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BCUL 1665A - The Long Century of Revolutions: from the American revolution to the Russian revolution, 1776-1914

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Autumn 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English


A basic understanding of the global history between 1776 and the beginning of the 20th century.

Course Description

There are few words that have greater evocative power than “revolution”. After the Arab Spring starting in 2011, the term knew a renewal of interest leading to endless publications and massive references to it in the press as well as on television and other media. The broad use of the term did not imply greater comprehension for the phenomenon. On the contrary, it seems that the adoption of the term to describe a wide variety of cases caused confusion on the peculiarities of a revolutionary movement. This course is designed to offer students the tools to understand the evolution of the concept of revolution during the crucial period between the American Revolution and the Russian Revolution. What are the main features of a revolution? Why do revolutions in the past centuries matter today? How did revolutionary actors look to previous revolution? Finally, could we consider revolutions as a global phenomenon? These are some of the major questions that will be tackled in the course, discussing the assigned readings on topics concerning revolutions between the last quarter of the eighteenth century until the beginning of the twentieth. The interaction between different revolutions as well as the concurrent causes and origins of these momentous phenomena plays a crucial role in the framework of the course. Instead of privileging local and national perspectives, global and comparative approaches to revolution are offered as key tools to understand the relevance of one revolution also on foreign contexts and far-distant countries. Topics include the American and the French revolutions, the Haitian revolution and the revolutionary movement in South-America, the period of liberal revolutions in Europe between 1830 and 1848, the industrial revolution and the Russian revolution, elements of cultural history and history of consumption. Students will learn to analyze the main political documents of the revolutions, to critically approach the “myths” created by the revolutions and their representations, to recognize the common aspects and the differences between revolutions.


VALMORI, Niccolo (Etudiant doctorant)

Required reading

  • Hobsbawm Eric, The Age of Revolution, 1789-1848
  • Furet François, The Passing of an Illusion : The Idea of Communism in the twentieth century

Additional required reading

  • Geggus David Patrick, Fiering Norman, ed., The world of the Haitian Revolution
  • Klooster Wim, Revolutions in the Atlantic world
  • Venturi Franco, Roots of revolution