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Enlightenment II

Seminar Questions

  • What was public opinion?
  • Did public opinion contribute to the outbreak of revolution?
  • Was the French Revolution a foregone conclusion by 1789, as Tocqueville insisted?
  • What was the French 'nation'? How did conceptions of it change over the course of the century?

Core Reading

  • R. Darnton, ‘The History of Political Libel’ and ‘Public Opinion’ in Forbidden Bestsellers of Prerevolutionary France (1996), 198-216, 232-246.
  • D. Bell, 'The Politics of Patriotism' in The Cult of the Nation in France: Inventing Nationalism, 1680-1800 (2001)
  • K. Baker, 'Public Opinion as Political Invention' in Inventing the French Revolution (1991)
  • For background: Popkin, History of Modern France, chps. 5-6.

Further Reading

Financial and Economic Origins

  • M. Kwass, Privilege and the Politics of Taxation in Eighteenth-Century France: Liberté, Égalité, Fiscalité (2000)
  • Gail Bossenga, ‘The Financial Origins of the French Revolution’ in T. Kaiser and D. Van Kley (eds.), From Deficit to Deluge: The Origins of the French Revolution (2010) [electronic resource]
  • CBA Behrens, ‘Nobles, Privileges and Taxes in France at the end of the Ancien Regime’, Economic History Review 15:3 (1963), 451-475
  • K. Norberg, ‘The French Fiscal Crisis of 1788 and the Financial Origins of the Revolution of 1789’, P. Hoffman and K. Norberg (eds.), Fiscal Crises, Liberty and Representative Government, 1450-1789 (1994)
  • See the three essays by M. Kwass, L. Hunt and C. Walton in The French Revolution in Global Perspective (2013)

Social Origins

  • G. Lefebvre, The Coming of the French Revolution, esp. the introduction by T. Tackett (2005 [orig. 1939])
  • Albert Soboul, ‘Classes and Class Struggles during the French Revolution Classes and Class Struggles during the French Revolution,’ in Understanding the French Revolution, April Ane Knutson (trans.) (New York: International Press, 1989).
  • J. Goldstone, ‘The Social Origins of the French Revolution Revisisted’ in T. Kaiser and D. Van Kley (eds.), From Deficit to Deluge: The Origins of the French Revolution (2011), pp. 67-103 [electronic resource]
  • C. Jones, ‘Bourgeois Revolution Revivified: 1789 and Social Change’, in C. Lucas (ed.), Rewriting the French Revolution, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991, pp. 69-118
  • J. Markoff, ‘Peasants and their Grievances’ in P. Campbell (ed.), Origins of the French Revolution (2005), 239-267.
  • F. L. Ford, The Robe and the Sword: the regrouping of the French aristocracy after Louis XIV (1953)
  • W. Doyle, Venality: The Sale of Offices in Eighteenth-Century France (1996)
  • C. Lucas, ‘Nobles, Bourgeois and the Origins of the French Revolution’, Past & Present 60:1 (1973), 84-126.

Political Origins

  • P. M. Jones, Reform and Revolution in France: The Politics of Transition, 1774-1791 (1995)
  • M. Price, Preserving the Monarchy: the comte de Vergennes, 1774-1787 (1995)
  • J. Egret, The French Pre-revolution, 1787-1788 (1962)
  • D. Bien, ‘The Army in the French Enlightenment: Reform, Reaction and Revolution’, Past & Present no. 85: 68- [electronic resource]
  • W. Doyle, The Origins of the French Revolution (1988 [2nd edition]; 1980)
  • J. Swann, Provincial Power and Absolute Monarchy: The Estates General of Burgundy, 1661-1790 (2007)
  • P. Campbell (ed.), Origins of the French Revolution (2005).

Cultural and Intellectual Origins

  • S. Maza, Private Lives and Public Affairs: The causes célèbres of pre-Revolutionary France (1993)
  • R. Darnton, The Forbidden Bestsellers of Prerevolutionary France (1996); The Literary Underground of the Old Regime (1981)
  • R. Chartier, Cultural Origins of the French Revolution (1991)
  • K. Baker, Inventing the French Revolution (1990)
  • M. Linton, ‘The Intellectual Origins of the French Revolution’ in P. Campbell (ed.), The Origins of the French Revolution (2006)
  • D. Edelstein, The Terror of Natural Right: Republicanism, the Cult of Nature, and the French Revolution (2008)
  • D. Bell, The Cult of the Nation in France: Inventing Nationalism, 1680-1800 (2001)