“Les Miz” and “Les Media” Representations and Realities in

France of Les Misérables, 1750-1870



Robert Schwartz

Office Hours: Tues, Wed & Thurs 4-5 & by appt.

206 Skinner, x2465




Course Web Site: www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/hist255-s01/home.htm


Books: available at the College Book Store

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Gordon Wright, France in Modern Times



Cliff Notes to Les Misérables

Louis Chevalier, The Laboring Classes and the Dangerous Classes in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century (Howard Fertig, pb)

Priscilla Ferguson, Paris As Revolution: Writing the Nineteenth-Century City (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994)

Mark Traugott, ed. The French Worker.  Autobiographies from the Early Industrial Era (Berkeley: University of California Press. 1993)

Course Booklet: duplicated will be available at the History Department (309 Skinner) are indicated below by (CB); there will be a charge for the packet to cover the cost of duplication.


Course Requirements:

1.       Attendance at all classes, team meetings and required films

2.       Teamwork and collaboration

3.       Informed participation in discussions

4.       Oral presentations in class

5.       Homework exercises to learn and practice building multimedia web pages

6.       A web based multimedia history project, part of which will be presented orally at the end of the semester.



  1. Self evaluation
  2. Peer evaluation by one’s team members
  3. Instructor evaluation


Final Grade:

  1. Self and peer evaluation  10 %
  2. Team performance  30 %
  3. Individual performance  60 %


Course Compact:

            This layouts out the principles and expectations of the course as well as guidelines for participation and collaboration.  Everyone in the course must read it carefully and register her agreement by signing it.


Course Assistants and Consultants:

·         Mikaila Arthur     mlarthur@mtholyoke.edu

·         Raluca Dalea      rzdalea@mtholyoke.edu

·         Katharine Hatch      kshatch@MtHolyoke.edu; tharinehatch@hotmail.com

·         Susan Miller (Speaking Mentor)      sjmiller@mtholyoke.edu

·         Jenna Steigerwald      jlteige@mtholyoke.edu

·         Tiana Wilkinson     twilkin@mtholyoke.edu


Schedule of Topics, Readings, and Films



Wk. 1


Reading in Les Misérables


Jan. 30


Introduction: History In the Novel, History on the Web




France in The Old Regime





Feb 1







Wright, France in Modern Times, chaps. 1-4

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Selections from Pensées (1670) (CB)


Further reading:




Workshops for Photoshop and Dreamweaver to be arranged


Hugo on Paris and Pascal et al.

. . . its books, its theatre, its art, its science, its literature, its philosophy, are the manuals of the human race; it has Pascal, Regnier, Corneille, Descartes, Jean-Jacques: Voltaire for all moments, Molière for all centuries; it makes its language to be talked by the universal mouth, and that language becomes the word; it constructs in all minds the idea of progress, the liberating dogmas which it forges are for the generations trusty friends, and it is with the soul of its thinkers and its poets that all heroes of all nations have been made since 1789;

--Marius, Book 1, Chap.er 11



The Enlightenment




Feb. 6










Feb. 8





Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), selections from Essay on the Origins of Inequality (1752) and Emile (1762)


Further reading: http://www.orst.edu/instruct/phl302/philosophers/rousseau.html



Daniel Roche,. “Paris, Capital of the Enlightenment” chap.er 20 in: his France in the Enlightenment (CB)

Hugo on Rousseau

The work of the eighteenth century is healthy and good and wholesome. The encyclopedists, Diderot at their head; the physiocrates, Turgot at their head; the philosophers, Voltaire at their head; the Utopians, Rousseau at their head, -- these are four sacred legions. Humanity's immense advance towards the light is due to them. They are the four vanguards of the human race, marching towards the four cardinal points of progress. Diderot towards the beautiful, Turgot towards the useful, Voltaire towards the true, Rousseau towards the just.

--Saint Denis, Book 7, Chapter 3




The Revolution and Empire




Feb. 13






Wright, France, chaps. 5-8

Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen (CB)


Film: La Marseillaise: two showings: Monday evening, Wednesday evening





Feb. 15




Declaration of Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen (CB)




The Restoration (1815-1830)




Feb. 20









Feb. 22






Wright, France¸ chap. 9 The Bourbon Experiment

Fantine: Book III, The Year 1817



Film: Les Miserables by Jean-Paul Le Chanois, ca. 1950: two showings: Monday evening, Wednesday evening


Wright, Frances, 10 The Orleanist Experiment; 13 The Economy

Marius, Book 3, Chap.. 1 An Ancient Salon



Hugo on the Royalist view of the Revolution:

M. Gillenormand adored the Bourbons, and had a horror of 1789; he was forever narrating in what manner he had saved himself during the Terror, and how he had been obliged to display a vast deal of gayety and cleverness in order to escape having his head cut off. If any young man ventured to pronounce an eulogium on the Republic in his presence, he turned purple and grew so angry that he was on the point of swooning. He sometimes alluded to his ninety years, and said, "I hope that I shall not see ninety- three twice.

--Marius, Book 2, Chap.er 4.


Fantine: Book III, The Year 1817

Marius, Book 3, Chap.. 1 An Ancient Salon




Law and the Dangerous Classes




Feb 27





Louis Chevalier, Laboring Classes and Dangerous Classes in Paris during the First Half of the Nineteenth Century, chap2. The Picturesque Literature; chap. 3 Balzac (CB)



Fantine, Book V: The Descent; Book 6, Javert





Marius, Book 7, Patron Minette

Saint Denis, Book 3, Chap.. 8, The Chain




Mar. 1


Wright, France, chap. 11






Wright, Gordon. Two Adventurers in an Age of Crisis: or Balzac for Real (policemen Eguene Vidocq and Gabriel Ouvrard); Two Unlikely Heroes: or, Murder as Art form and Source of Literary Inspiration ( profession criminal Pierre-Francois Lacenaire and Pierre Rivière).  From his Insiders And Outliers : The Individual in History (CB)

Louis Chevalier, Laboring Classes and Dangerous Classes in Paris during the First Half of the Nineteenth Century, chap. 4 “Hugo” (CB)







The Bourgeoisie and the Poor: Class and Gender




Mar. 6






Robert Nye, Masculinity and Male Codes of Honor in Modern France, chap. 7: Bourgeois Sociability and the Point d’Honneur: 1800-1860” (CB)



Marius, Book 2, The Great Bourgeois; Book 5, The Excellence of Misfortune





Mar. 8


Claire Goldberg Moses, French Feminism in the 19th Century, chap. 2 Roots of Nineteenth-Century French Feminism: The Image and Reality of Womanhood” (CB)



William M Reddy, The Invisible Code : Honor and Sentiment in Postrevolutionary France, 1814-1848. Chap.. 3 Sensitive Hearts: Marital Honor and Women's Identity (CB); 4. The Ladder Up: Accumulating Honors in the Ministry of Interior; 5 Condottieri of the Pen: The Political Honor of Journalists [4 & 5 in the book on reserve]



Cosette, Books 3, Chap. 2, Two Portraits Completed

Saint Denis, Book 7, Little Gavroche; Book 7, Argot

Marius, Book 8, Chap. 4 A Rose in Misery





History On Film and In Caricature













Elizabeth Childs, “The Body Impolitic: Presss Censorship and the Caricature of Honoré Daumie,”. (CB) chap.er 2 in Dean De la Motte, and Przyblyski, Jeannene M, eds., Making the News : Modernity & The Mass Press In Nineteenth-Century France


Film Possibilities: “Horseman on the Roof,” “Cousin Bette,” “Impromptu,” “Colonel Chabert”



Mar. 15

David Perlmutter, “Visual Historical Methods: Problems, Prospects, Applications” Historical Methods 27 (Fall 1994): 167-184  (CD)


Film in class












Paris: Capital of the Nineteenth Century





Mar. 27





Lloyd S. Kramer, Threshold of a New World.  Intellectuals and the Exile Experience in Paris, 1830-1848, chap. 1 “The Capital of Europe” (CB)


Marius, Book 1, Paris Atomised





Mar. 29






Green, Nicholas. The Spectacle of Nature : Landscape and Bourgeois Culture In Nineteenth Century France,: Part I  The Metropolitan Gaze: Parisian Urbanism, 1820-1850: 1) The Modernity of Paris (CB)


Optional: Green, 2) The Planning and Policing of Paris; 3) The Eye of Journalism; Part II 1) Shaping the Environment (the urban garden; Carnaval time at the tax barrier) (CB)

Richard Terdiman, “Reading the News. (CB) Afterword” in De la Motte, ibid.






Marius and Company: Young, Romantic, and Republican





Apr. 3


Apr. 5


Wright, France, chap.. 15, 17




Marius, Books 3-4; Book 5, Chap.. 6, The Supplanter

Jean Valjean, Book 6, Chap.. 1 The 16th of February 1883 [the wedding of Marius and Cosette]










Apr. 10







Apr. 12


W. Scott Haine, The World of the Paris Café. Sociability among the French working Class, 1789-1914 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), chap. 6: The Etiquette of Café Sociability: Intimate Anonymity; 7: Women and Gender Politics: Beyond Prudery and Prostitution” (CB)

Wright, France, chap. 14 Society




Marius, Book 6 The Conjunction of Two Stars










To the Barricades: Revolution and Revolt




Apr. 17






Apr. 19



Bernard H Moss, “Parisian Workers and the Origins of Republican Socialism, 1830-1833” (CB) in John Merriman, 1830 in France


“Pacification of Paris: The Military Lessons of 1830,” ibid. (CB)



Whitney Walton, “Writing the 1848 Revolution: Politics, Gender, and Feminism in the Works of French Women of Letters,” French Historical Studies 18 (Fall 1994): 1001-1024(CB)



Saint Denis, Book I, A Few Pages of History; Book X : June 5th, 1832, Book XII: Corinth

Jean Valjean, Book I: War Between Four Walls




The Death of Old Paris: Baron Haussman and the Imperial Transformation




Apr. 24




Apr. 26


Shelley Rice, Parisian Views., Chap.. 2, “Parisian Views” (CB)


Wright, France, chap.. 12, The Imperial Experiment




Final Reflections, Final Presentations



May 1

May 3

May 8













Topics:  Each team will specialize in one of the following


·         Fantine: ordinary young women from the provinces—family, migration to Paris, work, pleasure, seduction, and hardship, escape.

·         Cosette: The making of the Bourgeois young lady; schooling in convents, codes of conduct, female virtue and honor, courtship, ideals and images versus realities, dissatisfaction and rebellion

·         Marius:  The making of the Bourgeois gentleman, schooling, male virtue and honor, dueling, courtship, ideals and images versus realities, dissatisfaction and rebellion

·         Javert: The Law and the police, the criminal law and criminal justice, theory and practice of punishment, penal colonies, chain gangs, the criminal law, policemen, police spies

·         Eponine: the poor in Paris, the art of “getting by,” literary and artistic images of the poor, the problem of poverty, views of the problem by government, medical practitioners, the church, philanthropists. 

·         Courtisans, Prostitutes, and the Double Standard: Mistresses, streetwalkers, and the double standard of moral purity for women, sexual freedom for men; public health and prostitution.

·         Thénardier: The Underworld and "the Dangerous Classes;" famous criminals, their portrayal in novels and newspapers, upper-class anxieties, crime as political resistance, the problem of crime as variously viewed by the government, by conservatives, by liberals, by socialists and reformers.

·         Enjorlas and the ABC: the Revolutionary Tradition (1789, 1830, 1848), the Revolution of 1789, the radical Revolution of 1792-93; the modern idea of revolution in liberal, radical, and socialist thinking; the spirit and memories of 1789 or 1793 in the revolutions of 1830 and 1848; Karl Marx and the French Revolution

·         Fauchelevent: the working people of Paris and the provinces; working-class autobiographies, the representation of “the people” in prose and images; the institutions of popular culture—cafés, the popular press; the formation of working-class consciousness; the journeyman’s tour of France; workers’ autobiographies.

·         The Political Culture of Resistance: newspapers and caricature; state censorship; Daumier’s celebrated political caricature of Louis Philippe, of judges and lawyers, of conservative politicians, of workers; radical journalists; the tightening of control over the press and print culture under the authoritarian regime of Napoleon III (1852-1870)

·         Ideology and The Political Landscape: royalism and conservatism (Joseph de Maistre, the novelist Honore de Balzac); constitutional liberals (Benjamin Constant, Madame de Staëls, Alexis de Tocqueville), radicals (Jules Michelet), socialists of various persuasions (Saint Simone, Jospeh Fourier, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon,Karl Marx). Where did Hugo fit?

·         Paris, City of Light: headquarters of the Enlightenment, the arts and cultural life; salons, women solonières and the Republic of Letters; universities, publishing, the art establishment and the Paris Salon

·         La Bohème: counter culture among artists, writers, students, and rebels; youth and dissent; the varied composition of bohemian Paris—bourgeois, romantics, struggling artists, impoverished writers.

·         Pleasures of the Bourgeoisie (shopping, strolling, dress, the opera, the theater, parks, infidelities, literature.

·         Woman Writers: Françoise de Graffingy, Marie Riccoboni, Issabelle de Charrière (three eighteenth-century standouts) George Sand, Flora Tristan, Marie d’Agoult, Hortense Allart, Delphine Gay (Mme Emile de Girardin)—writers of the nineteenth-century.

·         Mapping the City: social and cultural geography of upper-class and working class quarters, parks and pleasure gardens, arcades and department stores, zoos, sites in the novel, sites of revolution and rebellion, the reconstruction of Paris by Haussman and the creation of the Grand Boulevards.



Optional Readings in the Course Booklet


Corbin, Alain. Women for hire: prostitution and sexuality in France after 1850. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990. Chapter 3 The Failure of Regulation

Furet, Françcois. “The Ancien Regime and The Revolution,” Chapter 2, vol. 2 Realms of memory: Rethinking the French Past, ed. Pierre Nora and Lawrence D Kritzman.. 3v. European Perspectives. New York: Columbia University Press1996-1998.

Spitzer, Alan B. The French generation of 1820.  Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1987. Chapter 2 “Youth as the Age of Dissent”

Voilquin, Susan. “Memories of a Daughter of the People.” Chapter 4 in Feminism, socialism, and French romanticism. Ed. Claire Goldberg Moses and Leslie W Rabine.  Bloomington : Indiana University Press. 1993.

Walton, Whitney.  Eve's proud descendants : four women writers and Republican politics in nineteenth-century France. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2000.  Chapters 2: Growing Up Females in Postrevolutionary France; 5; Women Writers as Republicans in July Monarchy Political Culture 6: Republican Women and Republican Families