Violent Justice, Legal Reform and Revolutionary Terror: Law in Eighteenth-Century France (HIH1613)
|Staff||Dr Alex Fairfax-Cholmeley - Convenor|
|Duration of Module||Term 2: 11 weeks;|
This module aims to foster an understanding of the importance of legal structures and the justice system in eighteenth-century French society. In so doing, it will introduce students to a variety of sources which historians can use to understand the changing dynamics of justice and the law during this period and their impact on wider society – in particular, in evaluating the origins of the French Revolution and assessing its chequered legacy. The module will also offer a colonial perspective by covering legal practices in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (modern Haiti).
This module will give students access to translated material from the French legal system (for example, police investigations, defence and prosecution strategies, and court records) but will also cover broader societal interaction with the law and the notion of ‘justice’ (including popular pamphlets describing the ritual of public executions, intellectual debate about the need for judicial reform, and political justifications of the need for ‘revolutionary’ justice and Terror during the French Revolution). All these sources come with their own advantages and challenges for historians, and the module will give students the opportunity to discuss these issues with reference to key texts where historians have engaged with such sources in innovative and influential ways.
ILO: Module-specific skills
- 1. Assess the nature of the role of law and concepts of justice in eighteenth-century French politics and society.
- 2. Work critically with a range of sources for the history of France in the eighteenth century.
- 3. Assess the sources in relation to the historical debates surrounding the role of law and concepts of justice in defining eighteenth-century French society and contributing to revolutionary change at the end of the century.
ILO: Discipline-specific skills
- 4. Identify the problems of using historical sources, e.g. utility, limitations, etc, and compare the validity of different types of sources.
- 5. Answer a question briefly and concisely.
- 6. Present work orally, respond to questions orally, and think quickly of questions to ask other students.
ILO: Personal and key skills
- 7. Conduct independent study and group work, including the presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning.
- 8. Digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment.
- 9. Work with others in a team and to interact effectively with the tutor and the wider group.
- 10. Write to a very tight word-length.
The following is an indication of the themes which this module will cover:
1.Royal authority and the Law in 18th-century France
2.Popular attitudes to crime and justice in 18th-century France
3.The death penalty: rituals of punishment
4.Law as a colonial weapon: the code noir in Saint-Domingue (modern Haiti)
5.Redefining justice: enlightened opinion and the legal reform movement in pre-revolutionary France
6.Defence tactics: using print to defend oneself and the Nation
7.Revolutionary reform: radical legal codes in France and Saint-Domingue in the 1790s
8.Revolutionary justice and Terror
9.Popular justice: riots, lynchings and massacre
10. Investigating crime: policing and procedure
Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)
|Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities||Guided independent study||Placement / study abroad|
Details of learning activities and teaching methods
|Category||Hours of study time||Description|
|Scheduled learning and teaching activities||2||2 hour lecture: Introduction to module|
|Scheduled learning and teaching activities||20||10 x 2 hour seminars. At a meeting of the whole class generally a different group of 3-4 students will give a presentation to the whole class, followed by class discussion and working through the sources for that week carefully. Additional sources may be issued in the class and the lecturer will also use the time to set up issues for the following week.|
|Guided independent study||128||Students prepare for the session through reading and research; writing a weekly source essay and preparing one group presentation in the course of the term.|
|Form of assessment||Size of the assessment (eg length / duration)||ILOs assessed||Feedback method|
|Group presentation (3-4 students)||10-15 minutes||1-4, 6-7, 9||Oral|
|Lowest mark from portfolio of 5 source commentaries||500 words||1-5, 7-8, 10||Mark and written comments|
Summative assessment (% of credit)
|Coursework||Written exams||Practical exams|
Details of summative assessment
|Form of assessment||% of credit||Size of the assessment (eg length / duration)||ILOs assessed||Feedback method|
|4 highest marks from portfolio of 5 source commentaries||60||2000 words (500 per commentary) (15% per commentary)||1-5, 7-8, 10||Mark and written comments|
|Essay on Sources||40||1500 words||1-5, 7-8, 10||Mark and written comments|
Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)
|Original form of assessment||Form of re-assessment||ILOs re-assessed||Timescale for re-assessment|
|4 highest marks from portfolio of 5 source commentaries||4 highest marks from portfolio of 5 source commentaries||1-5, 7-8, 10||Referral/deferral period|
|1500-word essay||1500 word essay||1-5, 7-8, 10||Referral/deferral period|
Indicative learning resources - Basic reading
Arasse, Daniel, The Guillotine and the Terror (1989)
Bell, David A. Lawyers and Citizens: The Making of a Political Elite in Old Regime France (1994)
Brown, Howard G., Ending the French Revolution: Violence, Justice and Repression from the Terror to Napoleon (2006)
Cobb, Richard, The Police and the People: French Popular Protest, 1789-1820 (1970)
Foucault, Michel, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1977)
Friedland, Paul, Seeing Justice Done: The Age of Spectacular Capital Punishment in France (2012)
Ghachem, Malick W., The Old Regime and the Haitian Revolution (2012)
Gough, Hugh, The Terror in the French Revolution, 2nd edition (2010)
Kelly, George A., Mortal Politics in Eighteenth-Century France (1986)
Maza, Sarah, Private Lives and Public Affairs: The Causes Célèbres of Prerevolutionary France (1993)
Sutherland, Donald M.G., Murder in Aubagne: Lynching, Law, and Justice during the French Revolution (2009)
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