Through a variety of disciplinary lenses, this innovative forum, coedited
with Victoria Thompson, investigates a particular cultural space and time,
namely the emergence of proto–roller coasters known as montagnes russes or
“Russian mountains” in Paris in 1817. Peggy Davis, Sun-Young Park, and
Christine Haynes depict the early years of the Restoration (1814/1815–1830)
as a liminal moment in the emergence of modernity. Although this forum
began as a panel at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Society for French Historical
Studies, the authors have extended and improved their pieces significantly. Taken together, they show that as foreigners flocked to Paris and the
French adjusted to diminished circumstances in the aftermath of Napoleon’s
second defeat, identities were in flux. This forum explores how and why the
montagnes russes became such a cultural phenomenon and suggests their role
in forging a new French identity in the wake of war and revolution.
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