Course syllabus

The full course syllabus will be available for download before the start of Semester 2. 2019


HISTORY 224: Old Regime and Revolution in France c.1750-1815

SEMESTER 2, 2019

15 points

Course Convenor

Dr Joseph Zizek

Phone: (09) 923-8852 or ext 88852 (on campus)

Room 735, Humanities Building (formerly known as Arts 1)


Office Hours: TBA


Lecture and Tutorial Times

Each week, Hist 224 students are expected to attend one 2-hour lecture and one 50-minute tutorial. Times and locations are subject to change and should be confirmed via SSO


Introduction and Objectives

            More than two centuries after the collapse and destruction of what revolutionaries called the ‘Old Regime’, the French Revolution continues to be recognised as one of the founding events of modern history. Yet it remains a deeply enigmatic and controversial event. Revolutionaries seemingly invented (or re-invented) political liberty and civic equality, democratic suffrage and human rights; but they also invented (or re-invented) gender discrimination and political terror, ideological war and modern dictatorship. Given this rich blend of tragedy and farce, it is no surprise that the Revolution continues to feature in our discussions of politics, society, and culture as well as our understanding of the ‘modern’ world.

            This course offers an introduction to the French Revolution as both European crisis and world-historical event. A background in European or French history, while helpful, is not required. The weekly lectures offer basic historical orientation, while tutorial readings, discussions, and coursework go beyond the lectures to explore major problems of interpretation. Topics for the semester include the origins of the Revolution, the collapse of the ‘absolute’ monarchy, the radical experiment of mass democracy, the nature of revolutionary violence and war, and the legacies and disputed meanings left to us by revolutionaries and their opponents.

            History 224 is taught in tandem with the Stage III version of this course (History 324), but it is different in both its reading load and its assessment schedule. History 224 students will nevertheless be introduced to some of the key historiographical challenges in the field—the ‘social history of ideas’, public opinion, political culture, and gender politics, rights theory—and will learn how different methods and approaches have influenced our understanding of the French Revolution.      

The key learning objectives for History 224 are:

  • to provide a basic introduction to major issues in French history c. 1750-1815
  • to provide an introduction to different kinds of historical interpretation in the scholarship on the ‘Old Regime’ and the Revolution
  • to help students improve the oral and written expression of their historical work

Information Literacy

In accordance with the University of Auckland’s ‘Information Literacy’ policy, the workload in History 224 is designed to enhance your ability to assimilate, assess, and present information and to construct independent arguments. History 224 seeks to improve students’ information literacy by:

  • introducing you to the range of resources available in a major research library and familiarising you with the use of online databases as well as printed sources
  • enhancing your note-taking and research skills in diverse settings (lectures, class discussions, assigned readings)
  • setting diverse assignments to enable your exploration and evaluation of primary as well as secondary materials



Assessment Summary

  1. Marks distribution and due dates

Evaluation is based upon four (4) online tests, one coursework Essay, and a two-hour Exam. 

Grades (as percentage of total mark in course) are distributed as follows:

•    20% - Canvas Tests (4 Tests each worth 5% of final mark, 20 questions per test. Tests spaced at 3 week intervals)

•    40% - Essay (2,000 words)

•    40% - 2-hour, essay-type Exam held during Examination Period


Information on grading standards, essays, and referencing can be found in the ‘History Coursework Guide’ that is available on the History Website (under the ‘Disciplinary Area Forms’ section):



Weekly Topics and Lecture schedule (provisional)

Week 1-Introduction to the Course: Myths of Revolution

Week 2-Eighteenth Century Society and Enlightenment

Week 3-Politics of Public Opinion: An ‘Information Society’?

Week 4-Revolutionary Origins: Social or Political?

Week 5-From Crisis to Revolution: Inventing 1789

Week 6-Rural France and its Revolution(s)

Week 7-Cultural Revolution(s)

Week 8-Gender Relations in the Revolutionary Era

Week 9-Violence and Terror: Why?

Week 10-The Revolution in the Colonies: Liberty and Slavery

Week 11-Napoleon’s Revolution: End, or New Beginning?

Week 12-Myths of Revolution: Is the French Revolution Over?


Course Resources and Canvas

  1. Tutorial Readings and Textbook

All required course readings are available via Talis. For those who prefer to work from hardcopies, a course packet with all required readings will be available for purchase from the bookstore. History 224 also has a recommended (but not required) textbook:

  • Jeremy D. Popkin, A Short History of the French Revolution, 6th edition, Routledge, 2014. ISBN-13: 978-0205968459 [but any edition is acceptable]

This text is available in Short Loan and may also be available for purchase at the University Bookstore. You are not required to purchase the text or read it, but it remains the best brief treatment for those who wish more detailed chronological coverage of the course themes. Any of the earlier editions of this textbook are also acceptable, in case you would prefer to purchase it second-hand.

2. Canvas access to course materials: Everything distributed, shown, or discussed in lecture—syllabus, lecture outlines, PowerPoint presentations, and miscellaneous handouts—will be made available on Canvas. All lectures will be recorded and each week an audio-only recording will be posted. Full lecture notes are not posted to Canvas; this is intentional, and is meant as an incentive to regular lecture attendance. Similarly, certain materials that are exclusive to tutorials will not be posted to Canvas; to secure those handouts you must attend tutorials, or (in case of justified absence) make arrangements to pick up the handouts from the instructor.

If you miss class, it becomes your responsibility to understand what has been covered in your absence. Canvas is designed to help by making access to lost or misplaced material easier, and by providing an audio recording of lectures, but you should also make arrangements with friends to ‘cover’ for one another in case of missed classes. Please be aware that lecture recording technology sometimes falls short in either audio quality or reliability, so do not assume that recorded lectures will substitute for physical attendance. 


Workload and deadlines for submission of coursework:            

The University of Auckland's expectation is that students spend 10 hours per week on a 15-point course, including time in class and personal study. Students should manage their academic workload and other commitments accordingly. Deadlines for coursework are set by course convenors and will be advertised in course material. You should submit your work on time. In extreme circumstances, such as illness, you may seek an extension but you may be required to provide supporting information before the assignment is due. Late assignments without a pre-approved extension may be penalised by loss of marks as indicated in the course syllabus.

Course summary:

Date Details