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: James R. Munson
Office: Ruffner 234
Office telephone: 395-2218

Office hours: MWF 10-11
TR 11-12 and by appointment.


Course Description
Required Texts
Course Objectives
Class Schedule
Course Requirements
Class Participation
Attendance Policy
Honor Code and Plagiarism

Course Description: A study of the origins, course, effects and legacy of the revolutionary and napoleonic era in France, and its profound significance for the political, social, economic and cultural development of modern Western civilization.

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Popkin, Jeremy, A Short History of the French Revolution, Prentice Hall, Fifth edition, 2010. 

Broers, Michael, Europe under Napoleon, Oxford, 1996.

University of Chicago Readings in Western Civilization, vol. 7: The Old Regime and the French Revolution, edited by Keith Michael Baker. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.

This course will be utilizing primary and secondary materials from a web site at George Mason called "Exploring the French Revolution", which also contains a good collection of images (and even songs).  If, after reading Popkin, you are still confused about what is going on at any particular point in the Revolution, the very brief (4-5 pages) explanatory chapters by Jack Censer and Lynn Hunt on the web site, along with the occasional videos featuring them, are an admirably clear aid and supplement (which doesn't mean you should avoid coming to me for help).   The URL:

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Course Objectives:

The goal of this course is for students to develop the following:

1. A better understanding and appreciation of history and historical enquiry by means of an in-depth study of the events of the revolutionary era.

2. An ability to think critically, analytically and systematically about complex historical events and issues.

3. An ability to organize different types of source materials, relate them to each other by means of critical analysis, and use them to isolate essential themes and issues of the revolutionary period.

4. An appreciation of the variety of disciplines and approaches necessary to gain an understanding of the past.

5. A sense of how the French Revolution and the napoleonic empire relate to the broader development of modern Western civilization.

6. A greater ability to express oneself clearly and concisely on paper, as well as an ability to articulate pertinent observations and questions orally.

7. A general familiarity with the origins, course and significance of a crucial period in Western history.

8. A greater understanding of the human condition and experience by examining the dilemmas and challenges faced by men and women in a society under extreme stress.

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Class Schedule:

Week 1  (Jan. 15-18)

Introduction: Course Information and Requirements.
The Old Regime.

Readings: Popkin, pp. ix-34.
Chicago readings, pp. 1-47.

Note: The Add/Drop deadline is Jan. 22.

Week 2  (Jan. 22-25)

Cultural Origins of the Revolutionary Crisis.

Readings: Censer and Hunt web site, "The Monarchy Embattled" (
"Anecdotes on the Countess du Barry",
"Historical Essays on the Life of Marie–Antoinette, of Austria
Chicago readings, pp. 71-89, 135-143.
Paul Hanson, "Origins: Inevitable Revolution or Resolvable Crisis?", from Contesting the French Revolution, 2009.

Week 3  (Jan. 28-Feb. 1)

Social, Economic and Political Origins of the Revolutionary Crisis.
1789: Crisis of Authority and Revolt of the Third

Readings:  Popkin, pp. 35-51.
Censer and Hunt web site, "The Enlightenment and Human Rights" (
Chicago readings, pp. 154-180, 226-231, 237-239.
From GMU site:  Voltaire, “Understanding of Inequality”
Beaumarchais, “Understandings Of Inequality”
Rousseau’s “The Social Contract”

Lynn Hunt, from Inventing Human Rights, 2007, pp.126-135, 146-175. 
Mallet du Pan in 1789 on Rights of Man

Prospectus due by Friday, 5 p.m.

Week 4  (Feb. 4-8)

1789: The Popular Revolt, the Constituent Assembly and the End of the Old Regime in France.
Struggles for Power, 1789-1791

Readings: Popkin, pp. 52-70.
Censer and Hunt website,
Chicago readings, pp. 231-237, 261-268.
Rousseau on educating women
A revolutionary journalist on the proper role for women
Radicals and Women's Clubs
Revolutionary republican women vs. market women
Women in Napoleon's Civil Code

Lynn Hunt, "The Bad Mother", from The Family Romance of the French Revolution, 1993, 89-122.

Critique of prospectus due by Friday, 5 p.m.

Week 5 (Feb. 11-15)

The Coming of War.
The Second Revolution and the Fall of the Monarchy

Readings: Popkin, pp. 71-91.
Chicago Readings, pp. 247-249, 269-286, 290-296, 302-324.
On Blackboard:  Timothy Tackett, "To Judge a King", from When the King Took Flight, 2003, pp. 179-202.
Daniel Arasse on the death of the king, pp. 19-26.

Week 6  (Feb. 18-22)

Rule of the Regicides: the National Convention.
The Organization of the Jacobin Dictatorship

Readings: Popkin, pp. 92-99.
Censer and Hunt, "Paris and the Politics of Rebellion",
Chicago, pp. 324-330.
GMU website:  "The September Massacres", 
"A British Observer of the September Massacres",
Radical journalists:

Marat (L'Ami du Peuple):
Hébert (Père Duchesne):
Start reading in Broers, pp. 1-21 (not part of discussion).
On Blackboard: Marat pdf 
On Blackboard: Hébert pdf

Week 7  (Feb. 25-March 1)

Terror and War.
The Sans-Culottes and the Popular Revolution.

Readings: Chicago, pp. 330-340, 342-353.
Isser Woloch, "Political Participation:  the First Waves", from The New Regime, 1993, pp. 74-94.
Richard Cobb and Georges Lefebvre on the Terror, from Frank Kafker and James Laux, eds.,
                              The French Revolution:  Conflicting Interpretations, 1990, pp. 205-228.
Address of the sans-culottes pdf
Dec of Rights in 1793 pdf
Keep reading in Broers, pp. 24-48 (not part of discussion).

Mid-Term Take-Home Exam Due Friday, March 1.

March 4-8 (Spring Break)

Reminder: The final withdrawal deadline is March 13.

Week 8  (March 11-15) The Fall of Robespierre and the Death of Revolutionary Radicalism.
The Thermidorian Reaction

Readings: Chicago, pp. 340-342, 354-362, 368-384.
The Revolutionary Calendar: and accompanying image:
On Blackboard:  David Andress, “Conclusion” from The Terror:  the Merciless War for Freedom in Revolutionary France, 2006, pp. 371-376.
Donald Sutherland, "The Vendée", from Keith Baker, ed., The French Revolution and the Creation of Modern Political Culture, vol. 4, 1994, pp. 99-111.
Mallet du Pan in 1793 pdf
Keep reading in Broers, pp. 50-77 (not part of discussion). 

Week 9  (March 18-22)

The Establishment of the Moderate Republic.
Revolution in Haiti

Readings: Popkin, pp. 100-106.
Censer and Hunt web site, "Slavery and the Haitian Revolution",
Chicago Readings, pp. 242-247. 
GMU website:
"Code Noir":
"The Slaves from Africa"
"The Coffee Planter of Saint Domingo (London, 1798)"
"Grievance List (September 1789)" (of free blacks and mulattos)
"A Divided Elite"
"The Revolt"
"Toussaint L'Ouverture"
Keep reading in Broers, pp. 77-97, 99-125 (not part of discussion).
Blackboard:  Chronology of Haitian Revolution
Select documents from "Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, 1789-1804"

Week 10  (March 25-29)

Politics under the Directory.
Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte

Readings: Chicago, 392-415.
Broers, pp. 125-142 (review early chapters on the rise of Bonaparte for discussion).
"Napoleon as an Ambitious Young General"
BlackboardDavid Bell, "The Lure of the Eagle," from The First Total War, 2007, pp.186-222.
D'Anglas on 1795 constituion, 569-572

Week 11  (April 1-5)

The Coup d'Etat of Eighteenth Brumaire: "Citizens, the Revolution is Finished".
Consolidation and Reform under the Consulate.

Readings:   Popkin, pp. 107-118.
Chicago, pp. 416-427.
Broers, 144-177 (review earlier chapters on Bonaparte's reforms under the Consulate).
Read the following documents from the Censer and Hunt website:
"Napoleon’s Own Account of His Coup d’Etat (10 November 1799)"
"Making Peace with the Catholic Church"
"Napoleon's Personal Feelings about Religion"
"Winning over the Nobles

Paper due by Friday, 5 p.m.

Week 12  (April 8-12)

Bonaparte and Europe, 1799-1805
Napoleonic Warfare and the Conquest of Europe.

Broers, 180-201.

GMU website:  "The Continental System" 
"The Prussian Reform Edict"
"The Burning of Moscow as Seen by One of Napoleon’s Generals"

"The Effect of the Russian Winter Described by a General"
"Germaine de Stael"
"The View of the London Times"
Blackboard:  Georges Lefebvre and Louis Bergeron, in Frank Kafker and James Laux, Napoleon:  Conflicting Interpretations, pp. 40-45, 317-326.
Bell, "Days of Glory", from The First Total War, pp. 223-262.
Hanson on Napoleon pdf

Week 13  (April 15-19)

Society and Politics in Imperial France.
The Fall of the Grand Empire.

Popkin, pp. 119-134.
Broers, pp. 202-259.
Censer and Hunt website:  "Legacies of the Revolution"
GMU website:
Thomas Jefferson on the French Revolution
A Positive American View
Alexander Hamilton on the French Revolution
Frederick Engels: "Socialism, Utopian and Scientific"

Louis de Bonald on Condorcet (Bonaldcond.pdf)

Week 14  (April April 22-26)

The Revolutionary Age and the Birth of Modern France.
The Revolutionary Age and the Birth of Modern Europe

Readings: Readings: Popkin, pp. 135-145.
Broers, pp. 261-274.
Chicago, 428-461.
GMU website:  Thomas Paine, "The Rights of Man" (excerpt)
Blackboard:  Alexis de Tocqueville, from The Ancien Regime and the Revolution, (orig. published 1856), pp. 221-228.
Hanson revo legacy pdf

FINAL EXAM (Comprehensive): See Master Schedule on Registrar's page (exam will be handed out one week before an in-class exam would be scheduled) Exam Schedule.

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Course Requirements:

Course Requirements: A mid-term exam, a comprehensive final exam and a research paper are the written requirements for this course. Failure to complete any of the requirements will be regarded as a failure to complete the course, and will result in a failing grade for the entire course (not a '0' for that particular assignment). In addition, each student will prepare a prospectus and a prospectus critique of another student's prospectus. These critiques will not be figured in the final grade, but they may be used for grade estimate purposes, and failure to hand them in on time will result in a loss of 7 points from the final grade in each case. All assignments should be turned in both in hard copy form and Microsoft Word (and only Microsoft Word) files.   Any assignment received in the seven days after the due dates indicated on the weekly schedule will be marked down up to one full grade. Absolutely no assignments will be accepted after 5 p.m. on the seventh day.

Exams must be handed in when scheduled. Extensions will be accepted only by prior consent of the instructor, and only for compelling reasons (as determined by the instructor). If a student, without gaining prior consent, is unable to turn in an exam or other assignment because of sudden illness or some other extraordinary event, the instructor must be notified immediately. If I cannot be reached directly or by phone, you must leave a message with the History Department (x2224). A doctor's note or other written documentation must accompany a student's request for an extension, although this does not guarantee that it will be granted.

Exams: The mid-term and final exams, both of which are take-home exams, will consist of essays, and the final will be comprehensive in nature. The exams will be designed to test acquaintance with the lectures, the assigned readings and the discussions of those assigned readings. Taking careful notes on the readings and in class, therefore, is strongly recommended. The instructor will be looking for evidence of general knowledge, an organized and analytical approach to that knowledge, and an ability to combine the raw materials of the course -- text, lectures, discussions, and documentary sources -- into pertinent and meaningful insights. The instructor will also be evaluating your ability to communicate those insights. Points will be taken off for run-on sentences, grammatical errors, spelling errors, poor punctuation, illegible handwriting or any other problems that, in the opinion of the instructor, affect comprehension of the student's work. Strive above all for clarity. Each essay on the take-home must be a fully developed analysis from two to three full pages in length, written on a word-processor, and adhering to the formatting requirements described below for the paper. For the take-home only, students are permitted to cite the assigned readings by the use of parenthetical notes containing the author's name and the page cited. When citing material outside the required books, use an endnote, with the full citation style outlined in the Departmental style sheet or Turabian (see below).

Research Project: The research project for this course is a paper based on primary source materials organized around a central argument either for or against a particular interpretation of important  historical events, documents, or individuals.  Although the main emphasis is on the analysis of primary sources, the use of secondary sources will be necessary in order to establish the historical context that produced the primary sources you are using, and to explore the different ways historians have interpreted those sources or events.  This assignment will involve explaining the historical context of a document's or documents' formation, analyzing the text of the document(s), determining the historical significance of the content and ideas of the source(s) you have chosen, and compiling a bibliography of the best historical research on the significance of the issue your document(s) address. For research ideas, begin in all cases with the required materials and primary sources.  All students should meet with me as early as possible about their choice, because all the assignments must focus on the same document or set of documents, and library resources are limited. The first document analysis will be distributed to other students in the class, each of whom will prepare a written critique due as indicated in the weekly schedule. The latter assignment will not be graded, but failure to complete it will result in a deduction of seven points from the final grade.  The details will be explained in class and in handouts. For research ideas, begin in all cases with the required texts and sourcebooks. All students should meet with me as early as possible about their choice, because all the assignments must focus on the same document or set of documents. The paper, prospectus, and critique must be printed on a word-processor in a standard 10 or 12 pitch font (such as courier or times roman). They should be double-spaced, with a title page, and one-inch (and no more than one-inch) margins. The text (not including bibliography and title page) of the prospectus should be no less than 1 and no more than 2 full pages in length. The paper must be no less than 8 and no more than 10 full pages in length (ie., between 2700 and 3400 words of essay text). Your name, the course name and number, and the date must be on the title page of all written assignments. Each assignment must include a bibliography of all sources cited. Bibliography and endnote citations must conform to the proper style for the liberal arts, as defined in the departmental style sheet, or in the latest edition of Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations, Sixth edition, Chicago, 1996. Do not use MLA, APA or any alternative style current in other disciplines. Unless you wish to see the instructor fly into a blind rage, do not even think of using parenthetical notes on any assignment other than the take-home.

The type of material that must be documented (i.e. cited in endnotes) includes: controversial or distinctive arguments and opinions, facts that are not a matter of broad general knowledge, statistics, all quotes, and paraphrases or summaries of an author's argument. All direct quotes over two lines in length must be indented and single-spaced as described in the style sheet and Turabian.

It is imperative that you document source material, but the argument or thesis of your paper must be in your own words: excessive use of quotes or lengthy paraphrasing of sources will not be accepted, and leads easily to the grievous sin of plagiarism. In order to prevent plagiarism, all students are required to turn in their papers (including the text of the final web page) as a Word file to via Blackboard and generate an originality report before submitting the paper to me. On plagiarism, see below. The citation of at least six different sources is a minimal requirement for the paper. The assigned texts (Popkin, the essays on the Censer and Hunt website, and Broers) should be used for the prospectus only.  You may use some of the assigned primary source readings, if they are long enough (most of the selections on the GMU webiste are not), but you need to check with me first about the use of any the assigned weekly primary source readings, and these must be supplemented in all cases by outside primary sources.  Whatever combination of sources you use, three or more of these sources must come from the library (Longwood, Hampden-Sydney or other college/university libraries), one of which must be a primary source (in translation) from the period. While you may use encyclopedias or other reference works for background information, these are not an acceptable substitute for a more substantial outside source, and should never be cited in the notes or listed in the final paper's bibliography. One of the remaining sources for your paper analysis may be an Internet source, appropriately cited and linked on your web page. Use material only from reputable web sites (like universities) maintained or moderated by historians (for example, avoid Napoleon-worshippers, uniform fetishists or guillotine ghouls in business schools or physics departments). Never use Internet sources the origins of which are murky or unknown to you (reputable ones always list the author or moderator somewhere), and avoid at all costs reference-style web sources (like Wikipedia, Encarta, or Sparksnotes). An excellent guide to the use of web sites for research in general and for primary sources in particular can be found at the American Library Assoiation's web site:  When in doubt, come see me.  Double-dipping (submitting a paper for this course that is substantially the same as a paper submitted for any other course, past or present) is not permitted.

Primary sources for the French Revolution and Napoleon in English are scattered about, but some useful places to start are:

 The Internet Modern History Sourcebook --
(the best and easiest to use -- it contains both excerpts and full-text on-line editions of important sources)
The Hanover Historical Texts Project -- (particularly good on the Revolution)
The Avalon Project --
The Historical Text Archive -- (useful mainly for links)
The Voice of the Shuttle -- (be sure to browse the special topics as well)
E-Server -- (for selected topics)
EuroDocs --  Main Page - EuroDocs  (use both time period and national history links)
Internet Marxist archive -- -- not just for Marxism, this is one of the best sites for primary sources in modern history on the web, with the French Revolution well represented.

 To Research Form

 To list of possible research positions

 Sources on reserve

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Reading Response PapersIn addition to the longer research paper, each student will write four short pieces (two page, or 680 words each, and use word count to make sure) on the readings for a given week.  After the discussion on Friday, I will post on Blackboard a prompt for that week’s readings, and those students choosing to do an essay for that week’s readings will have until the following Tuesday at 5 p.m. to submit their essay by e-mail (as an attached Word file).  If by chance there is no discussion that week, I will still post a prompt that Friday.  The prompt may cover readings that did not come up during the discussion itself.  If you choose to wait until the last four weeks of the semester, don’t expect a rapid turn around by me in grading the essays, nor will it make a good impression on yours truly, so the best strategy is to spread the assignments across the semester:  early in the semester gets you early feedback.  This is not a research paper, but stick to answering the question, making an argument with reference to the readings, and edit your prose for clarity before turning it in.  All of this is good practice for the research paper and take-home exams.  Those planning to write an essay for the week still have to hand in discussion questions, but nothing prevents you from using the questions to help set you up for the essay to follow.

Class participation: Class participation is an essential part of this course. In most weeks, the last class period will be set aside for discussion of the readings, especially the documentary source readings. Students must arrive prepared to discuss the weekly assignments. In order to ensure this, all students are required to submit five discussion questions before each discussion class by Thursday at 5 p.m.  These questions must be different from any provided by the editors of the various primary source collections assigned, although the latter may be used as points of departure for your own questions. I will designate at the beginning of each discussion class two or more students who will be graded for their contributions to the discussion that day. Any students so chosen who have not read the material or who are absent without prior clearance from me will receive a failing grade for that day's discussion. I will rotate the selections so that everyone gets a more or less equal chance to be "on call". Voluntary contributions from students not designated by this system will of course be considered positively, especially when they demonstrate actual acquaintance and thoughtful engagement with the reading. Your overall grade for class participation will not be figured numerically into your final score, but will weigh heavily nonetheless. It will be used to decide borderline cases, offset negative trends like absences, or, if judged to be of significantly higher or lower quality than your written work, possibly bump you to a higher or lower grade. If I judge this system to be producing inadequate results, I reserve the right to require other written or oral assignments to facilitate discussion, and to use these assignments in the determination of final grades. Knowing, as you do, how sick and sadistic history professors are, especially ones that teach the Reign of Terror, it is in everyone's direct interest to make the discussions work.

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Grading: The mid-term, the final, and the research project are worth 100 points each. The reading response papers are worth 15 points each.  Your final grade will be determined by the total number of points you gain out of a maximum of 360. I do not grade on a mathematical curve. Attendance, evidence of progress or lack thereof in the course of the semester, and especially class participation, will be used to decide half grades and borderline cases (which, experience shows, means most students). Serious attendance problems or misconduct (as defined the professor, interpreter in all cases of the general will) in class can result in a lowering of grade. The grading scale is as follows:

         331-360 A
         324-330 A-
         313-323 B+
         295-312 B
         288-294 B-
         277-287 C+
         259-276 C
         252-258 C-
         241-251 D+
         223-240  D
         216-222 D-
         Below 216 F


Extra-Credit Assignments: Extra-credit assignments may be arranged with the instructor. These assignments must be approved in advance by the instructor on or before March 7, and will not be accepted unless so approved. They are worth a maximum of 40 points. Under no circumstances will an extra-credit assignment be accepted as substitute for any other written requirement in the course. An extra-credit assignment can only elevate a student into a higher grade bracket (for example, from a B to an A) if the student has scored the higher grade on at least one of the three major exams or on the research project. The assignment must take the form either of an analytical book review (not a book summary) 3-5 pages in length, or a research paper 8-10 pages in length, and must utilize sources not assigned in this course. Style of text, footnotes, bibliography and title page must conform to the guidelines of the departmental style sheet or Turabian. If you decide to do an extra-credit assignment, it must be turned in no later than April 12 for you to receive credit.

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Attendance Policy: Class attendance is a requirement of this course. Repeated unexcused absences will lead to a reduction of grade. Unexcused absences totaling 25% or more will result in an automatic F for the course. The instructor will excuse a student only under the most extraordinary circumstances. Chronic lateness will also be penalized, since it presents a class disturbance. If a student arrives after roll is taken, it is the student's responsibility to place his or her name on the class roll no later than the end of that class period. Failure to do so will result in an unexcused absence.

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Honor Code and Plagiarism: Students are expected to observe the honor code. All work for this course must be pledged. Students found to have cheated on an exam or to have plagiarized material in a paper will be subject to the maximum penalty under college rules. For those in doubt about the definition of plagiarism, it consists of copying passages from a source without both attribution and quotation. If you have reproduced the language of your source, you have committed plagiarism whether or not you have cited the source and the page number. This includes passages that a student may have modified: for example, changed verb tenses, omission or replacement of occasional words, reshuffling of phrases, sentences or paragraphs, combining of different plagiarized sources. Writing a bad paper in your own words is far better than writing a good one using the words of someone else. One suggestion for avoiding inadvertent echoing of your texts and sources: close all books when writing, and consult them only for specific facts or direct quotes. Also, proofread your paper with plagiarism specifically in mind. For more on plagiarism, see the departmental style sheet.

Tape-recording and Class Decorum: Tape-recording of lectures is not permitted. Students who are excused from class by the instructor must make arrangements with the instructor or with other students to cover the material missed. Students who skip class without permission are responsible for making their own arrangements with other students (not with the instructor) for the material covered in class.

Students are expected to observe class decorum. Students engaging in behavior bothersome to other students or to the instructor (for example, eating or drinking, talking in class, text messaging, or the use of personal stereos, MP3 or other media players, cell phones or other electronic devices) will be asked to leave and/or marked as absent (without notification, prior or otherwise, by the instructor).  By order of the chair, cell phones must be turned off during the class.  Food and drinks are not permitted in the classroom.

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References to be used by all students in the prospectus (except when not explicitly relevant) and in the take-hom exams.  These sources may not be used in the final research paper except by an express arrangement with me:

Popkin, Jeremy, A Short History of the French Revolution, Prentice Hall, Fifth edition, 2010. 

Broers, Michael, Europe under Napoleon, Oxford, 1996.

University of Chicago Readings in Western Civilization, vol. 7: The Old Regime and the French Revolution, edited by Keith Michael Baker. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.

The relevant materials from the GMU web site:  that URL, once again, is (

All linked pdfs on the weekly schedule of readings.

Other references:

Consult the bibliographies in the references above, the books on reserve (especially the more recent ones), the journals, books and databases in the library, and the instructor for the outside references to be used in your research paper.

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