What do we know about the political process of the French Revolution?* We know a great deal about its origins; we know a lot about its outcomes; and we know a great deal about political events that occurred in the course of the revolutionary decade. But the ongoing processes internal to the Revolution have been largely bracketed by scholars anxious to understand either its convoluted origins or its epochal outcomes.
The French Revolution and the Political Process—Then and Now
Nostalgia in the Imagined Lives of Auguste Blanqui
Patrick H. Hutton
Louis-Auguste Blanqui ranks among the most famous apostles of the nineteenth-century French Revolutionary tradition. His commitment to that cause was bound up with his longing to tap once more the energy that had inspired the popular uprisings of the French Revolution. Such nostalgia came to define not only his tactics but also his way of life. In the process he fashioned a legend of his role as insurrectionary activist, and its nostalgic underpinnings would intrigue his twentieth-century biographers. Here I examine the way four among them draw out varied and conflicting meanings from a life powerfully invested in a conception of the future deeply embedded in the past.
The State Machine in Eighteenth-Century English Political Discourse
The importance of bodily and mechanical analogies in everyday political argumentation has been seldom discussed in the academic literature. This article is based on a contextual analysis of the uses of bodily and mechanical analogies in parliamentary and public debates in eighteenth-century England, as they can be retrieved from full-text databases of printed literature. The author demonstrates the continuous use of bodily analogies for much of the century particularly in defence of traditional conceptions of a unified political community. The article considers the expanding use of mechanical analogies as well, tracing their evolution in political debates and the effect of the American and French revolutions in their usage.
The article critically explores the different paths chosen by closely related historical disciplines: intellectual history and the history of books. While the former has focused on discourse analysis, the latter has given more attention to the study of diffusion. Historians who study the diffusion of books commonly run into a difficulty: the best-sellers of the past may serve as an indicator of public taste, but they may also be trivial, and they do not necessarily lead to explanations of important events such as the Reformation and the French Revolution. On the other hand, discourse analysis is confined to a narrow band of textual evidence, and thus cannot provide much insight on the values and views of ordinary people caught up in the patterns of everyday life. The author concludes by discussing how the history of books, particularly the history of reading and the history of publishing, can have important implications for the study of discourse.
Revisiting the Poetry
In July 1989, as part of the celebration of the Bicentennial of the French Revolution, the great Martinican poet, playwright, and essayist Aimé Césaire was a special invitee of the Avignon Theatre Festival. I led a round table with him then in the context of the Institut d'Études Françaises of Bryn Mawr College. In his remarks he also read two unpublished poems. One of them, "Parcours," which I translate here as "Journey," is the subject of this article. This piece constitutes a reading of the poem as the poet's looking back, metaphorically, on his poetic journey, fifty years after the publishing of his epic poem, "Cahier d'un retour au pays natal" in 1939. This theme of looking back becomes a way to meditate on my own intellectual trajectory as a scholar of Césaire's poetry. I conclude with a poem of my own, on "Rereading Césaire Thirty Years On."
In the French polemics over the Islamic headscarf, the relationship betweensecularism and sexual equality has sometimes been made out to be an artificialone. The articulation between politics, religion, secularism, and women'srights is examined here over the longue durée. Since the beginning of the secularizationprocess during the French Revolution, a minority has championedan egalitarian conception of secularization. Rivalries between or convergencesof political and religious authorities have driven an ambivalent and not veryequal secularization, creating secular pacts that rely on gender pacts to thedetriment of equality. This dynamic reversed itself beginning in the 1960swith the battle for legal contraception and abortion, which shook one of thevery bases of French Catholicism to its foundation. The headscarf affairsrevealed the egalitarian effects of secularism and favored the elaboration ofthought about secularism in conjunction with sexual equality, which, whateverthe various interpretations of that thought may be, could prove to be anon-negligible benefit.
Jeremy D. Popkin The Cult of the Nation in France: Inventing Nationalism, 1680-1800 by David A. Bell
Jay M. Smith A Revolution in Language: The Problem of Signs in Late Eighteenth-Century France by Sophia Rosenfeld
Ted W. Margadant Making Democracy in the French Revolution by James Livesey
Gay L. Gullickson Daughters of Eve: A Cultural History of French Theater Women from the Old Regime to the Fin-de-Siècle by Lenard R. Berlanstein
Elinor A. Accampo A Social Laboratory for Modern France: The Musée Social and the Rise of the Welfare State by Janet R. Horne
Thomas Ertman Institutions and Innovation: Voters, Parties, and Interest Groups in the Consolidation of Democracy—France and Germany, 1870-1939 by Marcus Kreuzer
Frank R. Baumgartner La Longue Marche des universités françaises by Christine Musselin
Conservative French nationalists had successfully labeled antimilitarism as antinationalist in the two decades preceding World War I. Because some of the more vocal antimilitarists were also involved in anarchist and radical Marxist organizations, historians largely have accepted this antinationalist label while also arguing that French nationalism had lost its connections to the French Revolution and become a more extremist, protofascist movement. A closer look at mainstream antimilitarist arguments, however, reveals the continued existence of the republican nationalism that had dominated the nineteenth century and shows that antimilitarists did not reject their nation. Instead, antimilitarists sought to protect the Republic, which they saw as synonymous with the nation, against an increasingly conservative, anti-Republic military and conservative nationalists, whom antimilitarists saw as a danger to a republican France.
Regional Identity, Royal Imaginary, and Holy Women
Claude Langlois’s work points the way out of a long-standing whiggish view, not only of French, but also European historiography. If Western Civ textbooks or respectable general histories reflect the consensus of the profession, it is still easy to find themes of progress toward equality, secularism, and modernity. Such themes are defensible, of course, but they are one-sided. They omit a lot, like the experiences of those left out of the march of progress, of religious institutions, and of unintended victims of revolution and civil war. A more sophisticated rendering would be more satisfactory since it would emphasize resistance, the apparently marginal, and the richness of historical experience. It would replace assumptions about inevitable outcomes with a greater awareness of contingency. Claude Langlois’s work on women, religion, and the French Revolution illustrates how such a complicated history might look.
Louis-Antoine Saint-Just, Christopher Fotheringham, and Jérémie Barthas
We are publishing here the first modern English translation of the report on police and other matters presented by Louis-Antoine Saint-Just to the National Convention on 15 April 1794. This was his last report: his last appraisal of the history of the French Revolution since 1789, his last analysis of the social and economic consequences of the ongoing fight between revolutionary and counter-revolutionary forces and his last sketch on what still needed to be done to secure the foundations of the young Republic. A few months later, the 10th Thermidor year II of the French Republic (28 July 1794 CE), Saint-Just was guillotined in Paris, Place de la Révolution.