Abstract

From its inception in 1789, the French Revolution swiftly moved from a democratic phase to domestic conflict, war, and repression, which peaked in intensity in 1793–94. Although the Terror almost immediately drew historians’ interest, it as a subject waned by the mid-1960s. While explaining its ebb and flow from the mid-twentieth century to the present, this essay focuses on the half-dozen syntheses of the Terror, which have appeared since 2000. This article finds that those schools of thought that had dominated the study and focus on the causes of the revolution shape the historical debate regarding the Terror. In particular, three approaches—Marxist, social/cultural, and linguistic—fan out along political lines as well from supporting to condemning the revolution. However, as this essay shows, these new studies reveal some convergence toward shared views and methods. This essay concludes with recommendations and cautions for future research.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-1897
Print ISSN
0022-4529
Pages
pp. 383-403
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-14
Open Access
No
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