Summer 2016 - HIST 416 D100

The French Revolution (4)

Class Number: 5833

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 9:30 AM – 1:20 PM
    AQ 5118, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Aug 17, 2016
    8:30 AM – 11:30 AM
    RCB 8100, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including nine units of lower division history. Recommended: HIST 223, 224.



An analysis of the origins of the Revolution, of its changing nature, and of its impact on society. The Revolution will be examined in its European context.


The French Revolution was one of the great turning points in world history, the moment when visionary, patriotic disrupters chose to reject a centuries-old political and social system based on privilege, hierarchy, and unthinking obedience to authority. These men gave us our modern understanding of human rights and the nation-state, while inspiring revolutionary leaders all over the world during the past 225 years.

The French Revolution was one of the great turning points in world history, the moment when misguided ideologues chose to reject a stable centuries-old system that had made France a rich nation and a centre of culture. These men thrust their country onto a path that would lead to war, fratricidal bloodshed, mass executions, and political terror. The country’s instability would in turn destabilize the rest of Europe for decades to come and inspire twentieth-century dictators around the world.

Which of these is the real French Revolution? In this course, we will try to understand the origins and consequences of this great event. We will begin by studying the political, social and economic background to the Revolution. We will then familiarize ourselves with the course of events between 1789 and 1799, before moving on to look at some of the great historiographical controversies in the field. By analyzing original documents, classic accounts and recent scholarship, we will be better able to understand this great event that continues to shape our twenty-first century world.


  • Preparation & participation 25%
  • Book Review 10%
  • Response Papers (x 3) 10%
  • Paper outline & annotated bibliography 5%
  • Final paper (with “cover letter”) 50%



William Doyle, The French Revolution: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: OUP, 2001

Caroline Weber, Queen of Fashion: What Marie-Antoinette Wore to the French Revolution. New York: Picador Books, 2007

Timothy Tackett, When the King Took Flight. Harvard, MS: Harvard University Press, 2003

Timothy Tackett, The Coming of the Terror in the French Revolution. Harvard, MS: Harvard University Press, 2015

D.M.G. Sutherland, Murder in Aubagne: Lynching, Law, and Justice during the French Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009

Registrar Notes:

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site contains information on what is meant by academic dishonesty and where you can find resources to help with your studies.  There is also a section on tutoring.