History 297H




Philip Jenkins, 407 Weaver Building                                         Class meets Tues/Thurs 9.45-11.00                                      

The course

This course examines the concept of "revolution", with particular reference to three eras of dramatic social and political change throughout much of the western world, and often beyond. These eras are the decades of the 1680s, the 1790s, and the 1920s.


There is an influential and well-known literature on the ways in which change occurs in science as a result of revolutionary shifts in the fundamental paradigms by which knowledge is organized and understood.  Such revolutionary breakthroughs include Newtonian and Einsteinian physics; the atomic theory; and Darwinian evolution. The historians of science best known in this context would include Kuhn and Popper. It can also be argued - though more speculatively - that such revolutionary shifts in the sciences often coincide with eras of rapid, dramatic change in culture and the arts. The different movements may or may not be related to each other, and the nature of causation is very uncertain; but it can at least be suggested that such intellectual transformations do indeed reflect wider changes in society and politics. This cluster of courses is intended to deepen the students' understanding of the ways in which change occurs in both science and the humanities, and the possible relationships between those apparently separate fields. In addition, they will appreciate the social and political dimensions of change. Finally - and more speculatively - the courses will explore possible influences and interrelationships between the worlds of science, politics and literature.


Specifically, the courses will examine three eras which in their very different ways can be described as "revolutionary" in terms of science, culture, and politics; the 1680s, the 1790s and the 1920s. Each period marks or immediately follows a great political revolution - respectively, the English, French and Russian; and political theories were in much ferment. Each marked major literary development, and the two later decades at least were marked by radical experimentation with forms and topics. Thirdly, each was an age of remarkable scientific discovery: Newton's Principia of 1687 ushered in a true revolution in physics and mathematics; Laplace, Priestley and Lavoisier profoundly affected the thought of the 1790s; and the natural sciences of the 1920s were utterly transformed by the insights of Einstein, Bohr and the quantum physicists.


Obviously, decades are terms of convenience where political events are concerned, and the three decades to be addressed here would more properly be described by the limits 1679-1690; 1789-1799; and 1917-1929. In each decade, we will consider the influence of the new political theories on Western intellectuals, and intellectuals as activists in revolutionary politics. These themes will be addressed comparatively in each era, but there will also be a chronological discussion of the events involved.




          The grade for the course will be based on four components, as follows:


1. 35% - comprehensive examination, to be held in finals period


2. 35% - paper on a topic arising from the course, details to be provided later


3. 20% - Midterm examination


4. 10% - class atendance and participation


All exams will follow the essay format.


Deadlines are strictly enforced, and missing an examination without prior permission will result in a grade of F. Acceptable excuses include medical emergencies and the like, appropriately documented.




1. Crane Brinton, Anatomy of Revolution, New York: Random House, 0-394-70044-9


2. J. P. Kenyon, Stuart England Penguin


3. Simon Schama, Citizens, New York: Vintage Books, 1989. ISBN: 0-679-72610-1


4. Raymond J. Sontag, A Broken World 1919-1939, New York: Harper Torchbook, 0-06-131651-2






1. January 11.

Introduction of themes. Definition; concept of revolution, Issues of cause and consequence; the influence of ideology on political transformation.

Read: Brinton, Anatomy of Revolution


2. January 13.

Can we speak of a seventeenth century revolution?

Crisis in Europe 1550-1640 - Continental absolutism and the background to the controversies of the 1680s. The context of early modern society and politics 1660-1800


3. January 18.

Revolution and Counter-revolution in Stuart England. The Civil War and its aftermath. Religious alignments.

Read: Kenyon, Stuart England, especially chapters on 1640s and afterwards


4. January 20.

Developing the idea of a right of resistance or revolution. Contract theories: Locke, Tyrrell and the Whig/Liberal theory of resistance.


5. January 25.

The Constitutional crisis over Exclusion


6. January 27.

The "Glorious Revolution" and the Convention; the constitutional settlement and the English Bill of Rights.


7. February 1.

Revolutions in Scotland and Ireland

I need to know your paper topics today


8. February 3.

America 1675-1692


9. February 8.

The religious heritage of the 1680s.


10. February 10.

Salem and the crisis in witch-belief


11. February 15.

The meaning of  the Enlightenment

Read: Schama, Citizens


12. February 17.

Enlightenment political theory, and the political heritage of Europe in the 1790s.


13. February 22.

The French Revolution - theories and debates


14. February 24.

The events of the French Revolution


15. March 1.

Extreme social and political radicalism; the sexual revolutionaries.


16. March 3.         midterm examination


17. March 15.

Britain and Ireland in the 1790s


18. March 17.

America from the Constitution to the election of Jefferson.


19. March 22.

Europe and the wider world in the 1790s. Slavery in America and the Caribbean; the revolution in Haiti


20. March 24.

Industrialization and war 1789-1815


21. March 29.

Intellectual trends 1880-1920: the impact of Darwin and Freud

Read: Sontag, Broken World


22. March 31

The impact of Marx and Lenin


23. April 5.

Russia in revolution


24. April 7.

Europe in the 1920s


25. April 12.

The economic context in Europe and America


26. April 14.

The social and cultural world of 1920s Europe and America


27. April 19.

Fascism and the great reaction

Drafts of your term papers are due today


28. April 21.

North America in the 1920s.


29. April 26.

The challenge to Western empires through new third world nationalist movements


30. April 28.

Summary and discussion of themes


Some Suggested Readings



Andrews, Charles McLean (1959) Narratives of the Insurrections 1675-1690 New York: Barnes and Noble

Chenevix-Trench, Charles (1969) The Western Rising, London: Longman

Demos, John (1982) Entertaining Satan Oxford University Press

Haley, K.H (1985) Politics in the Reign of James II, Oxford: Blackwell

Jones, J.R., (1969) The First Whigs London: Macmillan

Jones, J.R., ed., (1979) The Restored Monarchy 1660-1688 London

Jones, J.R., (1978) Country and Court: England 1658-1714, Harvard University Press

Kenyon, J.P. (1974) The Popish Plot London: Pelican

Plumb, J.H. (1967) The Growth of Political Stability in England 1675-1725 London: Macmillan

Webb, Stephen Saunders (1984) 1676: the End of American Independence New York: Knopf

Western, J.R. (1972) Monarchy and Revolution London: Blandford



Pelican Classics over the years has published editions of books like the Complete Works of the Marquess of Halifax, edited by J. P. Kenyon.

Peter Laslett's edition of Two Treatises by Locke (Cambridge 1960), especially the fine introduction.

John Bunyan's works also fit nicely here, especially as interpreted through Christopher Hill's recent biography, A Tinker and a Poor Man.




Commager, Henry Steele (1978) The Empire of Reason New York: Doubleday Anchor.

Crowe, Michael J (1986) The Extraterrestrial Life Debate 1750-1900 Cambridge University Press

Darnton, Robert, (1982) The Literary Underground of the Old Regime Harvard University Press

Erdman, David (1977). Blake - Prophet Against Empire, third edition, Princeton University Press

Harris, R.W. (1969) Romanticism and the Social Order 1780-1830 London: Blandford

Hobsbawm, E.J. (1962). The Age of Revolution London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson

Hone, J. Anne (1982), For the Cause of Truth: Radicalism in London 1796-1821 Oxford Univ Press.

Jacob, Margaret (1976), The Newtonians and the English Revolution 1689-1720

Jacob, Margaret (1981), The Radical Enlightenment: Pantheists, Freemasons and Republicans

Jacob, Margaret (1988) The Cultural Meaning of the Scientific Revolution

Jacob, Margaret (1991) Living the Enlightenment: Freemasonry and Politics in Eighteenth Century Europe

James, C.L.R. (1963) The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution  New York: Vintage

Johnson, Douglas, ed., (1976). French Society and the Revolution Cambridge University Press

Kramnick, Isaac (1990), Republicanism and Bourgeois Radicalism - Political Ideology in Late Eighteenth Century England and America Cornell University Press

McCalman, Iain, Radical Underworld: Prophets, Revolutionaries and Pornographers in London 1795-1840, Cambridge Univ Press

Palmer, R.R. (1964) The Age of the Democratic Revolution, two volumes, Princeton University Press

Schama, Simon (1977) Patriots and Liberators New York: Knopf

Schama, Simon (1989) Citizens New York: Vintage

Thompson, E.P. (1968). The Making of the English Working Class London: Pelican

Williams, Gwyn A. (1969) Artisans and Sans-Culottes New York: Norton

Williams, Merryn (1971). Revolutions 1775-1830 London: Penguin

Wills, Garry (1979) Inventing America New York: Vintage



Pelican Classics over the years has published nice editions of some key texts including:

Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, edited by Conor Cruise O'Brien  (1790)

William Godwin, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, edited by Isaac Kramnick (1798)

Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, edited by Henry Collins (1791-2)


The Industrial Revolution


Ashton, T.S. (1973) Industrial Revolution Oxford University Press

Clarkson, L.A. (1990) The Industrial Revolution - A Compendium Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International

Deane, Phyllis  (1979) The First Industrial Revolution Cambridge University Press.

Mathias, P. (1979) The Transformation of England, Columbia University Press













As there is a really vast range of sources to draw on, this period poses particular problems. Some possibilities include:

Several books by E. H. Carr, such as Socialism in One Country, The Bolshevik Revolution, etc. Also The Russian Revolution from Lenin to Stalin (New York Free Press 1979)

F. L. Carsten (1980) The Rise of Fascism, second edition, London: Methuen

Peter Gay, Weimar Culture London: Pelican

James Weinstein (1984) The Decline of Socialism in America Rutgers University Press



Books on Reserve in Pattee Library


Call number      Author Title


D424.C3 1980 Carsten The Rise of Fascism

DC133.3.D37 1982     Darnton           The Literary Underground of the Old Regime

HC254.5.D3 1979       Deane  The First Industrial Revolution

BF1576.D42    Demos Entertaining Satan

DD239.G38 1981        Gay      Weimar Culture

DA445.H15 1985        Haley   Politics in the Reign of James II

PR3331.H55 1989       Hill      A Tinker and a Poor Man

HN398.L7H65 Hone    For the Cause of Truth: Radicalism in London                                     1796-1821

CB411.J33 1981          Jacob    The Radical Enlightenment

Q175.5.J3 1988b         Jacob    The Cultural Meaning of the  Scientific Revolution

HS416.J33 1991          Jacob    Living the Enlightenment

DC142.F7        Johnson           French Society and the Revolution

DA435.J66      Jones, J.R.        Country and Court: England 1658-1714

JA84. G7K73 1990      Kramnick         Republicanism and Bourgeois Radicalism

JC153.L8 1967a          Laslett Two Treatises by Locke

HN400.R3M34 1988   McCalman       Radical Underworld

320.8P16b       Paine   Basic Writings

DJ202.S32 1977          Schama Patriots and Liberators

331.0942T372m         Thompson       Making of the English Working Class

F229.W36 1984          Webb   1676: the End of American Independence

HD8395.W48  Williams          Artisans and Sans-Culottes

JK155.W54     Wills    Explaining America

E221.W64       Wills    Inventing America