Tallahassee, 25 April 2010



Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am writing to share with you news of the Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution during the 2009-2010 academic year.


Weider Invited Professorships

In the spring of 2010, Eric Weider, the son of Institute benefactor Ben Weider, generously offered to fund a visiting professorship in honor of his late father. The Weider Invited Professorships will allow the Institute to bring to FSU leading Revolutionary and Napoleonic scholars from around the world. During their stay in Tallahassee, they will teach concentrated graduated courses, give public lectures, conduct research in the Napoleon Collection, and generally participate in the intellectual life of the Institute and history department. The first Weider Invited Professor, who will begin her stay in October 2010, is Dr. Annie Jourdan, from the University of Amsterdam. In spring 2011, we hope to host Dr. Jacques-Olivier Boudon, director of the Institut Napoléon at the Sorbonne.

Online Catalog of the Strozier Library's Napoleon Collection

With the help of history librarian Sarah Buck-Kachaluba, we now have complete digital files of the entire contents of the Napoleon Collection. We are currently in the process of putting it online so that Napoleonic scholars throughout the world can access it.

Gifts to the Institute

During the past year, the Institute received another generous gift of books and Napoleonic society materials from David Markham, president of the International Napoleonic Society. In addition, it received a beautiful Bonaparte genealogy and several Napoleonic Society of America certificates. These were a gift of FSU alumna Johanna E. Snibbe (2001) in honor of her late grandparents, Robert M. and Ellen H. Snibbe, who were leaders of the Napoleonic Society of America.

Graduate Student Milestones

During the 2009-2010 academic year, several Institute graduate students passed important professional milestones. Shane Hockin and Erica Johnson both passed their comprehensive examinations and became ABD. Cindy Ermus successfully defended her MA thesis on the New Orleans fire of 1788.

Graduate Student Research

During the 2009-2010 academic year, two Institute students conducted dissertation research in France. Thanks to receipt of a competitive dissertation research fellowship from the Fondation Napoléon, Joe Horan was able to complete a second year of archival research on one of the lesser-known aspects of the economic dimension of the Napoleonic Wars - Napoleon's attempt to break the stranglehold of British global hegemony by introducing cotton cultivation to Europe. His archival research has been prodigious, taking him not only to the Archives Nationales in Paris and the Colonial Archives in Aix-en-Provence, but also to 11 departmental archives in France and 8 municipal archives in Italy. While in Paris, Joe also found time to attend the economic history seminar of Philippe Minard at the Ecole Normale Supérieure.

With the support of a Ben Weider fellowship, Shane Hockin was also able to complete his archival research on the history of atheism in eighteenth-century France. The sources he used were primarily in Paris, in the Archives Nationales and Bibliothèque Nationale.

Graduate Student Publications

Two Institute students had impressive achievements this year in this area. Tim Fitzpatrick published "Napoleon's Final Triumph" (on the battle of Wagram) in the March 2010 issue of Military History. Joe Horan's article, 'The Colonial Famine Plot: Slavery, War, and Empire in the French Atlantic, 1763-1791" was accepted for publication by the International Review of Social History and will appear in December 2010.

Graduate Students at the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era

The Institute continued its tradition of participation in the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era. Nine current Institute students took part this year. Eight of them gave papers. They were: Cindy Ermus (New Orleans fire of 1788), Tim Best (French Economy, Industrialization, and Foreign Trade), Maureen MacLeod (Aristocratic Women's Identity 1789-99), Pat Perella (Robert Fulton and Naval Politics), Bryan Banks (Napoleon's Protestant Policy), Mike DeFeudis (Bonaparte's Operational Art in Egypt, 1799), Erica Johnson (Saint-Domingue's Public Sphere), Tarah Luke (New England/Mid-Atlantic Views of Napoleon). In addition, dozens of Institute graduates also participated in the conference. All took part in the conviviality of Friday night's traditional Massena Society banquet, where I was awarded a very large medal by David Markham - thereby getting to experience first-hand the acuity of Napoleon's insight into the effect of baubles on men's souls.

Other Graduate Student Conference Participation

Although he did not participate in the Consortium this year, Joe Horan gave a number of papers at other venues. In October 2009, he gave a paper on free trade and famine plots in the French Atlantic at the meeting of the Western Society for French History in Boulder, Colorado. In France, he also gave talks on his dissertation research at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and at the University of Strasbourg.

Activities of the Institute Professors

During the 2009-2010 academic year, Dr. McMahon had many striking achievements. First and foremost, he received a prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship which he will use to finish his book on genius. In November 2009, he published his five volume series on the Enlightenment, The Enlightenment: Critical Concepts in Historical Studies. Co-edited with the political theorist Ryan Patrick Hanley, it appeared with Routledge. During March 2010, he was an invited professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, where he gave a number of lectures and seminars on genius, Enlightenment, and Counter-Enlightenment. During the academic year, he gave further talks - at the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, Harvard University, and the Remarque Institute. He also published a number of articles on the subject of happiness.

Dr. Will Slauter spent the year in Paris, as scholar-in-residence at the Institut Charles V at the Université Paris VII. In December, his article "Forward-Looking Statements: News and Speculation in the Age of the American Revolution" appeared in the Journal of Modern History. He also gave talks at the Sorbonne and College de France.

During the academic year, I turned in to various presses three book manuscripts I had been working on for a long time. The first is The Napoleonic Military Experience: Soldiers and Civilians for Bedford/St. Martins Press, the second is Contester le droit d'exemption nobiliaire d'impôts for the Presses Universitaires d'Aix-Marseille, and the third (the fruit of ten years' work) is The Politics of Fiscal Privilege for the Catholic University Press. In addition, I published an article on the revolutionary-era debate over ground rents in the April edition of the Annales Historiques de la Révolution Française, and gave talks at the British Academy in London, the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era in Charleston, and the Society for French Historical Studies in Tempe. Finally, I was elected to membership in the Société des Etudes Robespierristes.

Despite the woeful financial situation, the history department and Institute are fortunate to be getting a new colleague, George Williamson, formerly of the University of Alabama. A specialist in issues of nationalism, religion, and intellectual movements in early nineteenth-century Germany, Dr. Williamson will give the Institute strength in the field of German history during the Napoleonic era.

All told, 2009-2010 was a very productive year for the Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution. In particular, the graduate students were admirably active in their research, publication, and conference participation. The possibility of inviting leading scholars through the Weider Invited Professorship will add impetus to the existing momentum.


Rafe Blaufarb, Ben Weider Eminent Scholar

Director, Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution