“How to Stage a Revolution”

For a long time (longer than I care to admit) I have wanted to teach a history course on the Atlantic revolutionary era that would bridge the American, French, and Haitian revolutions.  Last fall, I offered a legal history seminar entitled “Law and Revolution” that was a first effort towards this end.  This fall, in conjunction with my wonderful new colleagues Craig Wilder and Jeff Ravel, I am finally doing so for an undergraduate audience.  Together, the three of us are co-teaching a mainstay of the MIT History curriculum, a course entitled “How to Stage a Revolution,” a unique offering founded some years ago by Meg Jacobs.  Each year the content of the course varies: some years, for example, the Russian and Turkish revolutions are in, and others out.  This fall the modules have converged around an eighteenth-century Atlantic focus (with a contemporary overlay featuring Egypt between 2011 and the present), and so far I am having more riotously good fun than should be legal in a well-ordered society.  (I suppose we could always rename the course “How to Quash a Revolution” if word gets out and/or this continues!)  We are part-way through the American Revolution module (taught by Professor Wilder) and, after a long hiatus from “pure” history teaching, I am re-learning things about the revolutionary era that had begun to fade from memory (when was the last time you reread your high school copies of Richard Hofstadter and Edmund Morgan?!), and learning anew many others — in this module, particularly about the intersection between American Indians and the revolutionary crisis.  You can find the syllabus here, and the MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) site for a previous version of the course here.  Long live “How to Stage a Revolution”!