The French Revolution (HIST*4580) | College of Arts

The French Revolution (HIST*4580)

Code and section: HIST*4580*01

Term: Winter 2020

Instructor: W.S. Cormack


Course Synopsis:

This course explores the major themes of the French Revolution of 1789-1799 in the light of modern research.  These include: the state of France on the eve of revolution, the crisis of the Old Regime, the Revolution of 1789, the Constituent Assembly’s reforms, the radicalization of the Revolution, the fall of the monarchy, the struggle in the National Convention, the role of the sans-culottes, the emergence of counter-revolution, the Terror, the collapse of the Jacobin dictatorship, and the subsequent efforts to establish political stability in France.  The course also examines topics which sometimes receive less attention: the role of women, the upheaval in the Caribbean colonies, and the Revolution’s cultural dimensions.  Throughout, the course places much emphasis on the historiographical debates regarding the nature and significance of the French Revolution to modern history.

The course’s format is two weekly seminars:  you will be expected to participate regularly in these discussions. Every seminar includes general readings for the entire class and specific readings which will be assigned to individual students.

Assignments & Means of Evaluation:

  • Book Review - 10%
  • Research Essay - 30%
  • Participation - 30%
  • Final Exam - 30%

Required Textbooks:

William Doyle, The Oxford History of the French Revolution, 3rd Edition, (Oxford, 2018)
R.R. Palmer, Twelve Who Ruled: The Year of the Terror in the French Revolution, (Princeton, 1941; rpt. 2005)
Georges Lefebvre, The Coming of the French Revolution, (Princeton, 1947; rpt. 2005)

*Please note:  This is a preliminary web course outline only.  The History Department reserves the right to change without notice any information in this description.  The final, binding course outline will be distributed in the first class of the semester.