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The French Revolution (1789-1799) is a process of events in world history that had a tremendous global impact. Regardless of this fact, it is, however, still rather taught in its European context. Without this revolution, it seems, Western modernity could not be the same and many countries in Europe remember the impact of the events at the beginning of the so called “long” 19th century in their national historiographies. While the First World War, called “the seminal catastrophe”3 of the 20th century by George F. Kennan (1904-2005) in the late 1970s, marks the end of this long century, the French Revolution is considered to be the watershed from early modern to modern history. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in August 17894 would eventually change the course of history to create the first equal society, and thereby surpass the impact of the American Revolution, which basically created an independent and free nation state, but not for all people in its borders. The events of the French Revolution are nevertheless important, of course, from a global perspective as well. This specific perspective should also be emphasized in the classroom, to outline the connectedness of historical events, which link the national histories throughout the world and are consequently able to create a transnationally perceived global historiography. In the following short presentation I would like to highlight some of the possibilities — and share some experiences — to incorporate this transnationality into the classroom, no matter if one teaches a European History survey or World History.


Presented at World History Theory and Practice 3 (April 29, 2017), St. John’s University, New York City.



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