French History @IHR: Marisa Linton on Rethinking the Terror

Date & Place: Monday 10th May, in the IOE Bedford Way, Room 784.

Speakers: Professor Marisa Linton (Kingston)

Paper Title: 230 Years Since the Revolution: Time to Rethink the Terror?

To listen to a recording of the event, click here (right click to save as MP3)

Professor Marisa Linton offered this paper surveying the legacy of the Revolution 230 years on. She outlined how public focus often falls on the guillotine rather than the Rights of Man

Linton unpacked different readings of the phrase terror, which can prioritize agency, control, or periodization within the histories that we write. Understanding the 18th century reading of the word helps explain how for some, the Terror could seem almost therapeutic, supporting the revolutionary language of power that warded off their own personal terror. Within this context, the study of emotions plays an important role, to show how the Revolution was itself an emotional event.

Linton went on to look at how the rhetoric of emotions coursed through the Revolution, and how the phenomenon of revolutionary exultation drove commitment and forged the bonds of fraternity. Fraternity and virtue therefore became as important vehicles for terror.

This fascinating survey of the Terror drew on Linton’s critically-acclaimed Choosing TerrorVirtueFriendshipand Authenticity in the French Revolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013) and also from her forthcoming book Saturn’s Children: Leaders of the French Revolution (to be published by Oxford University Press).

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