The Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of History Department of History
Contact Us

HIST3340 The French Revolution

Semester 2 (2022-2023)

Lecture TimeTuesday,10:30 - 12:15

VenueRoom 208, Lee Shau Kee Building (LSK 208)


Lecturer Noah SHUSTERMAN (

Course Description

This course will focus on the history of France, from the late-eighteenth century until the early nineteenth century. Though a relatively short time-span, the events of this era were of crucial importance in determining the future trajectories not only of France, but of all of Europe and, to a lesser though still significant extent, the entire world. Though the course will span the period from the “Old Regime” (France before 1789) until 1815, the bulk of the course will focus on the period from 1789 through 1794.


The following are the readings for the semester. “Baker” refers to Keith Michael Baker, ed. The Old Regime and the French Revolution, a primary source reader. All other texts listed will be available on-line, either directly (as a .pdf) or as a link (often via

*Note that some more readings will be added, and that every week – or almost every week – will have at least some readings, though the reading load as a whole will be reasonable.

Week 1

Introduction; The Enlightenment and the French Revolution

Week 2

Topic: The Old Regime and the Pre-Revolutionary Crisis

Readings – Primary: Baker, 154-199; secondary: Shusterman, chapter 1

Week 3

Topic: 1789

Readings – Primary: Baker, 208-239; Secondary: Shusterman, Chapter 2

Week 4

Topic: The Liberal Revolution and the Civil Constitution of the Clergy

Readings – Primary: Baker, 240-242 Secondary: Shusterman, chapter 3

Week 5

Topic: Varennes and its aftermath

Readings – Primary: Baker, 270-286 Secondary: Shusterman, chapter 4

Week 6

Topic: Meanwhile, in San Domingue

Readings – Primary: Mason and Rizzo, 105-109, 120-123, 208-214

Readings – Secondary: Ghachem, “Slavery and Citizenship in the Age of the Atlantic Revolutions” (available via JSTOR and the library website)

Week 7

Topic: The Summer of ’92

Readings – Primary: Baker, 287-302 Secondary: Shusterman, Chapter 5

Week 8

Topic: Girondins vs. Montagnards

Readings – Primary: Baker, 307-312; Secondary: Shusterman, Chapter 6

Week 9

Topic: France against itself: The Vendee and the Federalist Revolt

Readings – Primary: Mason and Rizzo, 218-220; Secondary: Shusterman, Chapter 7; Michelet, “Women, Priests, and the Vendee”

Week 10

Topic: The Start of the Terror

Readings – Primary: Baker, 331-353 Secondary: Shusterman, Chapter 8

Week 11

Topic: Peak-Terror and post-Terror

Readings – Primary: Baker, 353-362; 369-384 Secondary: Colin Jones, “9 Thermidor: Cinderella among Revolutionary Journées” (also JSTOR/library)

Week 12

Topic: Thermidor and Brumaire

Readings – Primary: Mason and Rizzo, 263-275; 288-296; 320-328 Secondary: Shusterman, Chapter 9

Week 13

Topic: Napoleon

Readings – Primary: Baker, 408-415;423-427; no secondary readings

Assessment & Assignments

Please note that the requirements and assignments will likely change some, depending on the number of students who enroll in the course.


The requirements for this course are as follows:


20% of the final grade.



There will be three tests over the course of the semester, each will be worth 15% of your final grade. Tests will be at the beginning of class, but might not always take up the entire class period. Anything that we have covered – in lectures, in presentations, in readings – is fair game for these tests.



To be explained, though for now, just know that these are like essays, but somewhat easier. 15% of your final grade.



Class size permitting, each student will give a 5-minute presentation on either a region of France or a participant in the French Revolution. 10% of your final grade.



10% of your final grade.

Honesty in Academic Work

Attention is drawn to University policy and regulations on honesty in academic work, and to the disciplinary guidelines and procedures applicable to breaches of such policy and regulations. Details may be found at

With each assignment, students will be required to submit a signed declaration that they are aware of these policies, regulations, guidelines and procedures.

  • In the case of group projects, all members of the group should be asked to sign the declaration, each of whom is responsible and liable to disciplinary actions, irrespective of whether he/she has signed the declaration and whether he/she has contributed, directly or indirectly, to the problematic contents.
  • For assignments in the form of a computer-generated document that is principally text-based and submitted via VeriGuide, the statement, in the form of a receipt, will be issued by the system upon students’ uploading of the soft copy of the assignment.

Assignments without the properly signed declaration will not be graded by teachers.

Only the final version of the assignment should be submitted via VeriGuide.

The submission of a piece of work, or a part of a piece of work, for more than one purpose (e.g. to satisfy the requirements in two different courses) without declaration to this effect shall be regarded as having committed undeclared multiple submissions. It is common and acceptable to reuse a turn of phrase or a sentence or two from one’s own work; but wholesale reuse is problematic. In any case, agreement from the course teacher(s) concerned should be obtained prior to the submission of the piece of work.

Back to top