Laura Mason

Laura Mason

Senior Lecturer

PhD, Princeton University

Gilman 344
Curriculum Vitae

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

“Thermidor and the Myth of Rupture,” in David Andress (ed) Oxford Handbook of the French Revolution. Forthcoming: Oxford University Press.

“Roger Chartier,” in Philip Daileader and Philip Whalen (eds) French Historians, 1900-2000: The New Historical Writing in Twentieth-Century France. Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.

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

Never Was a Plot So Holy: Gracchus Babeuf and the End of the French Revolution,” in Thomas Kaiser, Marisa Linton, Peter Campbell (eds) Conspiracy in the French Revolution. Manchester University Press, 2007.

“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).

"'We're just little people, Louis': Marie-Antoinette on Film,” in Dena Goodman (ed) Marie Antoinette: Writings on the Body of a Queen. Routledge, 2003.

"Looking at a Life: Biography on Film." Rethinking History, vol. 1, #3 (1997).