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Abstract

This article explores recent developments in scholarship on the French Revolution and new strategies for teaching about it as a cauldron of both rights and violence. Historians have increasingly moved beyond the schools of Marxism, “revisionism,” and “political culture” that dominated earlier interpretations. Although individual approaches differ radically, they reveal several general trends. Scholars are rethinking the narrative of the Revolution, emphasizing unexpected turning points and previously neglected periods. Many insist that revolutionary politics and culture were always multi-vocal, even during the most repressive moments. Historians have also turned towards apparently marginal groups and actors, attempting to assess not only how the Revolution affected them, but also how their stories affect our understanding of the dynamics of historical change. These trends are intensified, and to some extent, challenged, by attempts to situate the French Revolution within comparative history.