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Policing Public Opinion in the French Revolution


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Table of Contents

Introduction Part I: The Old Regime Chapter One: Policing in the Old Regime Chapter Two: The Culture of Calumny and Honor Chapter Three: Press Freedom and Limits in the Enlightenment Chapter Four: From the Cahiers de doleances to the Declaration of Rights Part II: The French Revolution Chapter Five: From Lese-nation to the Law of Suspects: Legislating Limits Chapter Six: Oaths, Honor, and the Sacred Foundations of Authority Chapter Seven: From Local Repression to High Justice: Limits in Action Chapter Eight: Policing the Moral Limits: Public Spirit, Surveillance, and the Remaking of Moeurs Conclusion Works Cited Index

About the Author

Charles Walton is an Assistant Professor of History at Yale University.


"Charles Walton's book is the most sophisticated and persuasive history I have ever read of the problem of freedom of expression. It brilliantly reveals what the concept really meant to the French Revolutionaries, while offering a provocative and compelling new perspective on why the Revolution lapsed into Terror."--David A. Bell, Johns Hopkins University "The history of public opinion is now generally recognized as crucial for understanding the origins and course of the French Revolution. There has been a tendency, however, to view it as a concept operative largely in the history of ideas. Charles Walton's innovative book will thus be widely welcomed, for by focusing on free speech--the precondition of public opinion--he is able to extend the framework of analysis to cover important cultural and political debates on honor, calumny, morality and religion. This change of focus also allows us to grasp the difficult choices the Revolutionaries faced--and that we continue to face today."--Colin Jones, author of The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon "Broad-ranging and carefully argued, Professor Walton's study places the origins of constraints on free speech under the Revolution in the Old Regime's obsession with honor and calumny. In doing so, the book sheds a whole new light on the cultural and political dynamics of the Revolution's climactic years."--Sarah Maza, Northwestern University "Charles Walton writes a fascinating and provocative new study of freedom of expression in France in the last decades of the eighteenth century. It will compel historians to reconsider their interpretations of the radicalization of the French Revolution and the origins of the Terror."--Timothy Tackett, author of Becoming a Revolutionary "Walton's book sheds light on how the revolutionaries' failure to define precise limits on freedom of speech fostered teh arbitrariness of the Terror....[T]he book's rich evidence reminds us that the French Revolution was not merely a struggle over abstract principles but a myriad of personal dramas with often tragic outcomes."--American Historical Review

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