Laura Mason

Laura Mason

Teaching Professor
Curriculum Vitae
Gilman 344
Tuesday, 2-3 p.m.; and by Appointment

Research Interests: French Revolution; democracy and violence; cultural history and media; history and film; French film

Education: PhD, Princeton University

As an historian of the French Revolution, I write about the convulsive transformation of French political culture in the last decade of the eighteenth century, its intersection with print culture and other forms of media, and the shifting political fortunes of working people and popular radicals.  

My first book, Singing the French Revolution: Popular Culture and Revolutionary Politics in Paris, 1789-1799, examined the evolution of popular singing practices over the course of the revolutionary decade.  It charts the contested construction and eventual demobilization of revolutionary political culture.  

My current project uses the conspiracy trial of Gracchus Babeuf and the Equals in 1797 to investigate the transformation of political life, public opinion, and the press after Thermidor. It will culminate in a micro-history entitled The Last Revolutionaries: the Trial of Gracchus Babeuf and the Equals, which explains how and why revolutionary aspirations to democracy and social justice were defeated after the Terror.

As a joint appointee with the Program in Film and Media Studies, I also work on film and history. On the one hand, I explore how films can be used as primary sources that illuminate the contours of modern French society. On the other, I consider how movies, by representing a pre-cinematic past, broaden our sense of what history is, who it belongs to, and how it is related to public memory.

Through the history department, I teach courses on the French Revolution and human rights since the 17th century. Through Film and Media Studies, I teach courses that explore different facets of modern European life including the urban environment, modernization, gender and sex roles, and immigration and race.

Select Articles

“Gracchus Babeuf, les Égaux et la culture politique du Directoire,” Loris Chavanette (ed) Autorité et société sous le Directoire: une république en révolution (1795-1799), forthcoming: CNRS Editions.

“Celebrating Popular Revolution: Jean Renoir’s La Marseillaise.” Fiction and Film for French Historians vol. 8 #3 (Dec 2017).

“The Culture of Reaction: Demobilizing the People after Thermidor.”  French Historical Studies vol. 39 #3 (Aug 2016).

“Introduction,” Forum I on Thermidor and the French Revolution, French Historical Studies vol. 38 #1 (Jan 2015).

“Thermidor and the Myth of Rupture.@  David Andress (ed) Oxford Handbook of the French Revolution.  Oxford University Press, 2015.

“Après la conjuration: le Directoire, la presse, et l’Affaire des Egaux,” Annales historiques de la Révolution française #354 (Dec. 2008).

“The ‘Bosom of Proof’: Criminal Justice and the Renewal of Oral Culture during the French Revolution.”  Journal of Modern History vol. 76, #1 (March 2004).