Professor David Andress
Associate Dean (Research), Professor of Modern History
As a researcher, my main interest has always lain with the French Revolution, and with the complex ways in which succeeding generations of historians have sought to co-opt or condemn its relationship to European modernity.
My own work had an initial concern to reposition the agency of non-elite subjects in this process (culminating in my book, The French Revolution and the People, 2004), and developed towards two further strands of analysis. The first concerned itself with the absences and hypocrisies attendant on violence, and especially ‘popular violence’ in revolutionary circumstances, and formed part of the discussion in my book The Terror (2005), as well as a variety of more specialised work. The second involved reflection on the shaping of political discourse by wider cultural beliefs about 'human nature', and particularly the force of emotional experience, in the particular post-Enlightenment atmosphere of the 1780s and 1790s. This has led on to a variety of publications about the 'melodramatic' sensibilty of radical revolutionaries in particular.
I am now interested in developing approaches that position the French Revolution as part of a globalising 'national' experience in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, taking a critical approach to the racial and other hierarchies involved in constructing nationhood as a concept and a lived reality.