Paris, 29 April 2009
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I am writing to share with you news of the Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution during the 2008-2009 academic year.
Tribute to Ben Weider
On 17 October 2008, Dr. Ben Weider, the principal benefactor of the Institute, passed away suddenly. His death is a great loss not only to the Institute, but to the entire international Napoleonic community. As a scholar and author of many books on Napoleonic history, Dr. Weider helped expand our knowledge of the great man and his times. As founder and president of the International Napoleonic Society, he was an active organizer and supporter of Napoleonic historical events around the world. As generous benefactor, Dr. Weider gave the Institute at FSU the financial means to become the leading university center for Napoleonic history outside of France. Since his creation of the endowed Ben Weider Fellowships in 1998, dozens of doctoral students in Napoleonic history at FSU have benefited from these grants to complete their coursework, carry out their archival research in Europe, and write up their dissertations. Dr. Weider’s decision in 2007 to fund a new fellowship devoted specifically to the study of Napoleon’s non-military accomplishments will enable still more Institute students to carry original dissertation research projects to successful conclusions.
Ben Weider, INS Founder
Through his personal scholarship, his work with the International Napoleonic Society, and his backing of the Institute at FSU, Dr. Weider will continue to shape the field of Napoleonic historical studies for decades to come. His legacy will live on through the students his generosity has supported and continues to support.
Paris I and Paris IV (Sorbonne): During the Spring of 2009, I established formal links between the Institute at FSU and the two leading French university centers devoted to the study of Napoleon and the French Revolution – the Institut Napoléon at Paris IV and the Institut sur l’Histoire de la Révolution Française at Paris I. Their respective directors, Professors Jacques-Olivier Boudon and Pierre Serna, have agreed to join the FSU Institute’s scientific council, serve as outside readers on Institute doctoral committees, sponsor Institute students for French government dissertation grants, and welcome these students to their research seminars.
Fondation Napoléon: The Institute continues to maintain a close connection with the Fondation Napoléon in Paris. Eman Vovsi spent time there in Fall 2008 as recipient of one of their dissertation research grants, and I continue to participate in Fondation activities, notably as a member of the editorial committee of its online historical journal and co-organizer of the international colloquium “1810” which it will be hosting in 2010.
Russian Academy of Sciences (Institute on General History): Research Director, Professor Alexandre Tchoudinov, has agreed to act as institutional host to FSU graduate students conducting dissertation research in Russia on Napoleonic history. In addition, he and I are planning a series of international conferences in 2011 to prepare the publication in 2012 of a bicentennial collection of essays on the impact of the Napoleonic wars on European society and national identities. Discussions are ongoing with the Annales Historiques de la Révolution Française about this project.
European Federation of Napoleonic Cities: I have agreed to represent the Institute on the academic advisory board of the European Federation of Napoleonic Cities, a consortium directed by Prince Charles Napoléon. Together with Professor Jacques-Olivier Boudon, director of the Sorbonne’s Institut Napoléon, we are organizing a week-long international conference on “Napoleon and Europe,” to be held in September 2009 in Jena, Germany. This collaboration, hopefully the first of many similar endeavors, was the fruit of several visits by Prince Napoleon to Tallahassee last fall and this spring, in the course of which he also gave seminars and lectures at the university.
International Napoleonic Society: At the invitation of the International Napoleonic Society’s new president, J. David Markham, I have agreed to serve as co-chair with Professor Boudon on the Society’s Awards Committee. In addition, thanks to President Markham’s financial generosity, three FSU doctoral students – Michael DeFeudis, Tarah Luke, and Maureen Macleod – will be representing the Institute and giving papers at the annual INS conference in Montreal this coming June (*)
Graduate Student Research
During the 2008-2009 academic year, two Institute students conducted dissertation research in France. Thanks to receipt of a competitive dissertation research fellowship from the Fondation Napoléon, Eman Vovsi was able to complete his dissertation research on Napoleon’s military code at the Archives Nationales in Paris and the Service Historique de l’Armée de Terre at Vincennes. Through a Ben Weider fellowship, Joe Horan was able to carry out his research into Napoleonic efforts to cultivate cotton in Europe at the Archives Nationales in Paris and the Archives Départementales des Bouches-du-Rhône.
In addition, three other Institute students were able to conduct short-term research trips thanks to financial support from the Weider endowment. Cindy Ermus went to New Orleans to carry out archival research on the fire of 1788 that destroyed the city, Christine Caney also went to New Orleans to work on French emigration and émigré communities, and Tim Fitzpatrick went to Waterloo ( Belgium) to carry out research for his dissertation on battlefield tourism and commemoration.
Graduate Students at the Consortium
on the Revolutionary Era (Savannah)
The Institute continued its tradition of participation in the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era. Five current Institute doctoral students presented papers. They were: Michael DeFeudis (on the military events of the winter of 1812- 1813 in Prussia), Eman Vovsi (on Daru and Napoleon’s military code), Maureen Macleod (on the development of a new ideal of the imperial woman), Erica Johnson (on a white radical from Saint-Domingue accused of fomenting slave revolt in early 19 th century Louisiana), and Tarah Luke (on United States public opinion toward Napoleon and his regime). In addition, dozens of Institute graduates – as well as director emeritus Dr. Donald Horward - also participated in the conference.
Other Graduate Student Conference Participation
Shane Hockin delivered papers on the 17 th century French priest Jean Meslier and the origins of atheism at conferences at FSU and Columbia University. Tarah Luke gave a paper at FSU on American views of Napoleon during the early 19 th century. Tarah, Maureen Macleod and Michael DeFeudis will also be presenting papers at the annual INS conference in Montreal this fall.
Graduate Student Recruitment
In the fall of 2008 I continued to work actively in encouraging recruitment, not only in the United States, but also internationally. I posted announcements in English, French, and Spanish on various websites. These announcements explained the benefits of studying Revolutionary/Napoleonic history at FSU and discussed the various financial and scholarly resources we have to offer. These efforts continue to pay off. This year there were 10 applicants to the program.
New Graduate Students
Of the 10 applicants to the Institute, 4 will be joining us this fall: Bryan Banks, Joshua Meeks (Spring 2009), Patricia Perella (Spring 2009), and Matt Williams.
Current Institute Students
These 4 new graduate students will be joining 16 continuing students. These are:
Michael DeFeudis (Weider Fellow)
Jonathan Deverse (Weider Fellow)
Cindy Ermus (McKnight Fellow)
Shane Hockin (Ausley Fellow)
Joe Horan (Weider Fellow)
Tarah Luke (Weider Fellow)
Maureen Macleod (Weider Fellow)
Eman Vovsi (Fondation Napoleon boursier)
Activities of the Weider Professors
During the 2008-2009 academic year, Dr. Darrin McMahon added the final touches to the five volume series on the Enlightenment which he is co-editing with the political theorist Ryan Patrick Hanley. It will be published by Routledge in late 2009. He also published a major article, “Fear and Trembling, Strangers and Strange Lands,” in the Summer 2008 issue of Daedelus, and delivered keynote speeches at three major conferences – in San Francisco, at Cambridge University, and at Skidmore College. He will be spending May 2009 doing research in France on his current book project, Genius: A History, and the rest of the summer writing.
In fall 2008 I completed a manuscript on The Napoleonic Military Experience: Soldiers and Civilians for Bedford/St.Martins Press; I received invaluable assistance with this from Tarah Luke and Maureen Macleod. In spring 2009 I had a research semester in France. I worked at the Archives Nationales and several departmental archives on my current book project on the juridical transformation of property across the revolutionary/Napoleonic period. I also held visiting professorships at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, the Institut National de Recherches Agronomiques (in rural history), the University of Limoges, and the University of Rouen, and gave invited talks at universities in France, Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
Finally, in fall 2008 the history department gained a new faculty member – Dr. Will Slauter – thanks to FSU’s cluster-hire program. A graduate of Princeton, where he worked under the direction of Professor Robert Darnton, Dr. Slauter is a specialist in the political press during the age of Atlantic Revolution. When he arrives in fall 2009, the FSU history department will become the only one in the country to have three specialists in revolutionary/Napoleonic history. We welcome him to FSU and look forward to working closely with him.
All told, 2008-2009 was a productive year for the Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution. New student applications remain strong, current graduate students are making good progress toward their degrees, the Institute is forging institutional links with the leading international centers of Napoleonic and Revolutionary studies, and the Weider professors continue to maintain a high level of scholarship.
Rafe Blaufarb, FINS, Ph.D., Chair
Ben Weider Eminent Scholar
Director, Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution
Florida State University