For Marxist and democratic historians, France remains the ‘model’ country for the analysis of class struggles and political revolutions, which overthrew the established order in 1789, 1830, 1848 and 1871 (and profoundly threatened the bourgeois order again in 1968). We will examine these successive revolutions chronologically through the eyes of both radical historians and novelists.
When considering the Sans Culottes and the French Revolution we will look at this first great revolution from the point of view, not of the “great men” who led it, but of the popular classes that made it and tried to ensure that it met the needs of the French people. Their role on the great events — the taking of the Bastille, the September
Massacres among others — will be examined using Kropotkin’s The Great French Revolution as the source text, as well as excerpts from the soon to be published translation of Jean Jaures’ A Socialist History of the French Revolution. The French Revolution was the first popular uprising to run out of steam and regress, and we will read Anatole France’s novel The Gods are Thirsty to examine these phenomena.
We will then read novels by Stendhal, Balzac and others while concurrently reading Marx’s major writings on France, Class Struggles in France, The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte and The Civil War in France. Other contemporary accounts of the revolutionary waves of France in the 19th century will be consulted.
MITCH ABIDOR is the translator of several books, including the forthcoming edition of Jean Jaures’ A Socialist History of the French Revolution and Emmanuel Bove’s novella A Raskolonikov and the author of Communards: The Paris Commune of 1871 as Told by Those Who Fought for It.
CRAIG CHISHOLM is a poet and editor at Gigantic Sequins. He has been a key participant in ongoing workshops on the relationship of literature to revolutionary movements and has just completed a summer of reviewing literary works as they related to World War I.
RICHARD GREEMAN is a Marxist scholar long active in environmental and labor struggles, splits his time between France and New York City. He is best known for his studies and translations of the novelist and revolutionary Victor Serge (1890–1947).
Suggested tuition: $95 / $125 • No one turned away for inability to pay
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