Course Description  
Teaching Strategies 
References and Links  


Semester/Year: Spring 1999 Office Location: TSA 113
Semester Hours of Credit: 3 Office Phone: 486-1945
Instructor: Dr. John I. Brooks III Alternate Phone (Dept.): 486-1573
Class Meeting Days, Time, and Location:  E-Mail: jbrooks@chi1.uncfsu.edu
MWF 1200-1250, TS 101 Office Hours: MWF 1000-1050, MW 1400-1600, TR 1100-1200
Course Web Page: http://www.uncfsu.edu/w4/fac/jbrooks/Tchng/h451.htm


COURSE DESCRIPTION This course will investigate the political, social, intellectual and economic factors which led to the French Revolution. It will trace the progress of the Revolution from its beginning in 1789 through the Napoleonic era. Students will examine the institutions of Old Regime France and their problems during the eighteenth century. They will trace the development of the ideas of the Enlightenment in France and their contribution to the revolutionary ferment. The course will then follow the sequence of events by which the Revolution emerged and their effect on the various institutions of France. It will examine in detail the various stages of the Revolution in order to investigate questions still debated by historians. Was the Terror was an aberration in the Revolution or a logical consequence of its initial events? Was Napoleon the preserver or the destroyer of the Revolution? To understand such questions, students will investigate recent debates among historians over the interpretation of the Revolution. 

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  • Baker, Keith, ed. Readings in Western Civilization, Vol. 7: The Old Regime and the French Revolution.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.
  • Kates, Gary, ed. The French Revolution: Recent Debates and New Controversies. New York: Routledge, 1998.
  • Popkin, Jeremy. A Short History of the French Revolution. 2d ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1998.


OBJECTIVES This class is a senior-level class, which means that it represents an effort on the part of both students and faculty to round out the training of undergraduate historians. By the end of this class all students should have the following knowledge and skills:


  • the major institutions of Old Regime France, their problems and conflicts;
  • the Enlightenment and its effect on the Old Regime and Revolution;
  • the causes of the revolutionary crisis;
  • a detailed understanding of the stages and events of the revolutionary phenomenon in France during the ten-year period at the close of the eighteenth century and the first fifteen years of the nineteenth; 
  • historiographical issues in the interpretation of the French Revolution.


  • ability to analyze critically a variety of source materials, both primary and secondary;
  • ability to read critically historiographical essays on the French Revolution;
  • ability to construct both a historical narrative and a work of critical scholarship; 
  • ability to prepare and present an essay on some phase of the origins or early events of the French Revolution or the age of Napoleon; 
  • ability to work with others to present and debate historical issues.

This course meets the following National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and National Council for Social Studies Program Standards in Social Studies: 1.2, 1.3, 1.9, 2.1.

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EVALUATION Grades will be based on the assignments listed below. Assignments will be weighted as follows: 
Grade Distribution
Source Analyses* 30%
Historiographical Debate*


Midterm Quiz 15%
Research Paper and Presentation 30%
Final Quiz 10%
Total 100%

*Team Assignment: 50% of the grade depends on the overall quality of team work. 

Grades and their numerical equivalents are as follows: 
Grading Scale
92 or above A
83-91 B
73-82 C
64-72 D
63 or below F


Attendance and participation, described below, will affect students' grades. Poor attendance (more than 3 absences for TR classes, 5 for MWF classes) and participation can lower a student's calculated grade by up to one full letter grade; good attendance and participation can raise the grade by the same amount. 

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COURSE OUTLINE AND ASSIGNMENT SCHEDULE Readings for specific dates will be announced in class. They may vary slightly from the following table as the pace of the class dictates. Students are responsible for keeping up with any such changes, which will also be posted on this web site. 

Underlined readings are links to web sites. Students are responsible for learning how to use the World Wide Web to get readings. Students should print out copies of the readings to bring to class. Plan ahead--the Web is a great learning resource, but glitch happens. Do not tell me you could not get the reading because the server went down ten minutes before class. Study questions for each week will be available aproximately one week before the reading is due.   

Week Dates Topic: Readings (ASSIGNMENT) 


Jan 11-15 Introduction to the Class; Overview; The Terms of the Debate: Popkin, ch. 1, ch. 9; Kates, Introduction. (Team Assignments | Study Questions) 




Jan 20-22 The Old Regime--Corporatism and Absolutism: Loyseau, Treatise on Orders, Baker 13-31; Bossuet, Politics Derived from the Words of Holy Scripture, Baker 31-47. 
Historiography--Marxism: Soboul, "The French Revolution in the History of the Contemporary World," Kates ch. 1.  (Team Assignments | Study Questions) 


Jan 25-29 The Old Regime--Contradictions and Conflicts: "A Royal Tongue-Lashing," Baker 47-50; "Remonstrance of the Cour des Aides," Baker 51-70; "Protests of the Parlement of Paris," Baker 118-23; Popkin, ch. 1. 
Historiography--Early Revisionism: Lucas, "Nobles, Bourgeois, and the Origins of the French Revolution," Kates, ch. 2. (Team Assignments | Study Questions) 


Feb 1-5 The Enlightenment: Diderot, "The Definition of an Encyclopedia," Baker 71-89; Rousseau, The Social Contract. 
The Financial Crisis and the Assembly of Notables: "Proceedings of the Assembly of Notables" and "Parlementary Opposition," Baker 124-43; Popkin, ch. 2. (Team Assignments | Study Questions) 


Feb 8-12 From Estates General to National Assembly: Sieyès, "What Is the Third Estate?," "Regulations for the Convocation of the Estates General," "Dispatches from Paris," "Deliberations at the Estates General," Baker 154-208. (Team Assignments | Study Questions) 


Feb 15-19 The Declaration of the Rights of Man: The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, Baker 237-39. 
Historiography--"Neoconservative" Revisionism: Baker, "The Idea of a Declaration of Rights," Kates, ch. 4. 
Historiography--Neo-Liberal Revisionism: Sewell, "A Rhetoric of Bourgeois Revolution," Kates, ch. 5. (Team Assignments | Study Questions) 


Feb 22-26 The Abolition of Feudalism: "Peasant Grievances," "Reports of Popular Unrest," "Decrees of the National Assembly," Baker 208-37. 
Historiography--Neo-Liberal Revisionism: Markoff, "Violence, Emancipation, and Democracy," Kates, ch. 8. (Team Assignments | Study Questions) 






Mar 15-19 The Constituent Assembly: "The Civil Constitution of the Clergy," Viefvilles des Essars, "On the Emancipation of the Negroes," "The Constitution of 1791," Baker Popkin, ch. 3 
Historiography: Tackett, "Nobles and Third Estate in the Revolutionary Dynamic of the National Assembly," Kates, ch. 7.  


Mar 22-26 The Demise of the Monarchy and the Rise of Popular Politics: "The King's Flight and Popular Politics," Baker 269-86; "The Revolution of 10 August 1792," Baker 290-96; "The King's Trial," Baker 302-24; Popkin, ch. 4-5.  


Mar 29-Apr 2 Women and the Revolution: "The 'October Days,'" Baker 231-37; Olympe de Gouges, "Declaration of the Rights of Women," Baker 261-68; "French Women Address the National Assembly," Popkin. 
Historiography--Women's Studies and Gender Studies: Hunt, "The Many Bodies of Marie Antoinette," Kates, ch. 9; Hufton, "In Search of Counter-Revolutionary Women," Kates, ch. 10  


Apr 5-9 The Terror: "Documents of the Sans-Culottes," "Decree Establishing the Levée en Masse," "'Make Terror the Order of the Day," "The Law of Suspects," Baker 330-54; "The Revolutionary Calender," Baker 362-68; The Festival of the Supreme Being," Baker 384-92; Popkin, ch. 5  


Apr 12-16 The Directory: "Manifesto of the Directors," Baker; Popkin, ch. 6 
Napoleon: Bonaparte, Speeches to his Troops; Bonaparte, Letter to the Executive Directory, "The Coup d'Etat of 18 Brumaire," "Napoleonic Ideas," Baker 404-27; Bonaparte, Account of the Internal Situation in France; Popkin, ch. 7-8.   
Historiography--"Neoconservative" Revisionism: Furet, "Napoleon Bonaparte," Kates, ch. 11. 


Apr 19-23 Assessment and Review: Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, Baker 428-45; Constant, Ancient and Modern Liberty Compared, Baker 452-61; Tocqueville, The Old Regime and the French Revolution; Furet, "The French Revolution Revisited," Kates, ch. 3. 


Apr 26-30 Research Presentations 




May 7  1100-1250: Research Presentations (FINAL PAPERS DUE) 


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REQUIREMENTS   Assignments  Students are responsible for all work assigned in this class, whether or not they are present. Assignments are expected to be completed on time, and all students are expected to participate regularly in class discussions. 

Students responsible for a reading must come to class with a completed Primary Source Analysis form on the date assigned. They must be prepared to lead a discussion of the document in question. Late work will not be accepted for this assignment. 

Team assignments for this class must be completed in study teams of four students each. Teams are collectively responsible for the assignment. 50% of the grade is based on the individual student's work; the other 50% is based on the overall quality of the team assignment. 

The research paper for this class must address a historiographical issue connected with the French Revolution. 

You can access guidelines for the assignments by going to the following pages: 


Late Work, Rewrites, and Make-Up Assignments 

Students are responsible for all work assigned in this class, whether or not they are present. Assignments must be completed on time. Late work will be penalized one letter grade unless you have a good excuse, and no assignments will be accepted more than one week late. The Source Analysis will not be accepted late. 

Students may rewrite one assignment on which they receive a grade below C. The rewrite grade replaces the original grade. No rewrites are permitted on the final examination or on any work due the last week of class. 

Teams may also rewrite team assignments to bring the team grade up to C. If an individual portion of a team assignment is below C, the student responsible for that portion may rewrite it without penalty. The rewrite grade replaces the original grade. 

For both individual and team assignments, rewrites are due one week after the instructor hands graded assignments back to the class, whether or not you attend class that day. 

Make-ups for missed examinations and quizzes are given at the discretion of the instructor. The absence must be excused under the same conditions as absence from class (discussed below). In general, make-ups must be taken within one week of the original date of the exam. 

Attendance and Punctuality 

Regular attendance is expected in this class. Poor attendance will affect grades as described above. Tardiness disrupts the class and is also discouraged. Any student arriving after the instructor has finished calling the roll may be considered tardy, and two incidents of unexcused tardiness count as one unexcused absence. Students are expected to remain in class until they are dismissed, unless they have received prior permission from the instructor to leave early. Early departure from class will be treated the same as tardiness--two such occurrences will constitute an unexcused absence.  

Excuses for tardiness and absence will be accepted at the discretion of the instructor. Written documentation may be required, especially for lengthy or repeated problems. Students should bring excuses to the instructor's attention as soon as possible--before the event if it is foreseeable, immediately after if not. Excuses for tardiness should be discussed with the instructor immediately after the class for which the student is tardy; excuses for absence should be discussed the first day the student returns to class. With rare exceptions, EXCUSES WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED AFTER THESE DATES.  

Special Note on Academic Honesty 

Students should be aware that a university is a community of scholars committed to the discovery and dissemination of knowledge and truth. Without freedom to investigate all materials, scrupulous honesty in reporting findings, and proper acknowledgment of credit, such a community can not survive. Students are expected to adhere to the highest traditions of scholarship. Infractions of these traditions, such as plagiarism (cheating), are not tolerated. Misrepresenting someone else's words or ideas as one's own constitutes plagiarism. In cases where plagiarism occurs, the instructor has the right to penalize the student(s) as he or she thinks appropriate. One guideline holds that the first offence results in failure of the assignment, the second offence in failure of the course. 
Team assignments require a special note. Each member of the study team is expected to contribute to the assignment. Every member of the team gets the same grade for the assignment. A student who does not contribute is essentially misrepresenting someone else's words and ideas as one's own. This is academic dishonesty, and it will be treated as such. 

Class Participation 

All students are expected to come to class prepared to discuss the assigned material. This implies that students should read the material before class. Perfect comprehension is not expected at the beginning of class, but students should be familiar with the topic and the major points, and they should have identified areas they do not understand well enough to ask focused, intelligent questions about them. The instructor reserves the right to give unannounced quizzes or other assignments to check students' preparation.  

There are three principal ways students can participate: by asking and answering questions in class, by contributing to their team, and by discussing courses material with the instructor during office hours.  

Students are expected to observe normal courtesy in class. They are expected to pay attention to the instructor, to take detailed notes, to refrain from personal conversation, and to avoid any other behavior that disturbs others. A student who does not observe these courtesies may be asked to leave the room. 
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TEACHING STRATEGIES This class will function as a seminar, which is a special kind of course. The word "seminar" comes from the German language and is defined as a group of scholars, usually led by a senior scholar, engaged in the study of a specific topic. Seminars are directed toward advanced students in history who are trying to round out a major field, and who are often preparing for graduate studies as well. Students in this class will acquire not only a substantial knowledge of the French revolutionary period, its antecedents, and its realization through the conquests of Napoleon, but they will also acquire a working knowledge of some of the most important tools of historians, and of the varieties of history produced by scholars. These tools include setting up and annotating a bibliography, evaluating and using a variety of sources, and ultimately constructing a work of original scholarship. Students should also be able to use in their work the tools of other disciplines in drawing historically defensible conclusions. 
REFERENCES AND LINKS  Internet Sources  Internet sources on European history may be found on the Links page. 

Print Sources 

For an excellent bibliography of printed sources, see the "Suggestions for Further Reading" in Popkin.  The Links page also contains a link to an extensive bibliography by Colin Jones. 
BACK TO CONTENTS Last Updated: 26 January 1999