AIH389 - The French Revolution and the Struggle for Freedom

Year: 2019 unit information
Enrolment modes: Trimester 2: Burwood (Melbourne), Waurn Ponds (Geelong), Cloud (online)
Credit point(s): 1
EFTSL value: 0.125
Unit chair:

Greg Burgess





Incompatible with:


Contact hours:

Campus: 1 x 2 hour Class per fortnight, 1 x 2 hour Seminar per fortnight

Cloud (online): 1 x 2 hour Class per fortnight (recordings provided), 1 x 2 hour online seminar per fortnight


The French Revolution of 1789 was, above all, a struggle for freedom, as the people rose against a despotic monarchy and an oppressive social system to demand their natural rights to liberty and equality. But what did freedom mean to the people? How was freedom given substance in the political structures of the new, revolutionary regime? This unit will study the meaning of freedom from the Enlightenment and the American Revolution to its influence on the emerging revolutionary mentality of late-eighteenth France. It will examine how the revolutionary struggle between the monarchy, nobility, church and the bourgeoisie saw freedom realised. Freedom was expressed in a statement of rights, which declared that all men were born free and equal. Freedom then had to be defended and protected. And freedom had limits. Were women truly free? Could Jews and Protestants be free in a Catholic country? Could a revolution based on freedom justify the abomination of slavery? What did freedom mean for the people if their society remained profoundly unequal in wealth and power? This unit will explore these questions. It will examine the struggle for freedom as a great social struggle with a profound legacy that still resonates today.


Assessment 1 (Individual) - 3 x Seminar/Online Exercises (2000 words) - 50%

Assessment 2 (individual) - Essay (2000 words) - 50%

Unit Fee Information

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