion

            St Just, “Republican Institutes” (Angel)
            Hunt and Censer, “Songs of the Revolution” (Angel)
            Emmet Kennedy, “Education” in A Cultural History of the French Revolution (Angel)
Lynn Hunt, “The Imagery of Radicalism” in Politics, Culture and Class in the French Revolution (Angel, Graduate students)

Paper II due

Biographical Presentation on Hunt
Presentation on Hunt


Wk 10 – The Terror
Reading: Hunt and Censer, “War, Terror and Resistance” (Angel)
Robespierre, “On virtue” (Angel)
Colin Lucas, “Revolutionary Violence, the People and the Terror” (Angel)
Richard Cobb, “The Rise and Fall of a Provincial Terrorist” (Angel)
Jennifer Heuer, “Duty to the Patrie above all: The Terror” in The Family and the Nation (graduate students, Angel)

Presentation on Heuer
Biographical Presentations on Lucas and Cobb

Wk 11 – The Terror Experience
            Reading: Memoirs of Madame Roland, ch 1-7, ch 14-15


Wk 12 – Revolutions in the Colonies

Reading: Laurent Dubois and John D Garrigus, “Slave Revolution in the Caribbean 1789-1804”, part I and from documents: Ch 2 The Revolution begins, Ch  (pick which ones I want)

            Laurent Dubois, “The price of Liberty: Victor Hughes and the administration of the freedom in Guadaloupe, 1794-1798” in Kates (Graduate Students)

Presentation on Dubois

Wk 13 – Thanksgiving Break


Wk 14– The Rise of Napoleon

            Martin Lyons, Napoleon Bonaparte, ch 1-5, 7-9, Graduate Students add 11-12

Biographical Presentation on Lyons
Presentation on Ch 11 and 12

Wk 15 – Napoleon’s Wars

            Reading: Lyons 13-16, 18-20, Graduate Students add 17


Paper II due Finals week Wednesday

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Last Updated 7/21/10


Our sincere congratulations to Matty Lynn Kuhar who won the 2016 School of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Undergraduate Award!

Dr. Alison Parker has been invited to be this year's Harriet Jacobs Lecturer at Purdue University. Her talk is entitled Mary Church Terrell, Black Women, and the Rise of the Democratic Party. 

Dr. Nishiyama has been invited to give a talk (title "Kamikaze Technology and Culture for War: Japan and the USA, 1941-2001") at the RIT.

Dr. Alison Parker facilitated significant donation of historical papers to Oberlin College and participates in its celebratory symposium on the life of racial justice advocate Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954).

Congratulations to Dr. Jose R. Torre on winning the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching!


History Forum will host Region 11&12 Meeting of the Association of Public Historians of New York State, on 4/30 (Saturday, from 9am to about 4pm) at McCue Auditorium (LAB104).

History Department Graduation Ceremony will be held in New York Room, Cooper Hall, at 10:30 am, May 14 (Saturday).