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David A. Bell, Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Professor in the Era of North Atlantic Revolutions; Professor of History, Princeton University, “The Greek Revolution in the Age of Revolution”
David A. Bell is a historian of early modern France, with a particular interest in the political culture of the Old Regime and the French Revolution. He attended graduate school at Princeton, where he worked with Robert Darnton, and received his Ph.D. in 1991. From 1990 to 1996 he taught at Yale, and from 1996 to 2010 at Johns Hopkins, where he held the Andrew W. Mellon Chair in the Humanities, and served as Dean of Faculty in the School of Arts and Sciences. He joined the Princeton faculty in 2010. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Bell has written six books. Lawyers and Citizens (Oxford University Press, 1994) examined the politicization of the French legal profession in the eighteenth century, showing how spaces for radical criticism of the French monarchy first opened up within the structure of the French state itself. The Cult of the Nation in France (Harvard University Press, 2001) argued that nationalism, as opposed to national sentiment, was a novelty of the French Revolutionary period, and that it arose both out of, and in reaction to, Christianity. The First Total War (Houghton Mifflin, 2007) is a general study of the political culture of war in Europe between 1750 and 1815. It showed how an aristocratic culture of limited warfare gave way to a world in which total war was possible—and in which, between 1792 and 1815, it actually took place. More recently, Oxford University Press published two new books by Bell: Napoleon: A Concise Biography (2015), and an essay collection, Shadows of Revolution: Reflections on France, Past and Present (2016). Finally, in 2018, W.W. Norton published a textbook co-authored by Bell and Anthony Grafton: The West: A New History. Bell has also co-edited two volumes: Raison universelle et culture nationale au siècle des lumières, with Ludmila Pimenova and Stéphane Pujol (Honoré Champion, 1999), and Rethinking the Age of Revolutions: France and the Birth of the Modern World, with Yair Mintzker (Oxford University Press, 2018). Bell’s new book, Men on Horseback: Charisma and Power in the Age of Revolutions will be published in 2020 by Farrar, Straus, Giroux.
In addition to his research and teaching, Bell writes frequently for a range of general-interest publications. He is committed to the proposition that serious history can be readable, enjoyable, and accessible to an interested general public.
UCLA Professor Lynn Hunt introduces this lecture, which is also sponsored by the Department of History and the UCLA Center for European and Russian Studies.
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