I am pleased to announce the publication of an H-France Salon issue I have edited, “Colbert, Venality, and Parisian Judicial Elites during the Long Seventeenth Century: A Reappraisal by Robert Descimon.”
My research interests focus on early modern France, particularly the urban culture of French provincial cities in the late-fifteenth through the mid-seventeenth centuries. My first book, Between Crown and Community, investigated the political culture of Poitiers, a mid-sized provincial capital from the reign of François I (1515-1547) to that of Henri IV (1589-1610). I have recently finished a second book, entitled Historical Communities: Cities, Erudition, and National Identity in Early Modern France, focused on local history writing in French provincial towns throughout France in the period of roughly 1550-1660. I continue to be interested in questions of individual and collective memory formation and use in French early modern society, and I am working on a project organized around the concepts of memory, family, and genealogy in France from the late 16th-early 18th centuries. My interests thus embrace questions of the intersection of politics and religion, the nature of religious conflict, the relationship between localities and the state, cultural interactions between local elites and the well-known scholars of the Republic of Letters, the development of history writing from the early modern period to the present, and more generally the social, cultural, intellectual and political conditions of the early modern period.
Research and Teaching Interests:
In addition to undergraduate teaching, I welcome the opportunity to work with graduate students, as a main dissertation adviser on virtually any topic related to early modern France in the period of roughly 1450-1700 or as a committee member for students wanting to do a field in early modern Europe.
I have recently published a book entitled Historical Communities: Cities, Erudition, and National Identity in Early Modern France (Brill, 2021), on local history writing in France during the period of roughly 1550-1660. The book explores the outpouring of local history writing during this period, with a special focus on how local scholars from a range of French cities, from large provincial capitals to much smaller towns, used available sources to craft a useful urban past. The book therefore examines networks of erudite scholars in Paris and the provinces, the exchange of information, the ways that questions such as a town’s origins could be used to make politically useful statements, the sources of historical conflict, and the ways that contentious issues such as the Wars of Religion and the Fronde were represented in subsequent history writing on the local level. The book also focuses on two figures who served as nodes of historical exchange: François de Belleforest in the 16th century and André Duchesne in the 17th century.
I am also interested in the kinds of exchange–intellectual, social, political–that took place in the process of familial memory formation and genealogical history writing in 16th-18th-century France, particularly among elite urban families and between erudite scholars and the noble families who commissioned these kinds works. I am expanding on these associations in a current book project on “Genealogy, Family, and Memory in Early Modern France.”
Together with Megan Armstrong of McMaster University and Fabien Montcher of Saint Louis University, I am currently editing a collected volume entitled “Constructing European Historical Narratives in the Early Modern World.” It will appear as a special volume published by the journal, Renaissance and Reformation.
I am continuing to pursue the question of the construction of local memory in France, especially with regard to the Wars of Religion.
I also continue to be intrigued by urban politics in French provincial cities and plan a future project on the political role of the clergy in provincial towns in the period of roughly the mid-15th century to the mid-17th century.
Historical Communities: Cities, Erudition, and National Identity in Early Modern France (Leiden: Brill, 2021). Publication Link (This book is available to consult or download as a .pdf from the UCSB library catalogue. It is also included in the Brill “My Book” program.) Preview
Articles, chapters, and essays:
- “Introduction to ‘Colbert, Venality, and Parisian Judicial Elites during the Long Seventeenth Century: A Reappraisal by Robert Descimon’” H-France Salon 22, Issue 14 (published online, January 2023).
- “L’histoire urbaine et l’histoire des lignages en débat. Les listes des maires à Poitiers à l’Époque moderne,” Histoire urbaine 65, no. 4 (December 2022): 65-78.
- “French Cities in the Sixteenth Century,” Routledge Resources Online: The Renaissance World (published online, December 2022),
- “The Reformed Terreur Panique of 1562: Debating Miracles and Memory in Seventeenth-Century Le Mans,” French History 34, no. 4 (December 2020).
- “In Medias Res: A Review Essay,” H-France Salon 9, issue 13, no. 1 (August 2017).
- “Reading Municipal Lists, Interpreting Civic Practice from the Insights of Robert Descimon to Seventeenth-Century Bourges,” in Social Relations, Politics, and Power in Early Modern France, ed. Barbara B. Diefendorf (Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2016), 134-57. Preview of article
- “Le livre des privilèges à l’épreuve du temps: entre histoire municipale et théories politique et sociale de la ville,” in À la croisée des temps. Approches d’histoire politique, juridique et sociale, ed. Pierre Bonin, Fanny Cosandey, Élie Haddad and Anne Rousselet-Pimont (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2016), 169-79.
- « Henri Drouot et les historiens anglo-saxons : une influence paradoxale, » Annales de Bourgogne 87-88 (October 2015): 59-72. Pre-publication version
- “Cosmography, Local History, and National Sentiment: François de Belleforest and the History of Paris,” French Historical Studies 35, n. 1 (winter 2012): 31-60.
- « La république urbaine et la République des lettres : André Duchesne, Jean Rogier, et les significations de l’histoire locale à Reims au XVIIe siècle, » Histoire, économie, société 30, n. 2 (June 2011) :29-46.
- « Réseaux savants et choix documentaires de l’histoire locale française: Écrire l’histoire de Bourges dans la seconde moitié du xviie siècle,» Histoire urbaine 28 (August 2010) : 65-84.
- “La Rochepozay, Ghost-Writer: Noble Genealogy, Historical Erudition, and Political Engagement in Seventeenth-Century France,” Proceedings of the Western Society for French History 37 (2009): 1-20.
- “The ‘Bourgeoisie Seconde,’ the Catholic League, and Urban Society,” French History 17 (December 2003): 342-51.
- “The Shadow of the Revolution: Continuities in Society and Politics in Early Modern France,” Journal of Urban History 28 (September 2002): 769-777.
- “The Benefit of the Ballot? Elections and Influence in Sixteenth-Century Poitiers,” French Historical Studies 24 (fall 2001): 621-52.
Courses for 2022-23
I am on sabbatical for the 2022-23 academic year, so I will not be teaching.
Hist 4B, Medieval and Early Modern Europe, 800-1700
Hist 121A, Renaissance Italy, 1300-1530
Hist 121B, Renaissance Humanism
Hist 121C, France in the Sixteenth Century (cross-listed as French 154CA)
Hist 121D, Crime and Punishment in Early Modern Europe, 1450-1700
Hist 121F, France in the Seventeenth Century (cross-listed as French 154CB)
Hist 121Q, Undergraduate Reading Seminar in Renaissance Europe
“The Religious Cultures of Renaissance Europe”
“Reform and Religious Violence in Sixteenth-Century France”
“Popular and Elite Cultures in Renaissance Europe”
“Renaissance Monarchy: Theory and Practice”
Hist 121R, Undergraduate Research Seminar in Early Modern European History, 1450-1700
Hist 194AH-BH, Undergraduate Honors Research Seminar
Hist 201E, Graduate Reading Seminar in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe
“Memory and its Practices in Europe, c. 1400-1700″
“Urban Space in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe”
“The Individual, Violence, and the State in Early Modern Europe, 1450-1750”
“1500: Change or Continuity?”
“Readings in Sixteenth-Century France”
Hist 202, Historical Methods
Hist 215E-F, Medieval/Early Modern Graduate Research Seminar
Hist 223A-B, Modern/Early Modern Graduate Research Seminar
Under normal circumstances, I am happy to work with students wanting to do Honors Contracts, Independent Studies (Hist 199), or Independent Reading Courses (Hist 596)
Honors and Professional Activities:
UC President’s Research Award in the Humanities, 2007-2008
Professeur Invitée, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, April 2012
Guest editor of H-France Salon, Vol. 7, Issue 13: “New Directions: French Scholarship on Early Modern France“
Co-editor of H-France Forum, for history in the period of the Middle Ages-17th century, 2009-22.
Professeur Invitée, Université Paris-Nanterre, November 2022.
Guest editor of H-France Salon, Vol. 14, Issue 22 (January 2023), “Colbert, Venality, and Parisian Judicial Elites during the Long Seventeenth Century: A Reappraisal by Robert Descimon.”
Member of the Editorial Board for French Historical Studies, 2021-