Redefining Radicalism After 1848


Patrick Hutton, “The Role of Memory in the Historiography of the French Revolution,” History and Theory, 30:1 (February 1991)

Eric Hobsbawm, “The Invention of Tradition,” in Hobsbawm and Ranger, eds., The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992)


Karl Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte” (1852)

Alexander Herzen, “Epilogue 1849”

Seminar Topics

Historians have typically treated 1848-1849 as a failure, noting that the revolutionary movements were crushed and the absolutist states restored in most cases. Seminar discussion will seek to assess this assumption, noting what underlying motivations prompted individuals into action and the long-term influences that 1848 would have on European government and politics. In particular, we will consider how the revolutions were interpreted and what these interpretations might reveal about the realities of a revolutionary “tradition” in European political thought and culture.

Questions to consider:

  1. What role did memory play in the making of revolutionary movements?
  2. What do the interpretations of Marx and Herzen reveal about 1848?
  3. Was 1848 an indication of Europe’s revolutionary “tradition” and how might Hobsbawm help us place the idea of tradition in a new analytical context? 

Further Reading:

Christopher Clark, “After 1848: The European Revolution in Government,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 22 (December 2012): 171-197.

Sabine Freitag, ed., Exiles From European Revolutions: Refugees in Mid-Victorian England. London: Berghahn, 2003.

Aileen M. Kelly, The Discovery of Chance: The Life and Thoughts of Alexander Herzen. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2016.

Abbot Gleason, Young Russia: The Genesis of Russian Radicalism in the 1860s. New York: Vintage, 1980.

Martin Malia, Alexander Herzen and the Birth of Russian Socialism, 1812-1855. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1961.

Edward Acton, Alexander Herzen and the Role of the Intellectual Revolutionary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979.

Judith E. Zimmerman, Midpassage: Alexander Herzen and European Revolution, 1847-1852. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1989.

Monica Partridge, “Alexander Herzen and the English Press,” The Slavonic and East European Review, 36:87 (June 1958).

Edith W. Clowes, Samuel D. Kassow and James L. West, eds. Between Tsar and People: Educated Society and the Quest for Public Identity in Late Imperial Russia. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991.

Alan Kimbrall, “The First International and the Russian Obschina,” Slavic Review, 32:3 (September 1973)

Tom Trice, “Rites of Protest: Populist Funerals in Imperial St. Petersburg, 1867-1878,” Slavic Review, 60:1 (Spring 2001)

Richard Wortman, The Crisis of Russian Populism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967.

Paul Thomas, Karl Marx and The Anarchists. London: Routledge, 1980. Chapter 5.

Otto Pflanze, “Nationalism in Europe, 1848-1871,” The Review of Politics, 28:2 (April 1966).

Christine Lattek, Revolutionary Refugees: German Socialism in Britain, 1840-1860. London: Routledge, 2006.