H337, third floor of the Humanities Building
Charles Walton is a member and former Director of the Eighteenth Century Centre at the University of Warwick. He obtained his BA at the University of California, Berkeley, and his PhD at Princeton University. Before joining the History Department at Warwick, he taught at Yale University, the University of Oklahoma (Norman) and Sciences Po (Paris). His research focuses on Old Regime, Enlightenment and Revolutionary France, with emphases on democratization, rights and duties, political economy and socio-economic justice. He holds a fellowship at the Institut d'Études Avancées (Paris) in Paris for the academic year 2015-16.
His prize-winning book, Policing Public Opinion in the French Revolution: the Culture of Calumny and the Problem of Free Speech (2009, paperback 2011, French translation 2014), explores the themes of honour, speech, public opinion and political violence. It shows how debates over limits to free expression contributed to political radicalisation before and during the Revolution. He has edited a collection of essays in honour of Robert Darnton on print culture and the Enlightenment, Into Print: Limits and Legacies of the Enlightenment (2011).
He is currently working on three projects.
1) A monograph, provisionally titled, From Eden to Empire: Reciprocity, Redistribution and the French Revolution. The study examines how redistribution and notions of reciprocity figured in the origins, course and consolidation of the French Revolution. It seeks to relate chronic crises over redistribution to political radicalisation, war and empire. Themes covered include the tension between political economy and moral economy; the politics of taxation; patronage and corruption; experiments with economic liberalism and dirigisme; socioeconomic rights; and the political economy of empire.
2) A Leverhulme funded international research network titled 'Rights, Duties and the Politics of Obligation: Socioeconomic Rights in History'. He is co-directing this network with Dr. Claudia Stein. Network partners include Harvard University, Sciences Po (Paris), the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, the Leibniz Institute and the University of Lausanne. The aim of the network is to explore the long history of socioeconomic rights, from the late eighteenth century to the present. The network challenges the notion that these rights are 'second generation rights' -- rights that emerged only in the mid twentieth century. These rights stretch back, in fact, to the Enlightenment and French Revolution. The precarious status of socioeconomic rights -- as opposed to civil and political rights -- is the problem the network seeks to explain.
3) An overview of the French Revolution for Penguin Books. Oriented towards a general readership, the book will synthesise the current historical literature on the topic while offering a new perspective that will stress political economy as a driving factor of political radicalisation and consolidation.
He has also written on topics related to current events, revolutions and the freedom of expression:
- 'The Missing Half of Les Mis' for Foreign Affairs (2013). A review of Tom Hooper's film Les misérables.
- 'Revolution and Redistribution: Reflections on France and Egypt', for La Vie des Idées (2013). Version française traduit par Emilie L’Hôte ici).
- 'When Free Speech Becomes a Kind of Fundamentalism', The Conversation (Jan 8, 2015). Reflections on the Charlie Hebdo tragedy of 2015.
- ' "The Right to Spit in the Face of Others": The Changing Meanings of Free Speech in History', Dialogue no. 11 (spring 2015), p. 34-37.
Articles & Essays